'Osama Bin Laden Did It'
Image Credit: Flickr / cjb22

'Osama Bin Laden Did It'

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While Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi takes a further step from reality by blaming the unrest in his country on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, there are a couple of interesting China-related developments I wanted to mention before the weekend.

The first relates to an interesting report over on China Sign Post from Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, who penned a guest entry for us earlier this month. They note that the PLA Navy has apparently dispatched a missile frigate usually tied to its ongoing counter piracy task force off Somalia to provide cover for an evacuation mission from Libya.

A military presence to guarantee Chinese citizens’ safety is probably no bad thing, although currently the Libyan regime seems more interested in using its military to target its own citizens, including through the use of combat helicopters and fighter planes.

As they argue, Beijing’s quick response in dispatching the Xuzhou demonstrates a nimble touch in what’s sounding like an increasingly chaotic situation. Erickson and Collins report that as of 23 February, China’s Commerce Ministry was saying at least 27 Chinese-run construction sites had been attacked by armed individuals, resulting in numerous injuries.

The take away quote: ‘Xuzhou’s mission marks an important milestone because to the best of our knowledge, this is the first ever dispatch of a PLA military platform specifically assigned to help protect a non-combatant evacuation operation to help (its) citizens trapped in an active conflict zone.’

On a related note, both myself and fellow China Power blogger Mu Chunshan have discussed the likelihood of a repeat in China of the Arab world unrest. Chinese authorities have been keen to inhibit online discussion of the unrest, with certain keywords related to what’s going on bringing up zero results, while CNN had its coverage of Gaddafi’s speech briefly blacked out during mention of Tiananmen.

On Sunday, I reported on an online call to gather at sites around China that appears to have originated with Boxun, a US-based group of Chinese activists. The call to action prompted a notable police presence at the designated locations (and also seems to have attracted, briefly, the attention of US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman), but there seems to have been very little evidence of what could be termed a significant organised protest, with many people appearing to gather simply to see who would gather.

Still, Boxun—dubbed the ‘Jasmine Rallies Organizers’—has followed up with an open letter to the National People’s Congress urging people to gather every Sunday at 2 pm at the list of locations it provides. Human Rights in China has provided a translation of the letter, which includes this call:

‘We do not support violent revolution; we continue to support non-violent non-cooperation. We invite every participant to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear.’

This could be interesting. If the authorities are too heavy-handed over any ensuing peaceful gatherings they risk inspiring more unrest. But if they don’t respond, and people are encouraged by the lack of a crackdown to gather in increasingly large numbers, then the government could start to have some problems.

Comments
4
Sabrina
February 26, 2011 at 02:46

First of all, where was this photograph taken?
Second, how to interpret Chinese government’s massive and quick evacuation of their citizens who were trapped in Lybia in terms of the allegation against human rights?

mareo2
February 25, 2011 at 17:30

If I remember right one of the arguments for deny that it can happen in China is that there is no organized opposition to the CCP. There is no organized opposition in Libya, so that argument no longer seems to be valid. Still I think that as long as economy don’t go down or they start and lose a war there is no big chance of any democratic reform born from the top or from the bottom.

guest
February 25, 2011 at 14:12

This appeared with absolutely no warning to the regular dissident community in China and it’s principle is to have dissenters identify themselves to security services of a country that has no compunctions about using lethal force on demonstrators.

Can we say “honey trap”?

megakids
February 25, 2011 at 13:33

What a silly proposal to think so naively that the Chinese will fall for such call:

‘We do not support violent revolution; we continue to support non-violent non-cooperation. We invite every participant to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear.’

Chinese are not Africans. The history and culture are vastly different. No one will bother to gather for such stupid suggestions. If they have time, they will get out to enjoy the spring. Boxun is a CIA funded organization and it receives very little support from ordinary Chinese.

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