Thursday, January 29, 2009

Online Democracy in China

Rights Manifesto Slowly Gains Ground Despite Government Efforts to Quash It
When the document first appeared online in mid-December, its impact was limited. Many of the original signers were lawyers, writers and other intellectuals who had long been known for their pro-democracy stance. The Chinese government moved quickly to censor the charter -- putting those suspected of having written it under surveillance, interrogating those who had signed, and deleting any mention of it from the Internet behind its great firewall.

Then something unusual happened. Ordinary people such as Tang with no history of challenging the government began to circulate the document and declare themselves supporters. The list now includes scholars, journalists, computer technicians, businessmen, teachers and students whose names had not been associated with such movements before, as well as some on the lower rungs of China's social hierarchy -- factory and construction workers and farmers.

It appears to an online version of Czechoslovakia's Charter 77. Given how that came out, the Chinese government will go a long way to suppress this. It takes a great deal of nerve to sign something like that.

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