Austin Ramzy / Beijing Monday, Feb. 21, 2011
The anonymous call for a "jasmine revolution" in China's major cities was made online, first on a website run by overseas dissidents, then on Twitter, which despite being blocked is still widely used by activists in China. But unlike what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, where such efforts prompted massive street protests that eventually toppled both governments, the biggest response in China was from the state. Over the weekend the government rounded up lawyers, activists and dissidents, increased online censorship and deployed massive numbers of police to quash any demonstrations.
In Beijing, the protest was supposed to happen in Wangfujing, a busy shopping street in the center of town, a short walk from Tiananmen Square. On Sunday afternoon the crowds of shoppers met a massive police and media presence. Police in Beijing detained at least three people, including one man who placed a jasmine flower near a McDonald's restaurant near Wangfujing, and another three people were held in Shanghai, according to the Associated Press. Otherwise, there was little sign of protest.
(See pictures of the protests in Beijing.)
Even before the call for demonstrations emerged on Saturday, authorities had heightened the pressure they exert on China's domestic community of political activists. Last week, lawyer Tang Jitian was taken away by police in Beijing after a dinner to discuss Chen Guangcheng, a blind legal activist living under strict house arrest with his wife. That couple was severely beaten by police after they managed to smuggle out a video documenting the conditions they now endure in their Shandong village. Police also detained Jiang Tianyong, another lawyer who was at that Beijing dinner, during the weekend.
Over the weekend the crackdown expanded. Human-rights activists estimate that by Sunday evening about 80 people had been affected, forced to travel from their homes, put under house arrest or placed under some similar form of restrictions. They included Teng Biao, a lecturer at Beijing's University of Politics and Law, whose house was raided by police. China's restrictions on what information Internet users could access were also heightened. The term jasmine was blocked from searches on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging site. Some users also reported difficulties accessing services like Gmail, Google's Web-based e-mail.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2052860,00.html#ixzz1EcgUErcM
Remarks on Iran "Ultimately, "President Obama said, "these are sovereign countries that are going to have to make their own decisions. What we can do is lend moral support to those who are seeking a better life for themselves." That doesn't include China though, he added, don't talk about China.