Monday, December 19, 2011
A butterfly is flapping its wings, but will a hurricane follow
History is proving that Communism is doomed to fail. The only real questions are when and how. Is China's time for political evolution, if not revolution, upon us? Perhaps we are seeing just that. Rahul Jacob has a great read in the Financial Times about a real life David and Goliath story. The little fishing village of Wukan at the far southern tip of the country is defying the party bosses in Beijing. The story started familiarly enough. A corrupt party official sold some communally owned land to a well connected buddy in a sweetheart deal. The villagers protested. And nothing bad happened to them. So first they kept it up, and then they ramped it up. Just last week a bunch of high school aged kids marched on the now abandoned police headquarters. Only now the protests are no longer about a duplicitous land sale, they want free elections. Nationwide. And so far the response hasn't been muted. It has been silent. Keep an eye on this, because behind the scenes two of the power players in the next generation of leaders are fighting it out. Yang Wang is a provincial party chief who is viewed as liberal because he has sided with labor and entrepreneurs when it comes to deregulating and freeing up private businesses. His rival is Bo Xilai, who thinks any protest against the party is a capital crime. One has to wonder if even Wang will side with the protesters, though. This time it is not a business principle at stake, it is a civil liberty. So keep watching to see if little Wukan is the butterfly whose wings started the hurricane of change, or if Bo Xilai and the hardliners step on it like a fragile insect that they do not even bother to scrape off their boot.