Apparently China is worried about the coming year being a period of “mass incidents”. This is in part because it is the anniversary of several different events: the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Revolt, the 20th anniversary of Tianenmen Square, and the 90th of the May 4th Incident (a 1919 student-led mass protest against imperial rule). They worry that the occasions of these anniversaries will provide rallying points for the disaffected.
And oh, how many are the disaffected lately. If Chinese growth starts to break down, the populace will find itself with both a failing economy and dictatorial governance. Expecting people to be happy about that seems somewhat unrealistic. Serious unrest in China would obviously be bad for global stability, but at this moment it poses a special risk to America. Given our massive deficit spending in an attempt to lift ourselves out of a pending depression, we need the Chinese government to continue buying our debt. Any deterioration of their domestic could reduce their ability to pony up money for us, and our recovery effort could break down.
The ultimate import is this: If the Chinese start cracking down on internal protests, it puts the United States government in a rather tricky situation. Do we support the protestors, the Chinese government, or do we remain in uncomfortable silence? I honestly couldn’t even venture a guess.