Thai Lessons for China
BEIJING – Whatever the effects of political turmoil in Thailand, they are not helping the cause of democracy in China. The images of pro-democracy protesters and the subsequent military crackdown in downtown Bangkok have been openly shown in Chinese media without any apparent bias. Indeed, there is no need to embellish the political message for China.
If a relatively well-off and religious country known as the “land of smiles” can so rapidly degenerate into bloody class warfare, what would happen if the Chinese Communist Party lost its monopoly on power? It is not hard to imagine a Chinese-style red-shirt rebellion, with populist leaders tapping resentment and hot-headed youth torching symbols of power and privilege in Beijing. If multi-party democracy leads to violent and uncompromising electoral blocs, then most reflective people will prefer one-party rule that ensures social stability.
Still, it would be a mistake for the Chinese government to treat the events in Thailand as an excuse to postpone political reform. The gap between rich and poor is about the same in both countries, and there are tens of thousands of class-based “illegal disturbances” in China every year.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in