The authorities take a dim view of protests at the best of times. During the Olympics they were particularly anxious to keep the disgruntled out of sight. And many citizens themselves wanted the games to go smoothly. A handful of foreigners staged protests in Beijing, but none involving Chinese was reported. Those who applied for permission to protest were persuaded by police to change their minds, sometimes menacingly.
But residents of middle-class apartment compounds with odd-sounding names such as Berlin Symphony, Apple Pie and New Sky Universe were quick to test the post-Olympic waters. On August 30th hundreds gathered at an intersection near where they lived. Many wore masks to show their disgust for the fumes that sometimes emanate from Gaoantun, a large landfill waste-dump and now the site of China’s biggest waste-fuelled thermal power plant, an important Olympic project. Top officials attended its opening a few days before the games.
[…] Elsewhere, however, there are signs that officials are beginning to turn their attention to problems they had shunted aside for the sake of preserving Olympic calm. In the southern province of Yunnan two senior officials have been sacked and two others reprimanded for their alleged mishandling of a riot in July involving rubber farmers in the remote county of Menglian on the border with Myanmar.