WHAT CHINA'S LEADERS NEED TO LEARN FROM EGYPT’S TURMOIL
CNBC.com, January 31, 2011
The protests in Egypt are unsettling regimes around the world as thousands of everyday Egyptians rise and declare that they want an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Time will tell if Mubarak’s regime really will collapse or be forced to undertake major reforms, but what is true is there are lessons for China's leaders as well as those through the Middle East.
The turmoil along the Nile is being led by disenfranchised middle class who feel they have no future because of overwhelming corruption and limited job opportunities. The situation isn't too different from China, with many commentators pointing to the growing income gap between the rich and the poor as a potential source of instability.
However, while China’s government does need to care for its poor, peasants are unlikely to cause systemic instability. While there are riots in many of China’s smaller cities and counties, they are often short-lived focused on local problems involving corruption, not national ones. Even if discontent were to turn toward the central government, peasants do not have the financial resources to sustain long-term protests – they literally have to work to eat – and they lack the means to rally large-scale support.
If countrywide protests do occur in China, the far more likely source will be university graduates who feel marginalized and unable to find good jobs.
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