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Aug 14

(Letter) Are the Protest Parks Being Used?

Written by MutantJedi on Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 7:54 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis | Tags:, ,
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From the BBC, Protests still unwelcome in Beijing:

China has set aside three parks during the Olympics, to allow people to demonstrate. But, as the BBC’s Michael Bristow finds out, the parks are empty and those who apply for permission to protest are even finding themselves arrested.

The BBC report is that nobody is showing up to protest and that people who apply to protest are being arrested. According to the report, in effect, the parks are a honey pot that serve more to catch protesters than to provide a safe location for their expression.

Are the parks being used for protests? Is this story on the radar for the Chinese in Beijing?


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90 Responses to “(Letter) Are the Protest Parks Being Used?”

  1. Kingsley Says:

    According to the latest instructions to the Chinese media from the 中宣部:

    “9. In regard to the three protest parks, no interviews and coverage is allowed.”

    From
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/off-the-field/the-full-list-of-edicts/2008/08/14/1218307066869.html

    A related story on these “stunningly frank” (a bit naive on the part of the journalist really) instructions to Chinese media is at
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/off-the-field/censors-make-news/2008/08/14/1218307066384.html

  2. totochi Says:

    “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend.”

    Arresting and detaining permit applicants seems a bit drastic. Is this standard operating procedures prior to the Olympics? What is so fragile about the communist government or Chinese society that it can’t handle a few protests?

  3. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I’m glad this was brought up, thanks MJ. When these “protest zones” were first mentioned, they were touted by many readers of this blog as a bit of a breakthrough for China, if she were to allow freedom of expression. Even as an artificial and insulated model, it was at least to be a start. If the BBC is correct (and I’m sure that will be debated), then this “start” would seem rather dubious and sinister.

    On the topic of follow-ups, I wonder if blacks are being served in drinking holes in Sanlitun. It might finally resolve some of the heavy breathing regarding Tom Miller from a few weeks back.

  4. MoneyBall Says:

    @totochi,

    I m with our western friends there, the way CCP handles protests is semi restarded, I think they still have what happened in 1989 in mind, they fear “a few protests” might get out of hands turn into a big social unrest. When the centrol government’s mentality is like that, the enforcement officials would only make things worse.

    I have no doubt the situation will get better, CCP may be “evil” but they are getting smart, they probably have realized by now that you have to give the society some holes to vent, or the whole thing will explode sooner or later, I think they are struggling to find a way to build “controllable” holes.

    But on the flip side, if like you said its just “a few protests” after all, why is it so important? personally I think China needs a healthy check-n-balance system much more than “so we can protest however we want”, God I hate hippies.

    The basic wont change, CCP will not give up or share power in any time soon, even though one day China is protest free, the west will find other things to be unhappy with. The bottom line is, China is willing to achieve a win-win with the west on this planet, the west is not.

  5. MutantJedi Says:

    @Kingsley,

    These instructions were supposedly directed to the local media as reported by South China Morning Post… the problem here is that getting to SCMP’s news stories online is like pulling teeth (I found an article titled “Screws tighten on mainland journalists” but it doesn’t list the 21 points. Also, what’s with the lack of a permalink? Good grief SCMP get with the program.

    However, there’s nothing new with the local media getting direction from the propaganda department. While it may shed light on why the parks haven’t had any play on Xinhua, this bit of news doesn’t answer the question of how much use has the parks are getting.

    As SKC mentioned, and I was one of them, the plan to provide protest parks was seen as a positive move.

    MoneyBall, my understanding about the parks were also to provide an alternate place for petitioners to come. I don’t know much about how petitioning works but it seems to be a very vital part of the justice system in China. Are these people also at a loss as to where to go?

    The best counter to accusations that the Chinese government has lied through its teeth are demonstrations of its word kept. This is why a few demonstrations would be nice to see in the Protest Parks.

    Getting back to the 21-point plan… This is where the propaganda department shoots itself in the foot. If the BBC report is accurate… Instead of silencing a few people with issues that the Western journalists could only struggle to comprehend, they should make a photo op out of it.

  6. BMY Says:

    I agree with others the protest parks is a good start. I understand Moneyball’s point but allowing few petitioners(not a very large crowd) to vent won’t lead to a social unrest at current situation.

    I think another reason is the political figures on the top still think the protests is a lose of “face” . They are not used to see protesting because of their upbringing.

    I think for China to gradually get on the freedom/democratic train one thing is to start educating kids and let them practice in schools about open debate and peaceful protesting.

    Currently many Chinese people are so easily get into mob maternity(lack of education and practice of protesting,,debating etc .quite few riots happened this year of course there are other reasons except mob maternity). large protest has greater chance( than let’s say UK and the U.S) turn to social unrest in PRC.

    Why don’t let the few “Free Tibet” students to protest in the parks(they might want other the better spots). They did protests and got reported anyway. Let them in the parks won’t make any difference.

  7. MutantJedi Says:

    About the “Free Tibet” students… I’m not particularly interested in foreigners performing for the foreign media market. Moreover, I haven’t heard about even one foreign protester in the parks (well… haven’t heard anything about the parks). They are not interested in following the rules, why would they do their business in the corner instead of the middle of the room.

    More important are the petitioners.

    I can’t read well enough to look into if this is at all on the radar of the Chinese netizens. Is there any talk about the parks?

  8. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Agree with MJ #7. IMO, the whole point of these parks is to facilitate locals venting local concerns. Foreigners who are so inclined won’t confine themselves to these places anyhow. Which is why this is especially disappointing. I also don’t understand (clearly demonstrated on many occasions in recent months) why the government would renege on a pledge before it’s even been used. So was the government wrong then to even consider allowing such a speaker’s corner, or are they wrong now to pull the plug on an as-yet untried experiment? Either way, it’s Keystone Cops, and they’re shooting themselves in the foot once again.

  9. totochi Says:

    @MoneyBall
    Actually, I think the most important thing for China is government accountability. Without accountability to the average citizen, there is no incentive for things to change. Providing a place for people to vent is a good first step (if it ever happens), but if no one ever addresses people’s complaints, it will probably make things worse now they have higher expectations from their government. Maybe that’s what the CCP is afraid of.

  10. Chinawatcher Says:

    Slightly off topic (but relevant insofar as we are discussing the need to hear “alternative voices” in China):

    I came across this translation by China Media Project of an interview with Yale University finance professor Chen Zhiwu (陈志武) published in Window on the South.

