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China's High Speed Disaster

Propaganda and consequences.

3:18 PM, Jul 29, 2011 • By KELLEY CURRIE
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But it doesn't seem to be working. To get an understanding of why, read ChinaGeeks' translation of a web posting attributed to China's most popular blogger, the race car driver and author Han Han, entitled "The Derailed Country." In his cryptic but provocative style, Han contrasts the thinking of officialdom with the thoughts of those they ostensibly serve ("You feel like you’re the victim. So do they."). He describes an unbridgeable gap between the government and the governed that should make those on both sides incredibly nervous. 

As Walter Russell Mead noted in a recent essay, "In China we see a society that is rapidly outgrowing its regime, and an economic model that is outliving its usefulness before its work is done." The authoritarian Chinese system is reaching the end of its institutional capacity to handle a society whose aspirations grow more complex and conflicted by the day. The real-time, widespread nature of mobile communication is at the leading edge of this transformation and the party has placed a bet with itself and the Chinese people that it can control this highly unpredictable, extremely disruptive technology. The party's approach to propaganda – a willingness to use modern techniques in the pursuit of old-fashioned Marxist ends – is in some ways like a snake eating its own tail, and it is ultimately unsustainable. Unfortunately, as this latest episode has tragically demonstrated, this system will undoubtedly live to do more damage before it destroys itself.

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