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The Revolution That Isn’t There

Fascinating post at John Robb’s about the stirrings of a supposed “Jasmine Revolution” in China.  The full post is worth your attention, but I’m pulling these bits from his correspondent:

…several Chinese language, but overseas based, websites have been blogging on the creation of a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China. This… appears to have no real-world substance whatsoever, to have begun as a hoax at best, and to exist only in cyberspace, and cyberspace outside China at that. But the interesting bit is the real world effect it is having inside China, and the momentum it is generating.

The blogs and websites themselves are largely invisible to ordinary Chinese as the Great Firewall keeps them out, but they can be seen by the security agencies, who have been swift to react. The organizers, whoever and wherever they are, have repeatedly called on people to gather in a range of popular and public areas in the centre of major cities across China – shopping malls and university campuses – and go for a stroll every Sunday afternoon to call for minor political change. These public areas are, at that time of day, normally filled with young people and out-of-town domestic tourists, all now potential ‘protesters’… but there are no genuine protesters, just some bemused local tourists and a lot of foreign journalists. So some young tourists get beaten up and taken away, and some journalists get smacked around.

The security forces are taking it seriously, the top leaders have come out in public to criticise the organisers for threatening social stability, and yet there is still no evidence of real-world substance to the protests, just China’s vast security apparatus chasing shadows on the streets and on the internet, and closing down large sections of China’s internet and SMS traffic…

A revolutionary movement that doesn’t exist, but still causes the kind of crackdown we associate with revolutionary movements, generated by persons unknown either to illustrate what would happen to revolutionary protestors, or to foment genuine revolutionary protest.  The new fog of war.

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