Posted by: manchucka | August 20, 2008

Demonstrations, applications, and protest zones

In order to assuage fears that China would not be open to debate a criticism during the Olympic games, the government has set up three “protest zones”. Says Mo Yuchuan, director of the Research Center for Constitutional and Administrative Law at Renmin Daxue 人民大学:

The move to set aside protest areas is in line with Beijing’s promises to the International Olympic Committee to adhere to the Olympic traditions, such as free expression outside the sporting venues. It offers a new channel for the protestors (sic) to better express their opinions by attracting the eyes of tourists, reporters and officials during the Games.

So how is this arrangement turning out? Quite well if you believe that nobody wishes to protest. Not so much if you travel to the three zones and find them empty. Even worse when you realize that some applicants have been arrested. When questioned about why nobody has been allowed top protest, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games vice president Wang Wei said:

China has stepped forward. The ordinary Chinese in the street will give the same answer. Do not underestimate the wisdom of the Chinese people. Do not think that you are smartest.

In related news, five US activists have been detained after unfurling an LED “Free Tibet” banner in Beijing. Regrettably, Tibet remains quite expensive.

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