Jasmine Revolution = Tiananmen 2.0? (No)

It’s not just right-wing hacks like Beck that get China all wrong. Liberals who insist on seeing China as painfully repressed and brutalized can sometimes be even more way off. This piece in today’s Huffington Post is a great example of a left-leaning activist who looks at rebellion in Tibet and other demonstrations and thinks a successful Tiananmen Square-type uprising may be imminent.

His conclusion:

In spite of China’s image as a high-functioning economy, many of the social causes of mass discontent that exploded in the Arab world — endemic corruption, income inequality, labor unrest, inflation, pollution — continue to plague the nation. Since 2008, China has witnessed the Tibetan uprising, the Uyghur uprising in East Turkestan, and 90,000 mass incidents of public unrest each year. The Chinese government spends almost as much money on maintaining internal security as on its national defense. This underlines the overwhelming danger the regime faces from within its own empire.

2011 marks exactly a century since a previous generation of Chinese overthrew the Manchu dynasty and established a republic that lasted till 1949. This week, as organizers of a “Jasmine Revolution” issued calls for protest rallies every Sunday in thirteen cities in China, I started to feel that the stars are aligned against dictatorships everywhere. If the Chinese people seize this opportunity by combining nonviolent tools with strategic planning, they stand to liberate a quarter of the world’s population. It is about time.

This argument is weak on so many levels. The suppression of the Uyghur and Tibetan uprisings is supported by most Chinese people, and will in no way contribute to a spirit of revolution. Most Chinese people, from everything I see and hear, don’t yearn to be “liberated” and resent it when we in the West insist they do. Pointing to Tibet and Xinjiang and concluding Chinese everywhere are in the mood to revolt shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what China is today.

Maybe sometime in the future the disenfranchised of China will find a means to coalesce and stand up en masse to the government. That could really happen, someday. But China’s middle class and many of its working poor, who see a lot of opportunity for their future, are simply not interested, as Yajun eloquently argued.

If the right-wing is paranoid and hysterical about China, the left-wing can be wildly simplistic. And both sides can be very, very ignorant. There’s a lot of anger at the CCP and a lot of discontent among the have-nots. But China simply cannot be compared to Tunisia and Egypt, where many of those organizing the protests were in the middle class and relatively well educated. These were the ones using social media. China’s middle class and its intellectuals are hardly in the mood for open revolt. They don’t want to spoil what they’ve worked so hard to achieve. For them, it’s absolutely not “about time.” And it may never be.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 101 Comments

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February 26, 2011 @ 1:10 am | Pingback

I often disagree with you, Richard, but you hit this nail right on the head. Good post.

February 26, 2011 @ 1:54 am | Comment

Agree with Liuzhou. Well-argued post.

February 26, 2011 @ 2:02 am | Comment

“Most Chinese people, from everything I see and hear, don’t yearn to be “liberated” and resent it when we in the West insist they do.”

China is the one country I have ever lived in in which complete strangers approached me and said “We need to be free” (note, not “more free”, but “free” full-stop). My impression is that plenty of Chinese people want to be liberated from the CCP, it’s just they do not want to be liberated by foreign powers they have been conditioned to mistrust, and the vast majority of them expect the CCP to do it for them at some point in the future. I do not know any Chinese people who would be satisfied if the current political arrangement were to become permanent.

“Pointing to Tibet and Xinjiang and concluding Chinese everywhere are in the mood to revolt shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what China is today.”

That wasn’t my reading of it. My reading was that he was pointing to all the instances of unrest across the entirety of China and highlighted the two worst ones.

“China’s middle class and many of its working poor, who see a lot of opportunity for their future, are simply not interested”

People were saying almost exactly the same thing about Libya until very recently, a country which is three times richer than China in per capita terms and experienced faster growth last year. Now the well-heeled foreign-educated middle class ar establishing a provisional government in the East of the country as Gaddafi struggle to hang on to power.

“If the right-wing is paranoid and hysterical about China, the left-wing can be wildly simplistic.”

Surely that should read “If the right wing can be paranoid and hysterical . . ”

” . . .China’s middle class and its intellectuals are hardly in the mood for open revolt. They don’t want to spoil what they’ve worked so hard to achieve. For them, it’s absolutely not “about time.” And it may never be.”

People were saying exactly the same things about the Egyptians and the Tunisians until recently. That said, the Chinese lack the particular degree of frustration that the generational prolonging of the Mubarrak regime sparked.

Richard, everyone who lives in China extrapolates from the people they know to the entire country. Perhaps I am guilty of this, but I think that you may be too. You seem to be extrapolating from the people you worked with at the Global Times, the Expo, and in Beijing and applying their attitudes to the rest of the country, when these people are exceedingly likely to be much more favourably inclined towards the government than their fellow citizens.

February 26, 2011 @ 2:06 am | Comment

Thanks; the HuffPo piece just begged for a shrill response.

Liuzhou, I often disagree with me, too. Can’t tell you how frequently I look back at an old post and say, “Did I really write that??”

February 26, 2011 @ 2:31 am | Comment

What’s funny is that liberals are so infatuated with the liberation of Tibet yet when Republican Gov Rick Perry calls of seceding of Texas, liberals freak out.

February 26, 2011 @ 2:51 am | Comment

FOARP, I am absolutely NOT extrapolating from the Global Times. That was my briefest stint in Asia. I met countless people from the countryside and mid-tier cities and always talked about this. Nearly all of them said they had big problems with their government but that they still supported it. If you want to place bets on whether China is on the verge of revolution I’d be delighted to put down money.

If you see the previous post, you’ll note that Yajun, too, believes there is no appetite for revolution – not yet. As I’ve said before, the one thing that could tip the scales would be massive inflation. Once that happens, anything goes. That’s why the CCP is doing all it can to push prices down and reign in spending. If it has to subsidize rice and cooking oil it will.

February 26, 2011 @ 4:34 am | Comment

HuffPo is notably lightweight on foreign policy.

Here are some wonkish reads by academics and economists, who generally say that China faces no imminent threat, but is not doing enough to allow institutions and channels to vent grievances, and lacks the political will to make economic changes that will sustain growth when the current model hits the wall.

http://www.uscc.gov/hearings/2011hearings/written_testimonies/hr11_02_25.php

February 26, 2011 @ 6:59 am | Comment

@Richard – I think that opinions can change very quickly. In the case of Egypt there was a sense of disbelief that Mubarak was going to put his son in charge and continue to fake elections despite spending years intimating that reform was around he corner. In Libya there was a sense of disbelief that Gaddafi was still in power and that his sons would succeed him in continuation of the bizarre regime they had suffered under for so many year, and in Tunisia there was a sense of outrage at the uncovering of such an atrociously corrupt government.

Yes, when asked, Chinese people by-and-large support their leadership and believe their media – but do they support the system the live under? The answer, from almost everyone I’ve spoken to, is that they do not. They do not support censorship. They do not support a one-party system. They do not support these things any more than they support poverty or corruption. But they do expect that change will happen eventually. If they are robbed of this prospect by the CCP, they will turn against it, and quickly too.

Put simply, the Chinese people, in as much as I understand them, do not support dictatorship, and in the main they understand the present system to be a dictatorship. The only ones who support the present system, in my experience, are the die-hards who believe that the present system is democratic and that there isn’t any censorship – perhaps 5% of the population at most.

My judgement I make based on my own experiences, other people may have different experiences and may therefore come to a different conclusion, but I cannot differently interpret a country in which the first thing a person says upon meeting you is “中国需要民主”, where the first thing a shop owner says to you after taking your order is “他们共产党比前国民党还要腐败”, where more than one communist party member you meet openly says that they do not support the party and only joined to further their career, where you meet officials one day only to find a month or two later that they have executed on corruption charges, where huge demonstrations take place which never make the newspapers.

In short, China is a dictatorship, the vast majority of Chinese people know this and do expect something to be done about it. So do the Chinese people I know want to be “liberated”? The answer is yes, but they expect the CCP to do it.

February 26, 2011 @ 7:27 am | Comment

FOARP, I definitely agree with your last point, that Chinese people expect the CCP to initiate reforms. I am not convinced, however, that most Chinese believe a dictatorship is a bad thing that needs changing. Most I talk to see the government as a necessary evil, one that is far less evil than what they had before, one that has ended a lot of suffering and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty (whether we agree with that or not). Yes, many say they want to see elections, that the system is corrupt – but unlike in 1989 they are not consumed with passion about it, consumed to the point they would risk their lives to demonstrate for it.

