Cold jasmine tea
Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:40 AM
Cops and journalists wait for protesters to show up (image source)
"Could it happen in China?"
The aftermath of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions continues to play out in the middle east, inspiring many Western journalists and news editors to ask this question. Yesterday's failed "jasmine protests" in China have been reported in great depth in English language publications, despite the fact that not much really happened.
Before this weekend's events, there were already a range of responses to the "Can it happen in China?" question. Writing in The Atlantic Howard French says "the dangerous messages [from Cairo] for the Authoritarian International, and its putative leader, China, have only just begun to be unpacked."
Many commentators don't believe the protests will spread to China. This view is explained clearly in an opinion piece by David Pilling in the Financial Times: Why the Chinese are not inspired by Egypt. On the Sinica podcast published last week, your correspondent and the other guests tended to agree with this view: China is in a very different situation to Egypt, and the conditions for mass protests do not seem to be in place.
However, judging from the events of the weekend — the heavy police presence at Wangfujing, strict Internet censorship and the harassment of dissidents — the Chinese government is far less confident.
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+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!