With access to information on the web and an economic slowdown on the way, China may be in for some changes. The Party tries to contain the tempest that is brewing.
China recently summoned the heads of various internet companies to Beijing to “discuss” how to deal with unwanted speech online. The Chinese Communist Party knows that it has a virtual tinderbox on it’s hands. More and more information is making its way to the great unwashed and that challenges fundamentally the China the Party has created.
For the past 2 decades China has ridden a wave of economic and technological growth despite heavy handed regulation. In the wake of Tiananmen Square the Chinese people basically struck a deal. You give us economic growth and a higher standard of living and we will in turn allow you to remain in power with all the trappings.
But this contract may be on the verge of breaking down for any number of reasons but chief among them is the increasing access to information online. But perhaps almost as important as access to information is the economic slowdown China may very soon witness.
We have become so used to 10% increases in Chinese GDP that we almost take it as a given that it will continue forever. This won’t be the case. The dirty little secret in China right now is that the economy is slowing a good deal off of its recent pace.
Put new access to information and an economic retraction together and the current Chinese system quickly becomes unstable. The Chinese leadership wants to control the burn because they know that in one form or another a fire is coming. They want to avoid a wildfire.
It may be too late.