Twitter and several online communities lit up last night with talk of gatherings in several cities in China that had apparently been organized online and were given the moniker “Jasmine Revolution.” The people who gathered, according to the reports I’ve seen, were quickly dispersed or arrested by police.
My first note is to caution that this is fundamentally different from the mass mobilizations in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere. These gatherings were comparatively small, and were apparently primarily composed of members of a relatively small online sphere of radical discourse.
My second note is to translate an apparently satirical blog post that I saw first through a listserv posting.* This is a rough translation, but it gets the story across. The post comes with numerous pictures, a few of which after the jump.
The new term was about to start and our teacher sent out a memorization assignment [前赤壁赋/qiancibishu, a work from the Northern Song dynasty that I don’t know anything about]. I tried to do the memorization in a quiet place, but made awful progress. I wondered if it would go better at Wangfujing [a major commercial street in Beijing].
I was just studying in front of McDonalds, and unable to concentrate, I realized several police cars and some police officers had shown up. Then, out of the crowd came a team of people [police] who suddenly dispersed, some standing nearby and others at a distance.
I tried my best to concentrate, but soon there arrived a group of photographers.
Later, more people came and stood at the door of the McDonalds, and quite a few more police showed up. The police presence gradually grew, and the crowd gradually dispersed.
When I left, I noticed that the police at the perimeter had moved closer.
What was happening? I took a few pictures.
(All of these pictures can be downloaded at Picasa)
Why would people stop to watch an unusual number of police? The People’s Police love the people; the people love the People’s Police? [This I believe is a play on a slogan.] When I was taking pictures, someone hit me in the head. How could whoever did this be so audacious as to attack people [renmin] in front of almost 100 police. And how could the People’s Police turn a blind eye?
If you know the truth, please don’t say it. Let people live with their illusions.
Of course, it is possible this was meant as an honest story, but it seems thick with sarcasm to me. The implication here is that the police were somehow complicit in the event. The post is written from the perspective of an innocent, diligent student. The reader is perhaps expected to understand that the beating suffered during the process of taking pictures was at the hands of a plain-clothes police officer.
[UPDATE: A less satirical post is translated at Sinocentric. –Feb 20 23:33:29 PST 2011]
* I’m not sure where this was first posted, but the Picasa name and the blog here seem to match. Those more familiar with Chinese blogs please advise!
More pics after the jump.