About the censorship, most of my friends find it a nuisance, not a cause for outrage. They are so used to it, and as I often say, to them the glass is half full – they’ve never before had anything close to so much information at their fingertips; while to us in the West the glass seems half-empty because what they’ve got is filtered and blocked. We have to see it through Chinese eyes. Most are not apoplectically enraged about censorship.

The rage and willingness to die is found among China’s severely disenfranchised who are taxed unfairly, who have their homes taken away, whose children are kidnapped, who are abused by local officials to an extent we can’t even imagine, beaten by thugs or even worse, who have no representation and no voice and no protection. Their voice is still too thin, too distant, and most other Chinese simply don’t want to be bothered (which is not entirely dissimilar to the plight of the dirt-poor in the US, to whom our new Republican Congress is casting a very blind eye). Until they can coalesce and get organized I expect the status quo to continue. Maybe I’ll be surprised, maybe the “Jasmine Revolution” will actually materialize; I just saw a headline on CNN saying, “China’s Jasmine revolution begins to blossom.” But for now I remain highly skeptical, because most of China, for all its problems and dissatisfactions, is relatively stable.

February 26, 2011 @ 10:31 am | Comment

@FOARP

So you are saying that nepotism caused the change of opinions of people in Egypt and Libya. Since Hu Jintao’s children are not going to be president, I don’t know why you think it will change Chinese’s perspective on the government.

February 26, 2011 @ 10:44 am | Comment

Richard, is it a correct assumption that, due to a difference in linguistic abilities, you and FOARP may have been talking to a whole different circle of people all along? He was in Longhua speaking Chinese to factory workers while you were mostly in Beijing speaking English to educated professionals. I don’t say that in a snarky way. It’s a serious question.

February 26, 2011 @ 10:50 am | Comment

@canrun: That’s a good point, but you’ll find plenty of country folks who support the government too. Mao-dolatry is still widespread in rural areas, as passe and backwards as it may seem in Shanghai. That, and ending the agricultural tax bought Hu Jintao a lot of fans in the interior.

In Shanghai, I know plenty of dissidents- and plenty of educated people who support the government and party unreservedly. You meet all kinds.

February 26, 2011 @ 11:12 am | Comment

Canrun, that is simply an incorrect assumption. These conversations were all in Chinese. I’m not talking at all about conversations with my colleagues, which were mainly in English. As friends of mine know, I was thinking of writing a book for a while, for which I interviewed many Chinese people, mainly from the countryside and all in Chinese. Granted, I am only at the intermediate level and made lots of mistakes, but they definitely understood me and I understood them. The conversations were tape recorded. Granted, I am not close to FOARP’s level, being mainly self-taught, but I did work very hard at my Chinese in my last year there. The interviews were one of the most useful exercises I underwent while living there, and it improved my Chinese immensely. Maybe one day I’ll actually write the book.

February 26, 2011 @ 11:35 am | Comment

On the Concept of Path-Dependence

First I want to explain what I mean by “Path-Dependence”. I believe Physics has such a term: it means that the change in energy of a movement depends on the path the object takes. For example, if you push a ball from point A to point B on a table, the frictional energy dissipated in the process depends on the path your ball takes to go from A to B. A straight line path would dissipate less energy than a curved line, even though the final destination is the same. Of course, there are also “path-independent”, for example if you drop a ball 12 meters, then the change in its potential energy is independent of the path the ball it takes.

But in this post, “path-dependence” takes on a completely different meaning, unrelated to physics. In this post, “path-dependence” means that if a person has chosen a “path” (a custom, a system, a habit, a culture, etc etc), it will be on a path of no return. The power of inertia will enhance and reinforce whatever path he chose and makes it almost impossible deviate from that path even if you wanted to. To illustrate this point, I want to give a simple story:

We put 5 monkeys in a cage, and put a banana in the cage. If any monkey tries to get the banana, we’ll hit all the monkeys with high-pressure water, we keep doing that until no monkey dares to touch the banana. Now, we replace one of the 5 monkeys with a new monkey. The monkey does not know the “rule” of the cage, and will try to get the banana. The result is that the 4 old monkeys would try to stop the new monkey, without humans having to turn on the water hose. And then, we replace another monkey with a new monkey, until all monkeys in the cage are “new”, but none of them dares to touch the banana.

We know that monkeys like to eat bananas, yet given our rule of “no touching bananas”, the monkeys will eventually police themselves not to touch the banana, even though that’s totally against their nature! In the beginning, the old monkeys will try to prevent new monkeys from taking the banana because they want to avoid being hit, but after a long time, when all the monkeys in the cage are new monkeys, they’ll still conform to the system of “no bananas”!. How pathetic the monkeys are, how powerful “path-dependence” is!

The above story is quite humorous, but the next story will illustrate more clearly the power of “path-dependence”:

We know that the standard width of the American railroad is 4 feet and 8.5 inches. This sounds like a very strange standard. Where did it come from? Well, we find out that this is the British standard, and early American railroads used the British’s standards. But, how did the British come up with this standard? Oh! Britain’s first railroads were designed by people who previously designed bus tracks in cities, and that was the width of the bus tracks. But where did the bus track’s width come from? We then find out that those who designed the first bus tracks used to design horse carriages, and they just borrowed the distance between 2 wheels of a horse carriage. But then, why did the horse carriage use such a number to be their width? Because if they used any other width, because the old “grooves” left on old British towns are of 4 feet and 8.5 inches. Then where did those grooves come from? The answer is that they were paved by the Roman Armies, and the Roman Armies’ Chariots’ width are 4 feet and 8.5 inches. But let me ask further, why are the Roman Armies’ Chariots’ width 4 feet and 8.5 inches? The answer is that that’s the average width of the back of two horses’s asses lined up sideways.

Wait, it’s not over. If you look at some of NASA’s rocket launches, you’ll see that there are 2 rocket propellers on the rockets’ fuel tanks. Now, the engineers wanted to make those propellers bigger, so they can provide more boost. But they could not do that, because those propellers are transported from Utah to the NASA launch center in trains, and the width of the train is the width of the railroad, which is 4 feet and 8.5 inches, so the rockets’ width are limited by 4 feet and 8.5 inches, otherwise they won’t fit inside the trains.

So, we can conclude, that, today’s most modern rocket propellant are actually determined by the width of two horses’s asses two thousand years ago. Can you now appreciate the power of “path-dependece”!?

In fact, “Path-dependence”, in a larger sense, is a nothing but the foundation of a culture. Each culture has its own difference “path” and is limited by that path. What is “Ameriacn style Democracy?”. Well that is nothing but a culture. What is a dictatorship, well that is nothing but a culture. When UK and Japan completed their political reforms, they still kept their Queens and Emperors. When the Japanese Empress had a child, the entire Japan was mesmorized, and every citizen wanted to get a glimpse of the Empress and her child. The respect and love they had for their empress was completely genuine and real. If you live in Japan, you’ll understand that it’s nothing but their culture, it’s their “path of dependence”. THeir nation has been honoring “emperors” for thousands of years, even if they had a modern political system, they cannot get rid of their old “path”, no matter how ridiculous that path may seem to outsiders, or even to Japanese themselves.

China is also limited by its path-dependence. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. Dictatorship and Feudalism has been in practice in China for two thousand years. THis is a very very “deep” case of “path-dependence”. If you look at China’s most popular novels and TV dramas, they are all about legends of Emperors and Loyalties. Even when the Communists tried for 50 years to water down the influence of ancient “Empires”, people simply feel very “at home” when expose to those “emperial” things, and feel very uncomfortable and “jarring” about “modern” republics, and about “democracy”. This is simply something deeply etched in people’s mindset, and is “woven into the fabric” of the nation’s psychological for thousands of years. Anyone who tries to change that “path” will only get smashed into 1000 pieces. Even Mao Zedong himself failed. He once predicted that “One day, Marxism will be smashed to bits, and I myself will also be smashed to bits. And the old China will be creeping back. That’s something no one can fight against.” And he was totally right, today, in 2005, Chinese citizens, in the deep of their hearts, still worship most “emperors” in old ages and still are very very comfortable in “restoring the ancient Chinese empires”.

So my advice to those “demoracy-lovers” and those “political reformers” who are so eager to turn China into a “modern” political state: don’t waste your time, the power of “path-dependence” will only smash you to bits.

February 26, 2011 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

To Math,
did you just recycle something you threw up somewhere in 2005? Bizarre.

You spent the first paragraph waxing on about kinetic energy and potential energy. You then drone on for 3 paragraphs when all you needed to say was Pavlovian conditioning and aversion therapy/conditioning. And none of that has anything to do with what you were trying to say. You need to do some serious editing.

There is something interesting and curious about how historical precedents and norms have unexpected consequences and influences many years down the road. A rather enjoyable anecdote.

