4 minute read

This is brilliant, and a bit funny. Until some innocent person taking a stroll is killed for insurgency.

A long quote from this blog by way of Warren Ellis and BoingBoing, emphases mine:

In summary, several Chinese language, but overseas based, websites have been blogging on the creation of a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China. This has been motivated, of course, by events in MENA, and the timing has been significant because it has coincided with two important political conferences in Beijing, but it appears to have no real-world substance whatsoever, to have begun as a hoax at best, and to exist only in cyberspace, and cyberspace outside China at that. But the interesting bit is the real world effect it is having inside China, and the momentum it is generating. The blogs and websites themselves are largely invisible to ordinary Chinese as the Great Firewall keeps them out, but they can be seen by the security agencies, who have been swift to react. The organizers, whoever and wherever they are, have repeatedly called on people to gather in a range of popular and public areas in the centre of major cities across China – shopping malls and university campuses – and go for a stroll every Sunday afternoon to call for minor political change. These public areas are, at that time of day, normally filled with young people and out-of-town domestic tourists, all now potential ‘protesters’. Now, because of the number of competing and overlapping security agencies, there is a lot of pressure on the local commanders to make some arrests and to show some success, but there are no genuine protesters, just some bemused local tourists and a lot of foreign journalists. So some young tourists get beaten up and taken away, and some journalists get smacked around. This then acquires a predictable, and well understood, dynamic of its own. At the same time, the organisers have used a wide range of popular and politically ‘safe’ words to use as code words – the characters for ‘Two Conferences’ being one, which is also the political conference that occurred in Beijing at the same time. Last weekend it was the ‘Three Represents’, which was Jiang Zemin’s political thought legacy, and so on. These keywords get picked up by the censors, and all web and SMS traffic using them gets shut down or blocked – Jasmine itself is of course popular in Chinese culture and widely used in branding, but sites using ‘Jasmine’ in their copy, however innocuous, are blocked - with real-world social, political and economic consequences.