Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, July 10, 2009

China’s Achilles Heel

Not that China is in danger or anything, but the ethnic riots in Urumqi might be a lot more serious than last year’s Tibetan uprising. The Uighurs don’t seem to have that same look-inward, turn-the-other-cheek mindset that Tibetans are famous for.

These ethnic tensions have been building for a long time. Night Train to Turkistan (1986) was a first-hand account of four Americans who traveled all over western China. They had fascinating adventures, but there were long-simmering ethnic feuds even then. I think the book mentioned the Uighurs in particular (I read it a long time ago). In any case, everywhere these travelers went, there was resentment against the Chinese. Millions of Chinese citizens have moved (or more likely, they got “moved” by the government) into these remote western regions, causing the indigenous tribes to become minorities on their own turf.

Same with Tibet — in Lhasa, Chinese citizens outnumber Tibetans.

Mongolia offers more perspectives on China — past and present. The two countries had centuries of warfare, and Inner Mongolia is now a Chinese province. Everything is relative, and Mongolians think of Russia as the lesser of two evils.

Somehow, it’s hard to picture these Urumqi riots as something that will flare up and then die down and everyone will live happily ever after.

This isn’t wishful thinking or anything. After all, China is our landlord. And if you’re a renter and your landlord is in trouble, YOU might not have a place to live.

So let’s hope China can find a workable solution.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Demeur said...

Just watched Tank Man on Frontline last night. Dealing with the social revolution in China back in 1989. It showed what is happening in the rural areas and the fact that migrant workers are treated very poorly sometimes not being paid for their work. Most people must go to the cities to work as rural people are being cut off from services and must now pay for their own education. With the present economic down turn however many are returning to farms as there isn't any work. Not a good situation. I think we may see something like 1989 again.

July 10, 2009 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

if you’re a renter and your landlord is in trouble, YOU might not have a place to live.
However, if you're a renter and the landlord is in trouble, he may be distracted enough to notice that your rent payments are behind.

July 11, 2009 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Don't be so pessimistic. All we have to do is invade mainland China. We'll be greeted as liberators and be given flowers and candy.

July 11, 2009 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Crawling out on a creaky limb here...

I wouldn't be surprised if, eventually, when China's middle class is much bigger and stronger, China's government will find holding on to some of the troublesome western provinces isn't worth the cost. The government will likely face ongoing resistance in the provinces, but also growing resistance in China proper, with middle-class families tired of the expense and having their sons sent off to keep rebellious ethnic and religious groups under control.

This would parallel to some extent the USSR giving up its grip on the Eastern European satellites.

July 11, 2009 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Demeur: I hope there won't be another 1989-type incident, but there could very well be.

Lew: True, if the Chinese get too carried away torturing Tibetans and Uighurs, maybe they won't notice if we shortchange them a few billion here and there.

Randal: Yes, the Chinese army is on its last legs. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

SW: Interesting parallel, China with its western territories and Russia with Eastern Europe. Sounds like a possibility. I can think of worse things that could happen.

July 11, 2009 at 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

I'm with Lew - lay low and see what we can get away with :)

July 11, 2009 at 4:16 PM  

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