Chinese smartmobbers use mobile phones to protest chemical factory
June 4th, 2007

(via China Digital Times)

Los Angeles Times reports on the role of mobile phones in a Chinese protest movement against a chemical plant:

No one has specifically said that plans for the factory have been scrapped. Local authorities did not immediately respond to questions faxed to them by The Times.

Whatever ultimately happens, the cellphone campaign clearly had an impact, and participants and outside observers hailed it as a powerful form of protest — the latest in a series of innovations, from facsimile to e-mail to blog to text message, that dissenters have used to try to stay ahead of the government.

Student protesters who filled Tiananmen Square in 1989 used fax machines to disseminate news about their struggle, leading to a crackdown on the use of faxes. Similarly, the advent of the Internet and e-mail brought a new organizing tool, one still in use despite a massive, and largely successful, government effort to control it.

It is unclear who began the text message campaign in Xiamen. But well before it began, a prominent Chinese blogger, Lian Yue, had begun writing about the plant and organizing resistance to it.

According to the website China Digital Times, which is run by Xiao’s project at Berkeley, Lian posted a series of articles beginning in late March calling on the people of Xiamen to speak out against the plant.


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