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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

September 15, 2005

Written by C.N.

Cultural Change in China

CBS News has an article that describes the growing cultural divide in China — on the one hand, young, urban, and upwardly mobile citizens who care more about material success and comfort than political democracy, and on the other, poor, rural, and older workers who are increasingly fed up with the rampant corruption and bureaucracy of the communist party:

There was a theory that a richer China would create a generation more liberal and more demanding of democracy. But this post-Tiananmen Square 1989-protest generation grew up with no great interest in politics. Politics, many feel, is a bunch of old guys on TV — the past. This generation seems far more focused on making money and yearns not for more democracy but a bigger apartment and a wider-screen TV. . . .

[On the other hand, in many tiny rural villages], indifference has given way to outright antagonism. We recently visited with activist Yang Maodong. He is involved in a peasant protest at a small village where farmers gave up their land, but allegedly corrupt local officials kept the compensation that farmers were promised for the land.

It’s a battle — riots, hunger strikes and all — against what farmers see as official corruption. How ironic — the Party that came to power as a peasant revolt could end up losing power because the peasants are turning against its corruption and distance from ordinary people.

In addition, a separate article by Reuters describes how a recent killing spree by an angry migrant worker who was denied back wages by his company has focused even more attention on the plight and abuses suffered by China’s “have-nots.”

I see this growing cultural divide in China as another example of the power of capitalism to produce inevitable social stratification in whatever political system in which it operates. Whether it’s in a democracy like the U.S. or a communist dictatorship like China, capitalism will always produce a growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Will this growing gap take down China’s communist regime sometime in the future? I doubt it, but you never know. Stranger things have happened . . .

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Cultural Change in China" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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