Saturday, April 02, 2005

China's Petition

Suzanne Nossel (via B.D.), at DemocracryArsenal, has a post about a petition that has been signed by 22 million Chinese protesting Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. She makes two good points (the latter half of the first point I have a quibble with), but the second I found particularly interesting:

"The second noteworthy angle is what this means for China. The NYT article doesn't look at the larger implications of a mass political movement coming to the fore there, though its last line quotes the petition drive's organizer saying 'There has never before been a petition campaign of this magnitude in China. It will be much harder for the government to suppress in future.' Surely the Chinese know this . . . what's interesting is that they seem to be promoting this effort anyway."

Whether one agrees with the Chinese government's and those 22 million people's opposition to Japan's UNSC seat, is not the point here. Slowly, but surely, the Chinese are opening up politically. The real test will be - in the spirit of that petition drive's organizer statement - when another 22 million come along and sign a petition in protest of their government's human rights violations or its squelching of freedom of speech. It's certainly easier for the Communist government to promote this particular anti-Japanese petition than it is a petition that actually challenges their ruling power.


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