10 April 2008

Chinese Whispers

One of my hobbies is to try to spot the emergence of unintended consequences of major events. The classic, perhaps, is the fall of the Communism, and the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which was supposed to be a victory that showed the West's strength, but turned out instead to make our lives hugely less safe. Here's another - and a profound one at that:

Just as damaging for China in the long run, however, may be the effect on ordinary citizens. One place the Tibetan flag no longer flies is in the window of a bed shop in the English city of Sheffield. Its owner is a Tibetan sympathiser, who displayed the flag last month. Two young Chinese, apparently students, visited and made threats. That night his windows were smashed. A celebration supposed to mark China's emergence as a friendly global power has made some people think for the first time that its rise is something to fear.

Only a whisper at the moment, but I predict it will become a fearsome - and fearful - roar before long.

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