October 30, 2007:
Chinese Party Congress allowed the various factions in the ruling Communist
Party rearrange who has control of what. It's basically the hard core (who want
to keep the police state going) versus the democrats (who see democracy as the
only way to prevent another revolution.) The hard core crowd is still in
control, but the democrats are increasingly recognized as an acceptable
alternative. That made be needed soon. The number of major demonstrations or
riots per million people per week, is moving from one to two. Many of these
outbursts are the result of corruption among local officials, including the
police. This misbehavior also makes it increasingly difficult to collect taxes.
Forcing the issue with corrupt provincial officials risks resistance, which
could escalate into rebellion. The problem is particularly acute in western and
central China, where half the population lives. This is the poorest half,
misruled by the most corrupt officials. One reason for upgrading the military
is to make it possible to attack rebellious factions while using a minimum
number of troops. China has a long history of troops changing sides when
ordered to attack their own people. Didn't happen all that often, but the
Internet and all those cell phones have changed things. People are more
connected to each other. This information access has made Chinese people more
aware of the rest of the world, how it operates, and how China ranks. The problem is that, while the Chinese
economy continues to grow at ten percent a year, the Chinese people are still
ruled by a self-appointed dictatorship. For many Chinese, that's tolerable, but
the growing corruption among the ruling class is not. In other words, can the
Communist Party reform itself before it causes another revolution? The
communists are certainly aware of the risk, especially because of what happened
in Eastern Europe and Russia in the late 1980s.
Chinese leaders are in uncharted territory, and unsure what their future
will be, or even what their chances of success, or survival, are.
October 28, 2007: Taiwan is now manufacturing cruise missiles
with ranges of 600 to 1,500 kilometers. The government is denying that it is
developing nuclear warheads for these missiles. Nukes would be the only weapon
that could give China pause, if it was determined to take Taiwan by force.
Taiwan has the financial and technical ability to build nuclear weapons, but
would probably not announce such an effort, lest it trigger an immediate attack
by China. Just another thing for the Chinese leadership to worry about.
October 27, 2007: The recent scandal over tainted food and toy
exports has caused a backlash within China itself. Despite government efforts
to keep the growing food contamination and general environmental pollution
scandals quiet, the word gets out. With over 400 million cell phone, and over
150 million Internet users, the news spreads, if it's bad enough. In this case,
stories of birth defects and food poisoning have alarmed many Chinese, and put
pressure on the government to "do something." So over 700 people were
recently arrested for producing sub-standard goods (particularly food), and
promises were made to clean up large scale pollution. These are largely
cosmetic moves, and most Chinese realize it. But it calms enough people to
reduce the risk of a general uprising.
October 26, 2007: Some 10,000
troops and a thousand vehicles are in Central China for several days of
wargames. Very special wargames. The army is testing its electronic warfare
equipment. Jammers and equipment that is supposed to be resistant to jamming,
will be used in the open, as if in a combat zone. The effects of jamming, and
other electronic warfare gear, on Chinese and foreign radio equipment will be
October 24, 2007: A lunar
mapping satellite was launched, the first phase of a program to put Chinese on
the moon within 13 years.
October 22, 2007: Each month, thousands of Chinese are moving
to Africa. They are going to work for their government, on economic development
or air projects. Increasingly, they are going to set up their own businesses.
Lots of opportunity in Africa. But the "outsiders" have to beware of
backlash from the locals.