Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Two problems Beijing struggles to control

Two events over the past few days should have demonstrated to the Chinese Government just how difficult it is to exercise the total control over their systems and citizens they so desire and strive for.

The first, of course, has been the antics of the Shanghai Stock Market which Beijing has always wanted to portray as a model for its brand of commo-capitalism. Initially, the Government was about as powerless to stop the massive $3 trillion wipe-out as Canute was with the tides.

Since then a series of desperate (Beijing would call them innovative) measures have halted the rout and some gains have been made, but diktats such as suspending the biggest losing companies and halting public offerings provide only a breathing space.

Simply, the Chinese small investors have got to realise that share purchase is not a gold-plated way of making easy money and what goes up often comes down. That was the painful lesson of Black Thursday 1929 and it appears it has to be learnt over again.

The second problem for Beijing has come in a leaked document which indicates that up to 600 members of the country’s Uighur Muslim minority have slipped out of China to join Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and have probably undergone terrorist training there.

This seems to be confirmed by the appearance in an Islamic State (IS) propaganda video of a Uighur cleric calling on his fellow Muslims to “fight against the Chinese infidels”.

The South China Morning Post reported that the tape also showed a classroom full of Uighur boys wearing IS headbands, one of whom threatened to return to China and “raise the IS flag in Turkistan” (this being the name given to the province of Xinjiang where most Uighurs live).

While no-one should wish IS’s horrific brand of death and destruction to spread, Beijing has done nothing to come to terms with its Muslim minority, the latest provocation being attempts to forbid the observance of the holy month of Ramadan by ordering public servants, teachers and students not to fast during the day.

In the past this kind of repression has led to violent protests and deaths, now it appears some Uighurs are prepared to take up arms in the name of IS’s perverted brand of Islam.

Compromise and reconciliation are needed if these problems are not to persist and worsen. Unfortunately those words do not appear in the lexicon of the Chinese Communist Party.    



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