SODOM & GOMORRAH: The Chinese economy has experienced double digit growth for a long time. Now that things are slowing, authorities worry that the general public will become restless as things aren’t moving as fast as promised. Across China, a number of protests have been taking place that signal a growing unrest in the country.
China recently announced that it will increase police forces in the Xinjiang region. Xinjiang has appeared in the news occasionally because the government has been targeting the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who make up 40% of the region’s population. China worries that the Uighurs and other ethnic groups may cause unrest if growth doesn’t continue at a normal rate. The Uighurs have long been attacked for practicing their faith and for wanting to establish an independent East Turkestan.
Last week, secen Tibetans were killed in a clash with Chinese security forces in the Sichuan province. Buddhist worshippers have been at odds with the authorities for years. China has, of course, blamed outside interference for the violence. They say that the West has funded the Dalai Lama and have spread rumors, saying that the Dalai Lama is a separatist. The Dalai Lama has said that he only wants autonomy for Tibet and a peaceful solution to the issues; in other words, separation.
A recent cadmium spill in southern China threatened the water supply for 1.5 million people. The Chinese government has tested the water and assures everyone that it’s safe. Cadmium is used in batteries and paint, and can cause kidney dysfunction and cancer when consumed. Huang Shiyong, the Communist Party Chief for the city of Hechi has promised to “severely crack down” on polluting companies. Environmental contamination has been tolerated in China as a necessary price for economic growth, but now that the economy is slowing people are increasingly becoming restless.
Workers also went in strike in an industrial zone near the capital of the Sichuan province. The three day strike was surprising since it occurred at a state-owned enterprise. They demanded higher wages. Many workers earned $190 a month and the resolution to the strike, a promised additional $41 a month, is seen as not enough to live on.
Unrest will likely continue. It will be interesting to see if any foreign powers try to take advantage of China’s weakened state.