Chinese People Power: A Primer

While our eyes are glued on the collapsing Qaddafi regime, the authorities in China are getting jittery about a Jasmine Revolution of their own:

Skittish domestic security officials responded with a mass show of force across China on Sunday after anonymous calls for protesters to stage a Chinese "Jasmine Revolution" went out over social media and microblogging outlets.

Although there were no reports of large demonstrations, the outsize government response highlighted China's nervousness at a time of spreading unrest in the Middle East aimed at overthrowing authoritarian governments.

The words "Jasmine Revolution," borrowed from the successful Tunisian revolt, were blocked on sites similar to Twitter and on Internet search engines, while cellphone users were unable to send out text messages to multiple recipients. A heavy police presence was reported in several Chinese cities.

In recent days, more than a dozen lawyers and rights activists have been rounded up, and scores of dissidents have reportedly been placed under varying forms of house arrest. At least two lawyers are still missing, family members and human rights advocates said Sunday.

In Beijing, a huge crowd formed outside a McDonald's in the heart of the capital on Sunday after messages went out listing it as one of 13 protest sites across the country....By 2 p.m., the planned start of the protests, hundreds of police officers had swarmed the area, a major shopping district popular with tourists.

At one point, the police surrounded a young man who had placed a jasmine flower on a planter outside the McDonald's, but he was released after the clamor drew journalists and photographers.

The would-be rebellion's name may have been inspired by the Middle Eastern revolts, but its roots go deeper than that. Wildcat protests have been a force in Chinese life for a while now. As Gordon Chang pointed out in 2006, the Tiananmen Square demonstrations

irrevocably changed the People's Republic. By the end of the 1990's, Chinese society was turbulent once more as individual protests, both in the countryside and the city, began attracting tens of thousands of participants. In early 2002, two of them -- one by oil workers in Daqing in the northeast and the other by factory hands in nearby Liaoyang -- may have reached the 100,000 mark. In late 2004, in China's southwest, about 100,000 peasants protested the seizure without compensation of land to build a hydroelectric plant in Sichuan province.

Protests have not only become bigger in size; they are now more numerous. In 1994, there were 10,000 such "mass incidents"; by 2003 there were 58,000; in 2004 and 2005 there were 74,000 and 87,000 respectively. This is according to official statistics, which undoubtedly undercount. According to the legal activist Jerome Cohen, a truer figure for the last year may be 150,000.

Virtually every segment in society (except, of course, senior Communist leaders and wealthy entrepreneurs) is participating in these public demonstrations. Almost anything, whether or not it is a genuine grievance, can trigger a sit-in, demonstration, or riot against party officials, village bosses, tax collectors, factory owners, or township cadres.

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  • ¢||

    The part where Nicholson uses his coke ray to zap a cherry bomb out of the Mexican cowboy's boot-with-spurs replica glass isn't in the U.S. cut.

  • Eric||

    I think you forgot the hat-tip there, Jesse.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Hat tip to whom? People are linking to the NYT piece all over, and I blogged the older article when it came out.

  • Eric||

  • Jesse Walker||

    Didn't see it. Haven't been following that thread.

  • Matt||

    John Hudson?

  • ||

    I just hope that when the Red Dynasty is overthrown, it happens with as little bloodshed as possible.

    -jcr

  • DNS||

    I just hope that when the Red Dynasty is overthrown, it happens with as little bloodshed as possible.

    I agree wholeheartedly JCR. Given Mainland China's past record regarding insurrections, I am not optimistic. China has been smart to not mess with Hong Kong, and has left them relatively be (the principle being do not kill the golden goose). But the mainland population, overall, does not possess the bourgeois capital stick to swing. Granted, it is growing, but I fear the worst, given China's exceptionally poor record with dissidents.

    I wish I knew the name of the brave student in Tienamen Square that stood down the tank.

  • ||

    i think the most unstable parts of China are the distant provinces and that independence movements like the one Ugyrestan (Xianxiang Province) are the going to be more successful than democracy movements.

  • ||

    We are all Tank Man.

  • SIV||

    ...I hope they, in addition to overthrowing their marxist masters, learn about a little manufacturing concept known as "quality control".
    God I miss Japanese manufacturing dominance.

