The unrest in the Arab world that began late last year in Tunisia has since spread to Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. But could it travel further still? Leading Asia analysts give their take on the prospects for a Jasmine Revolution in seven Asian nations.
China : Why it Could
By Kelley Currie
Many analysts have noted that China has some of the characteristics that have led to uprisings across the Middle East in recent weeks: a stultified political culture; endemic corruption and ruling elite cronyism; growing economic inequality; and rising expectations, particularly among educated urban youth who are struggling to realize them. The ruling regime faces increasingly difficult public policy trade-offs in the chase to maintain sufficient economic growth to preserve legitimacy without resorting to naked nationalism or coercion.
The perception is growing—fed by an increasing number of arrests and harsh treatment of dissidents, lawyers and other activists—that the party-state is intensifying coercion to deal with dissenting voices it perceives as threatening to its rule. But it’s doing so in a wired world: urban areas of China have a high level of Internet and mobile connectivity, and China is an increasingly wired economy with a citizenry that’s able to publicize local events on a national level at a speed previously unimagined. The increasing willingness—and ability—of Chinese citizens to publicly spoof and mock their leaders demonstrates a palpable diminution of fear. It’s something that should alarm those leaders.
Photo: Boris van Hoytema