Saturday, 19 February 2011

Calls for a Chinese "Jasmine revolution": Performance art, prank, or provocation?

Hat-tip to Catherine Yeung of Under the Jacaranda Tree for pointing out this report of calls for demonstrations echoing Tunisia's Jasmine revolution in China tomorrow (my time) which have been spreading through the internet via twitter and other microblogging sites. Nobody knows who posted these messages. One of the main websites on which they were posted (US-based pro-democracy website now claims to be under a DoS attack. Whilst the English-language section of the site is still accessible, the Chinese-language section cannot be accessed. Chinese micro-blogging sites also appear to be blocking searches for the term "Jasmine" as can be seen above.

Why is this all happening now? Whilst some have suggested some kind of prank or performance art piece is being performed, I have the horrid - but unsubstantiated - suspicion that this is an attempt by the Chinese authorities to bring its opponents out into the open. Recent weeks have seen a rash of arrests and beatings of pro-democracy and human rights campaigners like Chen Guangcheng, but nothing in the way of wide-spread unrest or anything that could serve as a catalyst for protest, so it is hard to believe (but not impossible) that any of the known anti-government elements in mainland China could be calling for protests in this way.

[Picture: A screen-grab of a search I performed for the term "Jasmine" (茉莉) on the Sina Weibo micro-blogging site a few minutes before posting, the caption says "Due to the relevant laws and regulations, we cannot show the search results"]


Anonymous said...

Let a hundred flowers blossom.
Maybe, the old bastard's playbook is still good for something.

Maybe not. When dissent takes to the street, it will be over some real incident of perceived injustice and not some empty tweet fanfare.


Anonymous said...

I bet there are some tight sphincters in the Politburo today, if they are following really fast developments on Libya via Al Jazeera tweets. And what with army defections, you can bet the farm that the PLA is presently stepping up its ideological indoctrination of the lower ranks.

When it does come the time to pay the piper - not proposing any timeline here - fueling the private jets, dumping of second wives and a rush to the Venezuelan embassy for arrival clearance.

God, the next couple of years will be fun to observe.


Gilman Grundy said...

@KT - Yeah, if there's anything to learn from all this, it's just how paranoid the Chinese govt. is.