Shaun Rein uses the two stabbing incidents in Beijing to explain how government in China works. The National Day on October 1, when The People’s Republic of China celebrates its 60th birthday, is a crucial moment for many careers of officials, he writes in Forbes.
While it is impossible to rule the country on a micro-scale, losing face through this kind of incidents leads to an overreaction by those smaller officials who are eager to save their jobs, even when it means banning all knives from the stores. Rein:
Finally, the knife ban in Beijing shows us the importance of face in China. The central government will do whatever it takes to ensure that the festivities on Oct. 1 come off magnificently. Whether it takes banning knives or trying to manage rainfall, shutting down businesses at the last minute or closing airports, the government will do almost anything to save face by having a camera-ready event.
The subtle balance between central and local governments, and its eternal power struggles, are seldom good understand, argues Rein:
Policies set by the central government are implemented at the local level, and there can be different motives there. For instance, as I wrote in “China is Pulling Ahead on the Environment,” it is clear that the central government is moving quickly to reduce pollution and improve working conditions. Yet local officials may not be so willing to close a soot-belching factory or a sweatshop that provides most of the jobs and tax revenues in their small city.
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