The “50 Cents Party” and Fearmongering

The “50 Cents Party” (五毛党) an informal nickname given to the “army” of web users who defend the Chinese government in blog posts and BBS forums online (The name comes from what these people are supposedly paid by the government, 50 cents per post). Western discussions of this phenomenon tend to venture into hyperbolic territory; “Orwellian” is a word frequently used to describe the propaganda endeavor. “Mind Control”, “Big Brother 2.0”, and now, potentially, the “Grim Reaper”. Yes, Datamation‘s Mike Elgan thinks the 50 Cent Party can destroy Web 2.0.

Elgan, who has taken the top-end estimate that the 50 Cents Party consists of some 300,000+ people as fact, fears that its members could use their power to destroy user-feedback based websites like Youtube and Digg:

With 300,000 people, you can see how the CCP could easily determine what makes it onto the front page of Digg, and what gets shouted down. They could use Wikipedia, YouTube and Slashdot as their most powerful tools of global propaganda. It would be trivial for China to determine Yahoo’s “Most Popular” news items (“Most E-Mailed,” “Most Viewed” and “Most Recommended”).

Over the long term, the existence of China’s 50 Cent Army [Elgan uses the term “army” even though the Chinese term is literally “Party”] erodes the value of the Web 2.0, which is based entirely on the actions of users. If half those users are working for the CCP, then the results of user actions are compromised. Nobody can trust it.

Forgetting for a moment the ludicrous assumption that the “50 Cent Party” are the only people on the internet with an agenda beyond pure truth and thus the only people capable of making user feedback-based web portals untrustworthy, Elgan is dramatically overstating the numerical power the 50 Cents Party really holds. Conservative estimates indicate there are at least 200 million internet users in China currently, making the “50 Cents Party” a whopping 0.15% of Chinese internet users. Worldwide, some 1.4 billion people use the internet, and the percentage of 50 Cents Party members plummets into true insignificance. Given that the vast majority of these “Party members” are actually volunteers and likely speak little to no English, Web 2.0 being destroyed by a massive influx of Chinese propaganda seems, at best, extremely unlikely. Elgan then continues,

Ultimately, China’s 50 Cent Army threatens free speech. And although new threats to free speech are constantly being invented – the 50 Cent Army being one of the most recent innovations – the defense of free speech is always the same: More free speech.

The 50 Cents Party doesn’t actually threaten much more than the ability to have an interesting discussion about controversial topics online in Chinese without being interrupted by crazy nationalists. China has no shortage of nationalists and no shortage of critics, a potent mixture that is quite sure to brew all kinds of propaganda on its own. Furthermore, are governments not also theoretically entitled to freedom of speech? Granted, the method of hiring people to spread party-line opinions may be a bit heavy handed, but it’s also not particularly dishonest. The existence of these people is no secret, and their arrival on Chinese BBS forums is generally greeted with groans of recognition. They don’t delete other people’s posts (there are other civil servants who do that, and that practice is significantly more difficult to defend on moral grounds), they simply express an opinion. Quite frankly, those opinions are sometimes the sort of thing Westerners could use more exposure to.

Of course, to say that the 50 Centers have a right to do what they do is not to say that anyone has to like it. Recently, some Chinese netizens set up an official website for the 50 Cents Party at 5maodang.com. It reads, quite simply, “Hello, 50 Cents [members], please give my regards to your mother.” (h/t to ESWN on the link). For the curious, that sentence has the same connotations in Chinese as it does in English.

The 50 Cents Party, like most government propaganda, are an annoyance. Are they a threat to internet users outside China, or a threat to the entire Web 2.0 concept? Almost certainly not. The idea that they could be sure sounds scary, and Elgan’s urging to “be on the lookout for the CCP’s paid posters, and oppose them at every opportunity” gives Western internet users another reason to discount any China-related opinions that don’t match with their own preconceived notions, but the fact is there’s no real evidence of danger here.

Obama and China

This is an interesting month for US-China relations. January 1st was the thirtieth anniversary of formal relations between the two nations, celebrated with a variety of activities and various optimistic projections. Yet in a few days, Barack Obama will become the President of the United States, and some speculate he may provide more of a challenge to the status quo than his predecessor vis-a-vis China relations.

Most Chinese people, it seems, don’t yet have strong feelings about Obama one way or the other; in large part, their eventual impression will depend on the way his administration deals with China. The Christian Science Monitor reports that they may, then, have reason to be a bit concerned.