  • DNS||

  • ||

    lies all lies

  • Choad||

    But, but, you don't understand. They have high speed rail there. High speed rail!!

    Don't take away the trains.

    TRAINS!!!!

  • Marie Antoinette||

    Word.

  • Eric||

    Well, that can't be right: I was assured that the ChiComs were running the best gummint evah, whatwith the trains and plans and, gosh, aren't the social engineers actual engineers and scientists instead of lawyers?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I find it endlessly entertaining that people in the developing world are demonstrating en masse to bring down the bloated authoritarian kleptocracies, but people in places like France, England, and Wisconsin are protesting the slightest reduction in the size of the Leviathan.

  • Dello||

    One of the definitions of "Westerner" is pansy-ass.

  • Bobble Head||

    (nods in agreement, shakes head in embarrassment)

  • DNS||

    I was assured that the ChiComs were running the best gummint evah, whatwith the trains and plans and, gosh, aren't the social engineers actual engineers and scientists instead of lawyers?

    It is perplexing Eric. This country has a purported Constitutional scholar at the helm and based on his two year performance, appears to have an unhealthy admiration for the ChiCom MO and appetite for the Yuan.

    Whereas the ChiCom arithmetic approach to governance failed to account for the intangible variable known as the desire for freedom.

  • sevo||

    HIGH-SPEED TRAINS!
    That's all.

  • DNS||

    So the The 0bama has train fetish. Would it not have been cheaper to buy him a bunch of these DVD's instead? I think all these progressives wanted Lionel trains as kids and got other stuff instead, nursing a lifelong grudge.

  • Ska||

    Baseball gloves and BB guns - but they just wanted a damn train set.

  • Choad||

    TRAAIINNSSS!!!

  • smartass sob||

    This country has a purported Constitutional scholar at the helm...

    Scholar? What does that mean - that he's an authority on all the ways that government has managed to work around or ignore the meaning of plain English for the last two hundred years?

  • Brett L||

    Not to worry, Tom Friedman will figure out a way to blame all of this on Global Warming if he hasn't already. The dude only has two clubs in his bag.

  • PantsFan||

    not a hard link for the likes of Mr. Friedman. Food prices are high(due to change in growing conditions, natch), ergo global warming.

  • Eric||

    Oh, I'm pretty sure Friedman's link gets hard for global warming and China.

    Ugh...

  • BakedPenguin||

    As soon as I saw the thread, I figured a Friedman call out was coming. I can see him in his Manhattan apartment, apple-tini in hand, screaming "NOOOOO!!!" at the TV news reports.

  • ||

    The article will be about how ungrateful the Chinese population is. "Authoritarians get things done!"

  • Brett L||

    I prefer one of those overhead views of his castle on Long Island with him screaming like the movie producer in The Godfather when he wakes up with the horse head.

  • BenDU99||

    I think that this is ultimately why all the China Hysteria people are wrong about China taking over the world and the US. The country is limited by its oppressive regime.

  • Apogee||

    The country is limited by its oppressive regime.

    Yes, but like the NoKo's, China is very nationalistic and if a distraction is viewed as the only way to stay in power, I wouldn't write off aggression just yet.

  • ||

    We should follow the example of China and cut the internet off here. Then all these stupid messages will stop getting through, and the only way to communicate will be bags of mail delivered by high speed rail!

  • PantsFan||

    I think the Chinese citizens will have better luck than the Libyans.
    I hear now that the Morrocans have joined in the fun.

  • Dello||

    Well, it IS what all the cool kids are doing these days...

  • DanD||

    For those of you who find this interesting, I highly recommend that you read the book "Oracle Bones" by Peter Hessler. It provides a ground-level view of life as a Chinese citizen, and it will give you some perspective on why people would revolt, how much the government is scared of it, and how such a revolt could materialize. Along the way, it has a myriad of interesting facts about Chinese history and culture.

    It's a completely different view than what you'll get from most American televised media and over-excited economic prophecy books.

  • DNS||

    It's a completely different view than what you'll get from most American televised media and over-excited economic prophecy books.

