Sunday, September 27, 2009

Battling for More

Many street vendors from those selling snacks to jewelry and cheap toys are fast disappearing from the streets as the city prepares for the run-up to the National Day celebrations.

However, not all of them are going away willingly.

A friend of mine who lives in the south side of Beijing recounted a scuffle he saw earlier today.
The bao'an or street security, scrawny young men who wear a kind of uniform but don't have much authority, were trying to move street vendors and other unsightly entrepreneurial spots in the area.
But the ones my friend saw didn't comply right away. A slugging match erupted, and at one point my friend who witnessed this from his apartment complex, thought the young security guys would be beaten to death.
"You're doing this to us and we are all Chinese!" one rebellious vendor shouted.
Then the police came, waded into the scuffle and eventually broke up the scene.
Everyone's just trying to do their jobs, but when times are tough with the economic downturn, every extra yuan counts, especially when you're not making much.
The central government is doing all it can present to the world that for 60 years the Communists aren't just a guerrilla group, but an organized empire that has amassed trillions of US dollars, lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, built shiny modern skyscrapers and has hosted the Olympics.
At the same time, though, this system is barely holding things together, with the systemic corruption, lack of accountability and transparency. It completely quashes any kind of dissent and only those who have guanxi or relationships will do well in the system -- which is why those people are doing anything to keep the system going.
How much longer can it last?
People have been speculating for years when it will fall apart. But it is becoming even more evident that if the government doesn't make any drastic overhauls to the system, it will/should collapse.

If that's not enough of an argument, then what about this: when more officials and the rich use every opportunity to travel abroad, send their children to study overseas, and buy up houses there with suitcases filled with cash, perhaps they know something that we don't?

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