Anger, Oppression, and Courage

May 12, 2010

In the West, it is common to air public or private corruption so the world sees. In China, it is best not to talk about embarrassing problems publicly. Unfortunately, this practice allows individuals in public office to spend lavishly.

When China considers reforms that go against cultural habits, the government moves cautiously and studies the results. Why experiment with change at all?  Because the people show courage and demand changes and this noise cannot be ignored for long.

In Chongqing, an experiment in rural land reform is taking place designed to lift economic oppression from the backs of the rural poor so they benefit from the growing economy. This is the only province where rural land reforms are being tested on a provincial scale. If this works, these reforms may spread to other provinces calming rural anger.

Baimiao, a Sichuan township, is experimenting with financial transparency that has been termed “Naked Government.” So far, results look promising.  For China to combat political corruption, financial transparency is necessary.

In another test, a Cultural Revolution museum in Shantou (Guangdong district) is a message that history is a warning not to make the same mistakes twice. The museum gets about 1,000 visitors a day.

The size of each experiment may signal the importance of each. One covers a province. Two are only in towns. The first experiment took place soon after Mao died. That test was an open market leading to China’s ever changing, booming economy. Maybe these latest tests, if successful, will lead to similar results.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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