Will Iran's People "Get Over" the Regime's Excesses, as the Chinese did?


by FG

If the Chinese government survived the Tianneman Square massacre,  the Iranian government can survive its own crimes.  So hardliners believe.  Let’s see whether their analogy holds water.  

COMPARISON BY EXCESSES: Unlike Iran, China's government didn’t rape and torture demonstrators, dump bodies in mass graves or embarass themselves with show trials.   Chinese leaders knew how they would look if they put their young on trial. 

COMPARISON BY MEDIA EXPOSURE: Iran expelled all foreign journalists and jailed domestic ones for the duration.   China allowed  CNN and other news agencies.  With little technological access to public media, many Chinese “missed” Tianneman entirely.  Givwn the excitement prior to Iran's election, who could miss what the regime did that day?  Thanks to childrens, friends and even security thugs shipped to big cities from the countryside, even people without the latest electronic gadgets have a very good idea of what their government has been up to.

COMPARISON BY NUMBERS AND COMPOSITION: China’s demonstrators were small in number, cnfined mainly to one city and composed almost exclusively of a tiny segment of its young.  By contrast, the large election turnout in Iran’s elections reflected widespread discontent with four years of authoritarian rule and economic incompetence.  Events since have turned many Ahmadinejad voters against the gvernment.   People are getting tired of a government that thrives on polarization.  Discontent is strong in all social classes and age groups though strongest amng the educated and people under thirty.

COMPARISON BY DURATION:   In China all signs of public discontent faded rapidly after Tianneman.  In Iran the public continues to fume two months after the coup.  All people talked about last week were the mass graves, the rape scandal and especially the shocking treatment of Saeed Hajjarian in another Stalist show trial.  Hajjarian is a former revolutionary leader who played a major role in the American embassy attack and later became Iran’s leading human rights advocate.  Paralyzed years earlier by a bullet from a regime’s death squad, he had just spent two months in regime's dungeons underging horrors one can only guess at. The poor man needed two men to help him reach the podium.  He was so weak another that another prisoner, hands shaking,  had  to read his assigned “confession.”   I suspect even some guards had tears in their eyes.

COMPARISON BY ECONOMIC TRENDS: Up, up, up in China.  Down, Down, Down in Iran  Getting worse as a result of post-election instabilty.

COMPARISON BY FOREIGN INVESTMENT: China attracts investment in droves.    Sanctions and corruption have discouraged  investment in Iran, where the oil industry seems the only area of interest at present.  Sanctions or no sanctions, people in the West will boycott  any company that invests in the thugs.  

COMPARISON BY FOREIGN EXPORTS: China thrives on exports.   After 30 years, the Iranian "republic" still has nothing to sell the world except pistachios, rugs and oil.    Western consumers wouldn't buy normal goods from Iran so long as this regime remains  in power.  The idea of indirectly financing clubs for the Basilj is just too unpalatable..

A CULTURAL DILEMNA:  Iranians continue to identify with peers in the West, especially the young.  Iran’s ruling class would prefer they identify with Chinese counterparts.  Iranians have too many friends amng expatriates in the West.  As for a Chinese youth culture to emulate, where is it?  Like youth everywhere, Asians look to the West, especially America, for popular cultural icons.  A free and wide open society, cultural diversity and tolerant society has made the the USA is the dynamic force in youth culture.


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Maryam Hojjat

Great analysis &

by Maryam Hojjat on

Comparison with another authoritarian country.



Good analysis, FG.

by DM on

Good analysis, FG.


A great article!

by yolanda on

A very comprehensive and exhaustive analysis! Great job! Thanks! I think you should submit your article to a professional journal or newspaper for publication.