Reports have emerged that protests in the Arab world have spread to China with netizens calling for demonstrations on Feb. 20 in 13 major cities. Picture: Citizens take to the streets to protest against the forced demolition of a main commercial center in Kunming, southern China on Nov. 21, 2009. (File Photo/CNS)
Netizens in China announced 13 major locations for the “Chinese Jasmine Revolution” on Saturday (Feb. 19) and said that the event will be carried out at 2pm on Sunday (Feb. 20), China time.
Messages regarding the demonstrations began to be spread through major social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook since few days ago. Boxun News reported the event but its Chinese website was disabled by anonymous hackers on Saturday. Boxun said that the organization is staying neutral of the event but anonymous hackers disabled its Chinese website anyway, while its English website remains functioning as of press time.
Boxun is an overseas Chinese community website based in the United States. It often carries news of human rights abuses in China.
According to report on the site, the “Chinese Jasmine Revolution” will be carried out simultaneously in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tienjin, Nanjing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Changsha, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin and Wuhan. The report also urged the public to pack the major plazas in their own cities if they are not located in any of these 13 cities.
Reportedly, the post appeals to people who dream of a better China to go to the appointed places in the thirteen cities on Feb. 20.
The post said that it welcome people from all parties, professions, religions and classes to come out to join the event.
“Whether you are the parents of kidney stone babies, relocated households, retired soldiers, private teachers, buy-out offer employees, laid-off workers, petitioners… we are all Chinese. You and I still have a dream about China’s future. We should be responsible for the future of our own and children,” the post said.
Following the hacking attack on Boxun, the site said, “We believe that the cyber attack was related to our reports about the demonstration.”
A Chinese website that posted the message, peacehall.com, has also been blocked.
Despite the government’s swift move to block news of the call discussion among netizens still spread on other websites.
“We have been all prepared to join the demonstration but only wait for the coming of the day,” one netizen posted.
“Hong Kong people should also join the call. Gathering Place: Victoria Park,” one post wrote, which has urged a further spread of the information on the internet.
“It’s time to stop the Communist Party of China from continuing their mischief,” another netizen said.
A netizen on Twitter said he had heard China’s armed forces are on alert over the rumors of unrest.
Slogans prepared for the demonstrations called for food, housing and jobs as well as political and judicial reforms and an end to censorship of the press.
Tung Li-wen, a professor of public security at Taiwan’s Central Police University, said the success of a revolution initiated over the internet is unlikley given the Chinese government’s sophisticated censorship of the internet. Any message challenging the Communist Party’s authority will be taken down swiftly, he said.
“Democratic or human rights activists are already under intense censorship,” Tung said.
However, Tung said an uprising triggered by an incident is possible. For example, when the offices of China Network Television caught fire in February 2009, as many as 100,000 people gathered around the building. “If some people called for democracy or political reform within a mass of people, turmoil or even revolution could occur,” Tung said.
Tung Li-wen 董立文