China’s concerns stem from positions that Barack Obama took during the presidential campaign, as well as from comments by some of his top foreign-policy advisers. Mr. Obama was critical of China’s monetary policy and called on China to stop manipulating its currency, the yuan. Some economists see that manipulation as an effort to keep down the price of China’s exports and to maintain growth in a shrinking global economy.

At the same time, China has watched as Obama has named some outspoken human rights defenders to top diplomatic posts. Susan Rice, Obama’s top foreign-policy adviser during the campaign and a fervent advocate of pressing China on its human rights record and on its influence in Africa, is Obama’s choice as ambassador to the United Nations.

But Obama has also promised to redouble American diplomatic efforts and to favor engagement over confrontation with partners and adversaries alike.

At best, it’s currently unclear exactly what Obama’s positions are. In 2007, for example, he called for a ban on all toys from China, but this kind of unyielding stand seems unlikely now that he is actually President, especially given his aforementioned pledge to “favor engagement over confrontation.”

Obama’s own campaign site has this to say about his Asia foreign policy:

Obama and Biden will forge a more effective framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional summits, and ad hoc arrangements, such as the six-party talks on North Korea. They will maintain strong ties with allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia; work to build an infrastructure with countries in East Asia that can promote stability and prosperity; and work to ensure that China plays by international rules.

The Obama-Biden campaign also released a more detailed paper called “Barack Obama’s Plan to Actively Engage China”. Two sections, in particular, might seem ominous to the Chinese government and its supporters:

End Chinese Support for Genocidal and Repressive Regimes: In Sudan, China is supporting one of the most reprehensible regimes in the world. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we must use all available tools to demand that China use its influence to prevent Sudan and other regimes from acting contrary to international law and peace and security. China’s support for such regimes runs counter to the interests of the people of those countries, to the interests of the international community, and to China’s longer-term interest in being seen as a leader and responsible international actor. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will press China to end its support for regimes in Sudan, Burma, Iran and Zimbabwe.

Press China to Live Up to Human Rights Standards: From Tibet to cracking down on democracy and religious freedom activists, China has failed to live up to international standards of human rights. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe the United States has to be frank with the Chinese about such failings and will press them to respect human rights.

Of course, only time will tell what President Obama will do for US-China relations. In the meantime, though there are reasons to be nervous, Beijing’s official tone remains decidedly optimistic.

In the meantime, stay tuned for Obama’s inauguration speech, which is sure to be interesting (if not, perhaps, China-relevant). For those in China, the speech will occur at 12:30 A.M. Wednesday, January 21, 2009. CNN.com had a live stream of his election night speech online that worked in China, and will likely also broadcast Tuesday night’s speech online.

UPDATE: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has some ideas on how Obama and China can avoid mutual misunderstanding.

“Serf Liberation Day”

58 years ago, Communist troops entered Tibet. What happened thereafter is the subject of much controversy; suffice it to say that some people feel things went badly. Chinese government mouthpiece the People’s Daily? Unsurprisingly, not among them.

On January 11th, the People’s Daily reported that Tibet’s regional government was planning to set a date to commemorate the “emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves 50 years ago after the central government foiled an attempted armed rebellion led by the Dalai Lama and his aristocratic supporters.”

Apparently, they may be voting on the day right now:

The holiday will be decided on by the 2nd annual session of the 9th Tibet Regional People’s Congress to be held from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, said Pang Boyong, deputy secretary-general of the Regional Congress Standing Committee.

The bill set forth by the Standing Committee of the Regional People’s Congress is aimed at “reminding all the Chinese people, including Tibetans, of the landmark democratic reform initiated 50 years ago,” he said.

Some may recall some Tibetans in Lhasa held their own “celebration” last year for their uprising’s 49th anniversary; it appears the Chinese government has plans to do things a bit differently come this year.

Update: Xinhua (via Fox News) reports the legislation has recommended the holiday fall on March 28th, “the date in 1959 when China announced the dissolution of the Tibetan government.”

Update 2: Shanghaiist has further coverage of the holiday, including links to some commentary and a video of the CCTV-9 (English) report, which includes a history lesson from the CCP.

