Friday, June 4, 2010

Unlikely Dissension from Within

As is the case for most governments, regardless of theories of governance and social ideologies, the People's Republic of China is, for the most part, governed by an elite class of insiders, scrupulously filtered for factors such as predictability and reliability, attributes for which "loyalty" tends to be the standard euphemism. If China is any different from the rest of the world, it is only through the higher level of attention that they give to those filters. Thus, every time an anniversary of the confrontation in Tiananmen Square rolls around, we have a pretty good idea of the defensive positions that will be taken on the inside against those on the outside determined to honor the occasion with the solemnity it deserves. This time, however, an insider has decided to acknowledge what the outsiders have been saying since 1989, at least according to a Financial Times report from Hong Kong by Tom Mitchell and Gideon Rachman:

The founder of Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing political party has spoken out against the Chinese government in a rare criticism of the brutal military crackdown that quashed demonstrations in 1989.

Tsang Yok-sing is usually one of the Chinese communist party’s staunchest defenders in Hong Kong, and his Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong – known as DAB – provides an important block of loyalist support in the territory’s legislature.

But in unprecedented remarks, Mr Tsang occasionally struggled to contain his emotions as he recalled the bloody events in China’s capital 21 years ago. “Everyone was shocked. If anything, being pro-Beijing we thought we understood the [Chinese] government so well,” he told the Financial Times. “We never believed a government we so trusted would turn its troops against the people.”

Such language is totally unanticipated; and, by the standards of the social norms of the insiders, it will probably be judged totally without any propriety whatsoever. In Western terms it is an act of chutzpah coming from one of the last places on Earth where one would expect to find such practices. It thus seems appropriate that this year's anniversary of remembrance of what happened in Tiananmen Square include a Chutzpah of the Week award being given to Tsang.

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