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China’s Revolution Needs Supersizing

move along, nothing to protest about here

Chinese citizens were told to shout “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness, referencing rising food and housing prices, the overqualified and underpaid ant-tribe, and massive government corruption and cronyism that has dogged the Chinese government since its inception.

While the protests in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain were gathering momentum, I found myself hoping that the same wouldn’t happen in China.  If it did, I explain on Facebook, the government crackdown would make Gadhafi’s violent response look like a paintballing outing for extremely nervous insurance salesmen.  The choice of venues (KFC and McDonalds) neatly illustrates the pampered nature of the Angry Young Men of China – we can have a protest, but we really need to go somewhere where we can get some food later on, possibly with a the local neighborhood American diplomat.

Suffice to say that the Chinese didn’t really grasp the nettle and give an all-out protest on the same scale as their Egyptian and Libyan counterparts.   A number of factors conspired against them a) they publicized the whole thing on Twitter which is banned in China, b) the Chinese authorities are stupid, but they’re not too stupid not to use Twitter to keep tabs on troublemakers c) they used Google Maps to pinpoint exactly were the protests were being held.  It was, to borrow one of Hannibal Lecter’s lines, a fledging protestor’s first attempt at a transformation, and not that great a success.  That said, at least the members of one of the world’s largest standing armies had something to other than stand.

The authorities didn’t really do themselves any favors either.  Fearing massive negative publicity, they duly phoned up every reporter in the city and told them not to go anywhere near Wangfujing or Tiananmen Square without special permission – which is a little like telling a two year old not to press, under any circumstances, the big red button with “danger – do not press” written in yellow and red letters above it.  If anyone should be arrested for subverting state power, it’s the Chinese idiots who spread news to the people who didn’t even know there was news in the first place to be spread.  It’s also given officials, as the 9/11 terror attacks in American gave the American officials, more wiggle room to collect in one place all the troublemakers, and any excuse to tighten the rules is a good excuse.

While their tactics have been quite simple, they have been quite effective – no one can argue that spraying water from a street cleaning van is a more acceptable than an M1 tank rumbling down the Wang Fu Jing.  If the dissidents get the idea that the most they have to deal with is getting a little bit wet (which, admittedly for Chinese people is on the same level as contracting leprosy) every weekend, they may get that little bit bolder.  It’s a shame that the Chinese police didn’t deal with the foreign news media.  Nothing makes a western report moist with anticipation more than a protest in China, but nothing eats up column inches like reports of Chinese police beating the living daylights out of foreign reporters and illegally detaining those covering a protest in China.

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