Each morning I get up and scan the news for disturbing stories from China. And I’m never disappointed. Investor A. Gary Shilling has a Bloomberg View piece on the slowdown in the Chinese economy that’s well worth a read. China, meanwhile, is bullying its neighbors in the South China Sea. Despite its release of dissidents Ai Weiwei and Hu Jia, the government in Beijing continues to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Chinese people as expressed through the Charter 08 movement. One of the first signatories to that document, Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, remains in prison.

With the Middle East in turmoil, and in anticipation of the Chinese Communist Party’s 90th birthday, Chinese authorities have launched a huge “patriotic education” campaign. The move doesn’t strike one as coming from a political leadership confident in its abilities. A major transition in power looms as well. 

When the Chinese economy slows, the party’s legitimacy will be in question like never before. And the economy will slow. The truths of economics do not stop at China’s shores.

Reading about China, one can’t help thinking that this nation of more than 1 billion people sits atop an economic and political powder keg. What happens when it blows?