Sunday, January 4, 2009

Here Comes 2009

Twenty years ago, the year 1989 came with a slew of conspicuous anniversaries which inspired Professor Fang Lizhi's open letter to Deng Xiaoping and the later student movement. The same anniversaries fall into this calendar year, with another twenty years added to them:
Of course, another significant one has to be added this time around:
  • the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Student Movement and Tiananmen Massacre.
There has not been much chatter about the French Revolution or May Fourth Movement this time around, although the anniversary of the 1989 seems to be in many people's mind. On Internet forums inside China, cleverly designed posts appear here and there trying to reminding audiences of the anniversary without explicitly running into automated censorship. They are usually followed by knowing comments.

The budding "movement" of Charter of 08 seems to have stalled with its main leader Liu Xiaobo still detained. Liu Xiaobo's wife was recently allowed to meet him briefly at a "neutral location" and told that Liu Xiaobo was not formally arrested. All other participants who had been detained or called in for questioning one way or another has been released. It looks like the government is being cautious in how to nevigate through this sensitive Spring-Summer season of political minefiled wihtout major incidents.

The economy is not helpful either. Hampered by the global recession, the manufactary sector in South China, long the engined of China's "peaceful rising", is in collapse. Unemployment is rising fast and spontaneous mass protests are becoming a common occurances in small cities. Twenty years ago, it was the rampant inflation and corruption that had helped feuling the popular support to student movement.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing for a major celebration of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, in which the mighty military will once again march through Tiananmen Square. The last time a celeration of this kind was done is way back in 1984, which was a joyous occasion for Deng Xiaoping. Partyly due to Tiananmen Massacre, it has been staged for a quarter of century.

May we live in interesting times.

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