Sunday, February 27, 2011

China’s 2nd Jasmine Protest: Expansion and Foil

Two days after the first Jasmine protest, another posting was circulating on the Internet, calling for the second protest on Feb 27th. This one called for protesting China's heavy crackdown on activists after the first protest. Four people were charged with "inciting subversion of state power", and one of them a famous right activist and blogger, Ran Yunfei. In addition, a dozen famous lawyers were detained.  

The second protest called for protest to expand from 13 cities to 27 cities, from east coast to west inland.

The Chinese government intensified its censorship on the Internet. On social networking site Renren, Chinese words such as "McDonald" and "KFC" were blocked because they are part of protest locations. Chinese users who climbed over Great Firewall to use Twitter were detained by police. In addition, heave DDoS attack on Twitter was launched the night before the protest.

Despite such heavy crackdown, more than 1,000 people showed up in Shanghai on Feb 27. With large police presence, with police whistle and shouting of "move", people still gathered for more than 2 hours. Five people are arrested by police, one of them carrying Jasmine flower. A demonstrator has managed to give an interview to TV reporter.

The following short video is taken on Feb 27th in Shanghai.

Here is another video on Shanghai's Jasmine protest, but not clear it is for this week (Feb 27) or last week (Feb 20).

On Feb 27 in Beijing, big water truck, police dogs, SWAT team, plain cloth police, and China Mobile blackout on location formed a blanket that foiled the protest. In the cold freezing weather, the water discouraged people from ever walking on. Wangfujing, a busy commercial street, was blocked from both sides, and people were not allowed to enter after 2pm.

The heavy police presence and their menacing behavior made Jeremiah Jenne comment, "A person would have lasted longer lathering up with baby seal blubber and trying to French kiss a great white shark than they would have holding up a sign in Central Beijing this afternoon." (The Atlantic)

The following photos were taken by Adam Dean in Beijing on February 27th. Seven foreign journalists were detained, and a Bloomberg TV correspondent was beaten badly by plain clothed police.

For people who closely watch this movement in China, the second Jasmine protest is considered a success. First of all, the fact that it generates larger crowds than last time in Shanghai means the government's information blockage and intimidation failed. Despite arrests and harassment, people still bravely showed up. This suggests how deeply people feel about their grievance and how much they want an outlet to voice it. How many people would have gathered in Beijing had police not blocked the streets and used water truck? I suspect there could have more people than last time, considering how similarly Beijing is to Shanghai, and more people showed up in Beijing than Shanghai last time.

The remarkable fact is that Jasmine protest is alive and continuing in China. After overcoming fear, the Chinese people have taken their movement one step forward.

Friday, February 25, 2011

中国民众的声音 (The Voice of Chinese People)





其实任何一个政治主张,必然要被一半人喜欢,一半人骂。林肯遭到南方人的痛恨,尽管他的事业是那样正义。罗斯福新政被一些人批得一钱不值。难怪拉尔夫·纳德(Ralph Nader)说,一个人要有政治刚(political fortitude). 留名青史要的是不畏议论的勇气。敢于作少数派,直至实现自己认为正确的理念。丘吉尔在长时期都是少数派,别人都说希特勒不会侵略他国,他说希特勒是最大的威胁。他的观点,到最后被证明是正确的。在坚持我们的理念时,真理最后总会胜利。

民主代表着中国的未来,不是任何人可以抹黑的。中国政府以为出动宣传机器,假话重复1千遍就成了真话,不是可笑吗?说西藏是平暴,而不报道藏人的和平示威;在新疆“动乱”那段时间把因特网掐断,这样外界就不知道发生了什么。到刘晓波了, 就说他是个卖国的殖民分子,而他其实是六四后少数几个仍然坚持留在中国的人,两次在国外讲学,仍选择回来。在国内的境遇是3次坐牢,处处被打压,但他仍然坚持。爱国的人有多少能胜过刘晓波?

