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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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The End of China’s Miracle?

Posted by Author on January 9, 2009

John Pomfret, Washington Post, USA, on January 8, 2009 –

Times are tough in the United States. It seems that they’re even tougher in China.

An official Chinese magazine this week predicted a massive increase in protests because of the global economic downturn. It reported that 10 million people, originally from the countryside, have been fired from their jobs in factories mostly on China’s eastern coast. Another 8 million people are officially registered as unemployed. Meantime, a record number of people will enter the workforce this year, including more than 6 million who have graduated from high school or college. 2009, the magazine said, will be the toughest year in China in recent memory.

The piece, published by Liaowang, a magazine owned by the state-run New China News Agency, detailed a “perfect storm” of economic problems in China’s cities — factory closures and the non-payment of salaries to millions of employees — cascading into China’s rural areas, sparking land disputes as millions of recently-fired factory workers flood home.This perfect storm, the piece said, would “inflict a new pressure on our country’s social stability and harmony.”

What’s that mean in English? Well, the article provided a few statistics. Labor protests jumped 93.52 percent in the first 10 months of 2008 over same period in 2007. In one city alone, the capital Beijing no less, protests to demand the back payment of salaries (Chinese employers routinely rip off their workers to the tune of an estimated $4 billion a year nationwide) increased 300 percent and the people participating went up 900 percent in November when compared to the same month a year earlier.

The prevailing narrative about China in the United States is that the Communist Party is secure in power and that while the economic downturn will cause trouble, the party will probably muddle through. The party is launching its own version of an economic stimulus package, with big infrastructure spending planned and loads of job creation schemes.

However, a lot of us — even China wonks — forget that China is not the United States and that its political system is inherently unstable. Yes, the party has amassed more than $1 trillion in foreign exchange, giving it serious wiggle room to spend its way out of the current crisis. Yes, it’s also garnered some goodwill for putting on the Olympic Games, its space shots and its seemingly rapid response to last year’s earthquake. And, yes, China’s younger generation seems a lot less interested in questioning the party’s legitimacy thanks to years of mind-numbing “Patriotic Education” and ever-increasing opportunity.

But because so much happening in China occurs within the “black box” of state-censored information and the seemingly leak-free walls of party central at Zhongnanhai, we are no doubt missing a big part of the story. And, if you believe (as I do) that China’s state-run press never reports things are as bad as they really are, the Liaowang article is grim news indeed and should be a wake-up call for all of those prognosticators and pundits who think somehow that the laws of gravity don’t apply to the People’s Republic of China.

Washington Post

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