Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 08 October 2007
Monday, 08 October 2007 18:56

1949-2009 : A Sexagenary Cycle

Even if the PCC congress that starts on October 15, 2007 is supposed to debate on the issues that China will confront during the next five years, the real horizon might be the year 2009. In private conversation and even on the Internet, much is made of the fact that, from 1949 to 2009, sixty years, yes sixty, will have passed, which corresponds to a full calendar cycle (five times twelve years) in the Chinese tradition.
Beyond or behind astrological considerations, there might be something about it; the period that went from 1949 to 1979 had been one of political turmoil. The one that will have soon have covered the following thirty years perfectly corresponds to an economic development cycle, with steady (even extraordinary) growth and subsequent exhaustion of the model behind it. Indeed, the export-based Chinese model is now thwarted by its costs in terms of social and ecological degradation, demand for energy and raw materials, and international frictions. Since 2006, the direction is officially one of sustainable, “scientific” growth, but the contradictions abound that make necessary adjustments painful and contradictory.
Besides, 2009 will also correspond to the sixtieth anniversary of the separation between the Mainland and the Republic of China in Taiwan (two generations.) There are reports that the Chinese leadership wants at any price to harvest some political progress on the Taiwan issue before the end of 2009.
All might go well in China until the Olympic Games are over. Social, economic and political tensions might crystallize in the fall of 2008, as China prepares to enter the fateful year of 2009.
Within the Party itself many are the voices saying that the time is ripe for a political reform that would help the country to enter this sensitive period with a new impetus and horizon line. “Political reform” is indeed on the agenda, as it appears to the leadership a normal historical development. But it remains limited to a discourse on “participatory democracy” - basically more intra-party competition and some added dose of accountability, which does not respond to the dimension of the challenge. Likewise, the reform of the developmental model seems to be stalled. On the other hand, changes on the education and the health care fronts are indeed bringing improvement to the poorer part of the population, although so much remains to be done.
Confucius used to say that at sixty his ear was at ease with whatever he was hearing, meaning that he was receiving the truth as by intuition. It is to be feared that, as new China approaches the age of sixty, its leadership does not like much what its ears perceive and is not intuiting what is now to be done.

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