Monday, May 05, 2003

A lot of people (like The New Republic, says Slate's In Other Magazines) are raining on the "SARS = Chernobyl" parade. (That is, the idea that the SARS outbreak will generate reform in China.) "Writing from Beijing, Jasper Becker argues that the epidemic hasn't prompted openness—instead, it's given the Chinese Communist Party a chance to shore up its power. Officials have used the outbreak to further restrict civil liberties and the press..."

Indeed, I noticed this creepy comment buried at the bottom of a NYTimes article one week ago:

''Once China's leaders focus on problems and are determined to take action, they usually manage to resolve them -- sometimes with brutal efficiency,'' a Goldman Sachs report concluded. ''You may call that a virtue of authoritarian government.''
No, actually, I'd call that a virtue of a government that's focused on problems and determined to take action. I'm not sure that describes the Chinese Communist Party.


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