In the latest American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Asian Outlook, AEI research assistant Dale Swartz examines the Chinese government's vigorous response to domestic unrest in the wake of the "Arab Spring" -- the revolutionary movements for democracy happening all over the Middle East. In particular, Swartz discusses the arrest of Ai Weiwei, the architect of the Beijing Olympic stadium known as the "bird's nest," and the ensuing threat to the Chinese regime's stability.
Among Swartz's key points:
- The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has cracked down heavily on dissent and activism in the past few weeks, notably arresting free-speech activist and CCP critic Ai Weiwei, in the aftermath of calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" in the country.
- While an Arab-style revolt in China is unlikely in the short term, some of the underlying structural similarities are striking.
- Although China experiences many thousands of mass civil disturbances annually, this new movement frightens the CCP because it comes from a powerful source: a core middle class stymied by its lack of opportunity and political freedom.
- The CCP must address these grievances or risk a mortal threat to the regime.
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