However, it’s one thing to suggest that a rocket’s diameter is physically constrained by something you can physically trace back two thousand years. But it’s quite another to suggest that humans are conceptually constrained on an intellectual level simply based on what happened in the past. After all, NASA could’ve simply built an all-new railroad with a wider track if they wanted, but presumably didn’t feel that the added cost was justifiable when alternative and cheaper solutions could be conceived. Furthermore, while the UK and Japan did keep their monarchy and Emperors out of some sort of love of tradition, they did reform nonetheless. So if you’re trying to look to history as a guide, you’ve actually given examples of people who can have their cake, and eat it too.

So sure, China may have its own “path-dependence”, whatever the heck that is. Maybe when Chinese people go towards reforms, they’ll keep some CCP figurehead somewhere, much like the Brits have kept the Queen and the Japanese their emperor. Perhaps they’ll even drag them out for national holidays or something. They may even want to watch YouTube videos about the “CCP good ol’ days of yore” to rekindle that warm fuzzy feeling. But hopefully they’ll be doing so in China’s own democratic system.

February 26, 2011 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

My only quibble here would be that the communists didn’t really do any “watering down” of empire in ways that the unwilling bits of empire would sorely have appreciated.

Dictatorship and Feudalism has been in practice in China for two thousand years. THis is a very very “deep” case of “path-dependence”. If you look at China’s most popular novels and TV dramas, they are all about legends of Emperors and Loyalties. Even when the Communists tried for 50 years to water down the influence of ancient “Empires”, people simply feel very “at home” when expose to those “emperial”(sic) things, and feel very uncomfortable and “jarring” about “modern” republics, and about “democracy”. This is simply something deeply etched in people’s mindset, and is “woven into the fabric” of the nation’s psychological for thousands of years. Anyone who tries to change that “path” will only get smashed into 1000 pieces. Even Mao Zedong himself failed. He once predicted that “One day, Marxism will be smashed to bits, and I myself will also be smashed to bits. And the old China will be creeping back. That’s something no one can fight against.” And he was totally right, today, in 2005, Chinese citizens, in the deep of their hearts, still worship most “emperors” in old ages and still are very very comfortable in “restoring the ancient Chinese empires”.

February 26, 2011 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

@ Slim. I enjoy reading some of your posts, but this one is totally on the mustard. Tagline: hardwired culture.

February 26, 2011 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

@Jason – My point was that China lacked the nepotism at the top which sparked the risings in Egypt and Libya. I do not expect China to have an uprising, and it is largely down to the 10-year rotation of leadership. China avoids the generational continuation of power seen in Mubbarak’s Egypt, which guarantees that the present state of affairs, which people were willing to put up with whilst there was some chance of it changing in the not-too-distant future, is going to be permanent.

@Maths (I insist on using the British spelling of your name – must be path dependence, no?) – Yeah, because we totally cannot think of countries which have been ruled by autocratic rulers for millenia which are now on their way, hopefully, to democracy.

@SKC – Yup, a word-for-word copy of comment number 14 on this thread, back in the days when Maths still engaged in discussion on this site:

http://www.pekingduck.org/2006/01/beijing-bell-tower-thread/

February 26, 2011 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

[...] on why the idea that China will have a revolution similar to those in the Arab world anytime soon is ludicrous, I’ll just link to them to save myself the trouble. Basically it comes down to opportunities (economic growth and jobs) and [...]

February 26, 2011 @ 9:25 pm | Pingback

Math’s posts are well written and researched. A pity he’s insane.

February 27, 2011 @ 1:33 am | Comment

To Richard and FOARP:
agreed, Math writes well and has nuggets of interesting gems of info. Probably benefited from some western education. However, who digs up a post from 5 years ago and reposts it verbatim randomly on some thread? That’s just weird.

He also employs tried and true logical fallacies, like he did above, to try to make his point. In that way, not unlike your garden variety FOX News pundit, or perhaps a Mr. Rein.

But I do enjoy the exercise of pointing out his logical deficiencies. What better way to deconstruct his point than to take out the ‘logic’, upon which his point is based, at the knees.

February 27, 2011 @ 4:56 am | Comment

Nice try guys, maybe again in 2020. According to Gordon G. Chang, China will have collapsed five times by then.

February 27, 2011 @ 8:28 am | Comment

Slim, imperial China was not nearly as bad as you describe it. Compared to contemporary powers they were far more peaceful, stable and egalitarian than the West gives them credit for. Not to mention for maybe 2,000 years give or take a few centuries, highly economically and technologically advanced.

Clearly not perfect, but avoid using history as propaganda.

February 27, 2011 @ 8:32 am | Comment

The rage and willingness to die is found among China’s severely disenfranchised who are taxed unfairly, who have their homes taken away, whose children are kidnapped, who are abused by local officials to an extent we can’t even imagine, beaten by thugs or even worse, who have no representation and no voice and no protection.

You just described pretty much every country on the planet. There is no reason for anyone to believe democracy will make things better. It’s simply never been proven that democracy is inherently good or even better than autocracy.

February 27, 2011 @ 8:38 am | Comment

Yourfriend, did you see my comment, “Their voice is still too thin, too distant, and most other Chinese simply don’t want to be bothered ( which is not entirely dissimilar to the plight of the dirt-poor in the US)”?

“? Read more carefully.

You just described pretty much every country on the planet.

I hate to tell you this, but there are a lot of countries on the planet whoae citizens are NOT routinely beaten by thugs and their children kidnapped. Such crimes occur in countries where there is no effective rule of law, and I’m afraid China is one such country, though it’s certainly not alone.

February 27, 2011 @ 8:57 am | Comment

I hate to tell you this, but there are a lot of countries on the planet whoae citizens are NOT routinely beaten by thugs and their children kidnapped. Such crimes occur in countries where there is no effective rule of law, and I’m afraid China is one such country, though it’s certainly not alone.

Like Rodney King? And what Chinese children were kidnapped routinely?

February 27, 2011 @ 11:37 am | Comment

Red Star, you mean you haven’t read about the routine kidnapping of Chinese boys? You need to be more aware.

Rodney King’s beating (when was it, 20 years ago?) was deplorable. But it’s not the type of event I was referring to. I was referring to the thugs who beat up Chinese citizens who try to go to Beijing to petition the government about injustices, who beat up Chinese demonstrators in smaller cities – this is a routine occurrence in China. Sure, the US has it’s brutality. But Rodney King’s beating quickly became front-page news for months because of a free media – we all know Rodney King’s name. The names of China’s disenfranchised who are routinely abused will be forever anonymous.

But let’s stick to the topic, the Jasmine Revolution, okay? We all know Hong Xing has a tendency to shift threads away from China to focus on some injustice in America that pops into his head in a desperate attempt to change the subject.

February 27, 2011 @ 11:50 am | Comment

This comment for Yajun’s post. I post here because the thread is closed.

It is true if election would hold tomorrow in China, CCP definitely would win. But the democratic process is not only about selecting the government leaders, it is also about to make them to feel to be accountable, to be checked on. It is also about that people can participate in the discussion without any fears. And also if there is any abuse by government officials, then people don’t need to feel that they have to suffer them in silence.

February 27, 2011 @ 1:52 pm | Comment

Math, that’s a stupid analogy. Using the variational principle for trolling political bullshit? LMAO.

I can do it too! Sure there is “path dependence” as you put it LMAO. but you assume the entire system consists of a single variable when life is a dynamical system of “infinite dimensions.” You only look at certain set of variables and say, “see nothing has changed, it’s follows this manifold of their ‘culture’.” But other parts of the system are involving others than following a straight path (and you also assume that the path of least resistance is a straight-line) and in time, the entire system will evolve together, and involve in ways that is unpredictable given the initial conditions of the system. Basically too many damn variables and too long of a time.

February 27, 2011 @ 2:56 pm | Comment

You’re either blind, or brainwashed.

February 27, 2011 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

I don’t disagree with the general point of the post and I agree that the assumption that the jasmine revolution would spark a revolution in China is a stretch at best; I do have a problem with the assertion that the Chinese do not want to be liberated. I have only spoken with a few people that had a powerful yearning for an abstract concept of freedom but most Chinese people I have known have been concerned with a more tangible form of liberation. They are concerned with the daily oppressions, some little and some large, that affect most ordinary Chinese. They will tell you they want liberation from the BS pushed on them by corrupt officials, chengguan, bosses, etc. Usually they are small and sporadic and people put up with them but when they grow large then Chinese people revolt. They complain, yell, protest, and even assault government buildings. The reason those minor revolts don’t lead to a revolution is that the revolts are aimed at the particular oppression faced by those protesting/ revolting and that focus isolates those revolting from everyone else and keeps the revolt from growing into something significant. Who is going to risk their or their families well being over someone else’s problems? Until the pain is shared and starts connecting large groups of people, the minor revolts will never reach a tipping point to spark a revolution or dramatic reform. That’s not to say that there never will be a revolution, wait until the housing bubble pops and you have people who are slaves to a depreciating house and unemployed workers all eye balling the powerful and connected yucking it up and then we will see, but just because most people aren’t willing to risk their material well being for a vague concept of “freedom”, doesn’t mean they aren’t hoping for some liberation.

