Xiamen Protest: The Aftermath

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Word from Xiamen is that the authorities are now cracking down in the wake of the demonstrations last week protesting against the plan to build a chemical plant in the city. They say there are posters up in all neighborhood comittee walls and elsewhere are calling for anyone who was in the march to turn themselves in, with the incentive being that if you turn yourself in we will be lenient, if we find you later……watch out!

As blogger Wang Xiaofeng says in a post on the subject, “领导很生气,后果很严重” or “when the leaders get angry (and as he says, they have really lost massive amounts of face on this issue), the result will be very serious.” About as serious as a heart attack for some unfortunates. To me, this is a particularly crucial passage for the authorities: this is after all, a completely non-political issue and the people involved seem like mostly solid citizens, not rabble-rousers or the dreaded angry peasant. If the government can’t handle this without cracking a bunch of heads and putting people in jail, it’s doesn’t bode well for the future. People may not be about to come out on the streets demanding free elections but they are definitely going to be demanding a clean environment in their neighborhoods, a responsive government and limits of greed and corruption.