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Sun, Feb 20, 2011
AFP
China web users call for 'Jasmine Revolution'

BEIJING - Postings circulating on the Internet have called on disgruntled Chinese to gather on Sunday in public places in 13 major cities to mark the "Jasmine Revolution" spreading through the Middle East.

The calls have apparently led the Chinese government to censor postings containing the word "jasmine" in an attempt to quell any potential unrest.

"We welcome... laid off workers and victims of forced evictions to participate in demonstrations, shout slogans and seek freedom, democracy and political reform to end 'one party rule'," one posting said.

The postings, many of which appeared to have originated on overseas websites run by exiled Chinese political activists, called for protests in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and 10 other major Chinese cities.

Protesters were urged to shout slogans including "we want food to eat," "we want work," we want housing," "we want justice," "long live freedom," and "long live democracy."

Chinese authorities have sought to restrict media reports on the recent political turmoil that began in Tunisia as the "Jasmine Revolution" and spread to Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

Unemployment and rising prices have been key factors linked to the unrest that has also spread to Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya.

Searches Sunday for "jasmine" on China's Twitter-like micro-blog Weibo ended without results, while messages on the popular Baidu search engine said that due to laws and regulations such results were unavailable.

Some Chinese Internet search pages listed "jasmine" postings but links to them were blocked.

The Chinese government has expended tremendous resources to police the Internet and block anti-government postings and other politically sensitive material with a system known as the "Great Firewall of China."

In a speech given Saturday, Chinese President Hu Jintao acknowledged growing social unrest and urged the ruling Communist Party to better safeguard stability while also ordering strengthened controls over "virtual society" or the Internet.

"It is necessary to strengthen and improve a mechanism for safeguarding the rights and interests of the people," Xinhua news agency quoted Hu as saying.

A key to achieve the goal is to "solve prominent problems which might harm the harmony and stability of the society... safeguard people's rights and interests, promote social justice, and sustain sound social order."


 
 
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