It was something to make you wonder aloud: “Are they serious?” As part of the good face towards the outside world that China was trying to build in the run-up to the Beijing Games – an attempt to live up to supposed “Olympic ideals,” since similar measures had apparently been introduced at the Athens and Sydney Olympics – back last month the Chinese authorities announced that protests and demonstrations would be legally allowed, but only within zones that would be designated within three of Beijing’s parks, namely the Zizhuyuan, Ritan, and World Parks, respectively in the city’s NW, E, and SW parts. All that was necessary was to apply for permission five days in advance, specifying in your application, in detail, the planned nature of the protest, the topic, and the number of participants.
(If you’d like a bit of English-language amusement, you can check out the on-line article about this from Xinhua, one of China’s two official news agencies. The respective park managers are diligently boning up on the national “law on assemblies, procession and demonstrations” to get prepared; meanwhile, park visitors express alarm that their lives could be disturbed.)
No, of course they were not serious. (more…)