It’s too late for freedom of the press in China

Below is another quick observation I've made on Chinese society, and how freedoms we take for granted could adversely effect it's transition.  

It’s too late for freedom of the press in China.

Quite often I think to myself, the best, most efficient way for China to reform itself is simply to give the papers free reign.  Shame and the constant revelation of law breaking activity would quickly act as an incentive towards reining in a freewheeling society such as this. 
However, as the Cultural Revolution was quite often nothing more than an opportunity for ordinary folk to “get even” and settle long held grudges, with trumped up charges and accusations, one suspects the same would happen with freedom of the press as well.

One is reminded again that China doesn’t have the Western ethic to“forgive and forget”.   Nope, this place remembers perceived slights forever.

Anything that creates chaos in Chinese society is bad for China.  The sudden ability of reporters to call officials onto the carpet would anger a whole class of individuals that for decades have been above the law.  Indeed, didn’t this class feel until recently it could even murder without retaliation?

If one wants to wonder what would happen in China if freedom of the press was taken seriously, one needs only look to Russia as a model.   The first instinct in China would be to bribe the reporters.  This might actually work.  But you can’t bribe everybody. But China is a seething society beneath the surface.  There 
are simply too many grudges held, not just farmer to farmer, but official to official, to contain.

You think Xi Jinping wasn’t more than happy to kick Bo Xilai into the ditch?

My guess is that the papers would care less about how Farmer Wang injected his watermelons with a toxic sweetener, and more about how Official Wang could buy 16 houses when the ordinary person is only allowed two?   They would want to publish what sells.  

 If true freedom of the press existed, the untouchables within Chinese society wouldn’t stand for such a thing.  These people are used to doing and saying whatever they want, without retribution. To suddenly not be able to control how they are looked upon and perceived would invite retribution upon a massive scale.   In Russia, investigative reporters have a short life span. 

In China, such spontaneous revelations of official misdeeds would put immediate pressure on the police and court system to respond.   Would they?  Could they? My guess is the courts would be overwhelmed with such a public airing of the laundry.  And when they don’t address these publicly revealed misdeeds fast enough, than what? 

Than you have street demonstrations, full of shopkeeper Wangs, in every city, large and small.
Than a lot of little Tiananmens, in every city.

China is simply too angry a country.   That’s what happens when you have a society so massively inequitable as China.  The Chinese people aren’t stupid.  They know that there are two sets of rules in their country.   Two ways of getting things done.   They understand things are stacked against them.  It would take a generation to air grievances, and that’s a generation of violence, and like I said in an earlier post, China doesn’t have TIME. 


  1. "If one wants to wonder what would happen in China if freedom of the press was taken seriously, one needs only look to Russia as a model.

    Why wouldn't you look at Taiwan, where the media is both free and somewhat raucous?

  2. Taiwan is smaller than Russia. It's contained by geography, ie on an island. And its had the benefit of "transition", if you will. It didn't just decide overnight to allow press freedom, unlike Russia. Such a sudden change, for people not used to it, can be just too much. It's only natural for violence to occur.


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