I was ChiniFT, but since I am no longer an FT I have "come out", so to speak and am actually RobertD.
I said I wouldn't add to this thread, but I can't resist. Thanks to the nice people who wished me well in my new venture - Photography. It was not my career before PZ, Computers were, and I was glad to get out of that rat race.
I do believe that China will fail, all the ingredients are there - suppression, financial control/manipulation. cruelty within society - the list is endless. Yet kindness does exist and is reciprocated when people are treated decently and not by buying them either. From our personal experience of being given little gifts from the lady who did the gardening in the FT's compound - bags of rice, fruit she had picked etc - just because we treated her like a fellow human being. The current empire in China, the CCP, will fall just as all the previous empires fell - it is the way China is. The development of the current "middle class", the Karl's etc, are all dependent upon the economic boom which in itself is a gross manipulation of market forces by the CCP ( I intentionally never use the word government when referring to the Chinese authorities ). So when the market economies of the west start to fail, as they are at the moment, the new middle class in China starts to feel the result - factories closing, businesses failing, cut-backs etc. When that point is reached, I think we will see the start of the "counter-revoltion" and since the CCP will have been seen to have failed the Chinese people, something which they say they will never do, but which keeps them in power, they will be replaced by something else. Now what that something else will be is a matter of conjecture as I can't really see a democratic form of government coming into place overnight. What will be good to see is the people avenging themselves against the CCP members who have suppressed them so much.
As an aside, do many or any of you know that Chini is host to four forced labour camps? One of the former FAO staff had a brother who was a guard at one of them. Also, the trucks that grind their way along the road through PZ come from a quarry that is also a forced labor camp. So, being at PZ, you'll find yourself amidst some of the things that exemplify modern China. It took us years before we knew of the "goings on" around PZ. But, I don't believe that anywhere in China is really any different and I would be the last person to dissuade someone from going to China to work and learn - the experience changed both our lives.
By reading many of the books about modern China that are available in the HK bookstores and combining that knowledge with observations of what is going on around you, all can be revealed. It took 7 years for it all to sink in for us. If you are really interested in learning this stuff and spreading the word when you return to your home countries then gen yourselves up with the facts - it is a most enlightening experience - get involved in the democracy movement in HK - if you're down there during the week try to take in a talk at the Foreign Correspondents Club - not cheap, but worth every HK$.
I could go on for much longer.........