China’s official state-run media and portal websites have all reported on the resignation of Egyptian president Mubarak. However, there were very few commentary articles and no mention of how and why Mubarak was toppled from power.
But the facts are being spread via social media. Some Chinese citizens are expressing their hopefulness on Twitter, and democracy activists are in a celebratory mood even while facing state oppression.
In the past few weeks, waves of democracy uprisings in Arab dictatorships have resulted in the resignations of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt. In media outlets around the world solidarity has been expressed with the millions of citizens who took to the streets every day to demand free elections and an end to dictatorship and corruption.
China watchers have been asking if China could be next. Throughout this time, reporting strategies by Chinese state media have been to block, downplay, shift the focus, and leave out pertinent information regarding the color revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. They say this indicates that the communist regime leaders fear that the color revolution might expand to China.
When Egypt’s president Mubarak finally resigned, most of China’s newspapers and websites still merely published brief news reports put out by Xinhua, the regime’s mouthpiece.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, in a statement on Feb. 12, did not mention Mubarak's resignation or how he was toppled from power. Instead, Ma said China has been closely following the changing situation in Egypt and hopes the latest developments will help Egypt to restore national stability and normal order as soon as possible.
In a Feb. 12 editorial, China Daily, an official regime newspaper, said: “What is happening in Egypt is an internal affair. It should be resolved without foreign interference.”
Chinese media outlets still have not mentioned anything about the cause of the protests in Egypt and have only quoted the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces asking protesters “to resume normal life and order and return to work.”
Response on China’s Social Media
Though official media and portal websites reported on the news from Egypt, censors nevertheless closed off all related discussions.
On Sina microblog, the search words “Egypt” and “Mubarak” yielded no results. However, China’s censorship has been unable to placate Chinese Internet users’ enthusiasm on these topics. Some users created the phrase “mu gua la ke” to replace the censored word “mu ba la ke” (Mubarak).
Some Chinese bloggers posted tweets to express their thoughts and feelings after Mubarak resigned.
“Tonight, Egypt is a liberated country. The people of the decaying district [China] are sadly rejoicing,” Dai Xindong (@shdxd) twitted.
“They tell us that it only takes 18 days and no violence to reach freedom,” someone named @Ali3da twitted.
“A government that is afraid of Facebook and Twitter should go rule a farm and not a nation,” @yindeyi, another tweeter, said.
Photographer Wang Qi composed this poetic tweet: “The jasmine flower has already bloomed—it’s lovely. The peony has yet to blossom—it’s anticipated.”
Liao Shuangyuan, a freelance writer from Guizhou Province, told New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV): “I feel proud for the Egyptian people. We support them, and we hope that the whole world can stand by the Chinese people.
“The totalitarianism of the Chinese Communist Party will not last long; they will soon be forced to step down like Mubarak.”
Zhang Zhanning, a Law school professor, told NTDTV that many Chinese people feel helpless under totalitarian rule, but are regaining hope after learning of Egypt’s revolution.
Democracy Activists Under Surveillance
Encouraged by the outcomes of the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt, China’s democracy activists have started becoming active. The regime responded by putting known activists in different areas under surveillance by the Domestic Security Division.
Chen Xili, a democracy activist from Guizhou, said local authorities summoned him immediately after Mubarak had stepped down.
“I know all they will do is threaten me when I go there. I think people find these threats already ineffective. This totalitarian rule will soon collapse,” Chen told NTDTV.
To celebrate the Egyptian people’s victory, over one hundred human rights and democracy activists, including China Democracy Party members Wei Shuishan, Xue Mingkai, Zhu Yufu, and Wang Rongqing from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, gathered in a restaurant on Feb. 12. They also brought a large banner that said: “Celebrate the resignation of Mubarak and the end of totalitarian rule in Egypt.”
But their celebration was short-lived, as police broke up their party and arrested some of them.
Wang Rongqing was arrested by Domestic Security police from Jianggan District and released later. He told The Epoch Times, “The fact that the Egyptian people were able to stand up for democracy and claim victory is thought-provoking. The group therefore wanted to discuss how they should take action in the future.”