Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's Going On In China?

Today's article in McClatchy News Service prompts me to take a look at news form China that has occurred in the last few weeks:

"Rising Chinese businessman killed on party official's orders"
"At the end, though, Zhu's ambitions couldn't keep up with the frenzy, and he ran afoul of party officials feeding at the trough of local projects. A local potentate who'd wanted to invest in Zhu's coal mine sent two men to his home just past midnight on June 15, 2008. One of them pulled out a blade and stabbed the 62-year-old Zhu repeatedly, leaving him for dead.
Late last month, a Shaanxi province court handed down death sentences for one party official and the thugs he hired to kill Zhu. Another official was given four years in prison.
The murder reportedly was part of a backroom deal to seize Zhu's coal mine, a damning example of what goes on behind the scenes of China's financial success.
While the central government likes to project the image of an authoritarian state that's creating a hybrid version of capitalism, many of those in charge of development in the interior behave more like mafia dons than like party cadres."

So a rising star in China's State-Capitalism was murdered by Party officials, unusual but not as unexpected as this:

"China school attacks highlight mental health"
"The signs of trouble should have been clear — the man who launched a deadly rampage through a Chinese kindergarten had been depressed and suicidal for weeks — but his behavior raised no red flags in China's feeble mental health system.
The attack by Wu Huanming, who stormed onto the grounds of the private school in northern Shaanxi province and slashed and killed seven preschoolers and two adults, was the latest of five assaults against schoolchildren in the last two months that have left 17 dead and more than 50 wounded.
"There's reason to believe that they are seriously psychologically disturbed and psychotic," he said. Attacking children shows their "desire to make their statement in the strongest way possible."
All the attackers in recent cases have been men in their 30s or 40s. They all used knives and hammers — unlike in the U.S., guns are tightly controlled in China and obtaining them is virtually impossible.
Some experts have speculated that the attackers sought to target children, society's most vulnerable members, because they cannot vent their frustrations on the government itself."

And the level of frustration has reached into the huge manufacturing plants resulting in employee suicides:

"The suicides have exposed the human costs of China’s 11.9 percent growth and opened the plight of the average factory worker to outside scrutiny as rarely before. Workers have a long, long way to go to benefit more fully from China’s boom.
Signs they are growing impatient show that China is entering a messy stage of development. For years, foreign companies raced to the mainland because lax regulations let them pollute in ways they couldn’t at home. China is now home to a critical mass of the world’s most polluted cities and rivers, and the government is demanding greater accountability. While it’s the right thing to do for China, foreign executives can’t be happy about the fastest-growth major economy going green.
The wage issue will be even more difficult. Chinese workers demanding higher wages, as they should, must have the folks at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. quaking. It’s hard to exaggerate the effect a big increase in Chinese pay would have on international profit margins and on inflation.

(D.R.)- Poor Wall Mart...

* But here's the kicker; I recently watched a long speech given by MIT professor Noam Chomsky that directly addresses this issue and how it relates to socio-political struggle of the working class in the United States:

"There are poignant studies of the indignation and the rage of those who have been cast aside as the state-corporate programs of financialization and deindustrialization have closed plants and destroyed families and communities. These studies reveal the sense of acute betrayal on the part of working people who believed they had a fulfilled their duty to society in what they regard as a moral compact with business and government, only to discover that they had only been instruments for profit and power, truisms from which they had been carefully shielded by doctrinal institutions.
There are striking similarities in the world’s second-largest economy. This has been investigated in a very penetrating study by Ching Kwan Lee into Chinese labor. Lee draws the close comparison between working-class outrage and desperation in the decaying industrial sectors of the United States and the fury among workers in what she calls China’s rustbelt, the state socialist industrial center in the Northeast now abandoned by the state in favor of state capitalist development of the Southeast sunbelt, as she calls it. In both regions, Lee finds massive labor protests, but different in character. In the rustbelt, workers express the same sense of betrayal as their counterparts here, but in their case betrayal of the Maoist principles of solidarity and dedication to development of the society that they had thought had been a moral compact, only to discover that, whatever it was, it’s now bitter fraud. In the sunbelt, workers who lack that cultural tradition still rely on their home villages for support and family life. They denounce the failure of authorities to live up even to the minimal legal requirements of barely livable workplace conditions and payment of the pittance called salaries."

This was a brilliant speech by Chomsky, here is the complete version (text) and video:

Thanks for bearing with me, more martial arts coming soon.

1 comment:

Toldain said...

When I visited China a few years back, what I realized is how the big cultural/political split was urban/rural. About 50% of their population was still rural, and somewhat isolated.

The politics mirrors ours to some extent. We've been making the transition from rural to urban for some time now, but we can still see the split between "red" and "blue" states.

I always take Chomsky with a grain of salt, he has too much of an axe to grind to not, but where you quote him sounds right. The concerns of workers are pretty much the same everywhere.