中国政府又以为把信息屏蔽掉, 这些事情就不存在。不报道死人,中国就没有死人。不报道抗议,中国就没有抗议。于是一个制度在自己编造的玫瑰世界里,把全民变成没有耳朵和眼睛没有讯息的愚民,把自己与世界隔绝。所以才会做出抗议诺贝尔奖这种贻笑世界的事情,连缅甸和前苏联都比不上。



Sunday, February 20, 2011

China’s Jasmine Protest: The Story and Reflection

On February 18, 2011, a call to protest in 13 major cities inside China was circulated on the Internet. The first website that posted this announcement,, was immediately taken down by hackers believed working for Chinese government. Then the second website,, was also brought down (and is still down until this time). Such unusual attack suggested the extreme nervousness about this information by the Chinese government. Very soon, a small buzz started to generate around the tag #cn220, on the upcoming protest. Someone has salvaged the protest announcement before those two sites went down and posted it on a Facebook page of an oversea Chinese.

While people outside China are keenly aware of upcoming protest through Twitter and facebook, such information was not available in China at all. For one, both Twitter and Facebook are banned in China. Those who can access them from China are a few tech savvy intellectuals who know how to get around Great Fire Wall. Second, if anyone attempts to post sensitive information referring to protest or even phrase “Jasmine Revolution” in China, the post will be deleted immediately. Chinese government has hired more than 1 million online forum moderators whose only job is deleting sensitive postings. In addition, Chinese micro-blog sites started to block the word “Jasimine”, making searching for protest information impossible.

The night before the protest, on February 19, Chinese security forces clamped own on potential protesters. A dozen activists who are known on Twitter were rounded up and detained. University students were asked to stay on campus, not going out Sunday. In addition, all police were called back on duty on Sunday. Apparently, the Chinese government was deeply worried, which explained the large security force deployed near the protest sites.

Was the Chinese government overreacting, or was it truly afraid a large protest could be sparkled? Given intelligence gathering capacity (with deep spying on its population) by Chinese authority, the government certainly believed there would be a genuine possibility of outpouring of protest supporters. This is due to the fact that there are some major grievances surfacing in recent years. The death of a village head on Christmas day last year generated big public outcry as land grabbing and forced migration become widespread in China. More than 10,000 protests broke out in China each year in various cities, some of which are very bloody confrontation. None of these protests is ever reported in Chinese media, but Chinese authority knows fully well how strong the public sentiment is. Combining those grievance to the call for protest should be very potent for a big rally.

But the Chinese authority has successful achieved, while no government except probably North Korea can achieve, a complete information blackout. More than 99.9% people simply have not heard about the protest. The Great information fire wall, and the great Chinese censorship has made the words “Jasmine Revolution” simply disappear. They cannot be mentioned, and they cannot be searched.

In addition, unlike Egyptian organizers who could use Facebook to gather large followers for their upcoming protests, their Chinese counterpart has no such tools.

On February 20th, the day of protest, hundreds of people still managed to show up in Beijing and Shanghai at pre-announced protest location under huge police presence. More than 10 police vans are lining up nearby in these locations, and across China’s major cities. In Beijing people did not shout a slogan. But a man who carried a bouquet of jasmine flowers were immediately taken away by the police. Three people were arrested in Shanghai, one man was arrested in Bejing, and in Guangzhou, a lawyer named Liu Shihui was beaten on his way to protest.

Within 2 hours, the crowd were dispersed by police, thus ended the planned protest.

Would ordinary Chinese people join the protest if they know about it? We would know the answer if the government had not hacked down the announcement sites, or blocked Facebook and Twitter, or filtered out the word “Jasmine Revolution” in micro-blog, or deleted all posts that announced this protest. In other words, the government has no choice but a complete information blackout. Apparently, the government has no confidence to let even 1% of people know about this protest.

When we celebrate the Jasmine Revolution in the Middle East, we do not realize how important the social networking technologies is until we look at China. The three websites that play crucial roles in Egypt uprisings: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are all banned in China. In fact, China blocked more than 100 websites that it considered “subversive” including networking sites such as Foursquare.

Another condition for Jasmine Revolution to work is reasonable political openness. Today’s China is comparable to Egypt under Mubarak 20 years ago, when there is no opposition parties, no elections, no outside TV channels. There is almost no independent union in China. Before Mubarak regime was toppled, Egyptian people already enjoy reasonable amount of freedom that is enviable by today’s Chinese people.

