China: Is Popular Revolution Innevitable?

Many signs of Chinese unrest, targeted mostly at local officials, go unreported by state media. An estimated 90,000 riots, protests and mass petitions occur each year, mainly in rural areas.

What's the Latest Development?

In China's southern Guandong province this December, people in the town of Wukan rose up and threw out their local government official for fear he would seize their farmland to make way for construction projects. The event was one of 90,000 riots, protests and mass petitions that are estimated to occur in China every year. While the government remains communist in title, a new consumer class is emerging among the citizenry which is showing a much greater sense of independence and adventure.  

What's the Big Idea?

Will the freedom of choice associated with a free-market economy spill over into China's political sphere? A new generation empowered by growing material wealth and the Internet remains in the minority but their influence is undeniableand expected to grow. Those in their 20s "are quitting their jobs if they find them boring. ... Most important, they are putting personal fulfillment above any sense of duty to 'serve the people.'" It would be premature to forecast revolution but the emergence of an empowered citizenry has begun.

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