Humanosity says…As China celebrates its 70th anniversary of communist rule the demonstrations in Hong Kong give us a glimpse of the iron rule the party has. Academics used to believe that greater economic prosperity would lead to greater freedoms in China. Now those views are slowly changing as this article from Intellasia points out.
To measure the state of China now, it is worth looking back to another anniversary that was marked in May. This was the 100th anniversary of the decision taken during the Versaille process to hand Shandong province to Japan rather than China.
This resulted in the first nationwide mass protests in urban areas. The protesters demanded an end to imperialism, the introduction of democracy, and the radical reassessment of traditional Confucian culture. The Communist Party traces its origins to these protests and whilst there was no grand parade, the Party couldn’t ignore them. Tellingly all discussion of the protests neglected to recall the demands for democracy and freedom.
And because the Chinese Communist party traces its origins to these protests of 1919, the authorities could not possibly ignore the centenary. However, it was commemorated not by a grand spectacle but in talks and seminars at university campuses across the country. President Xi Jinping had to say something, and he praised the students of 1919 for their courage, patriotism and unselfish commitment to national revival. He did not mention their calls for freedom and democracy.
That such calls have a long history in China doesn’t mean that future reforms in the country will mean a move towards western-style democracy and freedoms. In fact, the antics of our politicians provoke astonishment, mirth and ridicule among China’s well-informed intellectuals.
Even though the country has seen amazing levels of economic development by adopting elements of the capitalist model, Marxism study societies exist in many universities. Here the capitalist model is widely criticised and students have been known to organise demonstrations at factories to fight for worker’s rights.