I think it needs to be pointed out that a lot of what was said in the post and in the post by Yajun about current Chinese attitudes was said about Egyptians just a few years ago. People described Egyptians as being optimistic about the future because of more opportunity and the personal freedom that urban centers and technology offered them. A little link to corroborate my story. http://www.abcmoney.co.uk/news/312007127419.htm
Back then Egypt had a corrupt, malfunctioning government stepping on people and people protested against their private oppressions but those little revolts didn’t turn into anything. It took the shared pain of unemployment and rising food prices to connect people in a way that their little revolts became a revolution.

February 27, 2011 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

@Richard – It seems that people in Shanghai at least didn’t get the memo: as many as a few hundred appear to have showed up to today’s repeat performance. Whilst this is a long, long way from being “Tiananmen 2.0″, it does show at least some level of interest in urging reform through demonstrations.

February 27, 2011 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

If indeed the Chinese people are only interested in stability and development and would be uninterested in protest, I must say that the government wasted quite a lot of resources and manpower today!

“Sorry if granny’s pension isn’t enough to live on, particularly considering inflation and all that, but trust me, we really have to cover Wangfujing (BJ)/ People’s Square (SH)/ People’s Park (GZ) in police. Not to mention all of that overtime work for web censors in the past week! Thankfully we don’t pay overtime, haha.”

Although I guess that it still pales in comparison to the resources wasted in recent years on the Olympics/ World Expo/ Asian Games… a drop in the bucket.

February 27, 2011 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

FOARP, there are definitely some people in China willing to demonstrate. Are there anywhere near enough to signal even the murmurings of a revolution? Being an iconoclast a part of me hopes there are, but I don’t see it. Not today, anyway.

Kevin, I don’t think the resources for the Olympics were wasted. It did what they wanted. The World Expo is another story. The entire world had its eye on the Olympic Games, the Expo not so much.

Rashomon, thanks for the comment. I just find the word “liberated” too strong, but would agree many want to see reforms. And I do agree that an economic crisis like the housing collapse and/or rampant inflation could tear down the house of cards.

February 28, 2011 @ 12:13 am | Comment

@your friend
Clearly not perfect, but avoid using history as propaganda

Just so ironic that this comes from you.. LOL.

February 28, 2011 @ 1:50 am | Comment

What I want to know is what are the authorities going to do if there are gatherings every Sunday? Keep arresting people and potentially piss off more people due to heavy-handed tactics? Hope it goes away?

I hope it continues simply because it will either:

a) scare the shit out of the higher-ups; or
b) show that peaceful protest doesn’t bring about the end of civilisation in China.

February 28, 2011 @ 4:12 am | Comment

Richard
I hate to tell you this, but there are a lot of countries on the planet whoae citizens are NOT routinely beaten by thugs and their children kidnapped. Such crimes occur in countries where there is no effective rule of law, and I’m afraid China is one such country, though it’s certainly not alone.

In most nations yes, citizens are routinely beaten by government thugs- especially Western allies like Saudi Arabia and (pre)-revolution Egypt. If they’re lucky. Either that or they’re abused in some other way, like India letting 66% of their children starve while millions die from malnutrition and poor sanitation. I would bring up America’s police brutality, the hundreds of thousands of (mostly black and Hispanic) men rotting away in prison cells, etc but “this isn’t about America” is what you’ll say… right?

As for human trafficking, this is a problem that, on a per capita basis, is bigger in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, India- the rest of the developing world. The remaining nations are major DESTINATION countries which are the other half of the problem here. China’s trafficking is largely internal, but the CIA itself estimates that there are 1 million trafficked slaves living in the US right NOW, not 200 years ago. Get rid of the market and you get rid of the suppliers. And that’s not counting those who are essentially debt slaves- whereas even the poorest in China are largely debt-free.

Regardless you are cherry-picking if you think the fact that human trafficking occurs in a developing country is proof that China has poor enforcement of rule of law. China has among the lowest rate of violent crime in the world, and especially the developing world. In America, rape and murder rates are astronomical. If anything, the US needs a revolution more than China does.

February 28, 2011 @ 5:25 am | Comment

Most normal people will need to go to work during the day. Unless of course you are paid by some organization to stand there.

February 28, 2011 @ 5:29 am | Comment

@Raj
What I want to know is what are the authorities going to do if there are gatherings every Sunday? Keep arresting people and potentially piss off more people due to heavy-handed tactics? Hope it goes away?

I hope it continues simply because it will either:

a) scare the shit out of the higher-ups; or
b) show that peaceful protest doesn’t bring about the end of civilisation in China.

What if? What if a meteor lands on China tomorrow? What if the sun explodes right now? What if Cthulhu rises from his slumber and consumes all of humanity?

a) the West needs to stop insisting China is “scared”. It’s utterly puerile; it’s the West who’s terrified near the point of insanity of a rising non-white power.
b) you’re assuming the protests will be peaceful, they almost never stay that way.

February 28, 2011 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Some food for thought here
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/MB26Ad01.html
Liked this part
“China Digital Times posted the account of one blogger in Beijing, Jason Ng:
I was shocked by how influential the event was; I was pleased to see the Chinese authorities become the proverbial ants in the hot wok.

To be honest, when Shudong posted the call to protest, I felt absolutely certain that it was a joke. Even now I still feel like it was a joke. Not only do I feel this way, but a lot of people also feel this way.

If the government hadn’t had such a big reaction, I believe that not so many people would have participated in the Jasmine revolution.

Unfortunately, for those who have guilty consciences, at a certain point, demons can be heard in the sound of the midnight wind. [1]”

@Slim
“Dictatorship and Feudalism has been in practice in China for two thousand years. THis is a very very “deep” case of “path-dependence”. If you look at China’s most popular novels and TV dramas, they are all about legends of Emperors and Loyalties.”
Funnily enough, this is pretty much what pundits used to say about Germany and the Germans. There’s some scary similarities here http://mattbrundage.com/publications/hitler-and-democracy/ with people’s views on Chinese people’s views.

Interesting times, though, eh? Revolutions, non-revolutions, earthquakes….maybe there might be something in this 2012 myth… ;-)

February 28, 2011 @ 5:35 am | Comment

The quoted post from HuffPo is pretty depraved.

“Uyghur uprising in East Turkestan”

Calling Xinjiang East Turkestan is like calling Poland and Russia neo-Nazi-Germania-Reich, or something like that.

February 28, 2011 @ 5:42 am | Comment

In fact doing any sort of independent research at all quickly reveals that Uighur jihadi race-nationalist claims of Xinjiang (or Xiyu if you prefer the older terms) are a lesson in revisionism, blind hatred and ingratitude.

February 28, 2011 @ 6:05 am | Comment

@YF
“The quoted post from HuffPo is pretty depraved.

“Uyghur uprising in East Turkestan”

Calling Xinjiang East Turkestan is like calling Poland and Russia neo-Nazi-Germania-Reich, or something like that.”

Really? How so? Please, I’d looove to hear your explanation…

February 28, 2011 @ 6:13 am | Comment

The fact that you even need to ask me that shows just how little you know about Xinjiang, which I suppose is inversely proportional to how much you “care” about it.

Xinjiang has NEVER been Uighur territory. Even if you follow the Soviet line (funny, the only time a Westerner will ever believe the Soviets), the Uighur “proper” came nearly a THOUSAND years later than the Han Dynasty, KILLED OFF the REAL natives, before being dominated (once again) by a Chinese dynasty.

