Monday, November 12, 2012

The middle class pushes back - Helen Wang

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Helen Wang
What is making China's middle class making of the ongoing leadership transition in Beijing, author Helen Wang was asked by a range of media. On her weblog she summarizes some of her answers. "They are beginning to push back." 

Helen Wang:
They are beginning to push back. In October, weeklong protests involving thousands of people in an eastern city, Ningbo, forced a chemical plant to suspend its expansion plans. Such large-scale protests are happening more frequently all over the country, from Shifeng in the southwest to Dalian in northeast China. 
In the past, most protesters were farmers who fought for their land. Recently, however, an increasing number of protesters are urban middle class people who are angered by environmental hazards that harm their health. Some use social media to coordinate street protests against construction or expansion of factories and mines. 
The Internet is playing an important role in facilitating average people to voice their opinions. Weibo, a Twitter-like Chinese social media with 300 million users, is a major platform for people to express their views on issues from pollution to corruption. 
On November 6th, in the midst of the US presidential election, Chinese Internet users flocked to Weibo to follow the news. Some commented pointedly on the lack of input they have in choosing their leaders. One blogger wrote, “We are perfectly clear about how the US presidential election works but utterly ignorant about China’s.” 
Evidence from other countries, such as South Korea and Taiwan, suggests that when countries advance economically, they begin to democratize when their median income reaches somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. Last time I checked, China’s per capita GDP was around $8,000 in 2011. If this rule applies to China, a change in China’s political system may be imminent, if not inevitable.
More at Helen Wang's weblog.

Helen Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

The China Weekly Hangout will focus next Thursday on the global ambitions of China's internet companies. For our announcement, please go here, or you can register directly at our event page. You can see all previous editions on our YouTube channel. 

At November 1, the China Weekly Hangout looked back at ten years of harmonious society under president Hu Jintao, with Janet Carmosky, Greg Anderson and Fons Tuinstra.


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