Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Chinese Communist Party, and his colleagues have
repeatedly expressed alarm at increasing social protests.
According to confidential but widely circulated Chinese police estimates, there are now about 180,000 mass protest incidents each year, roughly 20 times more than there were in the mid -1990s. China's leaders portray the surge of protests as fueled by popular outrage over the yawning gap between rich and poor -- a chasm that the leaders have spent a decade trying to close.
In reality, though, Chinese citizens are angry about a different gap; the one between the powerful and the powerless.
Chinese are growing ever more conscious of their rights as human beings. They know there are regulations and laws on the books that appear to guarantee them fair treatment. However, the gaps between proclaimed principles and reality are huge. When they try to follow traditional established procedures to challenge official unfairness, most likely they will fail or even get into serious trouble. And that is why they take to the streets.