    The money quote:
    “Those who spend all day singing hymns of praise for China accomplish nothing for its progress. Saying pretty things is the easiest thing in the world to do. In fact, those who talk about China’s “coming collapse” are far more valuable for China. We can look constructively at them and try to understand the reasons and forms of collapse they’re talking about, and we can look at what we might do right now to help China avoid this trap.”

    CMP translation can be accessed at: http://cmp.hku.hk/2008/08/14/1171/

  11. Nimrod Says:

    “But, as the BBC’s Michael Bristow finds out, the parks are empty and those who apply for permission to protest are even finding themselves arrested.”

    Well, if you read the article, Michael Bristow didn’t really “find out”… he got his word from “Human Rights Watch” which itself merely “cites witnesses”. So who knows.

    I’ve read a similar article that mentions security from the provinces coming to get their own petitioners once they find out they intend to protest. This isn’t new and if that’s the extent of it, it doesn’t make the setting up of these parks as honeypots… just that provincial security are taking advantage of a new avenue of taking back their own people.

  12. FOARP Says:

    @Nimrod – Well, simply going down to the parks and not seeing anyone would not really have been proof of anything, but the HRW report supports this statement. The dichotomy between ‘provincial security’ and the ministry of public security escapes me – surely local PSB are just extensions of the MPS? Now, most goverment organisations suffer from a degree of ‘the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing’, but coming to arrest people who are supposed to be allowed to protest does support a ‘honey pot’ explanation.

  13. Kingsley Says:

    @MutantJedi #5

    Agree that these instructions are not big news – part of business as usual in the Chinese media. My point was that there won’t be news articles on this topic because it has been designated off limits. That doesn’t mean there won’t be discussion on bulletin boards etc though. I know it doesn’t answer the question of how much use they’re getting, but it does contribute to thinking about your second question. I’m not sure what the link with the SCMP is though – I got the article from The Age from Melbourne.

  14. yo Says:

    Where is Buxi? He can tell us what’s going on in the park.

  15. BMY Says:

    @yo

    Buxi is competing “mountain moving” in the games. too busy and too tired,I guess. 🙂

  16. MutantJedi Says:

    Kingsley, I reread my #5. Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off snidely.

    Nimrod,

    Well, if you read the article, Michael Bristow didn’t really “find out”… he got his word from “Human Rights Watch” which itself merely “cites witnesses”. So who knows.

    Exactly. Which is why I asked the question here. Since nobody has quoted Chinese netizens discussing this issue, is it fair to say that this is a non-story in Beijing/China?

    FOARP, you are right, one or two trips down to the parks would not prove anything one way or the other. However, HRW reports, while indicative, are not a source of proof as they are not unbiased observers. It’s kind of like asking Al Gore for a climate forecast.

    Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the BBC’s report is the portrayal of the Parks as a honeypot. By design or by opportunity, if people with legitimate concerns are being arrested for applying for permission to participate in the government’s own program, then it is a honeypot trap.

    I hope Buxi is having a great time. There is no need for him to disturb his time with his family on this issue.

    If this issue is not being noticed by the millions of netizens around Beijing, two more eyes won’t make much difference. Instead the question becomes “What’s missing?”

  17. Hemulen Says:

    @MutantJedi

    About the “Free Tibet” students… I’m not particularly interested in foreigners performing for the foreign media market. Moreover, I haven’t heard about even one foreign protester in the parks (well… haven’t heard anything about the parks). They are not interested in following the rules, why would they do their business in the corner instead of the middle of the room.

    Well, the problem is that there are no rules and there never will be, as long as a grumpy member of the Poltiburo Standing Committee can easily overrule any decision. So to accuse stray foreigner protesters of not following regulations is essentially meaningless. And to be disappointed in the CCP is equally pointless, because they never meant business in the first place.

    More important are the petitioners.

    I agree. And we should consider the role of the foreign press here. To a large extent, publicity in international media is an important guarantor for the safety of these petitioner. The more publicity they get, the more difficult it becomes for the authorities to apply really harsh measures. This is not an ideal situation and it contributes to tarnish the patriotic image of these protesters, but as long as the Chinese press is not free to report what it wants to report, many watchdog functions will be performed by foreigners, with all the problems that entail, including possible bias. And I don’t see that situation changing in the near future. So we will have tedious debates about foreign media bias ad nauseam.

  18. MutantJedi Says:

    @Hemulen
    Actually, the rules are pretty clear to the “Free Tibet” ilk – don’t protest. 🙂

  19. Hemulen Says:

    …which makes the injunction to “obey the law or leave” pretty meaningless.

  20. Wahaha Says:

    People,

    Let us face it, the current leaders in China, from local to central government dont know the art of compromising, they dont really understand what public relation means and how important public relation is. Not in West, politicians grows up with compromising and negotiation, this has been the case in China’s thousand years of history, you cant expect it will change in just 10 years.

    No protest in protest parks is just an example of that, Chinese leader failed to realize the best image is not no protest at all, it is an image of some peaceful protests in Park. Chinese and Westerners must realize the political mind of Chinese leaders still stay in 1970s to 1980s, their minds have not been modernized.

    Wait 15 years or 20 years, when the 80s and 90s geneartion become the leader of China, things in China will be different.

  21. Wahaha Says:

    BTW, I dont believe those Human right watch group, where did they get those information ? or they purposely send some activists to apply for something they didnt expect approvals, so they can sell their agenda about China ?

  22. FOARP Says:

    @Wahaha – by what’s been said about ‘witnesses’ I presume they’ve had people watching in the park.

  23. Hemulen Says:

    @Wahaha

    If things don’t start to change now, however small, I don’t believe there will be any real change in 20 years. Let’s face it: the CCP is not serious about democratic freedom and the people in China who care are too few. I don’t think democracy will be introduced overnight, no one does, but if the CCP can’t allow a few stray protests in Beijing, what’s the point even discussing the prospects of democracy in China? It’s a futile exercise. The CCP has won this round over human rights and the world is playing along, albeit some journalists are adding noise. If there ever was a cause for democracy or a modicum of human rights in China, that cause has been set back decade or so.

