me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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About China

Yesterday I lit the fuse on a long Facebook thread on China. Lots of discussion, but almost none of it from me; my original post was a newspaper link. Meanwhile I've been posting about my Shanghai experiences, and I want to keep doing that. It seems disingenuous to continue with that, though, unless I have my say on what's going on in China.

China's cracking down on dissidents and potential dissidents right now in a way not unprecedented in Chinese history, but unexpected by almost everybody. The PRC government sees destabilizing potential, along the lines of what's happening in the middle east, in its own dissident community. About that, I have this to say, and I've said it before: why can the Chinese government not understand how much the Chinese people love China? Unless the crackdown becomes truly vicious, extended, and unbearably harsh -- unless, that is, the government creates the right conditions -- the violent fury of the middle east will never overwhelm the Chinese people. The "Jasmine Revolution" is not is any sense a revolution. The Chinese people are perfectly willing to be led by, and ruled by, their government. All they're asking is to be able to trust it. The dissidents are asking that the government follow its own laws and constitution. End, reduce, or at least prosecute corruption. Allow for input from the people affected by decisions. That's it. It's not a lot to ask for. If the government continues to take a hard, repressive line, though, they'll create reluctant revolutionaries out of people who started with much milder, simpler requests.

However, as @Michael Steinke pointed out, "contemporary China represents the greatest levels of freedom and standard of living that country has ever seen." The government, it seems to me, is tragically afraid of the wrong people -- artists, writers, dissidents. These people are the real patriots. But from the government's point of view, the dangers are real and the stakes are enormous: the possibility of bringing a fifth of the world's population into the 21st century.

What will it mean and where will it lead? I don't know. I hope the government, having flexed some muscle, will now back down. Maybe they will, maybe not. I'm convinced the rest of the world needs to pressure China, and lean hard. But I don't think the right road is for us to disengage.

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