As rich European countries go, maybe Austria is just as bad as Italy or France. Only smaller, more provincial. Newest anti-foreigner laws package passed on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, 2011. The protesters in Egypt didn’t really look to America or Western Europe, but to protest experiences in Serbia and such. At least that’s what I remember from reports in the NY Times, among others. A Chinese friend told me he was watching the Arab protests very much,while he was in Europe, because the pictures from Egypt reminded him of Beijing in 1989.
China has had too many so-called revolutions under Mao and a big failure with protests for civil rights and democracy in 1989. But there are many protests in China all the time. Labor unrest, land seizures, health hazards etc.. There may also be a big craving for stability, hence the hesitation to participate in larger protests. The op-ed in the NYT (IHT) by Daniel Bell, designated Western politics professor in Tianjin, was very academic. Or very wishy-washy. Civil rights are universal. No, China’s not so special. Reporters know, especially when they go to see the blind Women’s rights activist lawyer in Shandong and get waylay-ed and beaten. No, nobody cares about supposed academic discussions on why democracy might not work. Yes, people try to lead a good life, individually, for their family, and sometimes they notice the limits, and try to work around them, and many do talk about it. Sorry for the rambling. As I said, rich countries are no beacons. Maybe I am more politics-sensitive than before, since we moved back to Austria from China, after 10 years in Beijing and a few more in other cities. Roger Cohen is right, the EU doesn’t look very good at all these days.