Thursday, July 16, 2009

China: Here's How to Quell Tibetan and Uighur Unrest

Offer free elections, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech to everyone. Outlaw discrimination. It works, and it makes you stronger.


FOARP said...

Genuinely hate to say this, but Xinjiang isn't ever going to be a democracy, not without going Yugoslav - basically you have to split off the Kazakh and Han majority parts leaving the Uyghurs to themselves. Otherwise you'd have a bunch of people who genuinely hate each other trying to share a state, and they're not going to stop hating each other soon.

China could be a democracy, but she'd lose a lot of Xinjiang and probably Tibet, and would have to come to a extremely generous understanding with Taiwan and probably Hong Kong as well. Minorities like the Hui and the peoples of Yunnan would probably want to stay in, the Mongols and the Manchu are only in a majority in very small areas as well. Oh, and you'd have to do something about the 50+ million CCP members who'd be out on their ears. They might be stronger in the long term, but it couldn't be achieved without fighting, perhaps a significant amount of it lasting some years.

On the other hand, democratic reform will have to happen eventually, as the majority of people in China want it, but have been willing to postpone it as they believe that it might stop the explosive economic growth of the past three decades.

Thomas Paine Jr. said...

Thanks for stopping by FOARP. It's clear that the CCP doesn't want reform exactly because of what you're saying, but in the long run, an open AND growing China would be somewhere that many Tibetans, Uighurs, Kazakh, and everybody would want to be part of - if they could share in the success, if they were free to come and go and worship as they pleased. And if violence is the concern - isn't there already occasional fighting? To use a crude analogy to America's history, Li Zhi might be better if he filled a role more like the first governor of California,
rather than as Urumqi's Custer.

The biggest problem seems to be the perception by the very people who would have to form the core of the demand for reform (economically successful Han) that only the CCP is capable of keeping China stable and bringing about growth, and that with democratic reforms it couldn't have done this.

While the ideal solution (for Chinese people and everyone else) is for democracy to arrive quickly and peacefully, I hope that the two things are not mutually exclusive, as you say. But I can't imagine that the CCP will ever want reform (because they'll be out on their ears), so I fear that middle-class Han are sacrificing democracy now without guaranteeing long-term growth or a peaceful transition, and I wish that more Han would be more critical of their own government.

Bottom line: what can those of us do who are outside China but would like to encourage links between China and the West and pro-democracy reform?