Fast forward 1000 years and the ancestors of todays Uighur, who weren’t ever really Uighur to begin with, invaded from Soviet Central Asia, murdered millions upon millions of Chinese citizens of all ethnicities, and then the CCP just bends over and calls the entire region “Uighur Autonomous Region”. I guess we should call Poland “German Autonomous Region”

February 28, 2011 @ 6:18 am | Comment

So it’s OK, according to your mind-numbing simplicity, for the western forces to be in Afghanistan as it was a Greek country 2500 years ago? Stands to reason – look at the coins – all written in Greek for centuries. Look at the late Bamiyan Buddhas – Indian philosopher dressed in Greek robes. Centuries of Greco-Bactrian rulers, so it must be European, am I right? Yet do people accept our forces there? Do they hell. And chances are you don’t support it either – but then you have revealed a purile slack-jawed inability to rise above the infantile propaganda you were spoonfed. You must be an advertisers wet dream – you’d swallow any crap fed to you. You house must be filled with junk you never knew you needed ;-)

Let’s stop with the crude propaganda, shall we? It’s what the Nazis used to justify their invasion of Poland and other regions east – after all, they are mentioned in Tacitus’ Germania as German lands.

Truth be told, I dare say you have only learnt your geography from CCP publications. Come with some good references for your faux history, unsullied by the mind-stultifying petty nationalism that even Goebbels would have blushed at.

“In fact doing any sort of independent research at all quickly reveals that Uighur jihadi race-nationalist claims of Xinjiang (or Xiyu if you prefer the older terms) are a lesson in revisionism, blind hatred and ingratitude.”

Uh-huh. And this research can be found…..? I don’t know – you apologist for Seres (if you prefer the older term) are full of assertions but very short of substance.

February 28, 2011 @ 6:41 am | Comment

Mike Goldthorpe
for the western forces to be in Afghanistan as it was a Greek country 2500 years ago?

Are you joking? A “Greek country”? No, it was a Greek COLONY. I could repeat, for the 10th or 20th time on this blog, the entire ethnic history of Xinjiang but you’ll just forget it again. Lets face it, you’re not one who is good at learning.

Rather, according to your mind-numbing simplicity, if any ethnic group the West likes claims lands it stole by genocide from an ethnic group they don’t like, they’re automatically “native”.

but then you have revealed a purile slack-jawed inability to rise above the infantile propaganda you were spoonfed.

What I wrote was the history of Xinjiang. You clearly do not know anything about Xinjiang’s history (or Tibet’s history, or China’s history). And I will say plainly that my education is far better than yours- lets not joke around. This isn’t an insult but I’m also far, far more intelligent than you are. You should thank me for providing you with information and stop being so childish, lest you blurt out something ridiculous like “the Wee-gar are the Natives of Xinjiang!!!” at a table full of Chinese people.

I dare say you have only learnt your geography from CCP publications.

LOL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Turkestan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_xinjiang
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocharians
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_Khaganate

Educate yourself, and don’t pull the “its wikipedia” card because you can just look at the sources and google them.

Uh-huh. And this research can be found…..?

Don’t be mad because you showed you were obviously clueless and I called you out on it.

February 28, 2011 @ 6:55 am | Comment

Maybe we should take the Chinese media reponse to this call for some kind Jasmine Revolution at its word: it is in fact (to date) failed performance art or stroll by street theatre attracting more western reporters and gawkers than actual Jasmine Urban Revolutionists.

!. Over reaction due to fear and paranoia due to the recognition that the govt/party has lost its legitimacy pace former party honcho Li Datong.

2. Alternatively, the govt is supremely confident and not afraid to roll out its wide range of repressive forces and technologies eg phone jamming, swat squads, water trucks and street sweepers more focussed on ankles than dust etc plus a bit of reporter breakage.

I am speculating that this boxun or whoever instigators really do have street theatre in mind. (And they also reside in some western country and are financed by that shadowy organisation NED.)

What are their ambitions? Draw attention to corruption, food inflation and rising house prices with a weekly stroll by in some 20 plus cities, and probably drawing on the massive Middle Eastern synergies.

Whats the upshot. Massive weekly displays of state power. Public inconvenience. Tons of onlookers, and maybe a few people take up the call and are swiftly arrested. The ROUTINE of it all.

The urban middle classes will quietly and individually begin to connect the dots…this IS about corruption, housing and inflation and look at the deal I made with the state. It promised to ensure social stability (even if the means are heavy handed), but my aspirational life style is now really taking a bit of a hammering. In fact, inflation is killing me and my bank account.There goes the kids education money and forget about any serious illness in the family.

Nothing like being hit with a few existential truths about unconscious deals so late in the day, when the govt has its domestic security apparatus well and truly in place and primed.

February 28, 2011 @ 7:12 am | Comment

@Yourfriend – What if the Polish, under the guidance of their Soviet masters, drove the Germans from their homes in Silesia, East Prussia, Pomerania, and Brandenburg, occupied cities with names like Breslau, Danzig, and Soldin and changed their names to Wroclaw, Gdansk, and Myślibórz. Would the world, including the People’s Republic of China, recognize this annexation?

February 28, 2011 @ 7:25 am | Comment

To Mike #41:
out of the part you liked, I particularly liked this part: (“If the government hadn’t had such a big reaction, I believe that not so many people would have participated in the Jasmine revolution.”)
One of the things the CCP seems very good at is shooting itself in the foot, and making mountains out of molehills. But who knows, maybe it’s all part of the grand plan – make a mountain out of molehill, then send tanks onto the mountain, thereby serving as a good cautionary tale for the next person who would think about raising a molehill. It has been a while since she turned her tanks on her own people.

To Raj #37:
I hope it’s (b). It might give reason, to people like YF who like to mumble “stability” in their sleep, to re-evaluate their doom/gloom outlooks. Then again, since he seems given to worrying about meteors, probably not.

February 28, 2011 @ 7:47 am | Comment

SK, you’d like this too http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8350709/Heavy-handed-reaction-to-Chinas-Jasmine-protests.html
If there’s nothing to worry about…why the force?

February 28, 2011 @ 8:11 am | Comment

To Mike,

ahh yes, “inciting subversion”. There’s a charge the CCP can’t say enough times in a day. And that’s just for potentially going out for a walk…it’s unclear if those “activists” who were arrested had even planned to go out for a stroll. Well, clearly there is no need for more rights for Chinese people…I mean, who are these guys to think that they can go out for a walk. It might start as a walk, but it will be a full-on armed uprising in a blink of an eye…if the CCP is to be believed. To borrow from Seinfeld…”STABILITY NOW!!!”

February 28, 2011 @ 8:22 am | Comment

If there’s nothing to worry about…why the force?

That’s an easy one. They react to any perceived questioning of their authority this way. Web sites that raise questions are blocked, any type of club or religion has to be CCP-blessed and infiltrated, any talk of democracy needs to be suppressed, etc. This is simply business as usual. Only demonstrations organized by the CCP can be tolerated. What else is new? The CCP always over-reacts to perceived threats. Thus the idiotic blocking out of CNN stories on Taiwan and Tibet, and so many other idiocies.

February 28, 2011 @ 8:31 am | Comment

Think of it this way, the police got some exercise and saved everyone a lot of crocodile tears about oppressed democracy activists.

February 28, 2011 @ 8:48 am | Comment

Loved this
No mention of the heavy police presence in this article:-D
http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/editorial/2011-02/627292.html

This is also amusing
“China is far more stable than some would think. Thousands of years of history have demonstrated the stability of Chinese civilization. The social complexity here has also help created a thorough social balance.”
How were the different dynasties punctuated? How did the CCP get into power? Dunno…but stability was not really the term I recall reading about these transitions…

February 28, 2011 @ 9:30 am | Comment

Chinese civilization is, indeed, very stable from the long perspective. Dynasties rose and fell, but the ideolgigical bedrock of Confucianism, and the political and adminstrative structures that sustained it, endured.

But this, of course, does not mean the survival of the CCP.

February 28, 2011 @ 10:47 am | Comment

@Sojourner – The term “Confucian” always seems to be ascribed to things at best tangentially related to something Confucius actually said, or as a short-hand for the societies of East Asia, a short-hand which is comparable to referring to the USSR as “Christian”.

My favourite example of this the works of Eamonn Fingleton, a man who has written an entire book on China but cannot speak Chinese, has never lived there, and whose sole qualification as an expert on China is that he has lived in Japan for 20+ years. Fingleton seems to think that since Japan is “Confucian” and China is “Confucian”, his expertise on Japan (which frankly, seems a bit dubious), is applicable to China. As anyone who has lived in both countries can tell you, China and Japan are about as similar as the US and Cuba, or the UK and Belarus.

February 28, 2011 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

Yes partly because China actually is fairly “Confucian”

March 1, 2011 @ 5:06 am | Comment

@Sojourner
One oculd argue that for every society. European society has been shown to be very stable for millenia, with the changing religions merely a veneer on the old. All civilisations are stable – even when in revolt. The replacements are never too different from the one overthrown..generally.

I just saw that line as one of those marketing lines that are used for the Chinese…you know, like “5000 years of history” and “Chinese plan things generations into the future” and every other hackneyed saying.