    As for HMW, I have absolutely no idea why people like Wahaha are attacking them. You won this year’s battle over the Olympics. The world has been standing idly by as the CCP has suppressed protest here and there. Most world leaders turned up to the Opening. There are no sanctions in place. You should celebrate, not complain about Western media. Thanks to the mass support the CCP has gotten, there will be no democracy in China in 20 years, if ever. You have accomplished your mission. Why do you even care what the rest of the world thinks? As for the rest of us, who just might want to see some change in China, there are better things to do with our life than worrying about this.

  24. Chinawatcher Says:

    From NYT article
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/sports/olympics/14protest.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin

    The money quotes:
    “Ms. Zhang, a Beijing resident who has been seeking redress for what she claims was the illegal demolition of her house, applied for a protest permit in early August and began planning her public demonstration. On Aug. 6, police officers came to her home — not to deliver the requisite license but to take her into custody. She is now serving a monthlong sentence for “disturbing social order,” according to her family.”

    “Ms. Zhang is among a half-dozen people who have been detained after they sought permission to protest in one of three city parks set aside for demonstrations”

    “Five days after the Olympics began, not a single demonstration had taken place in the official protest zones. The authorities have declined to say whether any applications have been approved, and they did not acknowledge the detention of would-be demonstrators.”

    “Gao Chuancai, 45, a farmer from (Harbin) Heilongjiang Province, evaded a police cordon in his hometown and arrived in Beijing with a handwritten poster describing a litany of abuses by local officials…. Early this month, after he learned of the Olympic protest zones on television, he mailed in an application to Beijing. On Wednesday, he worked up the nerve to visit the application office…At the reception area, a pair of officers questioned him about the nature of his protest and asked him to fill out a lengthy form that included the names and numbers of the officials who had wronged him. Mr. Gao was reluctant, but he complied. After an hour, they smiled and told him to return in five days. As he walked out the door, he overheard one of the officers on the phone. He was calling the police station in Harbin.

    Other reports here
    http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/articles/blogs-beijing/beijing-olympics/protesting-by-the-books/
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/05/AR2008080503197_pf.html

  25. Wahaha Says:

    Hemulen,_________ the CCP is not serious about democratic freedom

    1) It is your opinion.

    2) If what you said is true, CCP will collapse sooner or later.

    3) The freeom in the minds of Chinese is different from what you think. Some chinese believe tjhat government should allow some peaceful protests, but I can guarantee you there are lot of Chinese who support government simply cuz “why do they have to protest now ?”

    4) You can see clearly almost all the protests in China are due to infrastructure construction, which means in 10 to 20 years, (if no economic crisis) the society will be stabilized, such problems wont exist, as least wont be serious as it is now.

  26. Wahaha Says:

    About HWA,

    I watched a program by HWA about Tibet, in which they let a Tibetan claimed that PLA killed 1.2 million tibetans, which anyone with any common sense know it is BS.

    Please note here it was a very clever trick, cuz HWA did say that, a Tibetan said that, but HWA presented it to Americans as fact. see my point ?

    BTW, those pro-tibetan protestors in Beijing, did they go to the Tibet museum in Beijing ? why didnt they try to listen our side of story ? so my reaction to them is F@#$ off.

  27. Wahaha Says:

    Sorry, too many mistake, repost :

    About HMW,

    I watched a program by HMW about Tibet, in which they let a Tibetan claimed that PLA killed 1.2 million tibetans, which anyone with any common sense know it is BS.

    Please note here it was a very clever trick, cuz HMW did NOT say that, a Tibetan said that, but HMW presented it to Americans as fact. see my point ?

    BTW, those pro-tibetan protestors in Beijing, did they go to the Tibet museum in Beijing ? why didnt they try to listen our side of story ? so my reaction to them is F@#$ off.

  28. MutantJedi Says:

    Okay. So. It does seem that the parks are quiet.
    The follow up question is why are are the Chinese netizens just as quiet?

  29. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Welcome to the Beijing Protest Zone

    Users will observe the following regulations:
    1. Grievances can only be aired after issuance of appropriate permits, the granting of which is at the sole discretion of the government
    2. Those who apply for said permits bear sole responsibility for any consequences, up to and including arrest and incarceration, either here and/or in your home province
    3. Those who proceed with actual protest acknowledge the assumption of similar responsibilities as in (2)
    4. Spitting and baring of male mid-riffs are expressly prohibited
    5. Speak in controlled tones so as not to startle our foreign Olympic guests

    Enjoy your experience. We hope it will be memorable and gratifying, while it lasts. We reserve the right to prosecute users for as-yet undefined violations once the Beijing Games are concluded.

  30. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MJ:
    agreed once again. If the presence of these parks was to be a breakthrough and hailed as such, then where is the indignation at the apparent about-face and snuffing-out of such a breakthrough?

  31. TommyBahamas Says:

    Bad sensationalistic journalism such as the following, that’s been feeding & fueling the paranoia and belligerence of Western societies ain’t exactly encouraging China to let up and allow any Tom Dick Jane and Harry to continue to make mountains out of a mole hill, is it? I mean even some of the most ardent pro west Asian folks around who only read English(UK & US) brainwashing, I mean newspapers, are beginning to suspect, many starting to realize for the firsdt time perhaps, that the pettiness of the Western journalists to generate gossip, rumor, sensationalism surrounding this Olympic Opening ceremony are more than schemes to sell newspapers, but looking very much like a concerted propaganda conspiracy. This is how ridiculously pathetic the once perceived as the open minded West has done to itself within this decade.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2561979/Beijing-Olympics-Ethnic-children-exposed-as-fakes-in-opening-ceremony.html

  32. Old Tales Retold Says:

    I wonder if there wasn’t an actual change in policy along the way. What I mean is that someone or another in the government decided that protest zones would be great for satisfying critics (as many of us clearly thought, too), then the idea got shot down a day or two later… but because the zones had already been created, the decision was made to not shut them down (too attention-grabbing) but to just stop each individual applicant quietly or wait until an utterly safe case came along and allow it for show.

    But no such case has come along yet. What would it be? Another demonstration by city pet owners? I mean this in all seriousness, what kind of demonstration could they allow in the park and not get all worked up?

  33. MutantJedi Says:

    @Old Tales Retold

    Well… a demonstration by city pet owners would at least be something.

    What I find interesting is the silent approval of the people.

