Charles Custer marks the 500th post on the ChinaGeeks blog in a subdued fashion, reflecting on the Jiangxi bomber Qian Mingqi and the widespread anger that has led many Chinese to sympathise with him.
Originally, I had planned to celebrate this in the traditional fashion, with a barrage of upbeat statistics about readership and jovial promises about more exciting things coming down the pipeline. I still could, I suppose, but it just doesn’t feel like the time.
All day I’ve been ruminating on the story of Qian Mingqi and what it means for China’s future. I can’t say I’m particularly optimistic.
I believe it’s fair to say at this point that things are objectively worse in China than they were a year ago for most people. The economy may be growing, but so are prices, and salaries generally aren’t. Local governments’ budgets are so dependent now on profits from land deals that, combined with the wave of infrastructure being developed, more people than ever are being forced out of their homes, and many of them are unhappy about the terms of compensation ….
Most Chinese would, as I would, back away from actually endorsing the final, violent actions of Qian Mingqi or Yang Jia. But the fact that both figures have received such widespread sympathy is evidence that many, perhaps most Chinese people can relate to them and their stories. They may not agree with what Qian did, but they can understand how he got to that point. This is a decidedly bad sign.