In China, is the revolution being won?
"China is a stable society. Something like the Jasmine Revolution would not happen in China," explained the officer. Dozens of journalists have been called in this week to meet with China's Public Security Bureau and I was one of them, sitting in a room as officials videotaped the entire session.
To the officers' shock - and then satisfaction - I agreed wholeheartedly. I've posted on this website why a revolution is not likely to happen in China (you can read it here).
But finishing up my meeting with these police officers, it was clear to me that this anonymous group calling for Jasmine Revolution protests in China is, in its own way, winning.
So far, they've shown themselves to be nothing but a few people with a computer and a website.
Yet, they have managed to turn China's security apparatus topsy turvy.
Thousands of police officers across the country have been working overtime the last two weeks to quell any potential Jasmine protests. Patrols have been stepped up. This past Sunday in Beijing alone, at the supposed site of the planned Jasmine protests, reporters saw hundreds of officers, hundreds more plainclothes officers, and dozens of police vehicles. Those behind the Jasmine Revolution are calling for meet ups in more some 35 cities in China at this point. And they are changing the location of these meet ups in response to police security.
This all adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, being spent on a ghost revolution. How many hours of manpower has been spent in meetings with journalists alone? How much longer can the government continue demanding its foot soldiers work overtime fighting an imaginary revolution? If this is guerilla warfare in the Internet age, the planners of the Jasmine Revolution have, for lack of a better word, completely psyched the Chinese authorities out.
Paranoia has taken hold of parts of the government. And that paranoia has not only wasted a tremendous amount of resources, but has given China bad press around the world. Journalists showing up to check out a ghost revolution ended up being physically assaulted by plainclothes police officers this past Sunday. And by asking reporters this week not to show up for another event, threatening some (including myself) of the revocation of our visas and press cards, this most certainly ensures more chatter about the Jasmine Revolution than would have ever taken place had the non-event been left alone.
What we're witnessing is the equivalent of an elephant being brought in to crush an ant. The excessive show of force and overreaction of officials suggests there are enough people in the bureaucracy so out of touch with the Chinese public they would indeed believe a Jasmine Revolution is probable - and must put a stop to it.
Opponents with meagre resources have launched psychological warfare against the Chinese government - and it appears the government has taken the bait.