March 1, 2011 @ 6:28 am | Comment

@Yourfriend – What if the Polish, under the guidance of their Soviet masters, drove the Germans from their homes in Silesia, East Prussia, Pomerania, and Brandenburg, occupied cities with names like Breslau, Danzig, and Soldin and changed their names to Wroclaw, Gdansk, and Myślibórz. Would the world, including the People’s Republic of China, recognize this annexation?

Except nothing like that ever happened in Xinjiang. The Uighur were never the original inhabitants; the Huns, Tibetans, Chinese and Tocharians all precede them.

March 1, 2011 @ 11:20 am | Comment

It’s quite silly to question China’s control of Xinjiang & Tibet. Basically, the Qing dynasty wrested control of both those areas from the domination of the Dzunghar mongols. Uyghurs were not in control since the uyghur khanate of the 8th century.

To question China’s sovereignty over those territories is to question China’s legitimacy as a state.

What sets off the “fenqing” like crazy is when non-Chinese are so blithe and dismissive of Chinese territorial integrity.

Although these Chinese nationalists over the internet are annoying, they do have a point when they mention the CCP as an aegis against foreign encroachment.

Better the tyrant at home than the barbarian at the gate.

March 1, 2011 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

I was under the impression that the modern-day Uighur are the descendants of the Tocharians (the original inhabitants of the Tarim Basin), although the Tocharian language was supplanted. This is consistent with the Caucasian appearance of the Uighur — for example, blond/red hair and light eyes are common.

March 1, 2011 @ 1:50 pm | Comment

@Yourfriend – It always comes as a surprise to people who have lived in a place for generations to be told that they are not the “original” people. The justifications often cited for founding of Israel come to mind.

March 1, 2011 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

So if someone kills your family, and their children are shocked you want your house back, who deserves the most sympathy?

One difference, again, between this and the Israel situation is that in Israel, many of the Palestinians are really the natives- who have simply converted to Islam.

Uighur Nationalism is probably the most disgustingly revisionist, racist, murderous ideology that exists today. And it’s a joke that “East Turkestan” Jihadis are portrayed as anything but villainous child-killing psychopaths.

The fact that the Kazakhs and the Hui despise them should be proof that the jihadis are not automatically loved at all by Muslims.

March 1, 2011 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

Off-topic, have a look at Philip Cunningham’s latest apologia for PRC internet censorship:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2011-03/01/content_12092940.htm

March 1, 2011 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

Without getting too distracted by some abstract “history” (because despite Tibetans being the original inhabitants of Tibet, they’re still “Chinese”), what about this
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/world/asia/01china.html?hp
:-)

Linked in that article was this
http://english.caing.com/2011-01-19/100218601.html

Say, given that the original inhabitants of Taiwan were Austronesians, should New Zealand claim the island on historical grounds? Or do the Marquesas have a more valid claim? As it is, I still maintain Hawaii should return to the Crown (look at the top corner of the flag nad tell me it ain’t Britains! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Hawaii.svg). After all, what’s good for the goose (Chinese) is good for the gander (everyone else with dubious historical claims) :-D

March 1, 2011 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

Sorry…I’ve been watching this conversation descend the staircase of logic, and I just had to jump in.

I don’t know all that many people who a) think Xinjiang “belongs” to the Uighurs or b) that Xinjiang is not a part of the PRC. That has all the makings of a classic straw man argument.

As somebody said on one of these threads, the Qing did a pretty good job of “provincializing” Xinjiang, Tibet, Mongolia, and Taiwan, succeeding where earlier governments had not, and today 2/4 are still de facto part of the PRC. Not a bad post-colonial record for one of the Eurasian empires.

BUT…despite PRC propaganda of Chinese dinosaurs and Tibetan dinosaurs playing together and giving each other shiatsus, the process by which these areas were provincialized was not entirely peaceful and involved many similar elements we find in the colonization/provincialization by other imperial powers in the 18th/19th century. Two excellent studies on this subject are Peter Perdue’s China Marches West and James Millward’s Beyond the Pass.

Anyway, my 3.5 cents worth.

As for “Uighur Nationalism is probably the most disgustingly revisionist, racist, murderous ideology that exists today.” — nice to know that the standards of reason and intellect are alive and well on this thread. I’m sure they’ll rest easier in Naypyidaw and Tripoli knowing that Ferin has weighed in.

March 1, 2011 @ 7:05 pm | Comment

I’m sure you’re alluding to the Manchus slaughtering the Dzungars- well, they largely sent Mongols and Manchu to do it.

China today has Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia because (as you know) Manchu policy of relocating Chinese citizens into these areas to hold them down against European interests.

They are alone are responsible for doing the killing; by contrast the Chinese and other non-Manchu are only there because they were forced or enticed there.

March 1, 2011 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

I agree richard the type of revolutions that have occurred in the Middle East could not happen in china. The circumstances are completely different, the CCP has for the time being delivered what the people always want which is improving living standards and in spades. Wether democracy is necessary to achieve this is open to debate, certainly it is easier to deliver a market economy with an open democracy but Germany and Russia pre world war one were able to deliver this and only when they got involved/started the war and their economies became shambles did people say enough and out went the tsar/kaiser. I always wonder if we would have a different view of democracy if we had no WW1 and the tsar/kaiser ruled. But back to china even when growth slows I doubt even then there will be a revolution. The country will just be to old, and old people do revolt they play golf or watch TV.

March 2, 2011 @ 12:27 am | Comment

It is important to learn from history vis-a-vis past mistakes. But it does surprise me that people can be so conceptually-confined on the basis of history. It is further disappointing when said confinement is predicated on selective bits of history.

As Jeremiah and Mike suggest, what is ‘native’? When is a native a ‘native’? And when is a native not ‘native’ enough? How do you arbitrarily stipulate what constitutes ‘native’, to the exclusion of what historically came before and after it?

And then there’s the concept that, if one geographic area belonged to such and such at some point in time (usually contemporaneous to the threshold for ‘native’), that area shall remain as part of the same such-and-such till eternity. We should recognize history. We should learn from history. But there is no need to be imprisoned by history. Yesterday’s decisions are history. Today’s decision should be made by today’s people. Tomorrow’s, tomorrow’s.

March 2, 2011 @ 2:37 am | Comment

Moving away from “Oh, it was the other races, the Chinese (and by that I only mean Han because no one else is Chinese) were forced to do the nasty colonisation and invading” schtick (worked so well for the Nazis…) I see the NYT is really enjoying the CCP street art festival. Is this Chinese Jasmine Revolution for the police only? Maybe that’s why there’ll not be an uprising in China like in the Arab countries – there the police stayed away and the revolution was played out in the streets. Here it seems the protesters stayed away and security is played out in the streets. Maybe the Chinese Jasmine Revolution will merely be an online one :-)

Anyway, the NYT thing http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/28/why-is-china-nervous-about-the-arab-uprisings

Can’t resist this, though. If “China today has Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia because (as you know) Manchu policy of relocating Chinese citizens into these areas to hold them down against European interests.

They are alone are responsible for doing the killing; by contrast the Chinese and other non-Manchu are only there because they were forced or enticed there.” then surely the lands claimed by China are not Chinese because the Chinese (read Han) were unwilling participants. The lands belonged to the Qing (non-Chinese Manchus….unless it is politically expedient to make them Chinese…read Han) who were overthrown by Chinese (Han only, not the other races who are not Chinese, unless politically, etc, etc)….

No, I’ll stop. Arguing about who owns what becomes so Pythonesque :-D

March 2, 2011 @ 4:19 am | Comment

Ferin,

I was thinking more of Zuo Zongtang’s scorched earth campaign in 19th century (against the forces of Yaqub Beg and others). It was brutal and lethal and was — more than any other previous campaign — directly responsible for Xinjiang becoming a province rather than just a loosely administered imperial dependency.

He also made a mean chicken. (Joke.)

