Thursday, April 28, 2005

Freedom and Control

Apparently, the Chinese regime cannot allow films about homosexuality on university campuses -- Officials block gay film festival:
A gay and lesbian film festival due to be held at China's Beijing University was forced to move venues after campus officials banned the event.

The festival was billed as an Aids and sexual health event as organisers feared university officials would block the screening of gay films.

An event spokesman said: "If we had told them what it was about they would never have agreed to it."

The event, which began at the weekend, was moved to a nearby disused factory.

The spokesman said organisers believed the ban was "because of the festival's subject matter".

The festival featured four Chinese feature films, two Hong Kong movies and one from Taiwan.
Interesting. The gay and lesbian film festival might not be found on a Chinese campus, but it manages to carry on at a nearby abandoned factory. One habitually imagines that the CCP controls everything everywhere within China -- yet this story indicates otherwise. Does the regime only exert limited control in places like abandoned factories, much less rural areas like Huaxi? I'm just asking -- because I suspect that the perception that the CCP has an iron grip throughout China is fast becoming a chimera.

I would like to get a clearer picture on Western assumptions and attitudes towards the Chinese Communist Party. With respect to Islamofascism, the general trend on the left (with many exceptions) appears to placate Muslims as oppressed and downtrodden, while overlooking the misogyny and homophobia that is prevalent among many of them. Liberal values are suspended to champion a greater cause, such as a Palestinian state or fighting American corporatism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So how about the Chinese regime? Will liberals have a soft spot for the autocrats, or take a hard line? I've seen many 'Free Tibet' bumper stickers in Berkeley disfavoring Chinese occupation. Then again, I see lots of Mao t-shirts for sale there too. Tienamen's freedom fighters appeared to be commended by conservatives and liberals alike in 1989, at Beijing's expense. Blurry lines.

I also wonder what the conservative consensus on China's regime might be. Realpolitik might plausibly dictate supporting order within such a large country, thereby backing the regime in the name of practicality. The morality of that would be debatable. Considering that the CCP is at least keeping chaos at bay for now, I find myself hoping that it just stays that way -- so am I inadvertently rooting for the regime? I don't intend to support Chinese communism; I resonate with the idea of a free Chinese democracy.

It's difficult to know what to wish for in market-communist China. My own views on China lack cogency, and are largely reactive. I suspect the same is true for the regime.

I asked Simon at Simon World that question -- he's optimistically hoping for a gradual evolution into something like present-day Russia:
...I'd say some morphing into a system similar to Russia's is the most likely. China's history is littered with strong central rulers followed by years of chaos. I think the last 60 years have been amongst China's quietest on the domestic front and people like that. There has never been a Chinese democracy outside of Taiwan -- it is an alien concept. That's not to say it's not right for China. It's just that it will take time for it to take root, and that will be a crucial time for the country, especially given its tendency to strong central rulers.  So put me in the quiet optimist camp.
One hitch might be that Russia's shrinking population is around one ninth the size of China's, and spread across a much vaster expanse -- so the politics on the ground are quite different. And besides, where is Russian democracy heading these days? Is a Putinocracy the best wish for China? Perhaps China can build a better ramp from Communism than their Russian counterparts. Here's hoping.

How can freedom and control be made compatible for 1.3 billion people?