Saturday, December 20, 2008

Uh oh...

When America sneezes, the world catches a cold. But what if China sneezes...

From David Frum:

I've been banging the drum in this space for some weeks about the risk to China's political stability posed by the financial crisis. Here's an authoritarian regime that legitimates itself by delivering economic benefits - only the benefits are ceasing to flow. Today's Washington Post delivers the latest report on the consequences:

When 9,000 of Shin Guoqing's fellow taxi drivers went on strike early last month, he felt he had to join them.

Soaring inflation had undermined what his $300-a-month income could buy for his family, and Shin said he was frustrated that the government had done nothing to help. "After running around the whole day, you have only a few renminbi for it," he said, referring to China's currency. "You don't feel good about your life."

For two days, the drivers held this Sichuan province metropolis of 31 million people under siege, blocking roads and smashing cars. The Communist Party quickly stopped the violence by promising to address the drivers' demands for easier access to fuel and better working conditions.

From the far western industrial county of Yongdeng to the southern resort city of Sanya and the commercial center of Guangzhou, members of China's upwardly mobile working class — taxi drivers, teachers, factory workers and even auxiliary police officers — have mounted protests since the Chongqing strike, refusing to work until their demands were met.

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