Guest Post: Why Wasn’t There A Chinese Spring?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Steve Hass of

Why Wasn’t There A Chinese Spring?

It has now been two years since the self-immolation of the Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, provided the spark that set the Arab world aflame. A wave of protests spread throughout the region in quick succession and led to the overthrow of long ruling autocrats in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, and possibly Syria.

The collapse of regimes like Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, which many considered “an exemplar of…durable authoritarianism” was a salient reminder to many that such revolutions are “inherently unpredictable.” Before long some began to speculate that the protest movements might spread to authoritarian states outside the Arab world, including China. Indeed, the Chinese government was among those that feared the unrest would spread to China because, as one observer noted, China faced the same kind of “social and political tensions caused by rising inequality, injustice, and corruption” that plagued much of the Arab world on the eve of the uprisings.

Alas it was not to be as the Chinese government has proven far more durable than many of its counterparts in the Arab world. This inevitably raises the question of what factors differentiated the Chinese government from its Arab counterparts in places like Egypt?

Fortunately,in the more than two years since Mubarak fell, a number of theories have been advanced to explain the Arab Spring.

One set of explanations has centered on social and economic drivers. According to this reasoning, unrest in the region was driven by a highly discontented and mobilized society. Youth unemployment and official corruption enraged citizens throughout much of the Arab world and the diffusion of new communications technologies, particularly social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, enabled these individuals to channel these grievances into effective anti-regime collective action.

One shortcoming of this explanation is that the same sources of discontent and social media websites are available throughout the developing world, but successful revolutions are rare. In China, for example, official statistics suggest youth unemployment is low, but independent research has found that the problem may be large and growing, particularly among the type of young, urban and highly educated groups who have spearheaded many revolutions historically. Meanwhile, cross-national measures of corruption place China squarely between Tunisia and Egypt. Finally, Internet penetration rates also place China shoulder-to-shoulder with Tunisia and Egypt, and social media has increasingly appeared as a critical tool for mobilizing Chinese protestors in frequent “mass incidents,” and spreading news of sensitive topics, such as official corruption and public health threats posed by environmental pollution.

Many academics have made the case that the quality of authoritarian rule in Egypt, Tunisia and other toppled dictatorships has lagged behind that in China, causing a breakdown in the former but not the latter. Beijing has developed crack internal security forces for dispersing crowds and constructed its regime around a hegemonic, well-established political party. While these explanations have merit, researchers had identified similar authoritarian support in the Arab world immediately before the turbulent year of 2011. One key to the resilience of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt were their “robust” security forces, which were well-trained and armed – thanks in part to generous American support – and supposedly fiercely loyal to the regime.

Meanwhile, Mubarak and Ben Ali were carefully institutionalizing their regimes by constructing hegemonic political parties and skillfully using nominally democratic elections and legislatures to maintain regime cohesion and co-opt potential challengers. Meanwhile, in China, presumed to be bolstered by more effective institutions, public scandals surrounding high-ranking leaders, such as the wealth of Wen Jiabao’s family or the dramatic fall of Bo Xilai, and the malfeasance and corruption of middle and low-ranking officials, reveal that politics within the CCP may not be as orderly, managed and predictable as once imagined. 

But, of course, the Chinese regime has not collapsed and does not seem to be in its death throes. This is puzzling in some respects, because the country experiences annual protests that reportedly topped 180,000 as recently as 2010. Clearly popular discontent is high and Chinese citizens participate in contentious politics in large numbers, but these remain mostly localized affairs targeted at local issues, such as corrupt, low-ranking officials who engage in land grabs. Aside from the June 4 incident of 1989, they have not transformed into protest movements coordinated on a national scale and positioned against the central government itself, as appeared rapidly in Tunis and Egypt’s Tahrir square.

So why have Chinese citizens trended towards localized protests rather than the national protest movements seen in the Arab spring? As discussed in an important body of research, one source of this difference is linked to the structure of the state itself. In China, unlike most autocracies – including Mubarak’s Egypt and Ben Ali’s Tunisia—the state is highly decentralized. Local governments are given a substantial level of autonomy over development policies as well as social management – decisions related to dealing with popular challengers through repression or alternatively, the extension of concessions.

