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Terence Shen's Column

Try Another Way Around: What else you Can Talk About in China, Except Politics

The “Jasmine Revolution” in the Middle-East seemed to whip up a frenzy among the people across the globe. On February 20, 2011, around one hundred Chinese citizens gathered in Wangfujing, a shopping district in Beijing, to celebrate the victory of “Jasmine Revolution.” More than 300 police officers soon showed up at the big public party, as BBC reported. We don’t know what exactly they have planned to do for a celebration, but it doesn’t matter. Gathering per se already crossed the government’s threshold of public security. The same day in Shanghai, the foreboding police officers guarded the “People’s Square” eerily, even before people’s planned gathering.

The rekindled hope for a Chinese version of “Jasmine Revolution” was soon hindered flatly by the government. The words such as “Jasmine” and “Wangfujing” now were banned on many Chinese websites. Meanwhile, the indefatigable human rights activists feel indignant these days, at a time when the secret police keep knocking on their doors. The efficiency of the Chinese government’s responsive apparatus dealing with potential social unrest is really impressive. It clearly demonstrates again the relentless determination and, even more importantly, the unassailable capability of Chinese leadership to nip any challenge in the bud which has the slightest possibility of toppling the party.

“Hearing Egyptian echoes, China’s autocrats cling to the hope that they are different,” “economists” commented on its website today. Frankly speaking, yes, indeed they are different. The political struggle is not a good option for ordinary people in China as of Tianan’men incident and still not in foreseeable future. But the one who fidgets shouldn’t be us, it is the Party leaders. It doesn’t even bother me if the petitions and appeals for political freedom fell on deaf ears. The thing that will make the Chinese oligarch twitchy is the vexing question of how to retain their absolute power permanently. Fortunately for us, there are better jobs to do.

One example I’d like to take is Han Han, who was called by CNN “a rebel blogger”. Being a car racer, a singer and a movie star did not prevent him from being a liberalist and satirical to the authority. Ironically it makes him much more influential for critical thinking in China than the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Abundant examples can be provided here. A school teacher Yuan Tengfei blamed Mao for human tragedies he caused after 1949, and his lecture videos are extremely popular on the Internet, which made him a star; Southern news media is taking a leading role in framing civil society in China as well. Jiang Wen’s new movie “Let the bullet fly” can be considered an excellent break through in the face of China’s scathing censorship. It should be noted that anything can become an impetus driving Chinese society forward, which in turn produces political openness we expected in the future.

Why not to take a different approach? But no need to be pessimistic, any effort we make will be payed back, and people power will triumph in the end. We should always bear this in mind and have strong faith in it.

Terence Shen (沈达明)

February 20, 2011

Hong Kong



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