Occupy Chang’an Avenue?

In a guest post on ChinaGeeks, Alec Ash translates an essay by Wu Yun called Let’s “Occupy Chang’an Avenue” in which the author defends democracy and disputes previous claims by official Chinese media that the Occupy movement exemplifies America’s downfall:

Democracy clearly has its flaws, but OWS shows not the defects of democracy but its advantages. That protestors do not “go missing” is thanks to the benefits of democracy, and the lack of violent conflict or loss of social order is an example of its accomplishments. The US government has not condemned, suppressed or sympathised with the movement, nor have the crowds challenged the legitimacy of the government or the democratic system itself. Rather, OWS is happening precisely within that democratic framework.

In other words: we must change our perspective and see this demonstration as a rational expression of democracy, and the normal activity of a healthy society rather than the upheaval of it.

It was American democracy which enabled their problems to be recognised, taken seriously and have the potential to be solved. In China things are murkier. In reality, China faces more serious problems of financial oligarchism, corruption and inequality than America. But “Occupy Chang’an Jie” is no more than a fairy tale – in China a jobless, homeless protester would not reach Beijing before disappearing mysteriously.

The freedom to assemble and demonstrate exists in almost every country’s constitution, but it’s only a few countries where the people can genuinely protest against the government without being quashed. If the OWS movement is a sign of a flawed democracy, I hope China can have some of that flawed democracy too. Because China’s calm is by no means fortunate.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows called out the post and claimed that any portrayal of protest in a positive social light by China and America “would be encouraging about both countries and about their ability to deal with each other.”

See also previous CDT coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests, including an unlikely father figure with connections to Beijing’s 1989 student movement and why the movement would have never happened in China. In addition, see The “Occupy” Series: Sina Weibo’s New List of Banned Search Terms.