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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 28-Feb-2010
28-Feb-10 News - China faces social unrest disaster

Web Log - February, 2010

28-Feb-10 News - China faces social unrest disaster

EU President is called a 'Damp rag,' and Russia blames Obama for its drug problem.

We have a bumper crop of news stories today.

8.8 Magnitude earthquake strikes Chile

A building in Talca, Chile, destroyed by Saturday's earthquake. <font size=-2>(Source: NY Times)</font>
A building in Talca, Chile, destroyed by Saturday's earthquake. (Source: NY Times)

Epicenter of Chile's earthquake <font size=-2>(Source: NY Times)</font>
Epicenter of Chile's earthquake (Source: NY Times)

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in Chile, following the massive earthquake that's killed hundreds of people. NY Times.

British politician calls the EU President a 'Damp Rag'

Nigel Farage, one of the UK's representatives to the European Parliament, addressed European Union President Herman Van Rompuy as follows, earlier this week:

"I don't want to be rude.

But you know, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low grade bank clerk.

The question that I want to ask and that we are all going to ask is: who are you? I had never heard of you; nobody in Europe had ever heard of you. I would like to ask you, Mr President: who voted for you? And what mechanism - I know democracy is not popular with you lot - what mechanism do the peoples of Europe have to remove you? Is this European democracy?

Sir, you have no legitimacy in this job at all, and I can say with confidence that I can speak on behalf of the majority of the British people in saying: we do not know you, we do not want you, and the sooner you are put out to grass, the better.

I have no doubt that it is your intention to be the quiet assassin of European democracy and of the European nation states. You appear to have a loathing for the very concept of the existence of nation states; perhaps that is because you come from Belgium, which of course is pretty much a non-country."

Farage is facing a reprimand for his remarks, according to The Telegraph.

I listened to a BBC segment on this story. They went through a litany of parlianmentary insults from several countries in Europe, as well as Canada, Korea and Japan.

As for the U.S., the only thing they could come up with was the shouted "You lie!" during President Obama's State of the Union address.

The BBC segment then had a long discussion on why Americans were so much more civilized than the rest of the world. There were several deep psychological suggestions.

Actually, I believe that the answer is much simpler than that: America is not a parliamentary democracy. When Farage called van Rompuy a "damp rag," it may have been in the hope of getting some popular movement going that would drive him out of office quickly, perhaps through a vote of no confidence.

But that's not possible in the American system. If you hate George Bush, or you hate Barack Obama, you know that he's going to be around until the end of his term, so insulting him can only backfire.

China's top expert on social unrest predicts 'revolutionary turmoil'

In a speech described as "very significant," Professor Yu Jianrong, an expert close to China's President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, is predicting looming internal disaster, based on on-the-ground surveys and also the views of Chinese government ministers.

The speech was given on December 26. It was never publicly reported, but it's recently emerged on Chinese web sites. It's being recognized in the West now because of reporting by the Sydney Morning Herald.

That China is facing looming internal disaster due to social unrest is hardly news. I laid out all the reasons in 2005 in my article, "China approaches Civil War.")

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been in a state of near-panic since 1991, which is when the Soviet Union collapsed. They've been afraid that if Communism could collapse in the Soviet Union, then it could collapse in China. The CCP are also well aware of China's history of massive rebellion -- the White Lotus rebellion of 1795, the Taiping Rebellion of 1852, and Communist Revolution that began with Mao's Long March in 1934. In 2007, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said that China is "unsteady, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable."

Now, Wen Jiabao said on Friday that 2010 will be the "most complicated" year for the country's economy, according to the Taiwan News. "Two things can hurt social stability. One is corruption. The other is the price of products," Wen said, adding that the government should be able to regulate both.

Actually, corruption has been growing rapidly in China, and is the source of a great deal of unrest, as Wen suggests, and housing prices at least are completely out of control. (See "Corruption is increasing in China," and "Skyrocketing real estate prices in China alarm officials.")

