In early October, reports surfaced that Occupy Wall Street had spread all the way to cities such as Zhengzhou in China’s Henan province, where several hundred demonstrators had converged to support the Occupy movement.
But just as the government stopped China’s Jasmine Revolution before it even had a chance to begin, Occupy protests in China were restricted first by a cautionary word from the foreign ministry, then a crackdown on media coverage of Occupy Wall Street and finally a ban on “occupy” and related search terms.
The protests have not gone away altogether, however. Occupy China Facebook groups remain up and running, including one group, Occupy Beijing China, which on some days shares photos and maps from other Occupy protests around the the world and on others offers galvanizing pictures such as the historic tank photo from Tiananmen Square.
In San Francisco’s Chinatown last week, the Chinese Progressive Association held a program to explain why the Chinese American community should see themselves as part of the “99 percent.”
And outside mainland China, Hong Kong appears to be gearing up for participation in the Nov. 11 global protests.
But does that mean an Occupy China could really be around the corner? Daniel K. Gardner, a professor of history at Smith College and author of ChinaMusings.com, thinks so. In a new piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Gardner says China is “ripe” for an Occupy movement.
“Given . . . that 36 percent of the Chinese people (that’s 481 million people) live on $2 a day or less, the Beijing leadership might [be] worried that the Chinese would not remain as ‘calm’ in the face of news about the U.S. protests,” Gardner writes.
Gardner thinks the movement might be spurred on by the New Leftists, or New Maoists, a Chinese political group he says has been vocal about the gap between rich and poor, corporate and government collusion, and the country’s inattentiveness to the poor. Sound familiar?
The public face of the New Maoists is politician Bo Xilai, the Communist Party chief of Chongqing municipality in southwest China and a potential member of the powerful nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo in 2012. Bo has made moves not so far off from what Occupy Wall Street protesters want: He’s launched a campaign against organized crime and official corruption, sponsored welfare programs for the working class and called for a renewal of Chairman Mao’s revolutionary spirit.
“[S]hould China’s 99-percenters awaken to the call of Occupy Wall Street and coalesce around the movement,” Gardner writes, “excluding Bo from the Standing Committee mix would be more than difficult.” Should China’s 99-percenters start protesting, China’s censors and minders might find it more than difficult to do their jobs, too.