In China, Wait Leads to Standoff With Officials

The New York Times reports on the stand-off between locals and a group of visiting officials to Mt. Baekdu who caused severe delays for visitors to the local tourist attraction. CDT earlier translated weibo responses to the incident. From the New York Times report:

The infuriated crowd surrounded the vehicles carrying the government entourage and refused to let them pass, according to scores of microblog posts sent out by those waiting to ascend Changbai Mountain in Jilin Province. The three-hour standoff drew police officers and soldiers, some of whom reportedly beat recalcitrant protesters.

According to one witness, thousands of people chanted for a refund of the $20 entry tickets and later demanded that the officials leave their besieged vehicles and apologize. “Fight privilege!” the witness wrote.

The accounts, posted on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service, were later deleted by the company’s in-house censors, but many postings were saved and reposted on overseas Web sites like Ministry of Tofu and China Digital Times whose servers cannot be reached by Chinese censors.

Even if a contretemps was defused, the specter of middle-class citizens fearlessly standing up to their otherwise omnipotent leaders is a scenario that fills Communist Party officials with dread. Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California, Berkeley, said the incident reveals the accumulated anger that many ordinary Chinese feel toward their government. “There was no serious injustice here, yet it did not take much for them to stand up and protest,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that is very worrying to Chinese leaders because it could happen anywhere, at any time.”

See also a list of “sensitive words” banned from Sina weibo search relating to the Mt. Baekdo incident.