In “Chariots” I wrote that: “For China, democratisation and discrimination are incompatible because of the high economic cost to change including its legal system, fixed currency, and the maintenance and expansion of social programs. Coupled with the loss in power to ruling elites, democratisation leaves an opportunity for restive provinces such as Tibet, Uyghur, and Xinjiang that have separatist ambitions, to pursue statehood.” The depth of terrorist activity in restive provinces inside China continues to be a problem for Chinese officials. The week of June 16-21 saw the execution of 13 people who were involved in two separate incidents: one incident in Xinjian province that resulted in an attack that left 24 policemen dead. Another attack at Tiananmen Square left five people dead and 40 injured when a car crashed into a crowd. Other incidents have Beijing authorities blaming Uighur separatists for the malaise. While China ponders the menacing grip of insurgents in these regions, it would be canny for them to “changer de cap” at a point where resistance among its citizens and escalation of violence towards public officials needs to be considered by President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and the Ministry of the Interior. How can Chinese officials stem the tide of the frequency and scale of incidents from manifesting into a “slugfest” between restive states and public officials?
In an earlier post, I mentioned the notion of power-sharing, and, I believe, this is the “modus vivendi” towards a peaceful long-term solution for Xinjiang, Uighur, Tibet, and China. Remarkably, Tibetans choose self-immolation to express their dissatisfaction with China’s oppression, not outright violence, apart from the unrest in 2008 during the preamble to the Beijing Olympics. Reuters reported today that close to 600,000 votes had been cast in an unsanctioned poll regarding democratic reform in Hong Kong that has been chastised by both Hong Kong and Chinese officials as illegal. The protest group: “Occupy Central” has sanctioned the poll. To further antagonise the movement, Beijing’s recent release of a “White Paper” has left many of the pro – democracy movement in Hong Kong readying for and exercising their strength to mount an offensive against a system that was thrust onto them in 1997 after Britain ceded control to China . The situation has been divisive, plotting pro-democracy groups against pro-Beijing groups. The message that Hong Kongers are sending is that they want choice at the ballot box, and not the proposed muted selection of three candidates that is being offered.
Does China deserve clemency? If so, what form of clemency should that entail. Democratisation will garner them attention and a stronger sense of kinship in the International Community vis-à-vis stronger membership in trade organisations and multi-polar collective security organisations such as NATO and a stronger role within the UN. However, China must clean up it’s policy regarding human rights and capital punishment, freedom of speech, the press, and assembly; not to be confused with the “managed democracy” that currently exists within Russia. If we consider reports out of Tibet, memories of Russian gulags come to mind, and still exist in North Korea under the Kim family.
China’s holding of U.S. debt reached 1.317 trillion as of November 2013, according to Ian Katz of Bloomberg. Coupled with exports to the U.S. of 440 billion in 2013, provides a measured response from Washington towards Beijing on its Human Rights record. For an unfair comparative purpose, consider the U.S. approach to Cuba and the still active “Helms-Burton” bill that prohibits American businesses from trading with Cuba. American omnipotence is apparent in the International Community with matters of trade and when political ideology differs from their guiding principles. Still, because of this influence, more can be accomplished to help those in Tibet. “Students For A Free Tibet” report that through their collective action” 21 U.S. Senators have signed a letter and forwarded it to Secretary of State – John Kerry in advance of his recent trip to China.
From a strategic standpoint, much needs to change to see reform in Tibet and other restive provinces, as well as China. China’s army and defence mechanisms need to falter in order to allow insurgents an opportunity, including civilians, to breach the political structure and affect change. China’s military has grown stronger with its military spending surpassing 145 billion that utilises drones and cyber weapons , according to Phil Stewart of Reuters on June 6, 2014. With an active Front – Line military personnel of 2, 285, 000 according to GFP.com, China has the resources for a ground battle, that should concern its neighbours in the region, and the U.S., who count Japan and South Korea as allies and have 28,500 troops in SouthKorea, and an established military bases in Japan.
Despite Chinas growing hegemony, it remains vulnerable, and if chosen, needs to democratise slowly to keep the basic structure of the PRC operative. Predicting a change in ideology is impractical, to say the least. Citing the internal strife, it is possible for change in 20 years or less, in my very humble opinion. Much will depend on the ruling elites, their ability to constrain corruption, manage as a voice of moderation in a new time, and be free of past influences such as Princelings (President Xi Jinping is facing corruption questi0ns) as well as linkages to- former leaders. Mindful of the benefits of partnership in liberal trade associations, major importers of Chinese goods may seek to leverage with other nation – states, comparable Finance Ministers and economists, in order to link trade to Human Rights and ideology. Perhaps least of their worries are the Tibetans who are self-immolating and causing only particles of nuisance for Chinese authorities in the press and social media circles. Vigilance is imperative to repair the issue in Tibet; China, it seems to me that …”you have to make your own breaks.”