Since local authorities make decisions over the carrots and sticks used to address the demands of citizens with a high degree of autonomy, these officials rather than the national leadership or the regime itself are the primary target of most protest actions. In fact, it is a common phenomenon in China that aggrieved locals will appeal to the Center for assistance against corrupt local officials, even making reference to local officials’ poor enforcement of central directives and policies.Thus, the struggles faced by everyday Chinese are often directed at particular local officials and local issues, limiting the desire of protestors to take the dangerous leap of coordinating their actions across local communities to challenge the regime itself.

As a consequence, much like the Middle East, the years 2011 and 2012 have been ones characterized by very high levels of protest activities in China. However, because of the decentralized nature of the Chinese state, these battles have been ones won and lost by claimants contesting local officials rather than challenging the regime itself.

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de3de8's picture

As with everything, only a matter of time.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

That would be a big part of my take as well, a matter of time.  China is a place with many problems, and their turn will come when the popular discontent reaches a high enough level.  Another "tick tock".

But, Oriental culture (respect for authority, etc.) as well as the localized .govs there (which I did not know about until reading this article) does seem like they will keep the lid for now.

Still, in the end, CHINA is going to explode, and it will be big.

francis_sawyer's picture

Year of the barbeced flame broiled snake?

DeadFred's picture

Soros didn't fund the Chinese spring. Enough said.

john39's picture

yeah, but he is busily funding the american spring...   divide and conquer...

Bicycle Repairman's picture

This is the American spring?  Feels like November to me.

phyuckyiu's picture

Well, Soros did try actually, but when they had a policeman every 100 feet on the boulevard ready to dissapear the first person who shows anything related to a 'lotus flower' (gotta love color revolutions by the book), he realized he didn't have enough spies to pull it off.

ZerOhead's picture
Guest Post: Why Wasn’t There A Chinese Spring?

Hmmm... Let me guess... Small Chinese testicles producing an insufficient amount of testosterone or well behaved individuals in a society that due to population density appreciates order and conformity perhaps?

akak's picture

You just described AnAnonymous to a (low) T.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

A sane comment. And it must be added that Chinese citizenism is the biggest scam in human history, as they pictured themselves as the antithesis of the regime existing in those days, while ambitioning to become a bigger version.


akak's picture

Indeedly, Chinese 'american' Citizenismistic ambitionalizing is the crustiest bit of the mattering thing, definitely a certain self-indictable factualized something.

Half_A_Billion_Hollow_Points's picture




This writer is a moron; it's all about food prices.  When food is gone, the women want war or revolution, and they get it.  When food is here, the women stay away from men raging for war.  


As the saying goes: "When there's food on the table, there are lots of problems.  When there's no food on the table, there is one problem."

TwoShortPlanks's picture

It's been 5 years now, and I'm still waiting for that American Spring.

Pot this is Kettle, come in Pot, do you read're black...over!

TwoShortPlanks's picture

And you'll never see a Spring from those Perma-Slave Russians, slaves to Communisim, slaves to Mafia, the women are slaves to fashion and bling, the men are slaves to Vodka!

Supernova Born's picture

Darwin is bored by the question.

knukles's picture

Because the Chinese aren't Arabs, silly

nmewn's picture

The One Hundred Word Eulogy...Duck Duck Go it ;-)

knukles's picture

OK nmewn, I give.
So a few of 'em are.

(God, some people just gotta pick pick pick pick)

Karl von Bahnhof's picture

He did. But they were not stupid.

All Risk No Reward's picture

It isn't Soros, it is bigger than Soros.  The real shot callers avoid the public attention so you can focus on the smaller players (relative to the bigs, anyway).

This is true - the Big Finance Captital controlled CIA wasn't funding and financing a revolution in China.

Not to mention the China "boot" on that neck is quite a bit heavier.

