Social mood in China: protests becoming more effective

Cracks in China's stability drive
First, the people are getting sick of government corruption. They have become thoroughly disappointed with their leaders and have resolved to fight back. Lessons learnt from the environmental protests in Xiamen , Panyu and Dalian have built up people's experience and courage. The fire disaster in Shanghai and the train crash in Wenzhou also pushed the people to take meaningful action in new ways, and they mourned the victims in memorials despite government disapproval.

The Wukan unrest was a turning point. Like the child who bluntly pointed out the lie of the emperor's new clothes, the protest exposed the rot in the government's "stability maintenance" system.

Second, the country's economy has shown signs of a slowdown and this will put a strain on society. For a while, even after many people saw through the lies of the government's corrupt ideology, rapid economic growth was able to divert attention from questions about the legitimacy of the regime. With a slowdown, the questions will resurface.

At the same time, local governments which are highly dependent on land revenues have become increasingly desperate. In the face of the protests and funding shortfalls, they are in a fix.

Third, there are signs of an internal split on the use of violence to maintain stability. In Wukan, officials let slip that the local government had to pay armed police a daily rate to keep them at their post. And it was clear in the Shifang and Qidong protests that the armed police were less than enthusiastic. Apart from the lack of funds, these internal conflicts appear to be plaguing the government from the bottom to the top.
More details on various protests at the link.

On the subject of corruption, the papers talk about it non-stop and they are almost all controlled by the party. The party tries to be seen as doing something about it, but it's all very slow, with small measures that end up getting circumvented by local politicians.

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