    I would find this fascinating. Is it anecdotal, or did Mr. Hessler actually live in Mainland China amongst the natives for an extended period of time? And is it strictly journalistic or does it have an ideological bent?

  • DanD||

    Hessler has lived in China for over ten years now. He takes a journalistic approach. There's definitely some opinion here and there, but if there's any ideological bias, it's directed against the Chinese government and its methods.

    It's not a tract espousing a particular view. Rather, it's mainly expository and ties past and present together in some pretty fascinating ways.

    Here's the amazon link:

    Link

  • DNS||

    Thank you DanDy DanD!

  • sevo||

    Dan,
    How recent is the book?

  • sevo||

    Oops; just saw the Amazon link.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Off topic.

    Oh noes. Those evil Koch brothers are behind the Wisconsin effort to kill public unions.

    C'mon, you knew it was just a matter of time, right? But from a Forbes publication? That's funny, because Steve Forbes is on the Board at FreedomWorks.

    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickun.....ic-unions/

  • nekoxgirl||

    I'm sick of hearing about the GD Koch brothers. Its not like Democrats don't get funding from outside sources too. Obama is obviously involved with all this to help him raise money in 2012. The unions give heavily to the Democratic party yet that's apparently not important to point out.

  • ||

    so which of the Koch brothers are you sleeping with?

  • smartass sob||

    The unions are the Democrat Party.

  • zoltan||

    The evil Koch brothers...who are behind funding for Reason and CATO, publications which regularly expose police brutality. There is no one more dedicated to funding people who expose these constitutional violations.

  • ||

    Mother Jones is reporting that much of the funding behind the Walker for Governor campaign came from none other than uber-conservatives, the infamous Koch Brothers.

    Well, if Mother Jones says it...

    I WANT TO BELEEEEEEEEEVE!

  • zoltan||

    Dude, X-Files Season 1 is on Netflix Watch Instantly! I am running through those now!

  • DNS||

    The Americans for Prosperity group, a Tea Party group that is a Koch Brothers front, has put up a website and petition called www.standwithwalker.com. The website attacks all collective bargaining – not just for public employees’ unions. Americans for Prosperity is also organizing a rally tomorrow in Wisconsin to support Gov. Walker.

    Why are the Koch Brothers so interested in Wisconsin? They are a major business player in the state.

    KOCHTOPUS!!one!1!!

    I find this article a bit ridiculous and lessening the collective bargaining power of private sector unions more will happen naturally. People still remember GM and productive sector unions would be insane to make unreasonable demands given the high unemployment rate. I wonder if Steve Forbes has business interests in WI and this a smear campaign to discredit Koch Industries. That said, Ungar is generally a hysterical gadfly and douche extraordinaire.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Am I missing something at that site? The only references to collective bargaining that I see there involve government workers. Where did Ungar get "all collective bargaining -- not just for public employees' unions"?

  • DNS||

    Reply fail. Please see my 10:48 post, Jesse.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Calling them the Koch Brothers makes me keep expecting to find out they fight a giant turtle.

  • affenkopf||

    He's a Koopa not a turtle! (I've got nothing else to contribute)

  • PantsFan||

    Why can China have high speed rail and we can't?
    Here's a good reason

  • Dello||

    Required log in fail.

  • sevo||

    No log in required this morning. And it looks like high-speed rail was high-speed fraud.

  • ||

    Gordon Chang? Really?

    Quoting Gordon Chang about China is like quoting Naomi Klein about Thomas Friedman. He has been predicting the collapse of China for 20 plus years, it's his shtick.

    Fail!

  • DNS||

    I'm not sure Jesse. Ungar has a history of all sorts of journalistic and editorial silly putty on his hands. I posted this from Mr. Whipple's link upthread.

  • ||

    Damnit, I meant MILTON Friedman, not Thomas.

  • ||

    If anything, judging by events in Wisconsin and its rampant inequality and systemic collapse of its economic and political system, the next country to have a revolution is the USA, not China.

  • Eric||

    What's with the trolls who have a hard-on for China, and their predilection for ridiculous handles ("Reality"; "The Truth")?

    I miss the pro-Scandanavia/Europe trolls who were honest enough to troll with their real names.

