Though I studiously (okay, somewhat studiously) try to avoid big think questions on this blog, I am getting really tired of the media litany on how an economic downturn in China essentially guarantees political instability. I am getting tired of it because I disagree with it.
I actually never thought of this until a few weeks ago when I was on a panel at the Kellogg School of Management’s “Greater China Business Conference.” It was nearing the end of the day and a student posed this question: Do you see China’s economic downturn leading to political instability?
My first thought was why ask this of me? My second thought was why ask this at all? I eventually answered essentially/somewhat as follows:
No. I think that so long as the Chinese people believe Beijing is doing what it can to ameliorate the impact of the downturn, there will be no political insurrection against Beijing. I think the perception of how Beijing is acting is a more important element in determining discontent against Beijing generally credited. If the people perceive Beijing as getting rich off the economic problems of the Chinese citizenry, there will no doubt be anger with Beijing. But if the people see Beijing as doing whatever it can to solve the problems, I do not think the downturn itself will necessarily lead to a big increase in discontent towards Beijing.
What do you think?