A recent Reuters story that I read in the SCMP (South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's premier English-language daily) provided a fascinating peek behind the Wizard-of-Oz curtain that the G maintains here in the Middle Kingdom. Xie Tao, 85, a veteran party official wrote an essay criticizing the current political system and advocating a kind of middle path democratic socialism as practiced by Scandinavian countries, the article said. It also said that an internal crackdown was occuring to put down the official's ideas.
The same story also taken up by the Guardian, here.
What's fascinating to me about this is the degree of secrecy that permeates everything. At the highest levels of government, it's perhaps to be taken as a matter of course; all governments and businesses, I think, strive for a certain kind of opacity, an obfuscation to cast themselves in the best possible light. Easy to do when things are murky and the folks want to believe.
But even here at a what is supposed to be a progressive university, events that are perceived as "bad news" or disruptive to social harmony disappear from the public eye and public discussion almost immediately. What follows is the best possible hearsay as I can gather it, as there is no official information: Over the May day holiday, a freshmen physics student apparently drowned when he slipped off a rock and into the reservoir. He couldn't swim and called for help, but by the time someone got there, it was over.
Usually topics of interest appear on BBS, the school's online discussion forum. But there was only one comment related to this student's death -- about how tragic was. And much speculation among the students that other comments had been deleted.
As long as nobody talks about the bad stuff, I guess the theory goes, it doesn't really exist.