Monday, 28 February 2011

Paranoid Reaction

It looks like the "jasmine revolution" fizzled again yesterday -- pre-empted before much if anything could happen.
 
In Beijing, the window seats at the McDonald's in Wangfujing were occupied by undercover cops or security posing as customers in the fast-food restaurant.
 
Meanwhile hundreds of police and about 100 police vehicles were already there before the event was supposed to start at 2pm. They were checking passports, detaining foreign journalists and even locking up the McDonald's at one point, creating confusion amongst those who really wanted to have a hamburger.
 
There were also a row of water trucks that sprayed the busy shopping area with what a reporter described as "a lengthy and unnecessary mid-Sunday afternoon spray".
 
The street cleaners got into the act too -- men in orange jackets who used their brooms to wack people on the ankles than sweep away the dust.
 
A few days before Sunday, foreign journalists received warnings from the Public Security Bureau (PSB) that if the were to be in the vicinity of Wangfujing on the weekend that they had to carry their press credentials and passports and even register at the Wangfujing district office for permission to report there.
 
The ironic thing is that not only does this office not have a listed number, the PSB was unable to provide it either before the weekend.
 
The arbitrariness of the notice reveals how far the local government is going to do everything in its power to tone down or quash anything that seems remotely rebellious despite the central government's reporting regulations that took in effect in October 2008 that state: "To interview organizations or individuals in China, foreign journalists need only to obtain their prior consent."
 
Nevertheless some foreign reporters were roughed up and even equipment damaged which surprised some people watching the events. "Why did they have to use force against those foreign reporters?" an onlooker asked. "I am really curious what they will do in the future and how much it would cost to stage such massive force each week."
 
So perhaps the frustrations of rising inflation, obscene corruption and the lack of democracy will switch to how much taxpayer money is used to keep people from gathering peacefully with peacefully being the operative word.
 
How will the government respond to that?

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