Turkey’s economy has boomed this past decade. As reported in the Economist:
In 2010 and 2011 the economy grew by a China-like 9%, leading to serious fears of overheating. GDP growth slowed to 2% in 2012. Despite surprisingly strong first-quarter figures this week, it is likely to be only 3-4% this year, not enough to keep unemployment down in a growing population.
China is in a similar position. After a very long boom, a recent article in the NY Times reports:
A record seven million students will graduate from universities and colleges across China in the coming weeks, but their job prospects appear bleak — the latest sign of a troubled Chinese economy.
Revolutions don’t occur when things are bad. Populations that expect oppression are remarkably docile. Revolutions occur when rising expectations are suddenly dashed. The unrest in Turkey has been led by the urban middle class — exactly the people who have benefited from economic expansion, and were hardest hit by an economic slowdown. They are about a year or two ahead of China in middle class dissatisfaction.
The knee-jerk authoritarian response from Prime Minister Erdogan will only add fuel to the fire. We can expect the Chinese government to do the same.
The situations are not exactly parallel, of course. China’s government is much more oppressive and violent than Turkey’s. Instability will take longer to occur in China, and when it does, it will be more violent. Also, as authoritarian as Turkey has become, it’s still to some degree a functioning democracy, and the possibility of future elections will probably prevent an actual revolution. But in different ways at different paces, life will become increasingly harsh for the people in both countries.