Factory Closures, Layoffs Stir Unrest in China

USA Today is the latest to report on the wave of unrest that has hit China in the wake of the global financial crisis:

The “recent mass incidents are the biggest political test the ruling party has faced since the 1989 incident” at Tiananmen Square, says Mao Shoulong, professor of public policy at Beijing’s Renmin University, referring to the pro-democracy protests that year. “Social unrest is spreading, and China’s leaders are worried about these problems.”

The global financial crisis sparked several protests last month as the slowdown in growth hits China’s export-dominated economy. The World Bank has forecast that China’s growth in 2009 could drop to 7.5%, the lowest in nearly two decades. Later this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will lead a high-level delegation to Beijing for two days of ongoing economic talks.

Zhang Ping, China’s top economic planner, said last week that “excessive bankruptcies and production cuts will lead to massive unemployment and stir social unrest.” And police chief Meng Jianzhu warned of “lots of social problems affecting stability under the current circumstances.”

While the Communist Party’s grip on power remains strong, pressure on the government is mounting.


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