That's why Rockefeller (and Big Fiannce Capital) loves his little "Chinese model" so much he wants to implement Mao's "success" in America.

Whatever the price of the Chinese Revolution (60-80 million dead), it has obviously succeeded (controlled slaves!) not only in producing more efficient and dedicated administration (more sophisticated slave masters!), but also in fostering high morale and community of purpose (work for the master or get sent to prison where your organs will be snatched for cash!). The social experiment (wicked evil) in China under Chairman Mao's leadership (#1 mass murder in human history) is one of the most important and successful in human history (can't wait to bust America and the West and implement this model everywhere!).– David Rockefeller

But don't worry, ZeroHedge authors consistently tell you the 5th grade level math financial collapse of America is because central bankers are juvenile.

Fluoride heads under mass perception management (useful idiots) or Vichy traitors?  The reader must decide.

Ctrl_P's picture

Year of the Horse Burger.


plaspotje's picture

nothing here is going to happen, unlike the arab world , the west controls here nothing, China has kept the west out along it borders for over 100 years, remember all these little wars vietnam korea ext ext. no israel here either to sow discontent and no religion to speak of  everyone is buddhist and goes to temple to find out how much money they will make this year  hahaha.

Chinese are gamblers and see a future in everything so it keeps them busy trying to make more money, unlike the west, only stupid people here get screwed by government.   they have kept out the western bank and money handlers for good reason, just imagion the damage these criminals could have done in China.  the usa fed is helping the euro banks because the damage wallstreet has caused , now imagion what China's damand would have been from the usa fed.

i live here 4 years and i see discontend but i also see people just find other ways to get ahead, they know they could not make more money in any other nation on this planet,  the people of the west get screwed nationaly, the usa people get screwed internationaly (IRS)  in China its very local and only dumb people fall in the government trap.

protests is just a pasttime and rebalances how local  government functions in the future.

i like the article but nothing is going to happen here.

westboundnup's picture

Simple.  The Chinese gov't bribes its citizens.  I have a friend who is a Chinese citizen and was shocked to learn that he pays virtually no tax on his income. He indicated that except for the wealthy, income taxes can be offset by credits and other means, such that the vast majorit of Chinese pay nothing. Looks like they learned the lesson of the American Revolution.

Moe Howard's picture

Average hourly wage for a factory worker in China $1.38. How much could they tax?

Blood from a stone. These people have to save money for health care, old age, etc out of that.

China is not cradle to grave socialism. Just a gangster government.


Pure Evil's picture

And with the coronation of Obama back in January, it looks as if the same gangster government pattern has been established in the US.

fockewulf190's picture

One big difference; the Chinese civilian population have next to no guns (Mao made sure of that), but the US civilian population have over 300 million.                                               

westboundnup's picture

Think of the rising middle class in Hong Kong, Shanghai, etc.  They are the element which the gov't has to placate.

meizu's picture

A bus ticket in china cost 17 cents, in canada cost 3 dollars.

de3de8's picture

Just like the U.S. is breibing theirs.

CPL's picture

Actually there has been for the past three years.  Last year alone there have been just under 1.5 million killed from forced police action.  In a country with 1.4 billion 1.5 million is nothing.  


It's a month to replace the bodies by proxy of population growth.  If you want to read about police actions in China you read an Indian news paper, the Communist fish wraps out of Mumbai keep track of it.  The US news would never publish the news or the numbers, nor would any western world paper (mainly because they aren't journalists, anymore than a ad billboard reports the 'news').  The fact Foxxcon riots were covered was merely a distraction piece to lightly discuss shitty working conditions...and it's one of the 'good' places to work...


To admit that the population size of seattle was killed by direct intervention would cause a much larger more organised better armed Chinese uprising.  Which is coming btw, PRC sock puppets have nearly guarenteed their extinction by their bungling. 


Scale, location and language keep that gate firmly shut, until the 50 or so rebel groups operating in China figure out how to get their shit together which looks like it'll be soon with Pakistani gun makers exporting east over the last year or so.  Someone's getting ready for something.  News sources are too disconnected right now to get a clear picture.


