I found the essay below on the blog Zonaeuropa. While not translated very well, it supports points I have made to American friends and acquaintances: do not hope for a magical change of regime in China. There is no Solidarity labor union (as in Poland), there is no Catholic Church, there is no network of mosques, there is no nationwide alternative power structure from which any campaign could be mounted.
So stop dreaming!
Wang Lixiong: Political Power Can No Longer Come Out Of The Gun Barrel
We need to recognize that there is a fundamental difference between today's China and the one of the past. Due to the lack of support from a cultural framework and the loss of the ecological foundation, China no longer has the basis for having a rebellious revolution or a war for political power.
Revolts and wars used to be the principal means by which political power changed hands in China. The collapse of political authority had occurred time and again. Usually, there would emerge all sorts of armed groups carrying different names, but they were basically warlords and bandits who attacked each other until the strongest bandit ascended the throne of the Emperor and became the legitimized ruler who would re-establish law and order. The reason that the warlords and bandits could keep fighting each other was because China had a cultural framework for support or the ecological foundation can sustain the population through the troubles. Therefore, society was not going to fall into the abyss altogether.
Rebellions and wars break down order and disrupt administration, and this actually lowers the exploitation of the ecological resources by society. Yet in China today, these types of exploitation has reached right to the maximum edge. For many years, the government has spent all its efforts on patching things up, because the moment that the speed of development (=degree of exploitation of the ecology) slows down, various social crises will explode. The increasing way by which everything is linked together made such shocks echo throughout the adminstrative system. Once a crisis starts, it will become "administrative crisis -> decreased production -> social disturbance' repeating itself deeper and deeper. By that time, even if the established power is overthrown, society will continue to be stuck in a vicious downward spiral from which it cannot extract itself.
The analogy is that a society without a cultural framework and an ecological foundation is like walking on a steel wire. Once you lose your balance, you will fall right down to the bottom. There is no chance of falling down half way and then getting back up on the steel wire. So let us not even talk about whether China has the conditions ripe for a revolution. If there were a real revolution, everyone will be brought to ruin together.
The war for the power is the same, and the effectiveness of violence is not unlimited. Once a society loses the support by a cultural framework, there would be more conflicts than cooperation between people and between groups. The fight over the limited ecological resources will increase the competition for them and the conflicts will increase while productions will continue to shrink. By that time, the world will be full of starving people running around looking for food, so what power is there left to fight for? To win the country and win over territory is just seeking more trouble for oneself.
I have asked Qin Hui what the bandits were looting for during the historical times when it was said that all the houses were emptied and corpses were strewn everywhere. Qin Hui said they were collecting people -- for food. In those days, production was about preserving human meat in big vats for later consumption.
But the population back then was not more than one third of the population today and the ecological conditions were a lot of better than now. Still, they fell into that kind of conditions. Therefore, we cannot think that "when the car reaches the mountain, the road will appear on its own." To blindly believe that "Great Order will emerge after Great Chaos (大乱达到大治)" is just wishful thinking. Once we embark on "change things first and then let us see (先变再说)", we will push China over the track of political unity onto another track which may bring us and all of China down the abyss of destruction.