Many public administrators in China seem to have forgotten the basics these days. While harmony and stability are the buzzwords, few seem to understand what these important concepts mean and what make them happen.
Harmony and stability does not imply homogeneity and single-mindedness. Harmony is achieved only when different elements are fully respected for their roles and values. Consider the example of a piece of great music. It can only express human emotions to the fullest extent with the skilful composition of different musical notes. In the case of a symphony, it also requires the collaboration of a wide range of musical instruments to make it good for the ear.
Therefore, oppression is by no means a truly viable solution to harmony and stability. It can only make things worse, even though it may seem effective to a certain extent in the short term. Turning a blind eye to the problem or stepping aside from the core issue doesn't help either.
What happened in Xinjiang last July and over the past day or two provides yet another example of how poor and foolish actions can ruin well-intended plans and, worse still, trust and understanding of the people.
I couldn't help being puzzled by what I saw on television news over the past two days. The scene of thousands of Urumqi citizens chanting slogans demanding the step-down of Xinjiang's party chief was by all means astonishing. It only reinforces the magnitude of the deep-rooted tensions between Han and Uyghur peoples. It only reminds people of the ill-advised and misplaced ethnic minority policies of China, which sowed the seeds of hatred, prejudice and misperception decades ago.
Nevertheless, the use of violence against three Hong Kong journalists was by no means forgivable. It is simply disgusting. Local authorities in China, be they Sichuan and Xinjiang, simply have lost their sense. They are actually creating more troubles than resolving problems, if any at all. There is no worse blunder than exposing one's shortcoming in front of the news camera.
While China's obsolete and authoritarian regime is often blamed and criticised of being repressive in nature, to a history buff like me, it actually denotes something much more than ideology. The negative approach can be traced back to late imperial China when Ming and Qing dynasties began to adopt an inward and conservative approach to state affairs. In contrast with their predecessors, China in Ming and Qing was far more conservative and repressive, because all the rulers wanted to do was to secure their regimes, regardless of the price and sacrifices. Unfortunately modern Chinese regimes, be it capitalist or socialist, ended up as loyal followers of the Ming and Qing legacy of ineffective government and repressive rule.