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Discontent, but no revolt in China - yet

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My fat Chinese friend swears that this so called Jasmine Revolution is some kind of US, CIA backed strategy to undermine China, whaddaya all think??

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China won't revolt, they'll just be a low, simmering burn that will slowly spiral out of control over the next ten years or so. So long as the military is paid and fed, they'll keep all rabble rousers under control.

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It's fluid-- that's all I can say. Premier WEN will address China's 'netizens' today, I doubt officials in China are taking it lightly.

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So long as the military is paid and fed, they'll keep all rabble rousers under control.

Important point when discussing China politics. But right now, no one can say how this particular grapevine-story will end or die.

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With China I dont think its a question of IF, just when, there is no way the commies will be able to control that many people, once the bubble pops that will likely be the first real test

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My fat Chinese friend swears that this so called Jasmine Revolution is some kind of US, CIA backed strategy to undermine China, whaddaya all think??

You can't blame your fat Chinese friend who sworn that as there are reports and videos of presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, the U.S. Ambassador to China attending a Jasmine Revolution protest in Beijing.

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China won't revolt, they'll just be a low, simmering burn that will slowly spiral out of control over the next ten years or so. So long as the military is paid and fed, they'll keep all rabble rousers under control.

This is Mao's doctrine. Power comes from the barrel of the gun.

In today PRC, the militaries are involved heavily in its economics. From running bus companies to having large shares in some key industrials.

With the Military having its foot prints in almost every where, do you think that any PLA General would want to see a destabilized PRC?

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From my personal point of views, ordinary Chinese will revolt in the following scenarios:

a) Starvation due to famine, inflation etc,

b) Chronic unemployment, and

c) Society unjust.

They will not fight for greater political freedom just for the sake of it.

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Well, the times, they are a changin', indeed. Can China do anything about the current unrest in the Middle East? No way. It is not a global leader and never will be. The truth is that China is nothing but a large paper tiger/real estate bubble that could implode any day now. Also, Beijing is terrified of its own upcoming authoritarian transition in 2012. And, already, there is a very high rate of underemployment going on and there are millions of young Chinese students who are graduating in June 2011. And each year the country graduates a huge surplus of candidates who all cannot be absorbed by the labor market. The CCP is an oudated oligarchy that is trying to block all the current news of the unrest, but with the recent 'Jasmine Revolution' it is now quite clear that the Chinese people are very unhappy over many issues. Indeed, the Chinese public is starting to perceive the CCP for what it really is and as the current unrest in the Middle East grows, so will Chinese discontent with its communist regime. So much can quickly go wrong in China. And if the growing public discontent becomes an internal crisis in the CCP, no one in Washington or Tokyo or anywhere will know who to trust and then....

God help us all.

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Mao believed in perpetual revolutions and would approve of the spreading global uprisings and frown upon China's current leadership and bourgeois lifestyles.

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My fat Chinese friend swears that this so called Jasmine Revolution is some kind of US, CIA backed strategy to undermine China, whaddaya all think??

/////////////////////////////

Aisan is right, our embassador was caught on candid camera............or he was just going for his weekly burger ar Micky D.

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When they have no food, China will take to the streets. Anoter bad harvest this year and the revolution may come... maybe even from starving North Korea.

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Just heard from BBC that Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday said China had set a lower than usual economic growth target and pledged to contain soaring prices as concern over runaway growth mounts.

Wen also said the world's second-largest economy would aim for seven percent annual growth over the next five years -- a rare lowering of its usual target of eight percent expansion, until now seen as key to staving off social unrest.

It seems that the CCP has abandoned the 保八 or "protect 8% growth".

The CCP is now between a rock and a hard place. Without 8% annual growth, there will be high unemployment rate. With 8% annual growth, they cannot contain the spiralling high inflation.

PRC will have to micro-manage its economy.

2011 will the year of global uncertainties.

I believe CCP will introduce some form of limited democracy this year.

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If truly free elections were allowed in China, the Communist Party would lose.