    Were the existence of the parks widely known before hand? Did most people already write off the parks as an empty promise? No reaction because no surprise?

    Or were the parks more for foreign consumption thus not widely know about inside China? Thus completely off the radar.

    I’m curious about these parks not because I think the appropriate thing to do at a sporting event is to hold demonstrations. Rather, I feel that how the parks play out is reflective of what is going on inside Chinese society.

    The Weng’an riot broke out when the people got to the end of their rope. Officials expressed the idea that the leadership needs to listen and respond better to the people. Wouldn’t the parks be a bit of a positive step towards better communication between the layers in society?

    But. Nobody shows up, the ones that plan to show up are detained but nobody seems to care or to be aware. What does it mean?

    How did the reporters get their stories in ChinaWatcher’s #24?

  34. MoneyBall Says:

    Even though I ‘ve not seen any solid proof, I would think BBC’s story on this topic is most likely true, simply because it smells like something CCP would do.

    Chinese LaoBaiXing know CCP to the bones after so many years, in general we can tell rightway if this is something CCP could have or could not have done. Banning protests in protest parks, silencing earthquake parents, is something CCP will do, gunning down tibetans on the streets is something CCP will not do, ordering bars to stop serving blacks is something CCP will never ever do. We’ve been trying to explain the difference to western friends, but they call us brainwashed and 50fts. Well so be it.

  35. MutantJedi Says:

    @MoneyBall,

    We’ve been trying to explain the difference to western friends, but they call us brainwashed and 50fts.

    I’m not sure who you are talking to? Me?

    Your list of what the CCP would do/not do is about what I would also expect. So, I am not surprised that the government discourages use of the protest parks. What I find curious is the lack of discussion by the Chinese netizens – admittedly my only evidence of that is the lack of reporting of such in this blog posting.

    Are the Protest Parks in any degree on the radar of the Chinese netizens? Anybody talking about them?

  36. MutantJedi Says:

    So, MoneyBall, when you say the 老百姓 “know CCP to the bones after so many years, in general we can tell rightway if this is something CCP could have or could not have done”, are you saying that this is a total non-issue to the ordinary person? Nobody would have believed it, so why bother with it now. Common sense sort of thing.

    Reminds me of asking about train ticket prices from Beijing to Hong Kong in the first week of February this year. The older lady in the ticket booth just laughed and said “下雪呢。买不了!” Then as now, I sort of feel like I’ve asked a silly question.

  37. MoneyBall Says:

    @MutantJedi, I thought u were chinese, no?

    to answer ur question, poor chinese are busy counting the gold medals, rich chinese? well they hate protestors anyway…

    just joking, I would think netizens are not showing much interests because there has been no centralized cause recently, chinese is very pactical ppl, they wont protest for the sake of protest, or for some petty things here and there. Netizens need something dramatic to get pumped, something like, party boss’s sproiled son raped migration worker’s angelic daughter to death… you know how 1989 started right? Hu Yaobang’s death.

  38. MoneyBall Says:

    @MutantJedi, some chinese will care, those wronged by the system or local officials, this is a place for them supposely, but they all have different individual causes, probably wont get much attention.

    the ticket lady must be thinking you wanted to actually buy ticket and go there during all that snow disaster, so she laughed.

  39. MutantJedi Says:

    🙂 I think you are right about the ticket lady. I wasn’t offended at all by her. I laughed too. It was impossible to buy a ticket so I flew and took the train back to Beijing.

  40. Hemulen Says:

    @MoneyBall

    gunning down tibetans on the streets is something CCP will not do

    Gunning down Tibetans on a mountain top is something the CCP would do and have done.

  41. MoneyBall Says:

    @Hemulen,

    while they were breaking in or out the border? yes they might.

  42. Hemulen Says:

    @MoneyBall

    Since when is leaving your country a capital crime? Who are they an imminent threat to?

  43. BMY Says:

    @Hemulen said”Gunning down Tibetans on a mountain top is something the CCP would do and have done.”

    I think we need a distinction between individule’s action and a systemic policy.

    I would never say “Raping Iraqi girls is something the U.S goverment would do and have done” because of quite few cases . I would never see few individul cases as the whole picture.

    I think you know thousands cross the border (both way) each year.

    CCP surely failed to investigate or disclose the investigation as what they normaly do .

  44. FOARP Says:

    @Hemulen – Correction, that should read “Gunning down Tibetans on a mountain top and saying that the border guards were acting in self defence despite video evidence showing them coolly picking off Tibetans who were attempting to get away from them is something the CCP would do and has done”

  45. FOARP Says:

    @BMY – “Shoot-to-kill” is official policy on large stretches of China’s borders, and this has not been changed.

  46. BMY Says:

    @FOARP

    I don’t beleiev that policy (It might be true decades ago ). There are thousands cross border everyday to/from all the neighbouring countries

  47. Hemulen Says:

    @BMY

    If there’s a conspiracy against China in the Western press, I can’t think of any better incident to batter the Chinese government with than the Nangpa la shootings. Yet, the response was pretty muted at the time and the shootings are all but forgotten. You could make a valid case that Western media has been too easy on the Chinese government by focusing on smaller events and trivialities such as crooked teeth and supposedly under-age gymnasts.

    And where was the outrage among the Chinese communities around the world, who at least then claimed to love their Tibetans compatriots? As this year’s events have shown, a couple of careless remarks by Jack Cafferty is far more likely to provoke outrage – merrily cheered on by the People’s Daily – than border police murdering ethnic minorities right in front of a camera crew.

  48. MutantJedi Says:

    Right or wrong, illegally crossing a border is dangerous business all over the world.

    FOARP, perhaps you can provide a link or reference to where it states, officially, the “shoot-to-kill” policy.

    I’m not surprised that atrocities happen nor that they are also video recorded. I am also not surprised that the Chinese government doesn’t seem to aggressively investigate nor publicly disclose these incidences. I’m also not surprised that 1000’s can manage to illegally cross a mountainous border without getting shot.

    The way our world works, a country can use violence to protect its border and illegal cross border traffic is seen as a threat to national security.

    Probably, Hemulen, the reason the Nangpa La shootings didn’t get the play you’d have liked in the West is that doing so would have been like holding up a mirror to their own border warts. It is far easier to pick on little kids.

  49. Hemulen Says:

    @MutantJedi

    Right or wrong, illegally crossing a border is dangerous business all over the world.

