Several reports from China may indicate that the regime is slackening its grip on its citizens.
China has a reputation for being oppressive and expecting citizens to tow the party line in every aspect of their lives. Now the government seems to be being a little more tolerant of those who question the system.
Following a public outcry, China has abandoned tough penalty laws designed to reduce accidents. The tough new laws related to speeding, drink driving and using a mobile phone while driving. Tough penalties for drivers running through red and amber lights were the last straw for many Chinese citizens, when the government was accused of causing accidents because people were stopping too abruptly at traffic lights.
China is considering a reform of the country’s controversial labour camps. The system allows police officers to intern people in the labour camps for up to four years without trial, a system that has been in place since the 1950s. The government is expected to announce details of the proposed reform of the camps, which allegedly hold 320,000 people in 320 camps, in March of this year.
Journalist at a Chinese newspaper have staged a strike because of state control and editing of some of the paper’s reports by propaganda officials. One of the protesters told Reuters “The Nanfang [Southern] Media Group is relatively willing to speak the truth in China so we need to stand up for its courage and support it now.” Strikes are very rare in China, often being met with force from the state police, who so far have limited their actions to asking some protestors for their identity papers.
Perhaps the few positive reports coming from China through Western news agencies may be a sign that China is (in some respects) taking a more liberal attitude by allowing citizens to express opinions which, years ago, would have led to a term in a ‘re-education camp’.
Only time will tell.