The third condition that is missing is TV channels like Al Jazeera, which brings uncensored information to people. There is no independent TV station in China, and no Chinese is allowed to watch Satellite TV program outside China. For a long time, Chinese relies on Voice of America (VOA) to get information from outside. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is considering shutting down the VOA Chinese broadcast program. How can you promote democracy in China when shutting down program that serves an important role in this aspect?  

While the jasmine flower has not blossomed in China, we have seen a seed is sowed there. The significance of February 20’s protest is that this is the first attempt in 22 years since the 1989’s bloody Tiananmen crackdown, any Chinese dared to openly challenge the government and openly call for a protest. Such boldness was unthinkable just 1 month ago. It shows the profound impact of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and Egypt. The desire for freedom and basic rights is universal. It rings true from the Arab world all the way to the east Asia.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

中东突变的分析:下一个变色的国家是谁?(Analysis of Middle East: Which regime will be the next to fall?)

从突尼斯的茉莉花革命,到埃及的持续抗议,约旦和也门的大规模游行,我们看到一个波及整个中东地区的地震。突尼斯的革命结束了强人阿里21年的独 裁,埃及的抗议使统治了30年的穆巴拉克答应今年下台。人们纷纷在问,下一个变色的国家是谁?是约旦、也门,还是这个地区其他的国家?


本文从政治发展水平来分析每个国家变化的可能性。通过一个政治水平指数,我们可以作出一个比较清晰的预测。我们用的指数叫自由指数,它由自由之家每年评估,用来衡量一个国家的民主化程度。自由指数的内容包括政治自由和公民自由两个方面。政治自由的内容有多党选举,政府透明,有问责制,且没有广泛的腐败等。公民自由包括言论与信仰自由, 集社、集会自由,司法独立,无警察暴力和个人迁徙、就业、生育自由等。

自由指数的大小在17之间,1代表最自由。自 由指数从12.5的国家被定义为民主国家,35的是半民主国家,而5.57的是不民主国家。这个定义比用多党选举来定义(选举民主)要严格些, 所以它定义的民主国家总数比按多党选举定义的个数(115个)要少些。根据自由之家的调查报告,2010年全世界的民主国家(以自由指数定义)有87个,半民主国家 60个,而不民主国家有47个。

突尼斯的自由指数是6,而发生大规模抗议游行的国家--埃及、也门、约旦和阿尔及利亚的自由指数都是5.5。它们全都属于不民主国家。但是它们又比那些指数是7 的国家如缅甸和朝鲜相对自由一些。

自由指数 (国家个数)                                   国家
5.5 ( 21个国家) 埃及,也门, 约旦, 阿尔及利亚,阿联酋, 阿曼,卡塔尔,巴林,
                         文莱, 安哥拉, 卢旺达, 毛里塔尼亚,加蓬,刚果(布),吉布提
6    ( 9个国家) 突尼斯,伊朗,喀麦隆,斯威士兰, 刚果(金), 津巴布韦,
6.5  ( 8个国家) 叙利亚,沙特阿拉伯,科特迪瓦,乍得,中国,老挝,古巴,白俄罗斯
7    ( 9个国家) 利比亚,苏丹,缅甸,朝鲜,土库曼斯坦,乌兹别克, 厄立特里亚,


从这一次中东抗议浪潮看,指数为6和5.5 的国家是最活跃的。伊朗在2009年有全国规模的大游行,突尼斯在今年的全国抗议导致总统下台。埃及的大规模抗议迫使执政30年的穆巴拉克放弃 连任,在其它国家,抗议游行导致约旦组成新内阁,也门总统表示不寻求连任,阿尔及利亚解除实行了19年的紧急状态。连伊拉克的总理也因害怕人们游行,出来 表示不会寻求第三次连任。

