China’s Jasmine Revolution

The Jasmine Revolution.

A name at the forefront of media coverage in 2011. Tunisian uprisings ousting their President. Egyptian uprisings with the same effect. Increasing unrest in Jordan, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. And now our eyes turn to Libya.

Yet something equally significant is taking place. In the wake of a series of mass protests in 2010, The Jasmine Revolution is currently unfolding in China, inspired by what happened in Tunisia. Only last week, it was reported that “hundreds of police maintained heavy security at several busy commercial sites in China’s capital…for the fifth week of planned ‘Jasmine’ rallies against the government.” The article went on to say that large areas of the arranged protests sites have been cordoned off, with heavy police presence.

However, the protests purposefully differ from the open rallies seen in the Middle East. The SCMP reported that people are urged to meet at designated sites to“gather near fast-food restaurants, take a stroll, or eat at the restaurants”. Another SCMP article reported the organisers saying that this stage of ‘strolling’ could take “a few weeks, a couple of months, a year or even longer”; the second stage would include “holding a jasmine flower and [using] mobile phones or music players to play [the folk song] Such a Beautiful Jasmine”. Organisers declared the third stage as “when the street-walking revolution is irreversible”; it would involve people criticising the government openly and without fear.” “It was almost the embodiment of the ancient Taoist philosophical concept of wu wei, best translated as”active non-action”.

The first anonymous call to action on the 19th February appeared on Boxun, a US-based website run by overseas dissidents, and later on Twitter. It urged for the protests to begin on the 20th, and continue every week thereafter, which they have. Both websites are blocked in China, so “the only Chinese who will get the message will… be those who use proxies to circumvent the government’s fire walls.” Both sites were subsequently attacked, forcing fresh protests to be organised via sites like Facebook.

The Chinese regime were quick to react. “China deployed a SWAT team, attack dogs and scores of plainclothes security agents in central Beijing,” reported the WSJ at one site, while AFP reported up to 100 leading lawyers and activists missing since the protests began. Given our knowledge of how the regime treats these people, this is a serious concern. AP found that searches for “jasmine” were blocked on China’s largest Twitter-like microblog, and status updates with the word on popular Chinese social networking site Renren.com were met with an error message and a warning to refrain from postings with “political, sensitive … or other inappropriate content.” The foreign media reporting on the ground were also targeted directly, including beatings and detention.

Critical minds are suggesting a double-edged sword. One web article, reported in The Epoch Times, highlighted concern that, stricken by the possibility of revolution, these organised protests were faked by the regime to bring leading dissidents and activists out into the open, so that they can be identified and silenced, mirroring Mao’s ‘Hundred Flowers Campaign‘ in the 1950’s.

However, a core member of the Jasmine Revolution group, speaking in email interview with The Epoch Times, highlighted that the heavy-handed reaction by the regime is actually favouring the protests. “For example, an open letter the organizers sent to China’s youth on March 5 resulted in blockades of university campuses by security forces across the country. “This unusual treatment almost certainly antagonizes the young energies and triggers their curiosity to explore the cause…””.

“I will be back next Sunday, and the Sunday after that,” said one beaming youth, clearly within earshot of police officers. “We have to make our voices heard.”

One conclusion that can be drawn from The Jasmine Revolution in China is that, regardless of who ignited it, the people who are turning out to demonstrate represent a real desire for the dictatorial regime to be removed. Many people that Transmission 6-10 has interacted with see that the only real change in China has to come from within. Transmission 6-10 frequently highlights Western apathy towards China’s abuse of it’s people, so this stance towards ‘change from within’ can largely be agreed with. Will this revolution bring change to China? Even in light of the massive upheavals happening in the Middle East, only by keeping informed of these unfolding events will we ever know.

One of the demonstration meeting places is outside KFC in Shenyang city, Liaoning province. Transmission 6-10 concludes this blog with the sobering reminder of the story of Mr. Shi Hongbo, a Falun Gong practitioner who died from torture on the 28th February 2011. His 75 year-old mother said, “Shi’s death reaffirms Liaoning province’s reputation as one of the deadliest regions of China for Falun Gong practitioners. Beneath the veneer of Dalian’s growing metropolis, Shi endured torture the horrors of which are nearly impossible for many of us to fully comprehend.”

There is a very real need for change.

PROTEST AND REVOLUTION

The Jasmine Revolution. A name at the forefront of media coverage in 2011. Tunisian uprisings ousting their President. Egyptian uprisings with the same effect. Increasing unrest in Jordan, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. And now our eyes turn to Libya. (http://jasminerevolutionarabworld.com/)

Yet something equally significant is taking place. In the wake of a series of mass protests in 2010 (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/48458/), The Jasmine Revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Chinese_protests) is currently unfolding in China, inspired by, what happened in Tunisia. (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/china/tunisias-uprising-an-inspiration-for-chinese-49712.html) Only last week, it was reported that “hundreds of police maintained heavy security at several busy commercial sites in China’s capital…for the fifth week of planned ‘Jasmine’ rallies against the government.” (http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1627420.php/Beijing-screens-more-jasmine-sites-but-no-sign-of-protest) The article went on to say that large areas of proposed protests sites have been cordoned off, with heavy police presence.

