Politics

China's OWS nerves

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"Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators occupy a park near Wall Street in New York, October 3, 2011.

Credit:

EMMANUEL DUNAND

At first, China looked at America's Occupy Wall Street protests as a chance to scold, with official media here criticizing US news outlets for ignoring the story.

How things change in just a few weeks. These days, mentions of the OWS movement are absent from Chinese media and now, from Sina Weibo and other social media. On Monday, the China Digital Times, a California-based group that monitors Chinese media and coverage of China, published a list of banned search terms that appears to underscore China's fear as the US movement goes global. Among the taboo are a long list of Chinese cities, including the terms "Occupy Beijing," "Occupy Shanghai" and "Occupy Guangzhou." Separately, the website Shanghaiist says rumors are afoot that police in Shanghai are asking around in local bars about possible foreign instigators of copycat protests in China.

Keep mind: There are no reports of any OWS demonstrations in China as yet.

China is particularly nervy when it comes to protests, even though the country sees at least 100,000 homegrown uprisings every year, according to the latest estimates (police stopped releasing the actual numbers about five years ago). With a turnover in power at the top slated for next year, the country remains on edge about political dissent and criticism.