Sunday, December 8, 2013
I've been meaning to post this for a couple of days now. China has made a very minor, qualified step back from one especially brutal form of repression, while maintaining much of the reality of the system in quieter, less-well-known forms.
As with most "reforms" in China, there are two entirely opposite possibilities, and the proof will be in the pudding. One is that this is simply a face-saving move to avoid public criticism, but it literally means nothing. The second is that this is a face-saving way to slowly back away from the system, one baby-step at a time. What's so maddening about China is that it's essentially impossible to know which it is, until long after the fact.
Indeed, the reality may be indeterminate at this point. Chinese officials value "flexibility," the ability to change policies instantly without admitting that they're doing so. If things are going well and there's relative stability within the country, perhaps they'll continue to back away from the policy. If they sense a "need" for the old repression, they'll quietly reinstate it under new names — all the while, never repudiating their original policy of closing down the labor camps.
The proof will be in the pudding, and the pudding bakes VERY slowly. Or, if you prefer this metaphor, China is like a giant Schroedinger's Catbox: the reality of today's event will only be determined later, long after the fact.
Incidentally, one of the dissidents says that the ending of the labor camps is vitiated by the fact that it's not accompanied by an official apology or clearing the records of those who were caught up in it. This shows an astounding lack of understanding of her own country, imo. The Chinese government almost never does such a thing. Rather, they simply quietly and behind-the-scenes restore