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You can't blame your fat Chinese friend who sworn that as there are reports and videos of presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman

Personally doubt many people in China knows Amb. HUNTSMAN. It's free publicity though, and now more people (in the region at least) know who he is.

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Another attempt at the 'Jasmine Revolution' is scheduled to start in a few hours.

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If there were a revolt in China, that might disrupt the flow of Chinese-made stuff to the rest of the world. Can't have that!

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Exodus of Chinese to Islands of Japan will be my worst nightmare if Beijin fails to deliver a social stability in China.

It the Beijin attempts failed, there will be a serious consequence to Japan. The people of China may start freeing to safe haven Japan. I am all for democracy for the people of China, and I hope Beijin is very comprehensive to do the right thing for the people.

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Exodus of Chinese to Islands of Japan will be my worst nightmare if Beijin fails to deliver a social stability in China /////////////////////////

Like how, swim ?

And why almost everyone wishes ill on China ? Jealousy ?

China is, like it or not, most other nations biggest trading partners. China falls, so will everyone else. That's about the bottomline, folks.

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Like how, swim ? And why almost everyone wishes ill on China ? Jealousy ?

By slow boats to /from China. You may be young to remember this song. No, no jealousy at all. Japan does not have a capacity to absorb all refugees coming from China.

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Globe, Not as young as you think, as i recall there's no mass exodus to japan in the 50's and 60's ( great leap forward failure/famine, the cultural revolution with the red guards waving the little red books ). Doubt they will go to japan simply based on recent history. There's also an OLD saying from the mothers telling the kids to eat all the veges since the poor little Chinese children are starving...............

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Don't forget that there was a revolution in China in March, 1959 when during the three days of fighting between the Tibetans and the Chinese army, 2000 people died, the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, escaped to India. And some 80,000 Tibetans fled to Nepal, India, Bhutan and Europe.

In the event of a revolt, Chinese refugees could flee to Japan. However, these days, looking behind the headlines, things do not bode well for both China and Japan.

In the recent article: "World's Largest Pension Fund Needs to Sell Japanese Bonds; Japan's Demographic Time Bomb Officially Goes Off"

it states:

"Will growth be sufficient to make a long-term dent in Japan's debt? I scoff at the notion. Moreover, rising energy prices will take a big bite out of Japan's trade surplus."

"By the way, in case you missed it, Japan's trade surplus went negative last month. Supposedly it's a one-time thing."

"Japan is counting on increased sales to China when China is clearly overheating and will have to cut back. How do you think that fantasy is going to work out?"

"So, it's back to tax hikes. To do it all with tax hikes, Japan would need to hike the VAT by 200%, from 5% to 15%. Is that going to fly with the voters?"

"Nonetheless, let's assume Japan does hike taxes. Those tax hikes would strengthen the yen, which in turn would hurt Japan's export growth and corporate profits."

And as Edward Hugh recently wrote:

"Once Japan has a trade deficit it will all be over pretty quickly, since then of course they will have to attract funds to finance the deficit, and this is where things will start to get pretty tricky."

Indeed, all of the above does not bode well at all.

God help us all.

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Japan would need to hike the VAT by 200%, from 5% to 15%. Is that going to fly with the voters?"

"Nonetheless, let's assume Japan does hike taxes. Those tax hikes would strengthen the yen, which in turn would hurt Japan's export growth and corporate profits."

This sounds like a "NO WIN" situation for Japan to me while the energy cost WILL continue to rise. Then what will be the best solution for Japan? Just keep praying for the best?

Any good idea, MeLovU or anyone, please? Please let me know.

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The government has become so adept at silencing critics and suppressing protests, starting with the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989, that scholars worry that it is becoming a well-worn tool. When that happens, police states can tire, and Claremont McKenna’s Pei said, regimes that look very stable sometimes collapse, like the communist bloc in Europe in 1989, Indonesia a decade later and seemingly Egypt this year.

This is very true. Can happen to any country.

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@globalwatcher - Well, I was just talking to a friend of mine about this and he said that if Japan's long-term bond rates go up, the consequences for Japan would be very dire.

If you can, get out now! Just walk away from this madness and head down under to Australia. That's what I'll be doing. Good luck.

