The Egyptian uprising is an awkward fact for China’s rulers because it undermines one of their favorite arguments. They have long claimed that China has “special characteristics” (meaning that its people prefer authoritarianism, at least for now) and that demands in China for democracy and human rights are merely results of the subversive tactics of “anti-China” forces based in Western countries. But if that theory is true, then one needs to explain why millions of Egyptian people were opposing Mubarak, who was a US client. Plainly something deeper was motivating them.
The example of Tunisia raises a related question, equally awkward. For China’s rulers, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the ousted dictator, would have been seen as following their own approach—the so-called “Chinese model”—of economic growth combined with political repression and having much success with it, or so it was assumed for many years. But the Tunisian people took to the streets to overthrow him. Did the people want something more than the Chinese model? How could that be?
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Egypt and China