Mass incidents

Some of the most remarkable things about China -- and I first wrote about this in 2004 (see "Up to 50,000 workers riot and clash with police in southeast China") -- are the "mass incidents." In a typical situation, there might be a busy shopping district. Someone accidentally bumps into somebody or, even worse, someone accidentally bumps into someone's wife. A fight ensues, and people start gathering around, taking sides. They use their cell phones to notify other people, and pretty soon there are dozens, hundreds, thousands or sometimes even tens of thousands of people fighting each other.

If even one incident like this occurred in the U.S., it would be international news. But there are thousands of "mass incidents" in China every year.

In his speech, Professor Yu cited statistics that show that the number of these mass incidents has been growing steadily, from a few thousand in the 1990s to over 90,000 in the last year. "More and more evidence shows that the situation is getting more and more tense, more and more serious," Professor Yu said.

China's 'Ant Tribes' face hard times

The "ants" are the hundreds of millions of interchangeable workers in Beijing and other big cities in China. The name comes from the book "Ants Tribe," according to the AFP.

Even though many of them are college graduates, it's getting harder and harder for them to find jobs. In 2009, move than 1/3 of the Beijing "ants" had no employment contracts, and many were unemployed or were changing jobs frequently.

This is the exactly the kind of problem that Professor Yu was talking about, and it's exactly the kind of atmosphere that can give rise to social unrest.

Terrorist bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan

This video is an AFP story of a terrorist bombing in Kabul on Friday.

Taliban suicide bombers targeted guesthouses in the heart of Kabul on Friday, killing at least 16 people. Nine Indian nationals, a French film-maker and an Italian diplomat were confirmed killed in the blast as well as several police.

Russia blames the U.S. for heroin addiction in Russia

Victor Ivanov, the head of Russia's federal drug control agency, is blaming the Nato coalition forces in Afghanistan for not doing enough to curb opium production in Afghanistan.

According to the BBC, he particularly blamed the Obama administration for ending a military drive to destroy opium poppy crops in Afghanistan. The US had abandoned that practice because it was alienating farmers and driving them to support the Taliban.

Russia has millions of heroin addicts, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called Afghan heroin, which makes up 90% of Russia's narcotics trade, a threat to Russia's national security.

Additional Links

--- The Federal Trade Commision has notified almost 100 organizations that person information, including sensitive data bout customers or employees, has been hacked from the organizations' computers, and is available on file-sharing networks for identify theft. FTC Press Release.

--- I'm always being criticized for being too gloomy, so let me not omit mention of this NY Times story. It seems that there's a big silver lining to Greece's financial crisis. The crisis will force the European nations to finally cooperate with one another, especially in fiscal policy. "Greece was the birthplace of Europe," says the writer, Jacques Attali, "and the Greek crisis will, in the end, be the midwife of the completion of the European project." According to Generational Dynamics, Attali is absolutely right -- but not before the Clash of Civilizations World War has ended.

--- Greece is facing a major showdown next week, as it will try to sell 10-year bonds to finance its current interest payments. The WSJ reports that German and French officials have been discussing a 30 billion euro bailout of Greece, to be financed by state-owned French and German banks. The timing is unclear, and nothing has been approved.

--- Mirhossein Mousavi was the opposition leader who claims that last year's Iranian Presidential election was stolen from him by a corrupt Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year. On Saturday, Mousavi's web site said that the legitimacy of Iran's clerical rulers were "a cult that has no respect for Iran's national interests," and has waning credibility. Reuters. It's amazing that Mousavi hasn't been arrested, or worse.

--- The potential political crisis in Kenya that we reported a couple of weeks ago (see "Kenya's political coalition may collapse and lead to tribal warfare") has been averted for now, according to AFP. Bitter political enemies, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, from different ethnic tribes, have put differences aside to preserve the coalition government that was formed in the wake of the massive violence two years ago.

--- Sufism is a mystical tradition within both the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. This NY Times article describes Sufism in Pakistan. For more information, you may enjoy this video of Whirling Dervishes in Turkey:

Just watching that video makes me dizzy.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Feb-10 News - China faces social unrest disaster thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Feb-2010) Permanent Link
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