People seem surprised by the protests in Tibet, which seems to be growing in scope everyday. I wasn't. Tibet is just the tip of the iceberg. China is more restive than it's being reported by the mainstream media, who tend to focus on China's red-hot economy.
For one thing, the countryside is not as placid as China would have us believe. It's a region of great ferment. Violent protests have broken out in all parts of rural China, which the government brutally represses. Only sanitized version of events appear in state-controlled media, which much of the world media parrots without comment or skepticism.
And it's only going to get worse. The Communist Party, which rules China, has no mechanism to channel protests of any kind. It perceives any dissent, no matter how trivial, as a threat to its authority. There are no democratic institutions in China: no free press, no political parties, no freedoms-- nothing! As long as the economy is strong, and jobs are plentiful, people are happy. But what will happen when the economy weakens? That is the dilemma that will plague China in the days to come.