Beijing's grip on power in recent years has relied on a simple agreement with its citizens: "Tolerate our authoritarian rule and we'll make you rich,” writes Joshua Kurlantzick in the New Republic. But with the nation's economy on the rocks, that agreement is now breaking down. If Beijing's $586 billion stimulus package fails, the ensuing unrest will make Tiananmen Square look like small potatoes.
"While, in the US, a financial failure would simply mean another dent in George W. Bush's reputation, in China it could mean the breakdown of the entire political order," writes Kurlantzick. Already, signs of unrest are emerging in the middle class over falling house prices in cities such as Shanghai. "These types of protests, with urban people, this is what the government is really worried about," says a real estate expert. "These are bankers, doctors, professors, people with real clout."