Monday, July 25, 2011

China Faces The Reality of the Wired World

On Monday, two of China's vaunted "bullet trains" collided killing at least 38 people, a story which--in the world outside of China--would have been HUGE.  Inside China?  Not so much.  And it seems folks on the interwebs there aren't too happy about it--not happy about the government response, not happy about the lack of coverage in government owned media.  Just not happy.

In this one story can be found the seeds of so much about China that gives folks the heebie-jeebies.  First though, let's get one thing out of the way.  Accidents do happen, and even in open societies, bad things happen to innocent people.

But let's think about this for a moment.  Could China's meteoric infrastructure increase--in no small measure designed to keep 30 million new Chinese entering the work force each year--be underwritten by shoddy safety measures and lax oversight?  Are the people of China a contented lot, nurtured by the palliative of high growth rates AND also a simmering mass of discontented people who know that they are less free?  Will China's increasing connection with the world and its inability to control its own citizenry create governance nightmares for a political system which has at its core an ingrained sense of paranoia? 

Only time will tell.  But I find myself smiling a bit thinking about Chicom officials worrying about these things.


Anonymous said...

This accident is unfortunately not a revelation. The HSR industry in China is subsidized to incredible extents as well.

What this shows about China as a whole is a matter for debate, but the HSR implications will be interesting.

"The Hammer" said...

Milton Friedman said a free economy was necessary too but not sufficient for political freedom.
China wants the money but also to maintain political control. I don't see how they can pull it off.

Mudge said...

So the Chinese people think their state-run media is doing a lousy job covering the government's poor performance. When did the NY Times, CNN, MSNBC and Washington Post start selling news to the Chinese?

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