Friday, November 25, 2005

Harbinger Of China's Future

Stratfor comments on the Benzene spill in Songhua River near the Chinese city of Harbin:

It is clear once again that the Chinese government bureaucracy remains incapable of making rapid decisions for dealing with unexpected problems. This inability to decide what to do for more than 10 days created panic in Harbin and further undermined trust in the local and national governments and Communist Party. In 1989, it was indecisiveness that contributed to the violent end to student protests in Tiananmen Square. And indecisiveness led first to the delay and then to the draconian crackdown on the Falun Gong after its members gathered for a silent protest outside central government housing in 1999.

As the central government prepares to enact the latest five-year economic plan, it will undoubtedly face many new and frequently unexpected challenges. A concerted effort to shift the balance of wealth in the country, to urge (if not require) "sacrifice" from the already well-off to bring up the other 900 million rural Chinese will bring massive social changes and threaten the political and economic interests and power of many. But, as the Harbin case shows, China's leadership, on the local and national levels, is still far from capable of making rapid decisions and acting quickly to pre-empt -- or at least mitigate -- problems as they arise, rather than simply trying to ignore them and make up for it later. Trouble is brewing just beneath the surface, and while a watched pot may not boil, ignoring a pressure cooker can be disastrous.

2 comments:

BangaloreGuy said...

While on the surface it seems to be a big problem, IMO, it is prevalent in India as well. The bureaucracy has sat on its haunches and not lifted a finger in many instances - the most recent perhaps being the flooding in Bangalore(of course, even the Messaiah of the Masses, Deve Gowda slept through that).

Bureaucracies are, I have found, ery resilient. They are parasites all the same, but they do know how to ensure their existence very well. (another case in point : how the RTI is being handled by our babus)

BangaloreGuy said...

"IMO, it is prevalent in India as well"

should have been

" IMO, its not so big a problem - it is prevalent in India as well, and yet we have seen little evidence of a full-scale revolt against it"

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