March 2, 2011 @ 5:49 am | Comment

“Maybe the Chinese Jasmine Revolution will merely be an online one”
http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/01/chinas_50_cents_party_take_on_the_jasmine_revolutions

and

http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2011/02/fifty-cent-tweets-a-collection-of-anti-jasmine-revolution-messages/
“kesen7李成龙: 美国真“好”,对内民主,对外专制,让他国“民主”便于其插手他国事物,最终实现其统治世界的目的。我们看到的是美国要和平演变我们,美帝亡我之心不死。 8 hours ago
kesen7 Li Chenglong: America is such a “nice” country, while its own people enjoy the privilege of democracy, it acts like a dictator in terms of international relationships. It tries to “democratize” other countries, and become involved in their internal affairs as a pretext for one day ruling the world. What we can see is that America wants to “peacefully transform” us. The empire of the United States of America always wishes our destruction.

kesen7李成龙: 以史为镜可以正衣冠,苏联曾经多么辉煌,后来人们动摇了,最终沦落成众独联体作鸟兽散,要钱没钱、要人没人、要科技没科技,俄罗斯要想突破重重枷锁重新崛起,恐怕要等上百年了。 8 hours ago
kesen7 Li Chenglong: As the old saying goes, history can be used as a mirror. The Soviet Union was such a glorious country, but because the people were lacking firm resolve, the country eventually disintegrated. Look at Russia now, it has no money, no human resources, and no competitive technology. To see the rise of Russia again, we would probably have to wait for more than a hundred years.

kesen7李成龙: 日本鹦鹉们请闭嘴吧,别拿着美国爹玩剩下的东西当宝贝,当今世界激烈竞争的环境下,我们中国要是不能强硬坚持自己的发展道路,必然死的 很惨,我们有自己的民众,现在美国是想害谁就给谁整民主,俄罗斯、乌克兰、吉尔吉斯斯坦都民主了,怎么样 8 hours ago
kesen7 Li Chenglong: Please shut up, Japanese parrot, don’t treat American daddy’s leftover as treasure. In a competitive international environment, if China can’t stick to its own development path, China will be thrown out brutally. We have our own people. Nowadays, whichever country America wants to destroy, it “democratizes” them; Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan are all successfully democratized, so what?

kesen4李建龙: 这几天老有警察跟我说不要参与茉莉花的事,我说sb才参与呢 16 hours ago kesen4 Li Jianlong: Recently there were some police officers who told me not to participate in the “Jasmine” thing. I replied that only idiots would participate.

meimeib1101yuan都TMD是浮云,政治从来都是真真假假、虚虚实实,纵观几千年闹来闹去的所谓的革命最后吃亏的总是我们老百 姓。我只知道我家上有老下有小,我自己过我自己的小老百姓日子挺好,我是来打酱油的,勿谈国事,政治是肮脏的都是骗子,大家要保护好自己。 17 hours ago
meimeib1101yuan: It’s all f* “floating clouds[1], politics is always uncertain, take a look at all the so-called “revolutions” in the thousands of years of human history, the ordinary people are always the ultimate victim. The only fact I care about is that I have both young and old in my family. The ordinary life I lead is satisfying. I am here only to “fetch some soy sauce”[2] but not to discuss national affairs. Politics is always dirty; politicians are all liars; you guys should know how to protect yourselves.

meimeib1101yuan: 孩子们,我现在都是四十多岁的人了,我们这波人参加过的事情恐怕大家都有所耳闻,看见你们狂发这些东西,想起了我们当年激 昂亢奋的情景。但现在回想起当年我们是多么幼稚,其实年轻的我们根本不懂什么是社会什么是国家什么是政治,年轻可以有激愤、可以有想法,但千万不要毁了自 己。 17 hours ago meimeib1101yuan: Kids, I am more than forty years old, I think more or less you have heard about the event of our generation.[3] Seeing the internet full of these kind of thoughts, I start to remember how excited and passionate we were. However, this also reminds me how immature and inexperienced we were at that time. We were too young to understand what a society is, what a country is, and what politics are. Youngsters are allowed to be passionate and full of ideas, but beware of the self-destruction that goes along with it.

meimeib1101yuan: 民主了我们就会有好多派别,这样美国支持一派势力、俄罗斯支持一派势力、日本支持一派势力……,哈哈中国人最擅长当汉奸出卖国家利益了,窝里斗最强,到时候中国的历史又轮回了。 17 hours ago
meimeib1101yuan: If we are democratized, there will be bunch of groups. America would support one, Russia another and Japan another…haha. Chinese people are famous for being traitors who sell out the national interests, and Chinese people are good at fighting against each other. When the time comes, China’s history will repeat itself again.

meimeib1101yuan: 都是在网上说的轻巧,真正实施起来哪有那么容易,许多都要考虑,虽然现在生活貌似说的不好,但什么是好?!等动乱了,吃不着,穿不上,没事干,生命都没保障了!! 17 hours ago
meimeib1101yuan: It is much easier to talk about things online, then it is to actually put them into practice. There are more matters to consider. Although [China’s] standard of living has been criticized, what is a good standard of living? Wait until there is no stability in the country; there will be no food, no clothes and no job. Our very lives would not be protected!!

meimeib1101yuan: 我觉得现在过得不错,美国什么的就没有阴暗面了?事物都是两面的,我可不愿冒着倒退的危险去革命,回头再真把自己命革了,这不是吃饱了撑的吗! 17 hours ago meimeib1101yuan: I am satisfied with the way things are. Does America have no dark side? Each coin has two sides, I am not willing to participate in any revolution which risks deteriorating my quality of life. What if I were to lose my life in the revolution? I am not that dumb.

meimeib1101yuan: 大傻冒去散步,大傻子去鲜花,放着安省日子不过,跑大街上喝冷风去,弄个扰乱秩序罪到牢房待几天就美了?! 17 hours ago meimeib1101yuan: Only dumbasses would go “for a walk”[4], only idiots would go and lay flowers. Why leave the good life and go out into the cold and windy street. Wait until you are put in jail for the charge of social disturbance, you will definitely feel more satisfied then!

meimeib1101yuan: 这中国要是动乱了,得让多少西方国家和臭小日本,印度阿三什么的偷着笑。我觉得万万不能搞这种事,这不是搬起石头砸自己的脚,脑袋进水了。 17 hours ago
meimeib1101yuan: If this country, China fell into chaos just think how many Western countries, stinky Japanese, Indian bastards, etc. would be secretly laughing at us? I feel like we absolutely cannot let this happen. This isn’t like picking up a rock to hit one’s foot. Those people are messed up in the head.

meimeib1101yuan: 我坚决反对,共产党是有腐败,有错误,但你们敢说你们党派就没有??!你们就那么光明磊落?说没有谁都不信,你们无非就借着这次机会夺权上位,然后有机会大捞特捞,你们是爽了,但我们老百姓呢,苦的是我们! 17 hours ago
meimeib1101yuan: I absolutely oppose this. While the Communist Party may be corrupt and may make mistakes, but are you people willing to say that your political party does not have any of those issues??! Can you say that you are so upright? Even if you were to claim this no one would believe. You should not steal this opportunity to seek power and authority which you use to exploit even further. You may be very smug about this but it is us ordinary people that will suffer.

meimeib1101yuan: 说这些话的人太恶毒了,简直是司马昭之心路人皆知啊,不就是自己想当中国领导人吗,然后呼风唤雨,奴役我们?!想都别想!! 17 hours ago
meimeib1101yuan: People who are saying these things [encouraging a jasmine revolution] are totally evil. Their evil intentions are abundantly clear. Isn’t it the case that they themselves are attempting to be the rulers of China and then use their power to enslave us?! Don’t even think about it!!! ”

Heck, some of them contribute here – and I know I have read some of these in the western media comments sections :-)

March 2, 2011 @ 6:40 am | Comment

@Mike Goldthorpe: how do you know those comments were written by 50 centers? Quit a few are emotional and stupid. But it is hard to tell who wrote those.

BTW, the heavy presence of security in Beijing is partly due to the People’s Congress, which opens on 3/3

March 2, 2011 @ 8:31 am | Comment

@sci
I don’t – I leave that to the China Digital Times
Here’s what they say (for those too lazy or too quick to comment before reading articles)

“Since the first tweet calling for “Jasmine Revolution” protests went viral on the Chinese Internet, the Chinese state machine has gone into overdrive to prevent this imagined uprising. Among other visible measures such as arresting activists, censoring the Chinese Internet, and sending police to every designated “protest” site, Chinese Twitter users have noticed that suddenly a new group of Chinese Twitter accounts opened and became active during the last week. Some of these accounts have forged the names of activists and even included avatar photos of dissidents and activists. Most of the messages sent from these accounts, which have been tracked and compiled by other Chinese Twitter users, include pro-government comments typically sent by the so-called 50 Cent Party. CDT has translated a selection of these tweets:”

“BTW, the heavy presence of security in Beijing is partly due to the People’s Congress, which opens on 3/3″

I guess that also explains the heavy police presence in Shanghai. Funny, last time I was in China, we took a train from Shanghai to Peking. Took all night to get there. Guess these new high speed trains I read about have made events in Shanghai of security importance in Peking…

March 2, 2011 @ 9:27 am | Comment

scl – sorry for the misspelling of your initials above. Getting older, eyes getting weaker…(says he who is but 43 years of age)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/01/china-foreign-journalists
I see security is really beefed up in time for the People’s Congress.

