I wrote a few weeks back that I thought if the Jasmine rallies didn’t take off within a couple of weeks, that they would likely fizzle out (or be stamped out by the Chinese authorities).
This appears to have been the case. Despite the recent optimistic claims in publications including FrontPage Mag, which said last week that the ‘Jasmine Revolution’s domino effect has even reached China’, there was little evidence of this on Sunday.
Admittedly, there wouldn’t necessarily be much to see—the call made late last month on the US-based advocacy site Boxun.com was for Chinese around the country to gather in certain spots at 2 pm each Sunday to engage in non-confrontational activity such as just strolling by.
The Chinese government, sensitive to any signs that the ongoing unrest and regime change in the Arab world could spread to China, (over) reacted by deploying a massive security presence to designated locations such as Wangfujing in Beijing, including security officials dressed as street sweepers.
Optimistic defenders of the rallies argued that this in itself somehow marked a victory—that the heavy handedness on display would act as a wakeup call to Chinese and outsiders alike as to just how authoritarian China’s government is. The problem with this argument is that everyone already knows full well that this is the case. And, with no growth in the movement and no flashpoint to arouse the people’s passions, Jasmine in China appears to have fizzled out, for now at least. If change is to come it will need to be internal—incitment from outside won't do it.
But this doesn’t mean that the government’s overbearing response won’t stir some resentment somewhere down the line. And one possible issue could be Orwellian efforts like this one reportedly being launched at Peking University.
According to China Daily, the university plans to introduce a programme in May that ‘arranges consultations for "troublesome students", including those with "radical thoughts."’
‘The programme would concern 10 categories of students, including those who have a poor academic performance, are addicted to the Internet, come from poor families, have a severe disease, or have radical thoughts, according to a notice on the university's website,’ China Daily reports. ‘The focus is mainly on students who frequently fail exams or encounter difficulties in their studies, Zha Jing, deputy director of the university's student work department, told the Beijing Evening News.’
It’s not hard to imagine how all this could turn out.