  • Maxx||

    They could stomach more than a couple of visits worth logic.

    But they left a message for you.

    Get Ron Pual's cock out of your mouth. Get out of mama's basement.

    And get a life, you Jackwad

  • Maxx||

    And the sever squirrels really pissed them off.

  • spur||

    How do we know the folks protesting in China aren't spoiled wankers like those cheeseheads in Wisconsin - why are worker protests in China by default a good sign of liberalization and freedom and what not and what have you and workers protesting in Wisconsin a sign of all that is wrong with Exceptional America?

  • DanD||

    Because most of us who bother to read instead of having our opinions spoon-fed to us by rabble-rousers tend to understand on some level that there's a huge distinction between taxpayer-funded, grossly-overpaid, striking "public servants" raising absolute hell over marginal reductions to their cushy jobs, and a people that have lived under oppression by a government that has a history of killing tens of millions of its own citizens, immediately suppressing any hint of uprising with deadly force, fatally mismanaging natural resources, strangling individual efforts at prosperity, and lying to the entire world in the name of making itself look good.

  • ||

    So the second part refers to the USA, right? Because everything in it applies to the bloody, racist, imperialist history of God's Own Country,

  • sevo||

    Reality|2.20.11 @ 11:33PM|#
    "bullshitbullshitbullshitbullshitbullshit"
    FIFY, bozo.

  • DanD||

    The difference is that the US acknowledges these transgressions and allows their dissemination. And there is nothing, no thing in US history comparable to the Great Leap Forward. Why don't you look that up, Professor History?

  • ||

    The genocide of Native Americans and the African slave trade was many times worse, and seeing that Bush and Cheney are free despite having launched an illegal war that killed one million Iraqis and tortured people in secret prisons, Id say you havent lived up to your crimes quite yet!

  • PantsFan||

    you're nowhere near as fun as Herc Fuzzypants was. you can leave.

  • ||

    The slave trade and the wars against the Indians were minor league compared to the great leap forward. And if you are so worried about illegal wars, you might want to think about Tibet. OR does brown blood not matter to you?

  • 4chan||

    While its true that the Indian wars were 'minor' in terms of sheer deaths, how do you think the Frontier was 'settled', and why does the U.S. population looks virtually none like people south of the boarder that hasn't immigrated from the south? If you look up the old Congressional budgets ranging from 1820's to 1900 or so, you'll find that a significant part of the budget was dedicated to making sure United States settlers were 'protected' by wiping out Native Americans.

  • Just Sayin' in Florida||

    why does the U.S. population looks virtually none like people south of the boarder

    My neighborhood resembles Haitian tourists on a Cuban beach, being served cocktails by Mexicans.

  • ||

    1. The US is bigger than Mexico and had a much larger European immigration.

    2. The Native population was smaller in North America than Mexico.

  • 4chan||

    And it was regularly written into the budget for the U.S. to have money to fund to kill Indians.

    The U.S. was really good at killing Indians, really really good at it.

  • .||

    The U.S. was really good at killing Indians, really really good at it.

    Apparently not all that good at it - there are probably as many or more "Indians" or Native Americans around today than there was when the Pilgrims got here.

  • ||

    Is it really "genocide" when the great majority of deaths are directly attributable to communicable diseases?

  • ||

    John, please stop trying to muddle the situation with facts. Communism is worth it, or some bullshit.

  • ||

    The genocide of Native Americans and the African slave trade

    Both began before the US was founded, and the slave trade itself was ended before the Civil War.

    And, of course, neither Indians nor Africans were US citizens.

  • 4chan||

    And that makes it okay to kill Indians/Native Americans/Whatever you want to call them?

  • Bored||

    Every country is built on blood, so what. Luckily we advanced past this stage a couple of hundred years before the Chinese.

  • sevo||

    4chan|2.21.11 @ 11:45AM|#
    "And that makes it okay to kill Indians/Native Americans/Whatever you want to call them?"

    No, it doesn't.
    If that's your point, you've got it. Now go away.

  • 4chan||

    Is this your website or something?

  • sevo||

    Or something. Got a problem? Tell it to someone who cares.

  • 4chan||

    I have to say you're not being reasonable.

