Frank Ching: Don’t Look for Jasmine Revolution or Tea in China

For Yale Global, Frank Ching writes about what the Chinese government’s reaction to the non-existent Jasmine Revolution protests means for the country:

From the start, the plan sounded like public performance art or a prank to emulate the Jasmine Revolution sweeping the Middle East: Anonymous online messages called for rallies at 2 pm Sunday in China’s busiest shopping districts: No angry signs or shouts needed, protesters could participate by “strolling, watching or pretending to pass by.” Organizers thus hoped to turn every shopper into a virtual protester, demanding a government supervised by the people and an end to corruption. Seeing unending protests across the Middle East and North Africa, China-based foreign journalists took the messages seriously. Deeply worried by polls showing people’s unhappiness, Chinese police and security forces sought to nip any such protest in the bud by arresting bloggers and cracking down on foreign media, reports journalist Frank Ching. The tough reaction – combined with recently unveiled Chinese budgets that devote more funds to internal security than external threats – signals a government that doesn’t trust its people or its ability to handle internal disagreements without force.

See also “Psst… Where’s the Revolution?” from Marketplace.