The Blog

Fragile China

Beijing struggles with unrest in Tibet.

12:00 AM, Apr 10, 2008 • By GORDON G. CHANG
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It's true that force has so far succeeded in keeping Tibetans and Uighurs from breaking away from the People's Republic, and almost no one thinks they will prevail in the foreseeable future. After all, Tibetans number approximately six million and the Uighurs about eight in a nation of approximately 1.5 billion souls.

Yet the recent Tibetan disturbances show what may happen in other circumstances and in other times. In the last few weeks, protests flared, escalated quickly, and spread uncontrollably. Central and local officials were surprised, reacted slowly, and now employ tactics that cause further unrest. In a future crisis, over different issues and involving different peoples, we will likely see the same themes we witness today, but then the mighty one-party state may not succeed.

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World (both Random House). He blogs at contentions.