    Don’t mix up the cards here. They were trying to leave their country, not enter. It may very well be true that the Chinese government does not respect the right to emigrate, included in the declaration of human rights, but to shoot at unarmed civilians crossing a border is nothing short of murder.

    Probably, Hemulen, the reason the Nangpa La shootings didn’t get the play you’d have liked in the West is that doing so would have been like holding up a mirror to their own border warts. It is far easier to pick on little kids.

    Border wars? Are you implying that the Tibetan refugees were armed? And what border wars? Where I can assure you that if the police is caught red handed shooting unarmed minorities in the back you would have an outrage. Obviously Tibetans cannot count on the same compassion from their Han compatriots.

  50. MutantJedi Says:

    Hemulen,

    You will not find me defending neither a Chinese nor American or any border guard for shooting people. But if you want to change it, you’ll have to convince the world that the concept of the sovereign nation is wrong. However, you are right about Article 13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which China ratified in 1948. Nobody should be shooting at folk coming or going.

    Unlike my typos in the past, “warts” is “warts” not “wars”. The context would have also indicated that I didn’t mean China/Tibetan warts but Western warts. But, then, to some American commentators regarding their Mexican border, they would go with “wars”.

    My point is that I’m not surprised that atrocities happen. That they happen is not an indication of official policy.

    Actually, there’s a bigger picture. Often when we hear of reports of detainees being badly treated or security forces using excessive force, the excuse is that these incidences are the result of inadequate training. Problem identified and the fix is easy – more and better training. Is it being done?

  51. Hemulen Says:

    @MutantJedi

    Border wart? I have never heard of that expression before. Fair enough.

    But if you want to change it, you’ll have to convince the world that the concept of the sovereign nation is wrong.

    The point being? National sovereignty has never prevented any private individual from criticizing government acts. And who wants to deal with a government that shoots its own citizens in the back in broad daylight?

    My point is that I’m not surprised that atrocities happen. That they happen is not an indication of official policy.

    Actually, there’s a bigger picture. Often when we hear of reports of detainees being badly treated or security forces using excessive force, the excuse is that these incidences are the result of inadequate training. Problem identified and the fix is easy – more and better training. Is it being done?

    Excessive force is what usually call the police arresting someone and killing the person in the heat of the moment. That happens in China as well as in the rest of the world. However, when it comes to state violence, the burden of proof is usually on the state to prove that the use of force is appropriate, and a sniper attack is premeditated killing. Either the border police committed a crime and the responsible people should be punished. Or they did what they did with the permission of the Chinese government, which makes the act official policy. There isn’t really any third option in this case. And as far as I know, the Chinese government has not punished the people behind the shooting.

    Where is the outrage on Chinese blogs? Or are you too busy reading the NYT from cover to cover finding the latest verbal atrocity? Am I wrong when I say that there has been no outcry from the Chinese community?

  52. FOARP Says:

    @BMY, Mutantjedi – People crossing the borders illegally have been shot at on the border with North Korea from the Chinese side of the Yalu, on the border with Vietnam, and, of course, on the borders in the Himalayas, and the people responsible were never punished. Border police are quite obviously authorised to use deadly force, the 2006 incident at the Nangpa la pass was not an isolated incident, it was not even the first shooting incident at the pass in recent years – there was another shooting incident in 2003.

  53. MutantJedi Says:

    I’m sorry, I’m not getting the part where I’m supporting the Chinese shooting Tibetans. Yet, Hemulen, you seem to have your teeth firmly set into it.

    In my opinion, shooting people, including Tibetans, is wrong. Moreover, it is counterproductive to social harmony in the long run. The fuel for the March rioters came from more than gas canisters. The border patrol that shot the nun in Nangpa La played a part in the murder of the 5 Han girls in Lhasa.

    To me, there is a long stretch from young border guards making errors and an official shoot to kill policy from the central government. I think there is a lot of things that happen away from Beijing that would not please Beijing.

    Hemulen, your argument around your listed options is a bit weak. Your options are: 1) it was a crime or 2) it was official policy. If I’m not mistaken, your desired direction is towards official policy but you admit you may not know if anybody has been punished for the shooting. I doubt if you know the name of the shooter. Unless you have extraordinary connections within the border police organization or the courts of the TAR, you have no way of knowing if the shooter was punished in any way. As for being a crime, neither you nor I have the complete story but yet you are confident to call it a murder. We don’t know what interaction the group had with the border police leading up to the incident. The self defense claim is a bit thin even though killing rock throwing people seems to work for the US border patrol. While I don’t buy the official line, I don’t know either if the Tibetans were ordered to stop and return. Refusal to comply to such an order will get you into hot water anywhere in the world. It could even get you shot. Your argument is weak because you didn’t deal adequately with the “it is a crime” part of the “or” statement.

    FOARP did a better job at supporting the official policy argument by trying to establish a trend.

    But all this is a long way away from Beijing so what does it matter to the 老百姓?

    It is unfortunate that the Chinese people won’t know the complete story concerning the Nangpa La shootings. If I were a citizen, I certainly would want to know that the issue was fully investigated in case myself, family or friends ever decide to hike the mountains along the southern TAR border. The adventure would be dangerous enough without having to worry about poorly trained or trigger happy border patrols.

    While I’m not likely to find myself on the Nangpa La pass, I am likely to find myself in the heartland of China. Is the same sort of attention to police training that is found on the border evident in the heartland? This is what the 老百姓 needs to think about. Poorly or wrongly trained security personal is a serious risk to the well being of myself, family and friends. Not to mention the havoc it can wreak on social harmony. Poor/wrong training of police/peace/security officers can’t be tolerated as the blanket pass for their wrong behavior. So, what’s being done about it? Apparently, Shanghai has an audio recording program. Excellent. What else is being done? How about strong laws about recording interrogations and criminalize the failure to record it? Part of dealing with corruption is making law enforcement more accountable. What is being done?

    However, if you try to start your reforms in a high mountain pass in the TAR, you will not get far. It is simply too far removed from the daily life of the 老百姓 in the Chinese heartland.

    It is sort of like me asking about the Protest Parks. I had thought that a forum for petition would have been important. But nobody believed that the government really meant it. They knew it in their bones. So? So nothing. It all becomes part of my understanding of China.

