The Chinese Communist Party is literally going back in time. All of the prosperity and "reforms" of the last thirty years have kicked into reverse.
The regime is now being forced to admit that over 20 million jobs have vanished over the last year (BBC). At least three provinces that went from rural backwaters to major commercial hubs - Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu - are now home to "dozens of protests that are never mentioned by the state media" (Sunday Times of London), reminiscent of the tens of millions that took to the streets outside Beijing during the spring of 1989. The cadres blacked out those protests, too.
Guangdong is also finding its modern model of corrupt corporatism under attack from Beijing - not for reasons of modern reform but old-style anti-business Marxism (Financial Post).
Of course, none of these things had to be a harbinger of going back to the future by themselves. What really triggered the way-back machine was how the cadres continue to handle the situation - with pages ripped right out of the Brezhnev playbook.
As more and more ordinary Chinese demand accountability from their Communist leaders, said leaders recycle charges of "slavery" against the Dalai Lama (Hindustan Times) and aim the bloggers' ire at a show-thrower in London (BBC). The usual crackdown against anyone in Tibet who does not approve of the Communist occupation continues apace (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, the cadres have decided the economic crises is a perfect time for a massive investment - in propaganda (Manila Times).
For the most part, the leaders of the rest of the world hasn't noticed this, or is trying to pretend it's not that big of a deal (BBC, Bloomberg, and the Taipei Times). There is, however, one country that may follow (to an extent) the CCP back into the pass - and in a way the regime truly cannot afford: India.
As the CCP continued to juggle its blood-and-circuses act, India's Bharatiya Janata Party - currently the lead opposition party and quite possibly the leader of the next government after elections this spring - railed against the Communist regime for its militarization of Burmese regions bordering India and refusing to accept India's territorial claims east of Kashmir (Calcutta News).
India and the CCP fought a border war forty-five years ago (during which the Kennedy Administration made fairly clear it backed India), and while not even the BJP is willing to go that far, a resurgent anti-Communism in an Indian democracy once again close to Washington has to have Zhongnanhai on edge. While the Soviets managed to limp along, and even score geopolitical gains, until the United States got serious about winning the First Cold War in 1980, the "other" power that concerned Moscow (ironically, the CCP) was presiding over a traumatized people and a flattened economy. India, by contrast, is a vibrant democracy with an economy that was already drawing investment money away from Beijing before the downturn. Should the BJP win the upcoming elections, it would give the CCP a neighboring threat from a political, economic, and military perspective - something not even the United States could be at present.
Unexpected events from places that should have been followed more closely have changed history before. A political sabotage operation by German intelligence in World War I led to the founding of the Soviet Union; Communist Party parliamentary maneuverings - on orders from Moscow - in a chaotic Weimar Republic gave Adolf Hitler the keys to power, a shipyard protest in Poland led to a mass anti-Communist movement that inspired the American electorate - at least in part - to elect Ronald Reagan. If anything, the Indian people electing an anti-Communist government would be a more straightforward cause for change in China than any of the above.