Report of Yielding to Thumbs in China
June 28th, 2007

As the impact of China’s proliferating economy comes increasingly into focus, interest is great in what kinds of forces might have impact on China itself. Washington Post Foreign Service correspondent Edward Cody explores smart mobbing in an article: ‘Text Messages Giving Voice to Chinese.’ Perhaps the thumbs of citizens will have more influence than other pressures. Cody’s story explores how: Opponents of Chemical Factory Found Way Around Censors:

. . . The delay marked a rare instance of public opinion in China rising from the streets and compelling a change of policy by Communist Party bureaucrats. It was a dramatic illustration of the potential of technology — particularly cellphones and the Internet — to challenge the rigorous censorship and political controls through which the party maintains its monopoly on power over China’s 1.4 billion people.

“I think this is a great precedent for China,” said Zhong Xiaoyong, a Xiamen resident who, in his persona as the blogger Lian Yue, wrote extensively on efforts to stop construction of the factory. . . .

Despite efforts by local Public Security Bureau technicians to block the cellphone campaign, thousands of people heeded the alarm during the last days of May. Despite warnings from city hall and a large turnout of uniformed and plainclothes police, they marched in hot, muggy weather through the streets of Xiamen to protest the chemical factory being built on Haicang, an industrial and residential island across a narrow strait from downtown Xiamen.

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