China and the World in 2008
Editorial by Jin Zhong
The assassination of the famous Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto rang in the New Year 2008. From the perspective of Hong Kongers, the New Year should have been greeted with regret, given the dashed hopes in 2007 of achieving the universal suffrage China had promised in 1997. Recently, Chief Executive Donald Tsang thanked the Central Government for allowing Hong Kong to have universal suffrage for the 2017 election of the Chief Executive. Another 10 years to go! Will China find some new reason for delay when that time comes as well? As we observed before, the Communist Party has no intention of providing Hong Kong people with genuine and meaningful suffrage; what it wants is to tame them while it strengthen Hong Kong's indigenous Communists over the next 10 years. What kind of elections will we have then? Is anybody still willing to wait?
From the global point of view, 2008 will be a year of elections. Presidential elections raising Chinese people's concern have already been launched in the United States , Russia and Taiwan . The conservative Bush government in the United States is about the leave the stage, while Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to wrap up his two terms in office and possibly take up the post of Prime Minister. These two long-term Superpowers, for all the differences between their democratic systems, have their presidential elections in place with full legal backing, and no need to select a basic system. Close on the heels of January's Legislative Yuan elections in Taiwan will come an extremely significant presidential election in March. Chen Shui-bian will fall from power when he finishes his second term. The battle between Ma Ying-jeou and Frank Hsieh Chang-ting has been a focal point for more than a year. The outcome is still far from certain, even though a second verdict found Ma not guilty of corruption. Given that the struggle between the two camps in Taiwan involves disagreements over basic issues such as national identification, 2008 will be a critical period in terms of Taiwan 's political development, and Chinese around the world will surely be highly concerned with it.
Let's get back to China . Chinese people call 2008 the Olympic year. Undoubtedly, the Summer Olympics, which will be launched in Beijing on 8 August, is one of the PRC's most critical opportunities since its establishment to show its best face to the world. China 's rise to power and its cultural mystique has helped the Communist Party whitewash 50 years of wrongdoings. Now a number of groups and individuals are boycotting Olympic Games organized by an autocratic country that tramples on human rights. They're demanding that China fulfill its promise to improve press freedom and human rights in the run-up to the Games. The deeply entrenched Chinese authorities have yet to respond, however.
A recent Newsweek cover story described China as a “fierce yet fragile superpower,” and predicted that 2008 will be seen as “the year that China moved to the center stage.” This is typical of the view currently held by Western observers regarding the rising nation, and it is a feeling that the Chinese government is exploiting in maintaining its ground. Those who still remember the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Olympics will have another feeling, which was expressed by a senior intellectual who said he wanted to live 20 more years to see the last act of this play. It is true that 2008 may bring an exciting climax, and the Chinese Communist Party is expert in creating and exploiting climaxes. But a climax is not a transformation. Let's wait and see what 2008 Olympics will bring China in the long term.
( 30 th December, 2007 in New York )