Countries within Nations
October 25, 2013 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Chinese Provinces and Indian States : "local leaders are increasingly running much of India and China, which are home to a third of all humanity, from the bottom up. That is affecting how both countries act in the world, which means that these countries need to be understood from the inside out"
posted by Gyan (5 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by sutt at 7:50 AM on October 25, 2013

I've always wondered if the iron fist that the central government uses is necessary to hold together a nation as enormous and diverse as China. If they loosen their grip, will those relatively independent provinces get minds of their own?

Managing a huge diverse nation or empire is hard. India lost a territory that became Pakistan, and Pakistan lost a territory that became Bangladesh. The USSR fragmented into several smaller nations in the '90s.

(I admit up front that I'm totally ignorant about all three countries, so let me know if I just said something stupid.)
posted by Jacob Knitig at 7:52 AM on October 25, 2013

The tension between local and central has always been there in PRC politics - there's a term 山头主义 shāntóu zhǔyì (means something like "mountain-top-ism as they were usually controlling revolutionary base areas up in the hills in the manner of bandit kings of old) that dates back to the revolutionary war, when Mao coined it to refer to local revolutionary base areas looking after their own interests first rather than coordinating nationwide and it's been in the political lexicon ever since so far as I'm aware. Not surprising given the sheer scale of governance issues in such a large and populous country.
Recall that during the early years of the post-reform boom there was often griping from the coastal provinces about the level of support they were expected to supply to poorer hinterland regions; one solution was directing pairing of a wealthier region with a poor one, with the former responsible for sending material and human resources to support the latter, though that's in abeyance now I think.
You only have to look to the warlord era to see how centrifugal forces can break the nation up (and Mao himself was in a Hunan independence movement briefly before joining the Party IIRC) but I doubt there's a serious danger of that given the way modernisation and infrastructure building has solidified intraprovincial ties, but it's certainly true that local interests can diverge widely. Once worked on a project for an NGO that was helping to set up a watershed management protocol for the Yangtse - previously even things like direct water extraction had been each province along its long course doing as they saw fit, with obvious negatives in resource allocation and flood control.
posted by Abiezer at 8:07 AM on October 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

The Chinese central government has been naming and shaming the most polluted cites in China to force local communist leaders to do something about it which is a strange sort of Federalism....
posted by three blind mice at 10:04 AM on October 25, 2013

This is cool, the second good Brookings report in this format posted to MeFi (that I recall). The information is really key, it's like learning that Texas is different from New York - we all know that but what if we didn't such is the case with these places (which are bigger than NY and TX). Kind of unrelated but this caught my eye from India: "the vast majority still get power the old fashioned way—burning dried cow dung." No wonder the cow is sacred.
posted by stbalbach at 10:14 AM on October 25, 2013

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