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25 for Liberty

How to sneak in democracy using anti-third-party demonstrations

Via Instapundit, Jim Dunnigan writes that the Chinese govt. is worried about the ferocity of popular anti-Japanese demonstrations in China:

This was obvious with  the second weekend of anti-Japanese demonstrations in mid-April. These were not government authorized. but the government feared a violent reaction if they tried to stop the demonstrations by force. Chinese history is rife with spontaneous popular movements that have caused civil war. Chinese leaders are aware of this pattern, as well as what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989, and Ukraine last month. During all these protests, the main subject is not Japan, but the growing size and ferocity of the demonstrations themselves.

This demonstrations serve many purposes:

  • These demonstrations allow the people to associate without confronting the Govt. directly. These contacts and associations will come handy when demonstrating against the Govt.
  • By showing that Govt. is afraid or reluctant to break popular demonstrations it debunks the myth of invincibility of the Govt.
  • It acts as a moral booster for the people and gives them a taste of power of association.
  • It draws the attention of the World and especially the media! It shows the World that spirit of democracy is present.

Al-Jazeera repeatedly broadcasted anti-US and anti-war demonstrations in various Middle-Eastern countries both before and after the Iraq war. This was an important influence on the Lebanese movement for Independence from Syria, and even helped increased participation in the Iraqi elections.

For years tyrannical Governments have successfuly used anger against foreigners (or foreign country) to grab the power and to divert attention away from the local issues.

Maybe the people fighting for democracy can also leverage demonstrations against a third-party in their fight.

Welcome InstaReaders! Have a look around the blog and also my original blog on BlogSpot.
Update: Chinese Govt. appears concerned by the protests:

BEIJING A top Chinese state-run newspaper has said in a staff editorial that the wave of popular protests against Japan was part of an "evil plot" with "ulterior motives," suggesting that at least some elements of the Chinese leadership now wish to portray the demonstrations as a conspiracy to undermine the Communist Party.
Officials are clearly concerned that the protests, if left unchecked, could evolve into a direct challenge to the party, especially as a string of sensitive political anniversaries approaches in early May.



Not sure if you remember a few months ago (not more than 1 year), the release of the movie Hero. It was lauded by the press, pushed mightily by the PRC, and even received an endorsement from Quentin Tarantino. I have the film, and having watched it, I can guarantee you that the PRC has been laying the groundwork for this "spontaneous" outpouring of nationalist sentiment for months if not years. In a nutshell, the hero of the movie sacrifices himself (to a WHOLE LOT OF ARROWS) for the greater good. That good being the establishment of the nation of China. I don't believe that the people in these demonstrations are democratically oriented, rather, they are just ticked off and venting at their lot in life. At this point the Japanese are serving the same purpose as the Jews in 1930's Germany, and that should scare the hell out of anybody.


I have to disagree with you here, Ashish. The protestors are more likely to see themselves as the successors of the Boxers of old; when they criticize the government it's not because they want to undermine or overthrow the Party, it's that they want the Party to become more ruthless in its dealings with Japan, much as the Boxers rose up against foreigners with hopes of getting Empress Dowager Cixi to do the same.

While the Party watches the protests closely to make sure they remain politically correct, the government is most likely more worried about the effect protestors are having on China's international image rather than concerned about anti-Japan protestors morphing into pro-democracy marchers. Among other things, the Party desperately wants the 2008 Olympics to be a success, and continued protests deviate from the gameplan, so to speak. Also, the violence in some of the protests have allowed Japan to mount an apparently successful charm offensive in response -- which is precisely the opposite of what Bejing wanted when it gave the green light to the protests.

Liberty Dog

My work takes me to China and I am actually going to be moving over there soon, so I am watching the situation closely.

Ashish Hanwadikar

The fact that Chinese Govt. would not dare to stop the convenient anti-Japanese demonstration hints at a good strategy for freedom lovers. Instead of taking on the tyrants directly they can first organize against guise of demonstrating against a third-party. Once organized these movements can slowly be turned against the tyrant governments themselves.


Which country will collapse first? China or North Korea? It will be interesting to watch North Korea if China goes first.


You seem to be suggesting that any large gathering of people on the streets equals a democracy movement. I don't reckon the Japanese people regard the Chinese nationalist mouth-foamers as democrats.

The historical tradition in China is for central government to fall apart and for warlords to divide up the country. Crowds of crazy Chinese people on the streets are just that: Crowds of crazy Chinese people. They are not the vanguard of democracy, but they are a sign that the "mandate of heaven" is deserting the Communists.

Chinese communism is less likely to give way to democracy as it is to become something more dangerous - The fanatical nationalist marchers reveal the most likely ideological form that a non-communist China will take.

Jim o'Sullivan

To stay in power, the nominally "Communist" party of China had to abandon communism. They will soon have to abandon authoritarianism. You can't have just a little bit of freedom; you can't be just a little bit pregnant. Just ask Gorby. They are on their way out.


Fascinating take on this subject. Also explains the reason for Chinese officials trying to end the protests yesterday and today.


I agree! Those who want to bring democracy this demonstrations to organize themselves and then take on the Chinese Govt. using those strengths.


It is just a coarse way for the Chinese Communist Party to deflect anger away from themselves. It is founded in weakness and risks far greater problems than what could have been achieved if the government dealt with foreign problems on a bilateral most adult countries do. The PRC is nothing but a country run by juveniles.

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