Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chinese Government Moves To Quash Protests Before They Gain Steam

The Chinese government is looking at events in the Middle East and North Africa with a wary eye to the more than 1 billion Chinese who might protest with similar aims.
Jittery Chinese authorities wary of any domestic dissent staged a concerted show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a "Jasmine Revolution" apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets, disconnected some mobile phone text messaging services and censored Internet postings about the call to stage protests at 2 p.m. in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities.

The campaign did not gain much traction among ordinary citizens and the chances of overthrowing the Communist government are slim, considering Beijing's tight controls over the media and Internet. A student-led, pro-democracy movement in 1989 was crushed by the military and hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

On Sunday, police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to lay down white jasmine flowers while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald's on the capital's busiest shopping street. In Shanghai, police led away three people near the planned protest spot after they scuffled in an apparent bid to grab the attention of passers-by.
It's quite telling that the Chinese government is moving with such speed to thwart protests from congealing into a movement that is far more difficult to control and that would threaten the government's existence.

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