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Geopolitics

China: Despite Current Crackdown, Desire For Reform Quietly Takes Root

Political change may at last be forced upon China’s Communist Party, as the society, rich and poor, starts to show that economic growth alone will no longer keep them quiet.

Mao is still omnipresent, at least in public (Richard Fisher)
Mao is still omnipresent, at least in public (Richard Fisher)
Brice Pedroletti

BEIJING – Is China about to enter a genuine phase of political reform that will set it on the path to democracy? The question may seem absurd in the face of the recent repression suffered by some of the country's most committed social activists, including the artist Ai Weiwei and many well-known lawyers.

Whether it is because the police hysteria has missed its target, or because it has backfired and galvanized the opposition, the situation in China is far from harmonious. The skeletons are out of the closet. For example, the liberal intellectual and well-known economist Mao Yushi – no relation to the revolution's so-called Great Helmsman – denounced Mao's crimes in a scathing attack published on the Caixin news site at the end of April. It is time, he writes, to consider him an "ordinary human being," and not a god.

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In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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