“Chinese officials have warned foreign journalists they need advance permission to report from parts of Beijing and must not do so from a particular spot in Shanghai, marking an apparent tightening of media restrictions.”

“…and in Shanghai journalists had been asked to sign pledges not to film or photograph at the proposed protest site.”

So, if I get this right – it’s OK to report from Peking (where the congress is being held) with permission, but not in a shopping street in Shanghai. A particular spot in a shopping area of Shanghai…because that’ll jeopardise the congress proceedings?

Over to you, scl. I can’t quite connect the dots with your logic. Please elaborate ;-)

March 2, 2011 @ 10:35 am | Comment

Scl,

There’s always an increased security presence in Beijing to coincide with the 两会, but I was there on Sunday, and in 9 years in Beijing I have never seen that many cops, plainclothes, PAP, tactical, etc. in one place, and that includes during the 2008 Olympics and around Tiananmen Square on the 20th anniversary of June 4th.

March 2, 2011 @ 10:48 am | Comment

So how do you guys on the ground evaluate CDT’s assertion of 50-Cent Party sign-up drive to counter the Jasminers?

I see so many commenters from China with the same talking points, it is hard at this distance to distinguish paid Party hacks from people who simply go with the only reality they know.

March 2, 2011 @ 11:40 am | Comment

Insightful.

Don’t Dismiss a Jasmine Moment in China
Howard W. French in The Atlantic

http://tinyurl.com/6cnpbbs

March 8, 2011 @ 3:34 am | Comment

@ecodelta Just drew this article to JRs attention

http://justrecently.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/princelings-and-sideshows-lse-and-biased-media/#comments

I’m sure it fits with my stuff on CMP.

http://cmp.hku.hk/2011/03/02/10346/

To my mind, this is what we should be focussing on re: this Jasminist theatre.

And it is gestured towards on Granite Studio.

March 8, 2011 @ 6:19 am | Comment

And I’m sure this article in the LA Times (noted by Granite Studio et al) is also on this wavelength:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/05/world/la-fg-china-jasmine-revolution-20110305

March 8, 2011 @ 6:27 am | Comment

@Mike. Okay links, but you didnt get to the nub of my point: theatre art/spectacle TO WHAT PURPOSE.

March 8, 2011 @ 8:02 am | Comment

To KT:
that LA Times article describes something brilliant. The CCP shooting itself in the foot, that’s not news, has happened many times before, and will happen many times again. But the tactic of the tweets, if intentional, is truly something to behold.

Call on people to join in, in multiple locations in multiple cities. But don’t do anything untoward. Just stroll and smile. So simultaneously, you might have not one protester, or everyone there is a protester. And the cops wouldn’t know the difference. So the cops are left chasing shadows, as the article says, every time out. Now, the cops might say: aww, they’re not outwardly protesting, they’re just walking, so why waste our time with them. But the cops would never do that, precisely because that’s not how the CCP rolls. Each time, the average citizen will see the authorities making fools of themselves. Besides providing amusement for the casual bystander, who knows where that all leads? But I wonder if it might erode the people’s view of the CCP over time. And of course, there’s always the spectre of a trigger happy over-zealous cop who might choose to take out an innocent Sunday shopper. That would have the potential of becoming a bigger spectacle still. And the CCp would again have no one to blame but themselves.

March 8, 2011 @ 8:55 am | Comment

@KT
Well, let’s see. Nothing is happening, yet there are police everywhere. Police even beating up foreign journalists and ramping up the censorship….for nothing, because nothing is happening. Maybe it’s a CCP ploy to tighten up censorship, to bring in more draconian laws to ensure absolutely nothing is posted online that hasn’t been “harmonised”…and I mean absolutely nothing. Maybe a new, bigger wall is being built. Maybe it’s just a show of force – no one is protesting because they can see the full might of the state security apparatus.
I don’t know – neither does anyone else, reading the news :-) I dare say even the CCP doesn’t know why it needs to do what it is doing.
Here’s Damian Grammaticas from the BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12646848
Maybe his thoughts can shed some light…though I doubt it.

Interesting Al Jazeera vid http://english.aljazeera.net/video/asia-pacific/2011/03/201136153018539428.html#
Maybe this can shed some light on to something.

Given not one pundit could foretell that a vegetable seller would almost literally set the Arab world alight by self immolation, what chance anyone making a decent guess at China, land of mirrors and smokescreens?

Just hope nothing really untoward happens between the 19th of April and the 19th of May!

March 8, 2011 @ 9:39 am | Comment

Heheheheheh! Liked this
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/world/asia/07china.html?ref=world
“On Monday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi categorically denied that any journalist had been attacked by Chinese security officers. “There is no such issue as Chinese police officers beating foreign journalists,” he said during a news conference at the National People’s Congress, China’s quasi-legislature. “China is a country under the rule of law, and we abide by the law. We have always followed relevant laws and regulations in managing the affairs related to foreign journalists.” ”

Nothing happened, nothing at all http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12593328

March 8, 2011 @ 10:43 am | Comment

More nothigs
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/07/china-closes-tibet-tourist-visas
“Chinese authorities have closed Tibet to foreign visitors as the third anniversary of anti-government riots approaches.

The region’s top official confirmed the restrictions after travel agents reported orders not to arrange trips for tourists, who need a special permit to visit the region in addition to the visa for China.”

“He told reporters at an annual political meeting in Beijing that the region was stable. “It’s not that the anti-Chinese forces and the Dalai clique haven’t thought of it but the fact is they haven’t been able to stir up any unrest since the March 14 incident.”"

So let’s shut down a whole region…because nothing has happened and nothing is expeced to happen.

March 8, 2011 @ 11:02 am | Comment

To Mike,
well, you know, harmony doesn’t just happen. It has to be enforced and manipulated, because Chinese people probably wouldn’t know any better.

March 8, 2011 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

@ecodelta
I agree that the French article is quite insightful. All that we hear all too often are dismissive comments that this is all just “nothing.” But at the moment in China, I’m not seeing nothing, I’m probably seeing the most insane mobilization of security forces since 1999. And I can’t help but feel like for all their talk about “great powers,” the CCP and particularly its leadership are cowards with bad consciences. Everyone probably already knows that “internal security” expenses surpassed the military budget last year, right? Neither of these sums are small either- what kind of government needs that kind of internal security?

March 8, 2011 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

@Kev – You know, I wonder if anyone has run the figures on how internal security costs are trending in the long term. I see that this year and last year internal security spending rose by 13-14%. My totally uninformed guess formulated merely on the ever-increasing level of censorship on the internet over the last 7-8 years is that it must have increased at a similar rate for at least that long. I wonder – Chinese military spending is unlikely to ever need to rise to the crippling level which helped sink the USSR, but what about in combination with internal security spending?

March 8, 2011 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

Hhhhmmm………

So we can just bring the downfall of the CCP by making them increase spending security apparatus… OK. Just keep sending this messages for new… strolls.

On a more positive side, one could make a web game, alos in Iphone/Android, to select places for new… strolls, and then keep watching how the security forces keep themselves busy catching ghosts. Maybe even create a subscription in youtube or vimeo.

On an even more positive side. One can use the solicitousness of the security forces for improving street cleanliness,even also cleaning polluted places.
Just send the right message….. or just gather enough strolling people around the place you want to clean/decontaminate, and the cleaning squads will appear in no time.

March 8, 2011 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

A country whole political system brought down by an SMS or Tweet! Fascinating.

March 8, 2011 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

Hhhhmm….. Bright idea. Could I send them to clean my house too….. ;-)

I must ask the Chinese embassy here…

March 8, 2011 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

Sorry, cannot stop.

We can say the CCP is feeling… tweety.

http://tinyurl.com/5uzmx72

March 8, 2011 @ 9:49 pm | Comment

“internal security”, there’s a nice euphemism. I thought one of the recurring themes for CCP apologists was that the CCP has kept evil/colonial/cannabalizing foreign powers at bay. I guess she needs to keep evil/destabilizing/good-for-nothing PRC citizens in check too. Ahhh, the harmony…delivered by the trusty old CCP one clean street at a time.

March 9, 2011 @ 2:01 am | Comment

Harmony, a scent by Calvin Kline.

March 9, 2011 @ 3:13 am | Comment

I should have provided the source of the internal security figures in my original post, but the link is below:
http://tinyurl.com/6xfl7s7

March 9, 2011 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

Just for the fun of it

http://tinyurl.com/4w3trwt

;-)

April 1, 2011 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

Any guess who is the scary one at the end?

;-)

April 1, 2011 @ 10:32 pm | Comment

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