Something however is going to happen soon.

max2205's picture

Just wait until they run out of pork 

CPL's picture

No shortage of long pork, I'm under the suspicion that things are not what they seem in China and what is being shipped isn't as advertised.

Ask yourselves a question.

How can pork maintain it's current price range and quality for six years and yet medium ground beef increases on a wholesale level and is being mixed with horse/goat meat to keep costs rising to only 500%.

You find a similar meat.  

The closest meat to pork is people, otherwise known as long pork.  Notice in the super market the cuts of pork available.  They are tiny in comparison to a fully grown sow.  Chops like that come from a much smaller animal and in pig husbandry you don't sell a small pig until it's bred a couple of times first unless you are plannign on maintaining a herd size.  Combine that with exponential rising costs of feed over six years.  And all the meat packing plants shuttering their doors due to credit difficulties.

Well, it's not rocket science at that point where to obtain pork like meat that would pass inspection as a pack of bacon, pork loin or chops.  

Any case, it's a theory.  One that I'm actioning by avoiding any and all store bought meat.  Craigslist I'm guessing in the US and the UK have farmers that sell livestock quarters.  I dare anyone to find a small pork chop being sold unless picking a young sow for slaughter.  Otherwise, look at what's on sale and question why.  I suppose I should go out of my way sometime and collect a random sampling for testing.

granolageek's picture


You know china, I know pig raising.

A brood sow will have 14 piglets/year. On average that will be 7 boys and 7 girls.

If you are trying to build up your herd you have 6 boars to sell. If you have a clue, you will sell them at 200-250 lbs, which does produce the cut size in the stores. That's the point where weight gain/amount of feed goes way down. Also the point where you start making sausage out of cuts that get tough with age.

At an exponential increase of 700% per year (hey, all you hyperinflationists!) It doesn't take long to max out your herd. Then you have 14 per sow, all sold at supermarket size. (For every one kept for breeding, a big pig "retires" to sausage.)

Anyway, the size argument is bogus.

CPL's picture

Have you seen the size of the chops in store lately?  And the loins themselves?  The super market shrink ray effects package size.  I understand a pound is still a pound though.

Seriously, if you are heading out today, go look at the size of what's in a meat cooler in the pork section.  I like my pulled pork BBQ and ribs, something is off with it versus what I buy from a local pig farmer (meat is usually better picked and tastes better, price is about the same as the store but it stores a bit longer in a deep freezer).  The meat cuts are smaller, more compact, tougher.  Maybe it's storage, freezer burn...just something off with it.

kaiserhoff's picture

One of the great things about hogs is that they will eat almost anything: acorns, grubs, gleaned grain, long pig;)

StandardDeviant's picture

Have you been watching "Snatch"?

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Authoritarian gov'ts collapse quickly. Look at dissolution of tthe Soviet Union. The west knew of problems about 6 weeks before they called it quits. This will also be with China. One day the commies will state there are problems and a few weeks later the commies are gone.

Pseudo Anonym's picture

dna testing will clash with your

Any case, it's a theory.

cynicalskeptic's picture

Soylent Green - coming soon to a market near you... (far more appealing if in a natural form - can charge more too).   Been wondering the same for a while.  Chinese don't waste anything - what happens to the rest of the prisoners killed for their organs?  And yes. people do taste very much like pork (so said Japanese hold outs after WWII who resorted to cannibalism).   Woiuldn't put anything past people who'll mix in melamine (plastic) with feed to make it look likt the protein content is higher (so what if that wipes out the kidneys of anything that consumes it).

strangewalk's picture

I lived in China for 7 years. The Chinese masses have lost the ability to form opinions or beliefs because they've been told what to think for so long. The indoctrination begins early, it's intense and culturally reinforced; 1.5 billion robots. Social workers who orient new immigrants in the West say that mainland Chinese exhibit similar traits to religious cult members who've undergone extreme brainwashing. The Chinese worship 3 things, money, their own history/culture, and the emperor (represented today by the CCP). Adding to this, modern Chinese men have been feminized, they're like sheep and the only army they could defeat would be one made up of gentle Tibetan monks or Uyghur lettuce farmers. There's been too much made of China, there's really not that much there.,   

WmMcK's picture

That's what my Rabbi said ...

kaiserhoff's picture

Good points CPL.  Works in reverse as well.  If you want to see the real slime in India, read the China press.  Those nations hate each other.  You might think they would have more pressing concerns.

