China’s Weakness

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Keith Richburg of the Washington Post writes about the Chinese reaction toward the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo, currently in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”:

Restaurant and bar owners in China have been summoned to local police stations and warned against allowing large gatherings on Friday. Some lawyers, writers and academics have been stopped at airports from boarding their flights; others have been forcibly taken to the countryside. Known activists are under house arrest. And today, several foreign media Web sites and television stations were blocked.

….China’s Communist government has lashed out ferociously since the award was announced, each day ratcheting up the rhetoric. Foreign embassies in Norway have been warned not to attend the Nobel ceremony or risk unspoken “consequences.”

….For all the fury directed outwardly, the fiercest reaction has been internal. Scores of activists, lawyers, professors — even the family members and aging parents of jailed dissidents — have been prohibited from leaving the country in recent days, or placed under house arrest, with their telephone and Internet lines cut. As the date of the Nobel ceremony drew closer, some were also told not to speak to reporters.

I’m trying to decide if this is a sign of strength or weakness. My first instinct is weakness: no country with any real confidence in itself or its future would overreact this insanely. But then I think back to other rising powers and I’m not so sure. This kind of furious jingoism is actually pretty common among countries feeling their oats, isn’t it? (Though perhaps, in recent times anyway, without the whole police state aspect of it.)

So….I’m not sure. Overall, I think the Chinese have been playing their hand badly over the past few years, and it’s going to bite them pretty hard the first time their economy starts to slow down a bit, which is almost inevitable sometime over the next decade or two. I’d be curious to hear what others have to say about this, though.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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