Other recent Tibet news, as reported in the People’s Daily
Tibet opens annual parliament session to foreign journalists. (Jan 11)
Tibet plans to build first expressway. (Jan 16)

Also of Interest
Chinese government asks auction houses to withdraw artifacts stolen from China in the 1800s, auction houses suggest buying back the relics. (NY Times, h/t to Jottings from the Granite Studio for spotting this one)

Freedom of Speech in China

The excellent China site EastSouthWestNorth has just posted its translation of a fascinating article, originally written by Shen Minte and published in the Beijing Daily News. The whole thing is available at the ESWN link above, but here is an especially interesting passage:

This leads to another piece of common knowledge: when a certain speech comes out, people begin to think and classify, but they may not be able to judge its nature yet. This is particularly true of certain ideas that appear unconventional or are unacceptable to the majority of the people at the time. Frequently, it will take a certain period of time in history before people become convinced of its veracity (or absurdity). During this process, the worst thing is for some “authorities” to emerge and make a “truth judgment” in the form of a single conclusion about the rights and wrongs of the matter. Then everybody hears that call and engage in either “effusive praises” or “mouth-and-pen condemnations.” The reason why this is the “worst thing” is that the price may be huge, possibly including bloodshed and loss of lives.

The most unforgettable and outstanding episode is the population theory of Mr. Ma Yinchu. If it had not been declared as “counter-revolutionary Malthusian population theory” and subjected to mass criticisms, there might have been 300 million people fewer in China today. Instead, the actual population pressure will be with us for at least a century. All the problems today about job opportunities, universal education, healthcare insurance and so on are related to this population pressure.

Another unforgettable and outstanding episode is the doubts that Zhang Zhixin raised about the Cultural Revolution. The relevant leaders determined that this was “counter-revolutionary speech that maliciously attacked the Cultural Revolution” and it was also routine at the time to condemn people on the basis of speech alone. This resulted in the tragedy of Zhang Zhixin having her throat cut and executed by a firing squad. This tragedy could be avoided if each Chinese person had the freedom of speech as opposed to “the highest directives” being issued from above and followed closely from below. The ten years of calamity resulted in the collapse of our culture, the loss of morality and the creation of all the habits of totalitarianism. These remaining ills are still being eradicated with difficulty in certain domains today.

The crux of Shen’s argument, then, is actually historical rather than moral, which is probably a more effective tack to take when one’s primary audience is a country that’s sick of being criticized for violating human rights. Whether or not freedom of speech is a fundamental right is largely irrelevant here, instead, Shen argues that freedom of speech must exist because it is impossible to differentiate between “good” and “bad”, “correct” and “absurd” speech at the time it is spoken.

Chinese philosophy blog The Useless Tree makes the apt connection with Warring-States era philosopher Zhuangzi, who was, to put it lightly, skeptical of humanity’s “ability to ascertain the truth value of language.” In the second chapter of the Inner Chapters (whose authorship is generally attributed to Zhuangzi), he engages in a prolonged and complex discussion of the value of calling things by fixed names versus the value of deeming things based on circumstances. Dr. Hal Roth (Brown University) has described this dichotomy of ways of calling things — ways of living, really –as “fixed cognition” versus “flowing cognition”; Zhuangzi comes down squarely on the “flowing cognition” side, and so, in a way, does Shen Minte.

The Way has never had borders, saying has never had norms. It is by a ‘That’s it’ which deems that a boundary is marked. Let me say something about the marking of boundaries. You can locate as there and enclose by a line, sort out and assess, divide up and discriminate between alternatives, compete over and fight over: these I call our Eight Powers. What is outside the cosmos the sage locates as there but does not sort out. What is within the cosmos the sage sorts but does not assess. The records of the former kings in the successive reigns in the Annals the sage assesses, but he does not argue over alternatives.
To divide, then, is to leave something undivided: to discriminate between alternatives is to leave something which is neither alternative. ‘What?’ you ask. The sage keeps it in his breast, common men argue over alternatives to show it to each other. Hence I say: ‘To discriminate between alternatives is to fail to see something.
Zhuangzi Ch. 2 (A.C. Graham Translation)

Shen, of course, is not quite on the same level as Zhuangzi, nor does he take his argument nearly so far, but still, one can’t help but suspect Zhuangzi would agree with his sentiment. Anyway, Shen closes his argument with this:

If there is only one voice, then truth cannot be recognized and developed. All speeches exist at the same level (but that does not mean that they will all be acted upon or carried out) and they enjoy the right to be expressed freely. We should earnestly follow these important requirements concerning the freedom of speech according to our constitution.

