Could Mideast Revolutions Spread to China?

In the Globe and Mail, Mark MacKinnon asks whether Chinese society is ready for a revolutionary movement like those rising up in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world:

The main reasons the crowds aren’t yet calling for the ouster of Mr. Hu and the Politburo are simple: While Georgians and Ukrainians were tired of post-Soviet stagnation, and the Middle East’s uprisings have been driven in large part by jobless youth, China’s economy continues to grow at an impressive pace. The population here is much older than in the angry young societies of the Middle East, and after decades of turmoil, many Chinese are experiencing stability and a little prosperity for the first time. Revolutions don’t happen when people believe their lives are getting better.

That’s not the whole story, of course. The impressive macroeconomic figures hide the fact that many of China’s poor – while undeniably better off than they were two decades ago – have nonetheless found it impossible to climb the social ladder. In fact, the gap between China’s increasingly modern cities and a countryside that in some places hasn’t changed much since the 19th century is widening by the year.

The Global Times newspaper, which is run by the Communist Party, reported that the country’s Gini co-efficient (a measure of income inequality) passed the “warning line” of 0.4 a decade ago and is now nearing 0.5, a level substantially worse than in either Egypt or Tunisia.

The article has sparked quite a response from Chinese readers, as can be seen in the Comments section.


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