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China Facing A “Jasmine Revolution”

The wave of popular protests that has swept that Arab world seems to have made its way to the Middle Kingdom:

BEIJING – Jittery Chinese authorities wary of any domestic dissent staged a concerted show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a “Jasmine Revolution” apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets, disconnected some mobile phone text messaging services and censored Internet postings about the call to stage protests at 2 p.m. in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities.

The campaign did not gain much traction among ordinary citizens and the chances of overthrowing the Communist government are slim, considering Beijing’s tight controls over the media and Internet. A student-led, pro-democracy movement in 1989 was crushed by the military and hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

On Sunday, police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to lay down white jasmine flowers while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald’s on the capital’s busiest shopping street. In Shanghai, police led away three people near the planned protest spot after they scuffled in an apparent bid to grab the attention of passers-by.

Many activists said they didn’t know who was behind the campaign and weren’t sure what to make of the call to protest, which first circulated Saturday on the U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Boxun.com.

The unsigned notice called for a “Jasmine revolution” — the name given to the Tunisian protest movement — and urged people “to take responsibility for the future.” Participants were urged to shout, “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness” — a slogan that highlights common complaints among Chinese.

The call is likely to fuel anxiety among China’s authoritarian government, which is ever alert for domestic discontent and has appeared unnerved by recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya. It has limited media reports about them, stressing the instability caused by the protests, and restricted Internet searches to keep Chinese uninformed about Middle Easterners’ grievances against their autocratic rulers.

It’s unlikely that this will amount to anything serious for the regime, but, once again. it shows us that the desire for freedom exists even in the darkest corners of the world.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    These things are feeding each other, jumping with global culture, rather than just regional like-mindedness.

    I mean, I saw a protester in Libya had a “no hope” poster modeled after Obama’s “hope.” These are globally jumping memes.

    I think the European protests fed the Arab, and sure it could progress to Asia.

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  2. Dave Schuler says:

    China has protests of more than 100 people at the rate of 5,000 or more per year and has done for years. It will take a lot more than that and more than “an uinsigned notice” to bring about change there.

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  3. Iappreciatemylifeinchina says:

    “In Beijing, 25-year-old Liu Xiaobai was stopped by police after he placed a white jasmine flower on a planter in front of a McDonald’s outlet that was the planned protest site and took some photos with his mobile phone.
    “I’m quite scared because they took away my phone. I just put down some white flowers; what’s wrong with that?” Liu said.
    “I’m just a normal citizen and I just want peace.”
    Security agents tried to take Liu away, but he was swarmed by journalists and eventually was seen walking away with a friend.”
    “Any potential protesters were far outnumbered by hundreds of rubberneckers at the busy Wangfujing pedestrian mall, who wondered if there was a celebrity in the area because of the heavy police presence and dozens of foreign journalists and news cameras.”
    (Source: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/china-stamps-out-jasmine-revolution-call-20110221-1b18c.html)

    But in your article, you said “On Sunday, police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to lay down white jasmine flowers while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald’s on the capital’s busiest shopping street. ”

    This is how rumour started, isn’t it?

    If you care to discuss a topic like this, be accurate at least.

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  4. anjin-san says:

    > If you care to discuss a topic like this, be accurate at least.

    @ Life in China. This is a right wing blog. Facts are pretty malleable…

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  5. Nana says:

    cowards had aleast dared to challenge for their right……..! N i appreciate that. But i don’t get…… Y don’t everyone join hands after all, it’s suppose to b a so called revolution………..!! R they so used of the tyranny and never want to experience the life of a democracy. DAMN SURE!! D word democracy in itself is a dream for them!!…………. hope the scent of jasmine spreads to NORTH KOREA as well……!!

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  6. Awni Ranjan says:

    The day is not far for jasmine to bloom in Red Square

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  7. beowulf says:

    @Iappreciatemylifeinchina

    haha – even the story about Liu Xiaobai is wrong. He was a tourist who picked up some of the flowers. Immediatly the journalists jumped him, of course the police invented and tried to pull him away from the journalists. The journalists smelled the story of their life and followed them. The police did not know what to do and let him go. Afterwards the confused Liu Xiaobai was interviewed. But he said something very different. He is a tourist and has no idea what was going on. However, he thought it is a shame to let the flowers on the ground an decided to pick them up.

    Here is the whole – ridiculous – incident
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQQO-T1LqqM&feature=related

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  8. Anonymous says:

    […] […]

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