Text Messages Giving Voice to Chinese – Edward Cody

 Wp-Dyn Content Photo 2007 06 27 Ph2007062703007 Let’s revisit the Xiamen PX event again. “It was a dramatic illustration of the potential of technology — particularly cellphones and the Internet — to challenge the rigorous censorship and political controls through which the party maintains its monopoly on power over China’s 1.4 billion people.” From The Washington Post:

By the hundreds of thousands, the urgent text messages ricocheted around cellphones in Xiamen, warning of a catastrophe that would spoil the city’s beautiful seaside environment and foul its sweet-smelling tropical breezes.

By promoting the construction of a giant chemical factory among the suburban palm trees, the local government was “setting off an atomic bomb in all of Xiamen,” the massive message sprays charged, predicting that the plant would cause “leukemia and deformed babies” among the 2 million-plus residents of this city on China’s southern rim, just opposite Taiwan.

The environmental activists behind the messages might have exaggerated the danger with their florid language, experts said. But their passionate opposition to the chemical plant generated an explosion of public anger that forced a halt in construction, pending further environmental impact studies by authorities in Beijing, and produced large demonstrations June 1 and 2, drawing national publicity. [Full Text]