但是在自由指数为6.5和7的中东国家,政府对游行抗议采取了高压手段:今年1月21日, 沙特阿拉伯警察开枪,打死了11个示威的人;叙利亚的秘密警察逮捕了企图发起示威的人,使得游行没有出现;苏丹有200人游行,但很快被警察驱散,而利比 亚则看不到什么游行,估计秘密警察的工作非常有成效。

除了表上列出的不民主国家外,中东还有几个国家属于半民主国家,其中摩洛哥的自 由指数是4.5, 黎巴嫩是4。这些国家受到突尼斯的革命影响了吗?黎巴嫩有过游行,但对政局影响不大,因为两大党在议会里通过投票解决了任命下任总理的争议。摩洛哥还没出现游行,但已经有年轻人号召在2 月20日举行游行,政府对此很淡然地说,“公民有他们自由表达的权利“。

为什么变化发生在自由指数为5.5或6的国家呢?这些国家仍然不民主,但是又比最专制的国家相对自由一些。处在这个阶段的国家,公民社会有了很大开放,政治压制有所放松。埃及在2005年实行了议会选举,穆斯林兄弟会的成员取得了88个议席。但是这个阶 段的政府依然诉诸高压,极不情愿放弃特权的空间。2010年,埃及的第二次议会选举中,由于政府舞弊和高压,没有一个穆斯林兄弟会成员当选。所以这次选举 的结果基本不可信。这是为什么埃及示威者要求解散现议会的原因。

指数为5.5或6的国家仍然是专制国家,政府有大量的秘 密警察,埃及是一个人口只有8千万的国家, 警察和秘密警察有1百多万人。秘密警察专门从事跟踪、逮捕和威吓。大量的人权活动分子被抓,监狱的酷刑经常发生。根据最新的维基揭秘文件,警察暴力在埃及 非常普遍,酷刑之多以致政府没办法再否认。在这样的国家中,人们渴望自由,渴望尊严和不受拘捕的人身安全。一旦有可能的条件,大型抗议势必爆发。

所以我们预测,下一个(埃及之后)中东有大变 化的国家,最有可能来自这些自由指数为5.5或6 的国家。更具体地说,就是下面9个国家中的一个:伊朗,也门, 约旦, 阿尔及利亚,阿联酋, 阿曼,卡塔尔,巴林, 和伊拉克。这样我们排除了叙利亚,沙特阿拉伯,利比亚和苏丹;也排除了已经成为半民主的国家摩洛哥和黎巴嫩。

这是不是说指数为7或6.5的国家不会发生变动呢?从 历史上来看,自由指数为7的国家也有发生民主转型的,比如保加利亚和蒙古。但这是由于一个巨大的苏联的垮台。指数为6.5时发生民主转型的国家有阿 尔巴尼亚,塞拉利昂和格林纳达。阿尔巴尼亚与前苏联垮台有关,塞拉利昂和格林纳达则受到外国军队强力干涉,被迫民主化。目前中东的外界形势变化不大,故而撼动极度集权的国家的可能性不大。


Thursday, February 3, 2011

世界民主在过去40年的发展图 (World Democracy Development in the Last 40 Years)







从上图我们可以看到,从1972年到2010年,民主国家的数目从44个增加到115个。这当中的头20年即1972年到1990年间民主国家的数目稳定增长,从44个增长到76个,这就是亨廷顿所说的第三次浪潮。 就在亨廷顿的书出版的同一年(1991年),世界上又多了13个民主国家,第二年又增加了10个。亨廷顿担心的反浪潮并没有出现。相反,民主势头变得更猛。从1991年到2010年,新出现了40个民主国家。




从图上我们可以看到,民主国家的比例呈直线增长。在1972年到2010年的近40年间,民主国家的比例从30% 升到了世界的60%,而且增长的规律与绝对数的增长几乎是一样的:从1972年到1990年民主国家的比例稳定地增长,在1990后则有巨幅增长。这说明“第四次浪潮”的描述是名副其实的。




1.Huntington, Samuel P. (1991). The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century,
    University of Oklahoma Press.
2.Freedom House (2011). Freedom in the World 2011, Comparative and Historical Data,
3.Golder, Matt (2005). "Democratic electoral systems around the world, 1946–2000", Electoral Studies 24: