Sunday, May 25, 2008

China's Seeing Eye showplace city

The May 29, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone continues the debate about China’s quixotic domestic policies (mixing capitalism and communism as if throwing sodium into water in a chemistry class) with an article on p 59 by Naomi Klein, link here. The story title is “China’s All Seeing Eye: With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export” and it gives a detailed study of the new city of Shenzhen, across an area of marsh about thirty miles from Hong Kong, which, as we remember, China “took over” on July 1, 1997. In 1980, the city did not even exist, apart from some fishing villages. Today it is a city of 12 million and looks, in the pictures in the article, like a settlement out of a sci-fi movie. (I won’t hot link the photos because of legal concerns, but just pretend that I could. The pictures and maps are stunning. There is a good reason to buy hard copies at the 7-11, sometimes.)

Here is where “big business” gets to experiment with an authoritarian-style “police state,” with security cameras on every corner and links to police stations from every Internet café. One problem seems to be that China wants to raise rural towns for its own style of “capitalism,” and would squash grass-roots dissent inherent in blogs. The article gets into a discussion of the US Fourth Amendment and the deceptiveness of the Patriot Act, which the Chinese seem to be willing to learn from.

Somehow, in my mind, Singapore comes to mind for comparison.

China is also drawing extremely bad press (which it tries to suppress) from shoddy school construction compared to "capitalist" efforts, as shown in the earthquake. Today The New York Times has a front page story by Jim Yardley, Jake Hooker and Andrew C. Revkin, "Chinese Are Left to Ask Why Schools Crumbled," link here. Also, check the Times online for a May 26 story on aftershocks published in advance.

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