Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hua Guofeng for the '00's

I'm not generally a big Nicholas Kristof fan, but his latest column, on the failings of Hu Jintao and the hollow nature of China's justice system, is well-worth a read. Richard of Peking Duck has the column here. Kristof's conclusion?
Ultimately, Mr. Hu's efforts to create stability by clamping down just risk more instability. Most Chinese don't want upheavals, but they are fed up with corruption and lies, with being blocked from Google and Wikipedia, with having to waste time studying political drivel like Mr. Hu's "Eight Honorables and Eight Shames" campaign. Wags call it "Hu shuo ba dao," a clever pun that translates as "utter nonsense."

Indeed, Mr. Hu's crackdown has been singularly ineffective, annoying people more than scaring them. Many Communist Party officials worry that crackdowns just anger and alienate the public; that is why some have talked of allowing people to let off steam through greater freedom of the press and more elections. In one province, a poll found that 85 percent of officials themselves wanted to speed up political reform.

But Mr. Hu seems paralyzed, altogether the weakest Chinese leader since Hua Guofeng in the 1970's. The result? Brace yourself for turbulence ahead in China.
It's quite an accomplishment of the negative sort to be compared to Hua Guofeng.

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