Friday, 11 February 2011

Inspiration From Egypt

After 18 days Egyptians have gotten what they asked for -- the end of an authoritarian regime.

Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down as president after over 30 years in power, pushed by the people who gained the confidence in numbers to demand that he leave.

While people power was passionate and determined, so was Mubarak who felt he still had a strong grip over Egypt and didn't want his legacy to end in shame. He tried to shake things up when what people describe as thugs entered Tahrir Square and created chaos, beating people including journalists, in a pretext to spark violence and show that his regime was still needed to establish order.

And then he gave a statement yesterday saying he wasn't leaving until the end of his term in September.

This wasn't good enough for the people who protested in Cairo and elsewhere in the country.

It was not the reaction Mubarak was expecting and after he lost the staring contest, fled to his residence in Sharm el Sheik. Where he goes next is unknown.

The stories of corruption and repression, lack of democracy and freedom of speech sound very familiar in China.

And the leaders in Zhongnanhai must be frightened by the events in Egypt -- especially how quickly things unfolded.

However, people in China aren't getting the same unfettered access to news as we are. While they are reporting Mubarak has resigned, Chinese news reports are blaming the United States for ousting him, having lost confidence in the 82-year-old.

There will also probably be opinion pieces about how democracy is a strictly western phenomenon, and how it is ill-suited to China's situation. If the events that unfolded in Egypt happened in China, there would be untold chaos that could engulf the entire country, undoing the three decades of rapid economic development.

While it is tragic some 300 people died in the past 18 days, on the whole the protesters were peaceful. Those in the lower class stood shoulder-to-shoulder with professionals, all demanding the same thing -- an end to repression. For young people, Mubarak has been the only leader they have known, and they know having a leader for 30 years is not a democracy.

What about China? The Communist Party of China has been in power for 61 years and the gap between the rich and poor is only getting worse, real estate prices beyond the reach of ordinary people, corruption abounds and princelings, the children of senior officials are ingratiating themselves from the autocratic system.

June 4 tried to protest this, but we all know how that ended.

Will there be a Tiananmen 2.0?

While the People's Liberation Army followed orders in 1989, would they do that again today, firing on people who only demand what is legally in their constitution?

One wonders what China's reaction will be.

1 comment:

  1. the difference between the cairo uprising and tiananmen is the military is on the side of the people. there were no real massacre, the tanks did not roll over people. rather it is odd to see the people climbed up and embraced the soldiers on tanks. it says there can be peaceful transition of power. pity those 300 who died in this uprising.