Tuesday, April 26, 2005

First Tokyo, then Bejing? 

Will the recent anti-Japan protests be just a warmup for demonstrations against Bejing?
The question that has arisen out of the big Shanghai demonstration - and those leading up to it over the past few weeks in Chengdu, Shenzhen and Beijing, among others - concerns whether it is on the Chinese government's agenda to allow anti-Japan protesters to voice their opinion publicly. But the bigger question is this: in a new era of online petitions with 22 million signatories and of public demonstrations of 20,000 organized primarily by SMS (short message service) and e-mail, in what ways will Chinese citizens be able to shape future government agendas? It is possible that equipped with an understanding of how to organize en masse and seemingly under the radar of Beijing's censors, younger Chinese may begin encouraging others to take to the streets against corruption and government land seizures, to complain about economic inequality or ideological repression. That is to say, with a slight change of focus, Beijing may see a change of course in its internal affairs towards more turbulent political waters.

Just giving the young Chinese a taste of what it's like to have a voice, may end up coming back to haunt Bejing.


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