Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Imagine you are Hu Jintao right now...

Things have been going freakin' great. I mean, China's growth rate is the envy of the world, you've got more dollars than Bernanke stashed away, and your economic problems are relatively minor.

Or were.

First of all, even with your control of the state owned media, you realize Twit happens (to leak through). Now as your anxious comrades are calling you to share, it seems popular opinion about authoritarian regimes has dropped a little in the polls lately.
Skittish domestic security officials responded with a mass show of force across China on Sunday after anonymous calls for protesters to stage a Chinese “Jasmine Revolution” went out over social media and microblogging outlets.
Although there were no reports of large demonstrations, the outsize government response highlighted China’s nervousness at a time of spreading unrest in the Middle East aimed at overthrowing authoritarian governments.
The words “Jasmine Revolution,” borrowed from the successful Tunisian revolt, were blocked on sites similar to Twitter and on Internet search engines, while cellphone users were unable to send out text messages to multiple recipients. A heavy police presence was reported in several Chinese cities.
In recent days, more than a dozen lawyers and rights activists have been rounded up, and more than 80 dissidents have reportedly been placed under varying forms of house arrest. At least two lawyers are still missing, family members and human rights advocates said Sunday.
In Beijing, a huge crowd formed outside a McDonald’s in the heart of the capital on Sunday after messages went out listing it as one of 13 protest sites across the country. It is not clear who organized the campaign, but it first appeared Thursday on Boxun, a Chinese-language Web site based in the United States, and then spread through Twitter and other microblogging services.
By 2 p.m., the planned start of the protests, hundreds of police officers had swarmed the area, a major shopping district popular with tourists.
At one point, the police surrounded a young man who had placed a jasmine flower on a planter outside the McDonald’s, but he was released after the clamor drew journalists and photographers.
In Shanghai, three people were detained during a skirmish in front of a Starbucks, The Associated Press reported. One post on Twitter described a heavily armed police presence on the subways of Shenzhen, and another claimed that officials at Peking University in Beijing had urged students to avoid any protests, but those reports were impossible to verify Sunday.
The messages calling people to action urged protesters to shout, “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness,” an ostensible effort to tap into popular discontent over inflation and soaring real estate prices. [More]
Your attention focuses on the protesters' first demand, but then you remember the inconvenient truth just whispered to you recently by your agricultural advisers: the crop isn't good.
The Chinese government has said the country's worst drought in decades is likely to continue, putting the winter wheat harvest at risk.
The Ministry of Agriculture said the drought had worsened in some wheat-growing regions despite snowfalls.
Large swathes of China have had almost no rain since October, affecting millions of hectares of crops and leaving many short of drinking water.
Analysts say crop shortages in China could affect prices around the world.
The country's central bank is offering emergency loans for drought-relief projects in northern, central and eastern areas.
Officials are trying to calm fears over shortages, saying the country has enough in reserve to meet demand.
But food prices have been rising quickly in China for months - and people are grumbling, says the BBC's Michael Bristow in Beijing.
China's leaders will not want this latest drought to push prices even higher, our correspondent says.
Last month, the authorities pledged $15bn (£9.4bn; 98.6bn yuan) in support to help farmers cope with the effect of the drought.
Forecasters say the dry weather could continue well into the spring. [More]
Suddenly the urgency of maintaining exports by artificially keeping the yuan cheap runs headfirst into the vision of a Tienanmen-Square version of Tahrir Square.

I'm thinking you keep buying commodities - all of 'em. And you let the yuan creep up to make the cost lower. And you let the factory owners lump it.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone else suspect the Islamic Extremists are fixin to take Egypt and Libia and so on? Could this get real bad for US?

John Phipps said...


I don't think so, and I'll lay out my case tomorrow.