Friday, February 18, 2011

From Egypt to China

Recently a friend asked my opinion about the Egyptian revolution and how Chinese people may react to it. The topic is timely and illuminating and thus I would like to share my answer to the readers. The Egyptian revolution is remarkable to the contemporary history, but its impact to China and the Chinese people in the near future will be limited.


The Egyptian revolution occurred with the background of the Web-2.0 booming and the economic recession. The booming of Web 2.0 has brought the world wealth accumulation. The economic recession did, however, exactly the opposite. This pair of contradiction composed a main melody in the past decade. The Egyptian revolution was an explosive release of the said contradiction in the Middle East.

Accompanied with the Web-2.0 booming it is the trend of globalization. The world becomes flatter than before. The economic recession, on the other hand, warns us a terrible side effect of the world being flattened. The dams and other traditional landscape obstacles that used to preventing the flood of the global economy river have gradually lost their functionality in this newly flattened world. Globalization is both of a primary contributor of the economic growth in the last decade and a primary cause of the economic recession at the end of the decade. As we all know, the flood in a plain usually lead to greater destruction than it is in a valley surrounded by mountains. Besides the other internal reasons, the said contradiction is the main external factor for the Egyptian revolution.

In this evolution, the Egyptians were not pursuing the idealistic freedom. They were (and are) looking for better life. The fallen of the Mubarak administration was not due to the lack of freedom in the nation. It was, however, due to that the lack-of-freedom model had become the inevitable obstacle for the economic growth of Egypt. As I always said, the Web evolution is not just about the Web, it is a social evolution in essence. The Egyptian revolution is a typical example of how the virtual world evolution has been extended to the real world.


If we apply the same scale to study China, immediately we can see the difference. The economic landscape of China has not been flattened omnidirectionally during the last decade as it was in some other nations such as Egypt. Although China is one of the primary beneficiaries of globalization, China has very carefully prevented itself from being flattened unconditionally. By contrast, China is one of the few nations that have intentionally constructed the new barriers to fight against the technological improvement. Many critics have criticized what China did. Especially from the ethical point of view, I also agree to the critics. But at the same time we must admit the fact. It is these efforts of being against the tide of globalization that survives China from the economic recession. Due to the same reason, the chance of China being significantly affected by the explosive Egyptian revolution is very low.

Another factor in the scheme is the people in China. Unlike the Egyptians, most of the Chinese in mainland China are atheists. It means that they significantly care more about the present life than the life in future, let it alone the life after death. Therefore, it is very unlikely, if ever possible, to appeal their attention by the pure moral value. On the other hand, in history Chinese are not this type of persons. Unlike people in many other nations, especially the western countries, Chinese revolutions have never occurred due to the spread of any other global-scale revolution. Even the communist revolution in China was not a continuation of the Russian revolution but more or less the continuation of the regular dynasty substitution in its own history. As a nation with super-long history and tremendous number of population, China is a place where it may only export but unlikely import revolutions.


Lian's blog said...

I agree that web 2.0's affects on Egypt. But I disagree your comments about China, especially "China is a place where it can only export but unlikely import revolutions." -- Could you give me an example that China exported revolution? I also disagree your comments that atheists who may pay less attentions on pure moral value. You know me so you know why. :D

Overall, I agree with you that nothing will happen in China. Revolution ... could be hurt. People scare of pain :)

Yihong Ding said...


Thank you for the comment.

First of all, I apologize that I had used an imprecise word. It should be "China is a place where it may ..." rather than "China is a place where it can ..." I have corrected the term in the post.

My argument is clear. It is unlikely any Chinese revolution due to a continuation of an revolution in another nation. Actually it never happened before. By contrast, rather saying that the revolutions happened in the other nations may be a continuation of a Chinese revolution.

The "export" of a revolution may not be intentional, but be subconscious. For example, the revolution in the year 1989 and 1990 all through the world of communism was began in China. Although it failed in China, where it was origin, in many other eastern European countries including Russia the result was different. Moreover, in the age of the great culture revolution China did have intentionally export its revolution to many third-world nations, especially in Africa.

About the atheist issue, I did not mean that the atheists are less moral than the one who think there is a god. The point is, however, that the moral value is not their ultimate value as it is for many of the theists. The word "holy war" only happens to the theists. It does no mean to say any "holy war" is truly holy. It only says that the theists would be willing to scarify life for entering the idealistic holy, where it is unbelievable to the atheists. By contrast, the atheists may also fight for the moral value, but unlikely ultimate because their value lays more on the side of material and the present world. Just like you said, "Revolution ... could be hurt." Sure I agree to you. But, ..., hurt of what? If you were a theist, you then know why I ask this question.


Alan Chang's Space said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Chang's Space said...

Basically, I agree with what you said.
Both Egypt and China have a common characteristic : many young people don't have job now! In my opinion, this is a very critical point that decides future trend.
Besides Egypt and China, many countries also have very high unemployment rate. Through reading "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", history told us that some countries with high unemployment rate will adopt state socialism which is dangerous to peace. I am very pessimistic to future world.
How are you doing in Connecticut? I usually thought about quiet life in Utah, hehe:)

Yihong Ding said...


It has been a while. How are you doing in Wisconsin? I see that the state has a lot of trouble NOW. ;-)

Thank you for the comment. "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" is a fantastic book, especially for people coming from the nations with a highly centralized power system. It is sad knowing that people very seldom learn from history.

The life in CT is quite good. It is definitely not as quite and peaceful as in Utah. Closer to living in China.

best regards,

Alan Chang's Space said...

Yes, WI has a lot of troubles now! Wish you have a wonderful life in CT :-)

Yihong Ding said...

thank you, Alan. Wish you all the best in WI too.