Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Asia’s insecure giant

So powerful has China become since its miraculous “rise,” so mighty has it grown since it began modernizing its military by injecting it with tens of billions of dollars annually, and so certain of the rectitude of its ways has it been that it launched a massive manhunt, involving more than 100 police officers and interrogating 873 suspects over 10 days, for — hold your breath — individuals suspected of “despoiling” the flag and symbols of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with ink-filled eggs. In the end, two arrest warrants were issued. In all, four flags were “despoiled,” police said yesterday, which “insulted” the national flag and “harmed the image of the party and the nation [in an attempt ] to damage our democratic [hum, sic] legal system,” in the words of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s top CCP official.

Also yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry maintained it was well within its rights to ban certain Web sites, especially those that refer to Taiwan and China as separate entities, discuss the Tibet issue or criticize the CCP. These include the BBC, Voice of America, as well as certain Hong Kong-based outlets.

Isn’t it ironic that a superpower that is so staunchly, unwaveringly and unflaggingly sure of the rightness of its positions on Taiwan and Tibet — not to mention the legitimacy of its government — fears it cannot allow its citizens to vent their anger by throwing a few eggs, or give them access certain types of information?

Of course, as anyone who has traveled to China and spoken to its people would know, the CCP’s plan is exactly that — to keep the population in the dark, to feed them lies, generation after generation, and to brainwash them to such a degree that otherwise educated and intelligent individuals, as a friend of mine related to me recently, cannot accept that Taiwan has its own currency, its own elected government or its own military.

Try as it might, however, and police the Web and other media as strictly as it can, this is a battle that in the long run the CCP simply cannot win. As electronic media will continue to develops at a pace security agencies cannot compete with, and as the Chinese population becomes richer, travels more frequently and increasingly has the means to access information (Internet access, mobile phones, TVs), Chinese will realize there is a wide gap between the information they obtain at home and the reality out there.

Beijing has every reason to be insecure, because when they are confronted to reality, its arguments don’t float.

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