Jasmine revolution pales against sakura revolution

I wonder what the so called “jasmine revolution” activists’ thought was regarding the “Sakura Revolution In China“?

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Jasmine Revolution or Fast Food Revolution?

Calls for a “Jasmine Revolution” seem to be here to stay, at least for a while, even though so far they have attracted few real protesters, other than cops and journalists. Lots of people have made lots of comments, and I just have two minor points/questions to add:

1 Why “Jasmine”? When you give your action/movement a name, I guess you should try to make the name resonate with your audience. “Jasmine”? What does that mean? Will people in China feel connected/animated once they hear this term rather than confused, no matter how angry they are at the government? Of course, we know the origin of the term was from the Tunisian protest, but to name a Chinese protest after the Tunisian national flower? Even outside China very few people call the recent protests in the Middle East and North Africa “Jasmine Revolution”. The initiators of the Chinese J-protest seem only capable of gleaning terms from others, and very bad at that. Just one more reason why people call China a land of copy cats—they don’t know what’s going on in China, they don’t know what would work in China, but they are eager to imagine and mimic a fashion abroad.

2. Why McDonalds? We all know the focus of the first J-protest is in front of a McDonalds in the Wangfujin area, Beijing. Glad to know that the organizers have now expanded their protest locations—they now include many Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants! Wow. Shouting “we want food” in front of a McDonalds or KFC? Is that an anti-government protest, or an act of performance art? Is that a Jasmine revolution, or fast food revolution? My best guess is that the organizers have been long out of China and really have no idea about what’s going on in China, including where people should meet to protest. But they sure can search McDonalds. I guess those places are where they dine in the US, when they are not dining in Chinese restaurants.

I’m all for McDonalds or KFC making better and healthier food, by the way. So I definitely support a fast food revolution. Way to go, guys!

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How inspirational is Liu Xiaobo?

I have to say I very much respect Liu Xiaobo’s moderating role during the 1989 Tiananmen movement (see the documentary Gate of Heavenly Peace). Maybe that deserves a Nobel prize.

But his post 1990s writings, including the Nobel-winning Charter 08, are not so  inspirational. There is no penetrating analysis of Chinese politics or society (much less than some other noted Chinese liberals), and the quality of writing is generally sub par. More like a second rate journalist’s rant with little substance but heaps of slogans. The latter point is particularly surprising,given his training in literature. (Granted, his statement during the court trial is pretty touching, but that is an exception rather than the rule). Even the Charter 08 is just a poor parody of something foreign. People use to deride China’s excellency in imitation but not in innovation, but is not Charter 08 a typical example of imitation?

Granted, Liu won the Nobel as a political activist, not a writer or scientist, so maybe we should not judge his worthiness of Nobel from the substance of his writings. But a good activist should at least have inspirational words. Can imitations be inspirational? Hardly so. And that’s probably why the size of his followers among the Chinese is rather limited, as compared to what you would have expected from the amount of media attention that has been paid to him. I know I know, discussions about him and the Nobel is banned in China. But what about overseas Chinese students? There is some sensation in some corners, of course, but again his influence among the overseas Chinese community is much smaller than what you would have expected from media headlines.

The Nobel committee said Liu was awarded the prize because of what the Chinese government did to him—basically, his lengthy jail terms. This is rather unfortunate. One’s contribution should be judged by how much he has influenced or inspired other people, not by his prison terms. The prison term only says something about the lack of smartness of the Chinese government, but nothing about Liu.

Update: It turns out that Liu Xiaobo has been a fervent supporter of the war in Iraq. This really erodes my respect for him. I can live with his comment that China needs three hundreds years of colonialism—I can take that as an emotional statement. But supporting the war in Iraq all these years just shows a profound lack of understanding about the world.

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Hello world!

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