Question: What is happening in China in response to the recession?
Adi Ignatius: It’s funny; back in 1989, there were very few protests then, and any protest was a huge deal and the government have to confront it: do we crack down, can we make it go away, do we start arresting people immediately? They were rare events and they required a kind of dramatic response.
Now, there tens of thousands of protests across China all the time and they’ve probably accelerated during the recessionary period. They tend to be workers and farmers, primarily workers who have small scale, localized issues about factory conditions, about lay offs, things like that, and the government has managed to handle those. They realized “Okay, this is going to happen but that doesn’t fundamentally threaten the state.” I mean, it’s when the intellectuals, when the elite take to the streets—that then becomes a problem.
There is concern: China has a great stimulus package of its own that seems to be working. China has been hit—the exports are down 25%. It was a huge figure that represents a lot of money, that represents a lot of factory closures, although compared to hit the U.S. has taken, they seem to be surviving relatively well.
Recorded on: June 19, 2009