Russia Goes Darker; China Tries for the Light
The new powers give the FSB more authority to do whatever they want, just like in their good old days (when the communists were in charge). The FSB is believed to directly control over 100,000 personnel, and have authority over many more in other government departments (like the national police force).
...What bothers many Russians is the ultimate purpose of the FSB. The KGB was known as the main protector of the Communist Party. The FSB is seen as the supporter of wealthy criminals who used their KGB connections and powers after the Soviet Union collapsed, to grab ownership of many state owned assets. The current Russian government is acting more and more like the autocratic rulers Russia has suffered under for centuries. The FSB seems to act like the palace guard, not public servants. _StrategyPage
Meanwhile in China, talk of a strong move to democracy is coming from high levels in the Chinese military.
Chinese Lieutenant General Yazhou Liu has been giving speeches to his fellow officers in which he insists that China must embrace democracy, or perish. Liu recently got promoted, and his speeches and published articles continue. What is going on here?
Liu has been pushing his ideas for nearly a decade. Five years ago, he was ordered to shut up. So his public presentation of these seemingly heretical ideas ceased. But Liu kept talking to military and government officials in private. Now he has been allowed to go public again.
...Liu's backing of democracy is purely practical, and really has nothing to do with political beliefs. He describes American democracy as a system designed by a genius for effective use by stupid people. As Liu puts it, ''a bad system makes a good person behave badly while a good system makes a bad person behave well. Democracy is the most important reform for China, for without it there can be no sustainable growth.''
...Liu points out that communists can compete in a democratic environment, especially since Chinese communists have abandoned the most destructive aspects of traditional communist doctrine (state control of the economy). But growing corruption, especially among communist officials, is crippling China and threatens the economy, as well as continued communist control of the country. Better to compete in a democratic environment, and risk losing national power, than to proceed with the current system and risk everything. Liu is being listened to by a lot of senior officials, both military and government, who back clean government. But the "dirty communists" are opposed, and that is a formidable opponent for someone like Liu. _StrategyPage
Chinese insiders such as Liu are able to see the huge cracks in China's military, government, and economic facade which are largely hidden to outsiders -- particularly to outsiders who portray themselves as experts on investing in China, or who recommend a western subservience when engaging with China. (Think of Obama bowing to foreign leaders, including top Chinese officials.)
Russia's demographic situation is dire, and Russia's leaders are unwilling to open the nation sufficiently to give the people hope for the future -- so that Russian women will start having children again. Putin and his henchmen may have decided to strip the country to the bones for their own benefit, and to the utter misery of Russia's people.
China, on the other hand, has at least a few decades of demographic health ahead of it before its aging population collapses on itself. If China can open itself politically, economically, and socially, it could put itself in a strong position for most of the 21st century. The alternative is the destruction from within by corruption, autocracy, and inevitable rebellion.