|All the Rage in China|
Your ABC reports
riots and civil unrest by a 2000-strong mob in the Chinese town of Tianjin, 150
kilometers south-east of Beijing.
The authorities were planning to turn a local school into a SARS (Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome) isolation center. China's mostly peasant
population may be uneducated, but they know that their government will treat any
suspected SARS sufferers like medieval lepers, and they don't want to give them
the opportunity. Choosing to burn the school, smashing the local education
office, and overturning a few cars for good measure.
Not surprising perhaps, but all cases of civil unrest are significant in
the People's Paradise Republic of China. China is more like a prison than a
country - people's anger and hatred at the guards are repressed, and generally
invisible, but they are there ready to boil over at an instant's notice - all
it needs is a trigger. Anyone who thought the Rodney King LA riots or the
post-Saddam Baghdad looting was a little over the top lacks imagination.
SARS has genuinely scared the Chinese people, and their government's lying
and mismanagement of the problem has made them angry. Not a comfortable
combination for the dictatorship - and people
facing death from disease
will require more than a few tanks down the Avenue of Eternal Peace to frighten
back into submission.
Suggesting regime change in Beijing may be a little premature, but this is
one hazard which the inner-party elites may not be able to isolate themselves
from merely by hiding behind surgical masks.