Thursday, November 11, 2010

China is ticking.....

The other night I saw a documentary about the final secrets surrounding the WWII Allied escape from the prisoner of war camp called Stalag Luft III. This was supposed to be a final accounting of facts, some of which were used to produce the wonderful movie called The Great Escape back in 1963.
This is a remarkable story of how prisoners assisted the war effort against the NAZI's through subterfuge, guile, courage and determination. The "new" information revealed in the documentary, hinges around how porous this POW camp was, and how the military in Britain (using the BBC) and the United States (using MIS-X) assisted in the Great Escape.
Here is some of what went into the escape  of 76 prisoners right under the noses of their German captors.
Constructing the three tunnels (Tom, Dick and Harry) required massive quantities of wood and other materials: Over 4,000 bed boards, 34 chairs, 52 20-man tables, 90 double tier bunks, 10 single tables, and 76 benches were used to help construct the tunnels. Getting through the tunnels was only part of the escape. The escapees required 50 sets of blue coveralls, 42 German uniforms, 260 civilian jackets, 100 civilian suits, and 300 civilian caps were made for the escapees to wear once they made it outside the camp. The 77th escapee was captured that night outside the camp, and eventually all but three of the 76 escapees were recaptured, and 50 were murdered as retribution by the Germans. But this escape was a success because NAZI records indicate that 1.5 million Germans were involved looking for the 76 escapees and not advancing their cause.

This got me thinking as I read an article about China this week in the National Post. All totalitarian regimes go to great lengths to subjugate and control their population through spies, monitors, etc. This is done at great expense to the regime (as it was to the NAZI's above) and is one reason that these regimes eventually collapse. The Soviet Union took 70 long years to collapse, but that was a different time. When will the Chinese Red Empire collapse?
The Post article, The illusion of China's rise, talks about the capitalist (but not market-driven) miracle of China's growth while at the same time describing China as having:
" independent trade unions, farmers' unions, chambers of commerce or industry associations -- only countless silent workers who have no sense of rights and no channels of complaint. In China, we have no independent media or independent academic research -- only television, radio, newspapers, publishing houses, research institutes and universities which are either mouthpieces of the government or subject to the party's control. In China, we have no independent and registered human rights and environmental NGOs, and no independent foundations. Those public interest researchers and lawyers who try to be watchdogs and uphold the Chinese Constitution are watched themselves and suppressed when they try to contribute to the peaceful transition of China to a country of laws. 
And we have no meaningful protections for the environment. According to the Constitution, China's land, rivers, forests and mineral resources are all state-owned. In practice, this means owned by state officials. Any official who puts his hands on our resources can own them. Land grabs have become the primary means for officials at all levels to get rich."
So how long can such a situation persist? How long will the people "shut their mouths" and accede to the state? In the age of the internet and other communication technologies the Chinese "prison" is very much more porous than Stalag Luft III. I think a change could be sooner than later.
The Chinese leadership takes a risk in allowing travel of some citizens, and allowing them to be exposed to the freer world outside. The thirst for freedom is certainly alive in China, and an uprising of sorts has happened before in the spring of 1989 as evidenced by the iconic photo of "tank-man" above. Back then communism seemed to be in retreat everywhere in the world. Sure the Chinese have it better now than ever before, but freedom is contagious and the deprivation of some freedoms motivates those deprived to have more. A grass roots Chinese freedom uprising would have far reaching economic consequences on the entire planet to say the least.

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