Also of interest
[Ed. Note: Apologies for the lack of more frequent posts, we’ve been having some internet connectivity issues at ChinaGeeks HQ recently].
– An LA Times story reported that (soon to be former) President Bush has “many fans” in China, The Peking Duck (and, presumably, anyone else who has lived in China for more than a week) disagrees.
Danwei has an amusing way for people stuck in the Spring Festival transportation crunch to get home quickly, without paying a cent.

Urbanization and the Value of Parks

Though the holidays are over in America, ’tis still the season in China. As Spring Festival creeps closer, Chinese people everywhere are preparing to celebrate the nation’s most important traditional holiday, but some traditions are newer than others. New cars have begun to crowd the roads–what better way to impress one’s family and friends over the holiday — and when the time comes to wish acquaintances a happy new year, many people will do it by phone or text message rather than visiting their friends in person.

This is, of course, the new China, where high-rises have replaced low-slung houses surrounding a courtyard and, to some extent, technology has to some extent supplanted the need for face-to-face interaction. Old people complain that the cities, especially, have grown colder these past few decades. “People treat each other like strangers,” said one man I spoke to. “Why? Money. If this person is rich, he will not want to talk to the poor person. If you own a car, you should be hanging out with other people who own cars.”

Interestingly, Gallup polls show that modernization in cities has not increased the number of Chinese people who report being satisfied with their lives. Nor has the rapid economic development of cities apparently made them good places to live. Gallup notes that:

While China’s cities continue to grow rapidly because of massive internal migration, those Chinese who have remained in the countryside are now dramatically more likely than their urban counterparts to say they are satisfied with their own communities ‘as a place to live’”
Gallup via USC US-China Institute

Many Chinese are acutely aware of the issue. Optimism for the future remains high–a 2008 Pew Global Attitudes poll indicated that Chinese people are generally extremely satisfied with their country’s direction and its economy–but concerns about the vast gap between rich and poor are still highly prevalent. Urban residents also reported a higher degree of concern for Chinese traditions, which they feel are being lost, than rural residents did. (And, of course, there is certainly evidence to indicate that this is true).

Some people have attributed the lack of increased happiness to a Chinese cultural propensity to tolerate suffering, and to celebrate people with a great capacity to endure hardship. The USC-China Institute article quotes University of Hong Kong psychology professor Samuel Ho as saying, “Suffering itself has a different meaning than in the West. Suffering can lead to some positive outcome according to Chinese culture. So people would not like to let themselves be too happy.”

Of course, urbanization and social stratification creating alienation are nothing new; this effect is certainly not limited to China. The same thing can be seen in cities across the globe. In fact, Chinese cities may still be comparably well off–although there is no way to measure or quantify this, the people of many Chinese cities still have a reputation for being friendly (as opposed to, say, the reputation of New Yorkers).

Recent scientific findings indicate that, from a well-being perspective, urbanization could actually be one of the worst things a country could do. The brain, it turns out, needs nature and isn’t particularly well wired to handle urban environments:

A city is so overstuffed with stimuli that we need to constantly redirect our attention so that we aren’t distracted by irrelevant things, like a flashing neon sign or the cellphone conversation of a nearby passenger on the bus. This sort of controlled perception — we are telling the mind what to pay attention to — takes energy and effort. The mind is like a powerful supercomputer, but the act of paying attention consumes much of its processing power. Natural settings, in contrast, don’t require the same amount of cognitive effort.

Interestingly, even small amounts of nature in an otherwise urban environment can make a difference:

Studies have demonstrated, for instance, that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and that women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard […] Even slight alterations [to a city], such as planting more trees in the inner city or creating urban parks with a greater variety of plants, can significantly reduce the negative side effects of city life.

Unfortunately for Chinese people, “parks” in Chinese cities tend to be few and far between; those that do exist could hardly be called natural. In his own reaction to these findings, titled “Is Shanghai Making Us Stupid?”,Shanghaiist‘s Dan Washburn writes, “What our brains need […] are parks. Real parks, with lots of tall trees, a diverse mix of plants and animals, and grass you can stroll upon. What our brains need, it seems, is to get out of Shanghai.”