    (Oh, about “border warts”… I was alluding to the phrase “warts and all“)

  54. Hemulen Says:

    @MutantJedi

    I’m sorry, I’m not getting the part where I’m supporting the Chinese shooting Tibetans. Yet, Hemulen, you seem to have your teeth firmly set into it.

    Did I say that?

    The fuel for the March rioters came from more than gas canisters. The border patrol that shot the nun in Nangpa La played a part in the murder of the 5 Han girls in Lhasa.

    I completely agree. I would take the argument a step further and say that the failure of otherwise vocal overseas Chinese communities to publicize this incident represents a lost opportunity for increased Tibetan-Han understanding. If a group of prominent Chinese activists had taken a stand here, it would have made an incredible difference. As far as I know that did not happen.

    your argument around your listed options is a bit weak. Your options are: 1) it was a crime or 2) it was official policy.

    I’m not competing with FOARP’s eloquence here and perhaps my argument is weak, but what is the third option?

    While I don’t buy the official line, I don’t know either if the Tibetans were ordered to stop and return. Refusal to comply to such an order will get you into hot water anywhere in the world. It could even get you shot. Your argument is weak because you didn’t deal adequately with the “it is a crime” part of the “or” statement.

    I don’t have to deal with any third option, unless we have some material proof. You seem to say that “there is no smoke without fire.” That argument may work in other contexts, but not when we are talking about the government’s monopoly of force. All I can say here is that when it comes to use of lethal force, the burden of proof is on the government to justify its use of violence and to establish the crime of the refugees. That’s not up to me or anyone else. Unless the Chinese government can show that there was some extraordinary circumstances involved or some kind of threat present, all we can go on are the pictures shown, which indicate that the Tibetan refugees were shot like game. If the Chinese government can supply us with some evidence that it acted in self-defense or what ever, we have to assume that the Chinese government is guilty. Ordinary rules of evidence do not apply when we talk about the government. Never forget that.

  55. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Joining in a bit late, but i don’t agree with the “Your options are: 1) it was a crime or 2) it was official policy.” dichotomy. Specifically, why “or”? In certain cases, that could certainly be “and”. The official policy itself could be criminal in its face. Sovereignty claims only apply to restrictions of people coming into a country; a person leaving a country is no threat to its sovereignty. Now, of course, unless a person leaves a country by jumping into the ocean, he/she by definition would be entering another; the decision is up to that other country as to whether to accept such an individual.
    The shooting people who leave business seems to harken back to East Germans on the Berlin Wall, or North Koreans in the DMZ. I’m sure those shooters were following “policy”, and suspect they were not prosecuted. But to me, those actions are still criminal.
    Of course, in your example, it may just be rogue trigger-happy border guards. But as to whether they faced prosecution (assuming their actions contravened policy), who would ever truly know. We are, after all, talking about China. And the lack of transparency, as oft mentioned in these parts, is one of the huge issues.
    I would say, though, that for in-custody deaths in Canada at least, the burden of justification is on the government, as exemplified by the multitude of recent Taser incidents, of which I’m sure MJ is well aware.

  56. FOARP Says:

    @SK Cheung – All of this makes me think of the Abu Ghraib photographs. When the photos came out the US government assured us that the soldiers shown abusing prisoners were rogue elements acting without orders, but hasn’t what we learned since of approved US interrogation techniques (forced standing, forced nakedness, intimidation using dogs, ‘stress positions’, mock executions, humiliation by female guards) demonstrated that these were in fact activities authorised by the highest authority? Likewise, the East Germans always denied that there was a shoot-to-kill policy on its border with West Germany and Berlin, the fact that 5,000 people successfully escaped across the border does not support their denials more than live footage of border guards shooting at escapees disproves them.

    When it comes down to deciding what is and isn’t official policy in such matters, I trust my eyes far more than I trust the words of the government officials involved.

    So, returning to the subject of this thread, since there have been no reports of protest, and since the reports we have show that the parks are empty and that those who did try to protest have been arrested, it would seem that the Chinese government in this case has acted in the most cynical of ways. You can complain about HRW being an ‘anti-China’ organisation, but since it also stands accused of being anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-democracy organisation, I will wait for some actual evidence that they are biased in their reporting before I stop believing them.

  57. CLC Says:

    The border patrol that shot the nun in Nangpa La played a part in the murder of the 5 Han girls in Lhasa.

    I am sorry, To follow this logic, one surely could argue CIA played a part in the shoting. In addition, one of the 5 girls is a Tibetan.

  58. CLC Says:

    Kristof tried to apply for a permit.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/opinion/17kristof.html

  59. MutantJedi Says:

    Yes FOARP. Exactly. SKC and Hemulen too.
    I thought of the Abu Ghraib photos and the Taser incidents too when thinking of Nangpa La. Consider the Abu Ghraib photos. Atrocities exposed resulted in accusations and outrage. So far we are on the same page as the Nangpa La shootings. Well almost. As Hemulen will point out that the accusations and outrage is lacking inside China.

    And indeed, this is where the stories’ plots diverge. The Abu Ghraib photos lead to the revealing of the US’ official approval of enhanced interrogation techniques. Where does the Nangpa La shootings lead? A dubious official cover story and more hurt feelings done to the Tibetans. If I were an American, I would breathe a sigh of relief because being able to expose such an official policy of the government means that it is less likely to happen to myself, family or friends.

    For whatever reasons, the mental disconnect between the shootings on the border and the liberty (loss of life being the ultimate loss of liberty) of the common folk of China exists. If the government is willing to shoot a person in the back in the mountains, they are also willing to do that in Beijing. In fact, isn’t arresting people who show up to register to protest in the parks a bit like shooting them in the back?

    But there is no outrage.

    Telling people what they should feel is just silly. And counterproductive. They will just react to your interference. Also, while your telling them what to feel, you aren’t looking deeper into their story.

  60. MutantJedi Says:

    @CLC

    Thanks for the correction on the girls.

    Sure. Why not put a dash of CIA into the recipe but then we’re getting a bit far out onto the tips of the butterfly’s wings.

    The Nangpa La shootings were less than two years old last March. While I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the rioters, I fully expect that the shootings were mentioned more than just in passing. It could very well be that the incident was spoken of as the fires that killed the girls was lit.

