The China powder keg: a nation that’s either on the edge of becoming THE superpower – or exploding into anarchy

John Humphrys
Daily Mail [UK]
6th November 2010

March of progress: Workers, like these taking morning roll in Yuanda, Changsha, are increasingly demanding higher wages so China could export less and import more

…If the fear of the Communist Party leadership is losing their monopoly on power, the fear of the Chinese people is returning to instability.

When we British talk about unstable government we think of no party being able to command a majority.

When the Chinese talk about instability they mean civil war, chaos, and mass starvation under Mao. They mean tens of millions dying as their rulers fight for power.

Mao may have been responsible for more deaths and suffering than any other leader in history — Stalin and Hitler included — but his legacy (so far) has been a country that is more united than it would have been possible even to imagine when he began his long march to power.

China has also pulled off a breathtaking economic transformation which will soon see it become the mightiest economic power in the world.

It will challenge American hegemony as never before in modern times…

…China is much more than a country. It is the only ancient civilisation that has survived to emerge as a serious world power.

And it’s done it by endlessly reinventing itself. The implications of that for the world are enormous. And for China?

Well, the vast numbers of poor people here want to get richer. It’s estimated that the very poorest — more than 20 million — live on the equivalent of £60 a year.

But what everyone I spoke to wants most is stability.

In one sense at least, this nation is still in a state of turmoil.

Eight million people leave their homes in rural areas every year and travel to the cities to find work, ending up as migrant workers living in foul dormitories, seeing their wives and children perhaps only once a year?

The dangers are obvious. The leadership is about to publish a new five-year plan which will promise to raise the wages of those who are paid pathetically little. Given the pressures they are under, they have no choice.

But it is those low wages that keep the price of their goods low enough for the rich West buy in such huge quantities.

If exports begin to dry up, the jobs may disappear and what happens to the migrant workers then? Social unrest is a real danger…

Read the complete article at the Daily Mail.

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