CPL's picture

How to find and read news is just as important as having someone recording the story.  India and China are always in a position to beggar thy neighbour as they have been measuring their national borders for three thousand years, at least.

If you want to read US news, the real US news, you read a Jamacian newspaper.  The Kingston Gleaner isn't bad, it has real reporters working for it and they have a lot of concerns that directly effect the island as a result of US policies.

If the US sneezes Canada catches a cold, in Jamacia's case it's terminal cancer with see sawing.  BTW if anyone is entertaining the idea of all inclusives in the Caribbean, random murder rates are up all over but Cuba...

Brindle702's picture is my resource for Asian news.  Can you recommend or give a link or two to some decent Indian and/or Asian news sites in english?

CPL's picture

Just use a translator and get a dictionary.  Paper bilingual dictionaries, real ones have a purpose.  Own them and use them.  The meanings of words change in bad political times.  Sometimes having the correct word helps find a piece of news that is overlooked or avoided.

The electronic translators are available from numerous online services.  Learn to use google translate to build keywords to search for news articles.  When looking for anything in any language, Private search must stay on always or the Google cookie will shape the news offered to you (yes Google knows exactly where you are at all times...mostly)

Duckduckgo cannot help you btw.  It just isn't big enough or build well enough to do the job.  

Google is the single largest search engine on the planet and has a habit of digesting anything, in any country in all languages.  The world doesn't care that you speak only English, in fact your governments count on your ignorance and mental disconnection from other people and languages.  

Most people couldn't name five of their neighbours asking them to learn how to say hello in another language is a stretch.

After a while you'll end up with search terms in other languages, then you can properly scan the news.  Not even the alphabet soup agencies have anything like it because they are too distributed and bureaucratic.


neptunium's picture

CPL - Can you please provide any more info for the 1.5 million killed by police intervention - I'm well aware of the scope of western MSM outlets and some of my contacts there have reported on numerous occasions that entire villages/cities have been "disconnected" (phone/internet/roads) in order to handle unrest without any pesky coverage showing up - that said, 1.5 million waaay higher than I'd otherwise have thought possible. 

Then again, who in the west knew the true figures for the cultural revolution until it was all over. 

Any sources you could provide would be much appreciated - N

CPL's picture

Am I writing your term paper?  No.

Take that, play with the language.  Make sure you cloak yourself with proxy server that is basically anonymous.  Peru is good.  Why?  Because nobody cares about Peru.  That simple.  It's not flagged external to Peru.  Peru does however watch it's citizens online traffic.  Outside of Peru, nobody cares.  Since you are just using a proxy and researching a country elsewhere...peru is safest.

Then turn on private browsing.  Google news.  There you go.  There are far too many articles to possibly quote on here, and there is the other fact.  

I just don't care the slightest what happens in China because as a country it's cost me too many long weekends, nights and direct costs cleaning up viruses, poorly executed amateurish hacks and questioning the stated legality of every piece of electronics equipment from there (parts piracy).  I build systems for people that have insurance, part of that insurance is based on the fact I can deliver something that won't burn down a data center because it's motherboard is made of paper.  

Want to know why North America doesn't have any innovation and stalled out engineering?  China.  Fuck China.  Let it burn when it happens.  I'll bring marshmallows.

So, point blank.  I'm not posting 2000 links in Hindi and Indosesian from over a year.  You are going to have to do a couple of things yourself here.  I am not my brother's keeper, especially not China's.  It's offered nothing but spit in the face of Engineers, Dev and Tech everywhere for 30 years.  Fuck China.