  61. FOARP Says:

    @Mutantjedi – I don’t know if the arsonists even knew they were in there, but by the same token, you could say that the young boys killed in the Warrington bombings had their death sentences written years before they were even born – I have always hated this kind of tit-for-tat reasoning. I know you are just giving it is as an example of the mind-set of the rioters, but there it is. The Nangpa La shootings are actually not even that well known among the nationalist set who regularly argue on the internet and accuse ‘western’ (i.e., foreign) media of ‘bias’ for including the Free Tibet activist’s claims of shootings in Lhasa – but this is not as surprising as it ought to be.

    Returning to the subject of the post, I remember the article that the Chinese ambassador wrote in The Times the day before the torch relay in London, where she said that “now is not the time to protest”, the thing is that, by her estimate, there never is going to be a good time to protest the policies of her government, something which the arresting of those who even apply for permission to protest reinforces. This only confirms that the decision to protest the torch relay was the right one.

  62. MutantJedi Says:

    Point taken FOARP on the tit-for-tat reasoning.

  63. Hemulen Says:

    @MutantJedi

    A dubious official cover story and more hurt feelings done to the Tibetans.

    Hurt feelings?

    Telling people what they should feel is just silly. And counterproductive. They will just react to your interference. Also, while your telling them what to feel, you aren’t looking deeper into their story.

    No one is telling anyone what to feel. But if mishaps by a foreign cable TV network make you angrier than cold-blooded murder by border police in your country, that says a lot about your priorities. I imagine that Tibetans seeing the lack of outrage at atrocities like there will ask themselves why they would want to deal with Han Chinese given this state of affairs. And how will ever be possible to convince Tibetans that they are better off staying part of China? This doesn’t make the job of moderates within both the Chinese and Tibetan camps any easier.

  64. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To FOARP #56 and #61:
    completely agree. Actions (or inactions) speak louder than words. From CHina’s POV, there is never a good time to protest against the government, least of all when the eyes of the world are upon them, at their invitation no less.

  65. MutantJedi Says:

    @Hemulen
    Now you are telling me what my feelings and priorities should be. 🙂

    “hurt feelings” I was alluding to previous discussions about the hurt feelings of the Chinese to Western reporting. If the Chinese can be offended by Jack Cafferty then certainly Tibetans can be offended by the lack of an exhaustive official investigation into Nangpa La. FOARP has already tapped me for tit-for-tat reasoning.

    When I was about 5 years old, I was playing a game with my sisters. We were jumping from furniture to furniture in their bedroom to avoid touching the carpet. Lots of fun. Until I missed and gashed the back of my head on a night table. When I went to get help from my mom, she looked at my fingers thinking all the blood was from there. Fortunately for me, she didn’t bandage my finger and considered the job done.

    Nangpa La is a fingertip. It is not about to be bandaged until reforms are made at the head.

  66. Hemulen Says:

    @MutantJedi

    It is not about to be bandaged until reforms are made at the head.

    Well, in your story, you actually hurt your head, not the finger, so no wonder your mum bandaged your head. Now, Nangpa La was a real wound. Even minor wounds, if not properly attended to, can cause you to catch serious infections or even gangrene.

  67. CLC Says:

    @MutantJedi #60

    Why not put a dash of CIA into the recipe but then we’re getting a bit far out onto the tips of the butterfly’s wings.

    CIA has supported, armed and trained Tibetans fighting againist the Chinese government for more than a decade. Its impact on shaping the current situation is not something minor as the butterfly effect.

  68. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – If you’re talking about the campaign back in the 70’s – well, that’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? Who was it who invaded Tibet? Aren’t they to blame also if we’re going to go back that far?

  69. CLC Says:

    @FOARP

    When you use the word “invasion,” don’t you already have an opinion that Tibet is not part of China? And to establish this argument, you have to stretch things back at least several centuries.

    So my point is that if we want to put Lasha riot into some sort of historical context, CIA’s involvement in Tibet is a much more influential and long lasting event than the Nangpa La shootings. It has caused far more deaths of Tibetans.

  70. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – Please look up the D-Day landings, AKA the invasion of Europe. The landing of British forces in the Falkland Islands was also referred to as an invasion in the British press, as was the liberation of Kuwait – the word does not necessarily mean that the territory being entered into is that of an independent country.

  71. CLC Says:

    @FOARP

    I see your point. However, Europe was under the German Control at the D-day. The Falkland Islands is a disputed territory for over a century and were under Argentine control when the British forces landed in 1982. In using the word invasion, one certainly implies a separate geopolitical entity. For example, I doubt the British press referred CCP entering Manchuria after the World War II as an invasion.

  72. Nimrod Says:

    One thing about the Nangpa La shootings is the strange circumstances that surrounded it… There was not a lot of details. There was a fuzzy video from some supposed mountaineering website that happens to be mostly a political forum and full of Tibetan independence materials.

    One part of that bizarre video was an almost scripted scene, with the cameraman ripping open a tent and — lo, there was a Tibetan looking guy in there — and he asks in English “you want to go see the Dalai Lama?” I wasn’t sure what to make of that or of the whole edited “documentary” tone of what was supposed to be an alleged ad hoc “crime captured on tape”.

    Anyway, I remember at the time some Chinese officials saying they didn’t know anything about the incident but would look into it. That was all I remembered that they said. I couldn’t find anything in which they said it was for self defense. I found a supposed “news article” (fabricated?) in a bunch of Tibetan independence sites and on Woeser’s blog. That meme, so far as I could tell, was picked up in foreign news and propagated over and over without question.

    We don’t know what happened about the circumstances that surrounded the shooting, or if there was a fatal shooting at all. There are too many questions. But yes, it is a shame that this hasn’t been looked into.

  73. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Here is a link (via Phoenix TV) to Xinhua’s self-defense claim:

    http://news.ifeng.com/phoenixtv/83934540116000768/20061012/903728.shtml

    It is very hard to reconcile the claim with the video. I don’t know if there were any follow-up comments from China. I imagine there was some sort of internal investigation that dug up the truth and perhaps someone or another was quietly disciplined. But that’s exactly what’s frustrating: the whole thing just disappeared, at least as far as the Chinese media and public were concerned.

  74. MutantJedi Says:

    Thanks for the link.
    Pet peeve of mine are people who don’t provide links. In all the pro-Tibet sites that talked about the incident and mentioned Xinhua failed to provide the link to the Xinhua story.