Whether cities are bad for the brain or not, whether cities in China are good places to live or not, one thing is certain: Chinese cities are going to keep expanding. The past decade has shown unparalleled growth and there’s little indication the trend will decline or reverse. Additional parks — real parks — might benefit Chinese cities in a number of ways. In addition to the relaxing effect described in the study above, parks in China tend to create communities where perhaps there were none before. A group of old people who meet in the park and get together each morning to practice Tai Chi, for example, is not an uncommon site in Chinese parks. Could an increase in the number and quality of parks alleviate some of the dissatisfaction Chinese urban dwellers have with their community as well as reinvigorate some aspects of Chinese tradition? It’s hard to say. If nothing else, it seems unlike that more parks could make Chinese urban living worse.

An Analysis of “Free Tibet”

“Free Tibet” is a phrase with a bit of a history. More or less since the Chinese army entered Tibet in 1951, some people have asserted that Tibet should be its own country. Over time, the cause became popular among Westerners, especially students and celebrities. The intensity of the protesting comes and goes as things in Tibet happen (or don’t), but the song has remained more or less the same: “Free Tibet.” Yet, if Tibet were to become independent, it would be a disaster for the Tibetan people.

Reasons for Western Interest in Tibetan Independence
Why has this particular cause attracted so much attention in the West? There are two reasons. One is Western perception of the Chinese government, which is shaped mainly by the knowledge that they are Communist and that they once killed students in Tiananmen Square. They are, as a result, “evil”. Western perceptions of Tibetans are based on the Dalai Lama, who seems calm, wise, peaceful, spiritual—everything it seems the Chinese government is not. Controversy closer to home is always complicated, but from afar the China-Tibet issue comes off as good-versus-evil to the uninformed.

The other reason Tibet in particular has attracted so much attention is that it appeals to a certain nostalgia many Western intellectuals have; a desire to return to a simpler, more “pure” time. Tibet’s “spiritual” traditional society, its ruggedly beautiful terrain, and its ancient, mysterious religion all give it a special sort of “flavor” that Westerners feel is being destroyed by the modernity the Chinese government brings to Tibet.

Unfortunately, those perceptions are misguided. Traditional Tibetan society may have been spiritual, but it was also a slave society. The vast majority of Tibetans were extremely poor, there was no real justice system, and the political structure of its government was rife with corruption, exploitation, and perversion. In the book The Struggle for Modern Tibet (the autobiography of a Tibetan who has lived in Tibet, mainland China, India, and the United States), Tashi Tsering describes how as a child in pre-1951 Tibet he was chosen to become a dancer for the Dalai Lama, taken from his family forever as a kind of “tax”, and forced into a dance troupe run by a sadistic director and forever plagued by horny Tibetan monks. These monks (Tibetan monks may not marry) took out their sexual frustration through sexual relationships with the children in the dance troupe—Tsering describes this as common practice. Perceptions of pre-1951 Tibet as a utopian Shangri-La are, at best, extremely oversimplified.

Similarly, what China does in Tibet often goes unreported or is misinterpreted by a Western public eager to find fault with the Chinese government. For example, last May, some Tibetans began a violent riot that caused millions of dollars in damage and touched off a series of racially-motivated hate crimes against Han Chinese and Muslims. Non-Tibetans in Lhasa were stabbed, beaten, and even burned alive in the streets. The Chinese government sent in police to stop the riots. There was no evidence of violence and the Western reporter in Lhasa at the time reported seeing no police misconduct:

What I saw was calculated targeted violence against an ethnic group, or I should say two ethnic groups, primarily ethnic Han Chinese living in Lhasa, but also members of the Muslim Hui minority in Lhasa.
James Miles

Still, the story that played in the West was one of a “brutal crackdown” against “peaceful Tibetan protesters”. CNN even doctored a photo of Chinese police vehicles that ran on their website, editing out Tibetan rioters who were attacking the trucks. Myriad other news media ran misleading headlines and photographs, including numerous photographs of police in Nepal beating protesters that were labeled as if they were photos from China.

In the end, though, whether or not the Western media covers Tibet fairly, and whether or not traditional Tibetan society was good for Tibetans is largely irrelevant. The international political climate has changed since 1951. If Tibet became independent, it would be a disaster for the Tibetan people.

