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Growth versus democracy in China?

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 24 August 2011

China's communist government has for decades focussed on delivering economic growth for its huge population.

But as that population gets richer, it is having to spend more on keeping society stable and discouraging unrest.

There have always been protests against the heavy handedness of Communist Party decisions, but in recent weeks there has been an upsurge of criticism, part of it sparked by the crash of two high speed trains and the way the authorities all too quickly buried the wreckage.

Other protests have been staged against pollution from a chemicals plant and against power cuts.

Lesley Curwen asked Professor Steve Tseng, Director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, how the Chinese authorities have reacted.

Internet in a suitcase

Many repressive governments are well aware of the potential of mobile internet devices to coordinate civil unrest and they often take steps to close down websites and monitor the communications of their opponents.

In turn protestors look for possible solutions.

One of which would be a so-called 'internet in a suitcase'.

This would be a small device which could be quickly set up to provide a private wireless Internet service over a wide area. It's not uncontroversial.

Now the US government is helping to fund research to make this a reality.

Sascha Meinrath, who leads the 'internet in a suitcase' project at the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation explains his hopes for the technology.

Triumphs and disasters

Plus: an introduction to one Western practice that is still pretty new in China: hiring a public relations firm to handle your triumphs and disasters.

Frank Lavin is the Chairman of the Public Affairs Practice for Edelman, one of the biggest global PR firms, in the Asia pacific region.

He is a fluent Mandarin speaker and his former jobs include US Under Secretary for International Trade and US Ambassador to Singapore.

He gives his advice to businesses which start operating in China.

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