Friday, April 15, 2005

The Dissent Ball Keeps On Rollin'

2000 Chinese veterans gathered in Beijing for a sit-down protest, demanding their pensions.
Millions of low-ranking PLA officers and rank-and-file soldiers who were given jobs at state-owned enterprises after retirement feel their pay and new status fail to live up to their contributions to the country. Many have lost their jobs because most state firms are losing money.
Needless to say, if the People's Liberation Army has to face down a large-scale protest of it's own former members, there's some serious potential for chaos. Then there's this aspect:
The petitioners, who previously held ranks ranging from second lieutenant to major, did not shout slogans. But they unfurled banners reading: "We want equality, reason and justice", the witnesses said.
We can joke about reason and justice in the People's Republic, but you'd be silly to underestimate the power of calm protests, with a good slogan. The TV footage from segregation-era Alabama, of black men carrying signs which said "I am a man" were simple, but incredibly effective. Of course, so was the video of the Southern reaction - water cannons being used on schoolgirls, that kind of thing.

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