View Full Version : 74,000 protests involving 3.7m people in China in 2004

Oct 2, 2005, 12:43
The Economist reports an increasing number of protests in China over the past few years (read article The cauldron boils (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4462719)), which could lead to harsher repressions from the government. Chines people have been enjoying more freedom of speech since the country opened its doors to foreign investors and embraced capitalism. The internet and mobile telephony have facilitated the organisation of mass demonstrations as well.

The Chinese government sustains that soical unrest is common in developing countries with a GDP per capita between 1,000 and 3,000 USD (like China). The question that remains is 'how much will the communist government be able to take on without stepping backward on democracy' ?

Oct 2, 2005, 14:56
Great article and great question. Before engaging in serious discussion, I'd like to bring your attention for a moment to the top photo in the Economist article "Protests in China: The cauldron boils / Sep 29th 2005 | BEIJING" but by no means to trivialise the topic. PRC police controls protesters (http://www.economist.com/images/20051001/4005AS1.jpg)

Out of 8 faces with identifiable expressions, I see 4 smiling (nos. 1, 2, 5, 7), one just about to smile (no. 4), and one putting on a funny face for the others (no. 6). The only serious face is no. 8 who seems to be holding a roll of plastic-wrapped sushi for which the mob seems to be after; no wonder he is concerned. So what does this tell about democracy and freedom of laughter in the PRC ? But wait, could it be a publicity stunt ?

edit: I cannot tell what face no. 3 is up to. Perhaps complaining, "Hey don't shove; I'm not a protester !"

Oct 2, 2005, 18:01
Yes. I also noticed that immediately, Lexico. But in my experience of travelling around East Asia (e.g. Indonesia, Thailand...), policemen are often like that (except in Japan where they are always dead serious). They are usually quite young and don't look very mature or reliable. It seems that they are just following orders and try to have a good time anyway (maybe because there job is boring ?). So I don''t think it's a stunt. I've just come back from Shanghai, and I noticed how police officers there looked so much more friendly and easy-going than in Tokyo. I certainly felt more comfortable there in Shanghai, in a supposedly undemocratic country that doesn't respect human rights, than in "developed and democratic" Japan.

I am very sensitive to people's attitude or "look in the eyes", and feel immediately how people are disposed toward me (i.e. whether they are distrustful, friendly, aggressive, want to cheat me, make fun of me, respect me or whatever). The police with which I have felt the most uncomfortable (i.e. felt quite threatening) so far were in Japan, Vietnam and Israel.