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Crikey Says

Nov 15, 2012

Crikey says: is the Great Wall of China crumbling?

Lawyers could be the big winners from the royal commission -- but some are so angry they'll work for free. How many Australians are really homeless? Bernard Keane on the damage to Gillard from the NSW ICAC probe. And inside a suburban detention centre in Adelaide.

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The Chinese president for the next ten years will be announced today. Will this be the last Chinese leader to be selected in such a profoundly secretive and undemocratic way?

Many of China’s 1.3 billion citizens are expected to stop what they’re doing and watch on television as the seven (or possibly nine) senior Communist Party officials selected for the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee walk out on stage, the new president among them. The order in which they walk reveals their standing.

And this is the limit of the involvement of almost all of the public in choosing China’s government: watching the result on television, if you’re lucky.

After 60 years of this, and with an increasingly well-off and educated public, how much longer can this system persist? The winds of change are blowing through China, but unlike the Tiananmen protests, this wave of politicisation and liberalisation is virtual. The Chinese government may be powerful, but who can stop the internet?

As Crikey reported yesterday, Chinese people are increasingly using social media to criticise the government. They are finding their voice — from their laptops.

The pressure for some level of democratisation may be a long way from a revolution, and China may be a long way from genuine reform.  But it seems unlikely the Communist Party can indefinitely fence itself off from the public with its own unseen Great Wall of China.

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