Nearly a week after calls for widespread pro-democracy protests fell flat in China, organizers are making another attempt at rallying support for the so-called "jasmine" demonstrations Sunday.
Efforts to organize on February 20 were deemed largely unsuccessful after casual observers and police outnumbered the few protesters that showed up for the demonstrations.
On Friday, anonymous instructions on a site on Facebook, which is blocked in China, encouraged people to show up at central locations in about two-dozen major Chinese cities and "go for a walk" together this Sunday. Along with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continue to be blocked, making calls for action available only to those outside mainland China or to Chinese who have access to virtual private networks with foreign IP addresses.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn, one of the last social networking sites allowed in the country, was blocked in China on Friday as the government ramped up internet censorship.
This time around, organizers are masking the events as "liang hui" -- a Mandarin term which commonly refers to meetings held each March by China's political leadership. The cleverly selected terminology is an attempt by protest organizers to circumvent censorship on popular microblogs in the lead-up to actual meetings held by the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Words such as "jasmine" in Chinese and "Wangfujing" -- the famous Beijing shopping strip where Sunday's demonstrations are set to begin -- were not searchable on China's most popular microblog, Sina Weibo, on Friday. The Chinese name of U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. -- who showed up at last Sunday's "jasmine" protest in Beijing -- are also blocked.
When searching the terms, users see a message that states: "According to relevant laws and policies, search results cannot be shown."
Huntsman, wearing a black leather jacked with a patch of the American flag on his left shoulder, was captured at last week's protest in a widely viewed video posted on YouTube, in which he's called out by some in the crowd. One asks if he is "hoping China will become chaotic?" -- a reference to the unrest that has consumed several countries in Africa and the Middle East as protesters there demand democracy.
Speaking in Mandarin, Huntsman tells them that he "just came to have a look." The hecklers accuse him of pretending to not know about the protest and feigning ignorance.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Buangan said Huntsman came upon the protests when he was passing through the area with his wife, two of his children and his son-in-law.
"Last Saturday, (members of) the Huntsman family were on their way to visit a Tiananmen Square museum, passing through Wangfujing Shopping district. The Huntsmans walking through Wangfujing, and the events that took place related to any so-called protests, were purely coincidental. Once the family realized a security-related situation was developing, they immediately left," Buangan said.
For Sunday, organizers have posted details on the Facebook page encouraging participants to be peaceful. In the event of "adverse treatment" the site advised individuals to be as tolerant as possible and show a "high level of Chinese character" in the "pursuit of democracy and freedom., "
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