The Epoch Times has more on the riot in Guizhou last week, including this part about how social media is changing how the game is played here:
Wang Keqin, a well-known investigative reporter, followed developments closely. He referred to parts of an article in the Oriental Morning Post that had been deleted by censors. Someone in the crowd had said, in part: “It’s like a submachine gun. … I was not far from the bullets. When I saw him loading the gun, I thought they were loading the gun to shoot up in the air. I didn’t expect them to shoot people. Do you know? I didn’t expect that the first shot was firing toward us. We started to run.”
Liu Wei, a human rights lawyer, is recorded by Radio Free Asia (RFA) as saying: “The incident has grown bigger and bigger. It is out of control now. There were constantly sounds of gunshots at the scene, and tear gas is everywhere. It’s reported that anti-riot police tossed smoke grenades to disperse the crowd, and fired on them. Many people were injured or even killed. Now the streets are blocked by police. … Cleaning cars are cleaning the blood off the road.”
“There were so many onlookers,” wrote one user of Sina Weibo. “Blood and dead bodies were everywhere. The riot police rushed to the sidewalk. … The riot police kept on rushing to the sidewalk, and onlookers almost knocked me to the ground. The street-side stone bench was covered in blood; there were two corpses on the road.”
Recently, Chinese users of social media are reporting more aggressively on events that show the regime in a bad light, such as the riot in Anshun or the Wenzhou train crash. This, along with the proliferation of access to these technologies, is particularly concerning to Party apparatchiks, according to Zhong Weiguang, a Chinese dissident and commentator who now lives in Germany.
“This is coming out more and more now because of the Internet and Weibo,” Zhong said in a telephone interview. As connectivity among the population increases, people are able to see that individual phenomena are not isolated. At the same time, he said, “The conflicts that allow these things to happen are becoming more and more common, and the methods the regime is using are becoming more and more gangster-like.”
This is why I think the local/nation disconnect that has shielded Beijing from criticism over the last few decades is becoming a thing of the past. It’s one thing when there’s an altercation in your hometown, it’s another thing when the internet allows you to see altercations in every town across China. Riot police use the same tactics, have the same relationship with local politicians who are themselves connected to provincial politicians who form bases of support for politicians in Beijing. When Beijing can see these problems happening and chooses not to intervene, but instead to reward local politicians who use force to maintain ‘stability,’ it becomes obvious that Beijing isn’t some powerless bystander. The way Chinese citizens view their relationship with Beijing is inevitably going to change while this phenomenon continues.