  • .||

    Drink!

  • .||

    If they are trying to kill you, yeah, that pretty much makes it okay to kill them. Leastways, that seems to be how both sides looked at the matter.

  • ||

    people that have lived under oppression by a government that has a history of killing tens of millions of its own citizens,

    Not the US.

    immediately suppressing any hint of uprising with deadly force,

    Not the US.

    fatally mismanaging natural resources,

    This is at least arguable, in the sense that the federal and many state governments have choked off assets to natural resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, etc.

    strangling individual efforts at prosperity,

    To a degree, yes. Moreso in large urban areas.

    and lying to the entire world in the name of making itself look good.

    Well, sure. Who doesn't?

  • DNS||

    Perhaps you could visit the link provided by DanD @ 10:12 and acquaint yourself more with the Chinese perspective.

  • The Truth||

    You people are morons. They're protesting for more high speed rails.

    The Yellow Peril is coming on a choo choo!

  • PantsFan||

    take yer meds ya spoof

  • sevo||

    Spoof. da troof is dumb, but that's beyond even da troof's dumb level.

  • sevo||

    But it turns out "reality's" dumb is far beyond da troof's

  • DNS||

    I would say, "Condom full of freshly spooged stupid™." But that would be uncivil.

  • ||

    Where would YOU rather live--Beijing, or East Baltimore?

    Guangdong, or Flint?

    Harbin, or Detroit?

  • sevo||

    Reality|2.20.11 @ 11:40PM|#
    "bullshitbullshitbullshitbullshit"
    FIFY

  • ||

    I see you cant answer a simple question.

  • sevo||

    Reality|2.20.11 @ 11:45PM|#
    "I see you cant answer a simple question."

    "Simple" doesn't describe it. "Stupid" gets close.

  • sevo||

    Reality|2.20.11 @ 11:40PM|#
    "Where would YOU rather live--Beijing, or East Baltimore?"

    Ever smell an average public restroom in China?
    So, bullshitbullshitbullshitbullshit.
    Nice to hear from you.

  • ||

    Ever seen the average STREET on East Baltimore?

  • Eric||

    Depends on which of those locations guarantees that I'll never have to run into you or yours.

  • Eric||

    Also, the correct comparisons are between Beijing and New York, Peking and Columbia, and Shanghai and LA/San Diego, and the q is, which you would rather live in if you're a ChiCom "citizen", not an American national.

  • Rhywun||

    Guess which cities can be left without asking permission of one's government superiors...?

  • ||

    I'd rather live in Dallas than all six.

  • sevo||

    Reality|2.20.11 @ 11:47PM|#
    "Ever seen the average STREET on East Baltimore?"

    Yes, ignoramus.

  • SIV||

    Alt-text fail. How 'bout a click through or an actual url? I can't right-click copy the meaningless shortened url.

  • Yu Hu||

    Where would you rather live - Baltimore or East Beijing?

  • dmoynihan||

    I'm a go w/ East Baltimore. Sure, the drunk frat kids make Fell's Point suck on weekends, and Canton's so corporate these days, but anywhere south of East Baltimore St. is fine.

  • dmoynihan||

    Beijing, on the other hand, has pollution so bad there's literally particulate matter in the air, an insane crime problem nobody talks about, and apartments are going for even more than the price I'm quoted for a condo I bought in Shanghai for my in-laws seven years ago. Then there's the Yellow Wind...

    Sure, it can be rough when the Jones Falls overflows, and maybe a body pops up in the Patapsco River, but it ain't that bad in Charm City. And you can still boat/eat the crabs, just not the mustardy innards.

    My wife also prefers East Baltimore, 'cuz fewer ladies'll check me out when I'm visiting the bookstore.

  • Thomas Friedman||

    Nooooooooooo!!!!

    Kill the revolution. The environment depends on it.

  • I'll have a coke with that||

    In Beijing, a huge crowd formed outside a McDonald's in the heart of the capital
    Is the Revoloution brought to you by McDonalds©

  • Choad||

    But, but, China has trains. TRAINS!!!!

    Only governments are smart enough to love trains. Voters are too stupid to know the perfection that is high speed rail.