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@MeLuvU, does it mean that Japan may give up an obligation to pay back to its own citizens? Then gov. saving guarantee does not mean anything. May be they cannot even pay retirement pension to retirees in Japan. Did I understand you correctly? It is scary. May God Help Japan!!!

Wait for your response from you. Thank you, MeLuvU.

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@MeLuvU, no wonder WS and Bill Clinton have been reminding Americans by saying "we don't want to be like Japan, we DO NOT want to be like Japan." No wonder S&P rating of Japan went down.

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Hi Globalwatcher, well things are relatively "OK" for now, at least. But my financial analyst friend told me that since Japan's debt level is so high compared to its GDP, that the day will come (not next month, not next year, but soon enough) when the Japanese government will be reduced to two basic functions: paying pensions to retirees and paying interest on the debt. So, no, they will not default on any pension payments anytime soon.

However, the situation could spiral down to the point where the government would have to increase the debt level in order to pay pensions. Then of course, the amount of interest payments would be increased and then, finally, the inability to pay the interest payments would occur and then we would have default.

But my friend also said that before the above scenario happens, the government still has some viable options available, including, privatization of the pension fund which they would do in a crisis situation. He also told me that if the government could somehow deregulate Japan's major industries and increase foreign immigration, then that would significantly improve the long-term situation. But, we know all too well how that works. :(

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Thank you for your excellent feedback on this,MeLovU.

1)The problem of Japan is somewhat similar to US debt problem. We are in middle of 2011 fiscal budget political process. If nothing is compromised between GOP and Dem, then the US Fed gov. is forced to shut down on 3/4/2011 as we will be running out of money. Hope both parties can avoid it by all costs.

2)Yes, I have been very troubled by a Debt/GDP ration of Japan. It looks pretty ugly. If nothing is done soon, Japan will be facing at a serious consequence like PIIGS countries. Let's be honest that's the reason Japan's credit rating went down to the south in the last month. It was unforgivable PM Kan could not comprehend to the question why the rating went down.

3)privatization of the (govt) pension fund which they would do in a crisis situation........

This is a bad idea for Japanese seniors who depend on it for retirement. I believe Japan should do everything to avoid this option.

After privatization, a business can bankrupt it any time with no hesitation. And seniors will be left with NO money.

Many states'public pension funds of US are held in annuity account with AIG. That's one of the reason why US Fed had to rescure AIG in 2009. I am not sure if Japan has a same moral courage and standard to save it like US did.

What would happen if the gov. pension fund is sold to foreign investment banking, well you know what they will do.

3)I am with your friend for deregulation of industries and increasing foreign hire hands. These are great tools to optimize inflation pressure in market. It takes a political genius to do it correctly to save Japan. Japanese leader is now challenged to do a well calculated balancing act: keeping inflation down in market place while avoiding asset class to go deflation. The Wall Street and Bill Clinton have been telling us that we need to do everything to avoid this situation of Japan; Japan being caught between TWO HARD ROCKS.

May God Bless Japan!! Again thank you for your post, MeLovU.

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No discontent, just anxiety, in Japan:

Recently, I had a most bizarre experience. I was walking down a street when a total stranger approached me and asked, "What will become of Japan?" And this happened not once but three times. Under a normal circumstance, those three people would have simply passed by wondering in which newspaper or TV show they had seen my face. But obviously they felt it impossible to repress the anxiety that they felt.

Interestingly, all three encounters happened last spring, well before blatant security threats cropped up in the fall when a Chinese trawler rammed two Japan Coast Guard cutters near the Senkaku Islands, and North Korea shelled a South Korean island.

Still, even last spring people had good reason for concern. At that time, Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio was straying in his handling of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa Island. Immediately after he told U.S. President Barack Obama "Trust me," Hatoyama made remarks that betrayed Obama's trust. He later tried to explain the intentions behind his remarks, but Obama refused to meet him. When Hatoyama told the press that he had at last been able to communicate his message to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had sat next to him during a meal, Clinton took the trouble of inviting the Japanese ambassador to the State Department to tell him that she had not acknowledged Hatoyama's comments.

