Just a quick note: This upcoming year will see a shuffling of the deck (probably seven of nine seats) at the Politburo Standing Committee, the very core of power in China. Against that backdrop, the Global Times, a state-run tabloid, carried an editorial yesterday about the prospect of incidents of social unrest in China during 2012. More specifically, it offered guidance on how we should think about such matters.
"China's group incidents are characterized by reasonable requirements as well as extreme demands. It's hard to generalize. Various reforms are proceeding in China and are driving improvements in people's livelihoods. In general, the public has a positive expectation for social development and China will continue to hold a favorable position on the international stage.
Chinese society in 2012 will be shaped by various forces as well as various problems. What's important is not to exaggerate the implication of certain issues, for example, minor matters shouldn't be given attention that is out of proportion to their scope.
China is learning to deal with group incidents. It is still uncertain about the results of those protests, how will they develop and what the solution is. Protests usually disturb Chinese more than they disturb people in other countries.
China should make substantial efforts to reduce group incidents, including doing its utmost to eliminate public dissatisfaction, ensuring smooth communication channels and promoting favorable social sentiment. These are the basis for social stability and harmony.
But it's far from enough. China should avoid allowing grass-roots mass incidents to become national political issues. This is particularly important considering the forthcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party. Much of the public has the impression that society may easily get caught up in turbulence during this national party congress year. If the authorities focus too much on group incidents, they will encourage certain people to mount protests as shortcut way of realizing and maximizing their interests."
(The full text can be found by clicking here.)