A friend put up pictures from the Olympic Torch protest in San Francisco in April. This handsome devil is yours truly holding a sign that says "The Chinese government lies about Tibet"; check out the other photos on there. We were standing on the Embarcadero, not yet realizing that the torch would be diverted and run only on back streets with no crowds (presumably out of shame). One more shameful observation: here we had representatives of a real live communist country barging down our streets with shock troops from the motherland, a place where freedom of religion and speech are non-existent and the free market exists insofar as you you have connections to a Party bureaucrat - and where was the GOP and Libertarian outrage? I can't have been the only one (I hope).
You may notice in the pictures big red Communist China banners, which are very photogenic, but the following was notable that day: the pro-China people were outnumbered about 10 to 1 and to a person all appeared to be Han Chinese, whereas the pro-Tibet people had people of every stripe, including Han Chinese. Despite this, media coverage made it appear as if there were a 50-50 split between pro-China and pro-Tibet demonstrators, because the Chinese consulate packed most of the pro-China people into a dense area that would look good on camera. Many Chinese students were bussed in from outside the Bay Area, apparently under threat of losing their financial support in China if they didn't attend the event.
The current financial meltdown isn't good for anybody, including one of my least favorite governments, China. The Middle Kingdom largely depends the US for the blistering manufacturing growth that underlies its recent rise, but (judging by its still-growing trade surplus) it's somewhat insulated by its weaker-than-realized need for commodities and an underdeveloped financial sector relative to the other big players. Whoever wins in November will have to face the panicking leadership of a China that has built up its military, has become used to economic good fortune,
and is suddenly struggling.