However, the protests purposefully differ from the open rallies seen in the Middle East. The SCMP reported that people are urged to meet at designated sites to“gather near fast-food restaurants, take a stroll, or eat at the restaurants”(http://topics.scmp.com/news/china-news-watch/article/Fresh-call-goes-out-for-Beijing-jasmine-rallies). Another SCMP reported the organisers saying that this stage of ‘strolling’ could take “a few weeks, a couple of months, a year or even longer”; the second stage would include “holding a jasmine flower and [using] mobile phones or music players to play [the folk song] Such a Beautiful Jasmine”. Organisers declared the third stage as “when the street-walking revolution is irreversible”; it would involve people criticising the government openly and without fear.” “It was almost the embodiment of the ancient Taoist philosophical concept of wu wei, best translated as”active non-action”. (http://topics.scmp.com/news/china-news-watch/article/The-flowering-of-an-unconventional-revolution)

The first anonymous call to action on the 19th February appeared on Boxun (www.boxun.com), a US-based website run by overseas dissidents, and later on Twitter. It urged for the protests to begin on the 20th, and continue every week thereafter, which they have. Both websites are blocked in China, so “the only Chinese who will get the message will… be those who use proxies to circumvent the government’s fire walls.”(http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/110223/china-jasmine-revolution-protests-sunday). Both sites were subsequently attacked, forcing fresh protests to be organised via sites like Facebook.

The Chinese regime were quick to react. “China deployed a SWAT team, attack dogs and scores of plainclothes security agents in central Beijing,” reported the WSJ at one site (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703933404576170152436754150.html?mod=googlenews_wsj), while AFP reported up to 100 leading lawyers and activists are missing since the protests began (http://www.chinaaid.org/2011/03/us-concerned-over-disappearance-of.html). Given our knowledge of how the regime treats these people, this is a serious concern. AP found that searches for “jasmine” were blocked on China’s largest Twitter-like microblog, and status updates with the word on popular Chinese social networking site Renren.com were met with an error message and a warning to refrain from postings with “political, sensitive … or other inappropriate content.”(http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_china_jasmine_revolution). Gmail also reportedly had intermittent blocks, sourced back to China (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382310,00.asp). The foreign media reporting on the ground were also targeted directly, including beatings (http://business.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/28/getting-harassed-by-the-chinese-police/) and detention.

Critical minds are suggesting a double-edged sword. One web article, reported in the Epoch Times, (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/china/aborted-chinese-jasmine-revolution-a-trap-say-analysts-51732.html) highlighted concern that, stricken by the possibility of revolution, these organised protests were faked by the regime to bring leading dissidents and activists out into the open, so that they can be identified and silenced, mirroring Mao’s ‘Hundred Flowers Campaign’ in the 1950’s. (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Hundred_Flowers_Campaign).

However, a core member of the Jasmine Revolution group, speaking in email interview with the Epoch Times, highlighted that the heavy-handed reaction by the regime is actually favouring the protests. “For example, an open letter the organizers sent to China’s youth on March 5 resulted in blockades of university campuses by security forces across the country. “This unusual treatment almost certainly antagonizes the young energies and triggers their curiosity to explore the cause…”” (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/china/chinas-jasmine-revolutionaries-say-things-going-according-to-plan-52780.html).

“I will be back next Sunday, and the Sunday after that,” said one beaming youth, clearly within earshot of police officers. “We have to make our voices heard.” (http://topics.scmp.com/news/china-news-watch/article/The-flowering-of-an-unconventional-revolution).

A clear conclusion can be drawn from The Jasmine Revolution in China. Regardless of who ignited it, the people who are turning out to demonstrate represent that there is a real desire for the dictatorial regime to be removed. Many people we have spoken to see that the only real change in China has to come from within, and as Transmission 6-10 frequently highlights Western apathy towards China’s abuse of it’s people, this can largely be agreed with. Is this what will bring change? This can’t be answered yet, and only by keeping track of these unfolding events will we know.

For the many complex and encompassing reasons that people may join this revolution, Transmission 6-10 concludes this blog with the sobering reminder of the story of Mr. Shi Hongbo, a Falun Gong practitioner who died on the 28th February from torture. His 75 year-old mother said, “Shi’s death reaffirms Liaoning province’s reputation as one of the deadliest regions of China for Falun Gong practitioners. Beneath the veneer of Dalian’s growing metropolis, Shi endured torture the horrors of which are nearly impossible for many of us to fully comprehend.” (http://www.faluninfo.net/article/1124/?cid=84). There is a very real need for change, and to truly mean “Never Again.”