  75. Old Tales Retold Says:

    I think everyone was linking back to an AFP story that quoted Xinhua. I wish, actually, that the mainstream media did a better job of linking, too, regardless of the topic they’re covering, but that ties into a whole bigger issue…

  76. Nimrod Says:

    Old Tales Retold,

    Thanks for the link. There is obviously no more Xinhua article to be found now. It may have gotten deleted. On the other hand, some of the Chinese websites copy and paste from BBS postings or are BBS postings themselves (and just appear to be news articles). Anyway, it’s too bad as you and MutantJedi point out: Whatever the case may be, the results of the investigation, if there was one, also aren’t known. It has kind of gone into the background. Then again, the people that initially brought this up, including the mountaineers (who were making even more allegations about being told to keep quiet, etc.) and some UN commission in Nepal, aren’t persuing this either. We haven’t heard from them after they made their initial claims. I wonder why that is.

  77. FOARP Says:

    @CLC – I don’t think you can reasonably say that the status of Tibet was any less dubious in 1945 than the status of Mongolia or East Turkestan (as it was known) were. The Chinese government itself recognises to an extent Tibet’s special nature, otherwise ‘autonomy’ would never have been granted. By the way, in our history books it was the Soviets who liberated Manchuria, check out this War Nerd article on it:

    http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=18939&IBLOCK_ID=35&PAGE=1

    Also see this fascinating collection of sketches by a Japanese POW in the USSR:

    http://kiuchi.jpn.org/en/nobindex.htm

  78. FOARP Says:

    @Nimrod – The footage was shot by a Romanian camera man working for ProTV, a popular televiion station in Romania, and then cut together, the climbers (who included two British policemen) and the camera man have all given interviews confirming the story, and at least one of those shot has been identified:

    http://www.protv.ro/filme/imagini-in-exclusivitate-din-himalaya-cu-executia-unui-tibetan.html?id_file=4200#4200

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfVI9kOTZhE

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-tries-to-gag-climbers-who-saw-tibet-killings-419528.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/oct/28/china.mainsection

  79. FOARP Says:

    @Nimrod – As I said before, the 2006 Nangpa La shootings were not an isolated incident, they were just the first time that killings like these had been videoed.

  80. CLC Says:

    @FOARP

    Thanks for the info, but note that I said “CCP entering Manchuria after the World War II.”
    There are five ‘autonomy’ regions in China and Tibet is one of them.

  81. BMY Says:

    @FOARP #77

    The short lived East Turkestan Republic in the 40s was just in a small area of nowday’s XinJiang and backed by soviet union

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_East_Turkestan_Republic

  82. FOARP Says:

    @BMY – The Mongolian People’s Republic in the 40’s was just in a small area of traditional Mongolia and backed by the Soviet Union – but it survived and East Turkestan didn’t, such are the fortunes of small nations positioned between great powers.

  83. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Sorry to interrupt, but there’s some new information on the protest zones:

    “BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — Beijing authorities have received 77 applications for demonstrations since Aug. 1, a spokesperson with the municipal public security bureau said here on Monday.

    These applications involved 149 people, including three persons from overseas.

    Most of the applicants applied to protest in public for issues like labor disputes, medical disputes or inadequate welfares, the spokesperson said.

    Seventy-four applications have been withdrawn so far, because the problems those applicants contended for were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations, added the spokesperson.

    Two other applications have been suspended because their procedures were incomplete, the spokesperson said. In one of such cases, for example, the applicant applied to take children to the demonstration, which is against China’s law.

    The one remaining application has been vetoed by the public security authority, as it is in violation of China’s law on demonstrations and protests, the spokesperson said without elaboration.”

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-08/18/content_9468325.htm

  84. MutantJedi Says:

    So officially – no protests. But 74 incidences of consultations 🙂

  85. FOARP Says:

    @OTRT – You just have to laugh, and this is called progress?!?!

  86. Old Tales Retold Says:

    I wonder if it would be preferable to have your complaints “properly addressed” or “vetoed.”

    Sarcasm aside, did the police actually offer anything, make any concessions to those seventy-four people who are said to have withdrawn their applications? If so, those must have been some pretty big concessions if the issues were big enough to spur people to protest in the first place. If not—which is what I suspect—it baffles me why Xinhua thought this news would satisfy anyone curious about the protest zones.

    And where do the people cited in those other publications as detained or arrested fit into this? Are they the three who were either “suspended” or “vetoed”?

    I’d like a thorough report from someone, but I doubt we’ll ever get it.

  87. Jay Says:

    It seems that people who apply to hold a demonstration are being shipped back to their home province, detained, or simply disappear! And everyday at their joint press conference the IOC and BOCOG have to try a little harder to ignore the questions. The Olympics will be over by the time there’s any clarification, but I guess that’s the point.

    There’s another good debate about this over at http://www.thechinadebate.org/en/?cat=3

  88. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To OTR #83:
    thanks for the hilarious update and details. Of the 74 withdrawn applications, I wonder what “consultations” took place to warrant their withdrawal. Were the grievances actually addressed, or were the consequences of pursuit of such grievances made clear to the appellants, such that their fear of god or some other suitable deity was invoked? Better yet, who withdrew the applications, the appellants, or the authorities? After all, this is China.
    As for the one that was vetoed as being in contravention of Chinese law, wasn’t that the whole friggin point of these parks, so that people could protest, albeit in a bubble from the rest of Chinese society?
    I wonder why people make a fuss about western media giving China a bad name, when the CCP is clearly capable of doing a bang-up job at it, without outside help.

  89. FOARP Says:

    This story is not so funny:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4571141.ece

    Two elderly women from Beijing (note: not the provinces) being given a year’s ‘re-education’ for applying to protest.

    But I guess the fact that Jane Macartney even reports this simply shows that she is part of a western media conspiracy to undermine China and that the death threats she received earlier this year from ‘patriotic’ Chinese citizens were entirely justified.

  90. Nimrod Says:

    Were these the ladies that were setting off firecrackers in front of Zhongnanhai?

    Anyway, the latest update (again, according to some Human Rights watchgroup) is there will be no re-education.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/feedarticle/7762743

    I wonder if this is like how Dalai Lama made up how 140 Tibetans were killed and then retracted, saying it was a “translation mistake”.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/08/22/2343910.htm

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