    KILL THE REVOLUTION!!

  • Amakudari||

    How come China has a border fence and we don't? True heroes of industry.

    Best quote in the article:

    In his last months on the job, Mr. Liu had begun an aggressive program to deal with the debt by selling stakes in the railway to investors like large state-controlled banks.

    Best way to deal with the debt: sell it another government entity with more accounting leeway.

  • Brett L||

    Isn't the Chinese Border Fence a tourist attraction a morning's drive outside of Beijing now?

  • sevo||

    Yep. And there was a McDonalds.

  • 4chan||

    Does Sevo even try to argue?

  • sevo||

    4chan|2.21.11 @ 5:03AM|#
    "Does Sevo even try to argue?"

    Sorry, reserved for adults.

  • 4chan||

    No, seriously, I never seen you argue a point. Its like you're incapable. All I seen you do is say bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Is that your favorite word?

  • sevo||

    4chan|2.21.11 @ 12:42PM|#
    "No, seriously, I never seen you argue a point."

    See below, 12.41.
    Post something that isn't bullshit and maybe you won't get called on bullshit.

  • ||

    Coupons using the website Printapons are visible on every page so that you don't miss an opportunity to save!

  • Rather||

    Thank God you posted that bit of good news cause they are all dropping dead:

    US scientists said Sunday there is strong evidence linking oral sex to cancer, and urged more study of how human papillomaviruses may be to blame for a rise in oral cancer among white men

    http://health.iafrica.com/news/707669.html

  • ||

    White men only ??? This is another idiotic theory that claims that Africans, Asians etc. do not have oral sex.

    Does anyone seriously believe that eating pussy, somehow only evolved in Europe ? I remember once seeing pictures of the sexual antics of chimpanzees, the behaviour is older than humans themselves. Another stupid science study that needs its funding cut.

  • Rather||

    It acknowledges all races enjoy oral sex and they are unsure why oral cancer is a factor in the white male.

    A white man's obituary

  • ||

    All it shows is how statistics can be twisted to make something completely unscientific into a looking like a scientific study.

  • .||

    Redwings bestow immunity. :-)

  • rather||

    Congrats on earning your Red Wings Captain ;-)

  • Rather||

    http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/m.....0/the-hpv-–-cancer-link.aspx

    I don't see any obvious errors

  • Pop Culture Ref.||

    These oysters are making me thirsty.

  • Rather||

    lol

  • Vara||

    The Novemeber LIO announced Libertarian-Liberal teams work in a push for Democracy in authoritarian countries and troubled areas. Been following at their Twitter and Facebook ( http://www.libertarian-international.org/ )

  • Old Mexican||

    In late 2004, in China's southwest, about 100,000 peasants protested the seizure without compensation of land to build a hydroelectric plant in Sichuan province.


    How dare these rubes stand in the way of progress!

    (Obviouly, when "progress" comes from private money, socialists go nuts; when it comes from public money, they elevate the works to world wonder status, like HIGH SPEED CHOO-CHOOs!)

  • ||

    about 100,000 peasants protested the seizure without compensation of land

    I'm genuinely curious about what legal rights peasants in this (nominally/formerly) Communist society have in the land they work.

    Does it even make sense to say it was "seized" by the State?

  • sevo||

    "Does it even make sense to say it was "seized" by the State?"

    Good point and one of the reasons China will have to change quite a bit to 'overtake' the US.
    *ALL* land in China is owned by the state. What an individual gets is some sort of 'contract' that says you have use of the land for X years.
    There's tons of unrealized capital in that 'un-owned' land.

  • .||

    What an individual gets is some sort of 'contract' that says you have use of the land for X years.

    In essence that is not terribly different from what we have here in the US.

  • sevo||

    "In essence that is not terribly different from what we have here in the US."

    Bullshit.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Why do I have to pay ~5K dollars a year to live in a house I supposedly "own"?

    What happens if the federal government decides it wants to put high speed rail right over my property?

  • Cover Me, Porkins||

    Imagine, a world populated by liberal democracies squabbling at most over trade, currencies and the World Cup. It will take a lot of time. I almost feel that I was born too soon.

  • Nike Dunk Shoes||

    thanks

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