People grow uneasy when they perceive that their government is not functioning well. But whatever complaints the Japanese may express about their government every once in a while, no other people trust their governments as much as the Japanese do.

South Korean philosopher-statesman You Jin Oh once told me, "The Japanese people looked down on the Koreans for their lack of patriotism during Japan's colonial rule. The Koreans are actually patriotic people, but they have few memories in history of having receive benefits from their often tyrannical government. The Japanese, in contrast, show patriotism by uniting with the government in times of emergency. In short, the expression of patriotism is different between the Koreans and the Japanese. To be different has nothing to do with the concept of good or bad."

In Europe, China or Korea, families own precious metals and jewels that they can use for funds in times of emergency. In contrast, in Japan practically nobody hoards gold or jewels for that purpose. The Japanese trust the state and society so completely that they are content to keep their savings deposited in a bank or post office.

While the Japanese people are always freely bashing away at bureaucrats, they — occasional political turmoil notwithstanding — have never doubted that the government — in particular the bureaucracy — would always protect their interests. But witnessing the Democratic Party of Japan show so little respect for the bureaucracy, the people have lost confidence in the reliability of administrative institutions.

Also, while people have indulged in criticism of the government for being too subservient to the U.S., most Japanese did not doubt that the U.S. would protect Japan in a crisis. This trust and conviction, however, collapsed during the Hatoyama administration.

While I was telling others about my encounters with the three strangers, I recalled that this was not the first time the Japanese people had become wary of their government's handling of state affairs.

One year that has long remained in my memory is 1945. The Japanese people had been excited by the country's military victories in the early battles of the Pacific War and the conquest of Southeast Asia. But after the U.S. began carrying out air raids on Japan's mainland, city streets became filled with victims and food grew increasingly scarce. And every one in those days was saying, "What will become of Japan?"

Although the government tried to conceal the true conditions of the war, the gap between the official announcements and the reality became increasingly obvious. Ultimately, the Japanese people lost confidence in their government.

Going back further in history, there was the Feb. 26 Incident of 1936, a military coup d'etat that ultimately failed. I was only 6, but clearly remember the incident — in particular the deep concern that grownups felt over the uncertain future.

Around the time Japan was commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, the press interviewed older people to describe the most shocking events of their lifetimes. Even though they had experienced such major incidents as the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression of 1929 and Japan's defeat in World War II, many chose the Feb. 26 Incident. Throughout the war until its miserable end, no matter how painful the experience was to them, the people were united with the government. But the people interviewed said the Feb. 26 Incident, which was the only coup d'etat in Japan's modern history, made them feel that they no longer had a government they could rely on.

Fortunately, the atmosphere in Japan today has greatly changed since the days of the Hatoyama administration and popular confidence in the government is again growing. This is partly due to recent provocations by China and North Korea. The Kan government has openly emphasized that the alliance with the U.S. is the axis of Japan's foreign policy, and the U.S. has responded positively to this new stance. Today no objection is heard when the Ministry of Defense proposes improving the defense of the southwest islands of Japan or when Self-Defense Forces units are dispatched as observers of the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises. In addition, there is little bureaucracy bashing.

I believe this change is a manifestation of the wisdom of the Japanese people, to which the Kan government has responded. Prime Minister Naoto Kan acted boldly and dauntlessly when he appointed former Liberal Democratic Party economic planner Yosano Kaoru as minister of state for economic and fiscal policy. I hope that the prime minister will depart from all past complications and announce that Japan will exercise of the right to collective self-defense as well as revise the three-point principles to ban arms exports in the forthcoming meeting with Obama. Such actions would solidify the alliance between Japan and the U.S. and further alleviate the Japanese people's deep sense of insecurity.

While the inadequacy of Japan's defense budget will continue to pose an obstacle to the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance, the above two measures would, without any financial outlay, fundamentally solidify the alliance with the U.S. and alleviate the Japanese people's deep worries.

Hisahiko Okazaki is a former Japanese Ambassador to Thailand.

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