By Jay Fidell
China’s central government is making itself downright unpopular these days. Cyberspies against the blogs? Emptying dormitories to prevent student demonstrations? Repressing news of earthquake failures? Pushing Tibet to the limit, then publishing a list of does and don’ts telling tourists they could be arrested for wearing Free Tibet t-shirts. Disbarring a lawyer who agreed to represent a Tibetan? You’re kidding.
While we have certainly admired China’s remarkable tech and business success, the notions of personal freedom and representative government still seem tenuous, and recent Tiananmen tactics attempting to sterilize things for the Games show us that the government still doesn’t get it.
They may think they can beat off the real mood of China, but it looks like other forces are in play. E-Democracy is on the rise and there’s not that much the repressors can do about it. Given the way the Chinese have e-Connected with the world, and with themselves, I suggest that they are more likely to take new risks to achieve Western liberties these days.
China rising is also China rising in the rule of law. Sure, the government can take steps to cauterize unpleasantness and head off bad press, but the genie is out of the bottle. Given the e-Infrastructure already in place, the government cannot control, and is not exempt from, the will of the people. After all, this is the 21st Century and tech is everybody’s genie.
Watch what happens in August. Through the Internet, Smart Mobs are also rising in China.