Tibet Should Not Be Independent
Why? Well, for one thing, Tibet is still quite undeveloped, economically speaking. China pours money in but gets almost nothing back. The Economist reports:

In 2001, for example, for every renminbi of Tibet’s economic growth, central-government spending increased by Rmb2, according to Mr Fischer. In that year alone, state spending increased by 75%. By 2004 the situation had changed only slightly, with Rmb0.65 of economic growth requiring only Rmb1 of increased subsidies and state investment.
The Economist

Many might be inclined to blame this on government policies designed to keep Tibet weak, but actually NPR reports that in fact, Beijing pays for 90% of all government expenditures in Tibet, and floats gigantic infastructure projects like new highways and a massive hydroelectric dam.

Now, let’s imagine for a second that tomorrow, Tibet were to become its own country again. What would happen?

Well, the Dalai Lama and the rest of the exile community would probably return. They would arrive to find a society greatly changed from the one they ruled over half a century ago, and a people who have had little contact with them for decades. They would also find strong racial tensions that did not exist in the 1950s, and that has frequently erupted into violence in the past. The embittered remnants of the former Tibetan provincial government would likely also remain, and possibly position themselves in the way of anyone attempting to commandeer their bureaucracy. It seems unlikely that the exile leaders would actually be able to run a modern nation on their own; but even if they were theoretically capable, what money would they use?

As mentioned above, Tibet’s economic output is insufficient to support the region. The removal of all Beijing’s political infastructure would undoubtedly weaken Tibet’s economy further, leaving the new “nation” in the hands of an inexperienced relgious sect with little governing experience and no money.

Tibet would have almost no hope of finding support from other nations, either. China would certainly never support an independent Tibet, and other nations would also refuse support for fear of angering China and harming trade relations.

There seems very little reason to speculate that a “Free Tibet” wouldn’t quickly devolve into some third-world hellhole, complete with all the starvation and social instability that comes along with that title. At the end of the day, protesters calling for a Free Tibet must ask themselves what, exactly, it is that they want, and who they want it for.

Your Guide to Charter 08

Charter ’08 is a manifesto signed by over three hundred prominent Chinese intellectuals that was released in December of 2008. It caused an immediate stir in the Western media, but didn’t seem to get much response from within China, at least initially. For the curious, we have collected links to relevant reading, news, and speculation.

Read Charter 08 (English translation by Perry Link. This translation has been criticized as being inaccurate, although it was officially authorized by the original drafters of Charter 08)
Read another translation of Charter 08 here (English translation by H.R.I.C.)
The document in Chinese (as well as Japanese and English translations–somehow this isn’t blocked yet in China, but the government has been blocking any site that contains this text so Chinese readers, don’t be surprised if this link doesn’t work by the time you see it.)

Initial Responses
Report that chief author Liu Xiaobo has been arrested (LA Times)
Report that 70+ other signatories have been summoned or interrogated by police (Financial Times)
Government bans signatories from contributing to state-run media outlets (UNHCR)
Charter 08 Worries China (Christian Science Monitor)
Internet cleanup shuts down “edgy” blog hosting site bullog.cn (AP)
Hu Jintao takes personal charge in fight against charter (Asia Sentinel)
Some Chinese Responses and H.K. Protest (Global Voices Online)

Early Western Commentary
Review of Charter 08 and aftermath with some commentary (Fool’s Mountain)
How Charter 08 is being received (EastSouthWestNorth)
Cai Yuanpei and Charter 08: Historical comparison and analysis (Jottings from the Granite Studio)
Early commentary on Charter 08 (The Useless Tree)
How can we know if Chinese people want democracy? (The Useless Tree)
A Leftist Critique of Charter 08 (Wang Xizhe via EastSouthWestNorth)

Future Predictions and Further Commentary
Charter 08 may foretell mass uprising, crackdown in 2009 (Daniel Drezner, Foreign Policy)
Charter 08 will not lead to mass unrest in 2009 (Mutant Palm)
Charter 08 Will Get Nowhere Because of George W. Bush (ESWN)

New Developments and Commentary
In China, A Grass-Roots Rebellion (Washington Post)
Charter 08 Lives? (The Peking Duck)
Western and Chinese Overreactions to Charter 08 (Mutant Palm)
A Universal Idea (Interview with a Charter 08 author) (Hungry Ghosts)

More links and stories will be added as they are posted and we find them, however, we’re attempting not to post links and news stories that are very similar to stories already posted for the sake of reducing clutter. Happy reading.