Shanghai Clamps Down On Anti-Japanese Demonstrations

In the previous post Are The Anti-Japanese Demonstrations Spontaneous or Stage-Managed?, I proposed the theory that the peculiar out-of-sync movements of Shanghai may be interpreted as a sign of factional struggles within the Chinese government.  Thus, when Beijing marched on April 9, Shanghai was silent; when Beijing clamped down on April 16, Shanghai exploded.  This led me to propose that Shanghai (the bastion of Jiang Zemin) and Beijing (the headquarters of the Hu-Wen administration) are at odds with each other.  At the time, I said that I had no way to prove this, so we will have to watch what happens next for consistency with this conspiracy theory.  Some more hints have arrived.

On April 26, the following newspaper editorial was published (see link):

This is a planned conspiracy and a disturbance. Its essence is to, once and for all, negate the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system. This is a serious political struggle confronting the whole party and the people of all nationalities throughout the country.

If we are tolerant of or conniving with this disturbance and let it go unchecked, a seriously chaotic state will appear. Then, the reform and opening up; the improvement of the economic environment and the rectification of the economic order, construction, and development; the control over prices; the improvement of our living standards; the drive to oppose corruption; and the development of democracy and the legal system expected by the people throughout the country, including the young students, will all become empty hopes. Even the tremendous achievements scored in the reform during the past decade may be completely lost, and the great aspiration of the revitalization of China cherished by the whole nation will be hard to realize. A China with very good prospects and a very bright future will become a chaotic and unstable China without any future.


All comrades in the party and the people throughout the country must soberly recognize the fact that our country will have no peaceful days if this disturbance is not checked resolutely. This struggle concerns the success or failure of the reform and opening up, the program of the four modernizations, and the future of our state and nation. Party organizations of the CPC at all levels, the broad masses of members of the Communist Party and the Communist Youth League, all democratic parties and patriotic democratic personages, and the people around the country should make a clear distinction between right and wrong, take positive action, and struggle to firmly and quickly stop the disturbance.

The newspaper was the People's Daily.  Ah, but here is my wicked little twist -- the year was 1989, and this infamous editorial so incensed the students that hundreds of thousands of them poured into the streets with the support of the citizens.  This incendiary event would eventually culminate in the massacre of June 4th.

There is a reason for the above editorial to be shown here again.  On April 25, 2005, the Liberation Daily of Shanghai published an editorial authored by its commentator.  Here is my translation:

A great many facts have proved that the recent illegal march was a criminal action and not a patriotic event: this is not a spontaneous movement by the people, but there is a conspiracy behind the curtain.  At the moment, our important mission is to identify clearly the nature of the struggle, to disclose the truth of the matter, to protect the respect for the law and to stop these criminal actions!

If there is a law, we will follow it; when we carry out the law, we will be stern; when someone breaks the law, we will go after them.  These are the principles of the rule of law.  The laws of our nation have clearly stated that any demonstration not approved by the public security apparatus is illegal; unauthorized demonstrations organized by the Internet and SMS are illegal; threatening public safety and disrupting social order during any demonstration is all the more illegal.  The public security bureau has the right to stop these illegal acts immediately; they have the right to disperse the crowd; they have the right to arrest anyone who refuses to disperse; they have the responsibility to prosecute those have committed crimes.  All of these rules and regulations have been publicized.  We will not tolerate any challenge to the law.  All the citizens in this city should openly declare their opposition to these criminal activities.  We will not tolerate these criminal activities.  We will show no mercy for those who have committed crimes.  This way, we will protect the authority of the central government, the dignity of the law,  the reputation of the city and the fundamental rights of the masses.

Since this matter affects the overall situation, all members of the Communist Party, the Communist Youth League and the broad masses must maintain their clear political minds and perception to unite and act together to defend the law and fight against all these illegal activities.  We will stand firmly with the party and the government and we will support and assist the people's judiciary organizations to investigate these illegal acts, punish the criminals, protect social stability and defend the national interests.

Political hackery can apparently be recycled seamlessly.  You could have copied-and-pasted the 1989 editorial for today, with some minor updates such as contemporary references to the Internet and SMS.

Anyway, Liberation Daily is a government newspaper and so this editorial from the newspaper's own commentator can be taken to represent the official position of the Shanghai government.  Obviously, the folks in the central government were quite unhappy about the mayhem in Shanghai on April 16 and are forcing Shanghai to toe the line.

At ChineseNewsNet, a meta-analysis was proposed.  Here is my summary (with some of my own words):

Quite a few readers thought that they were re-reading the famous April 26, 1989 editorial of People's Daily when they saw the April 25, 2005 editorial in Liberation Daily.  Consequently, some readers are beginning to think that Shanghai is only seemingly clamping down on the demonstrations but really trying to pour oil on fire.

Everybody knows that the central government is attempting now to cool down the anti-Japanese sentiments.  The central government has taken public positions against any more demonstrations, and they have also ordered the local governments to make sure no more demonstrations take place.  At this critical moment, the Shanghai government has come out to demean the patriotic fervor of the citizens.  This will definitely offend the Shanghai citizens who went out to demonstrate, because they have been branded as criminal elements committing illegal acts at the behest of unnamed black hands.  This is practically an incitement to riot.  In truth, the Shanghai government must know that the April 26 editorial 16 years ago generated a great deal of anger and caused the troubles to multiple.  Putting out an eerily similar editorial is liable to lead to escalation now.  So this is one theory about the factional fighting. 

The most peculiar part about this April 25 editorial is the goal of uncovering the "conspiracy behind the curtain."  Before the demonstration, the Shanghai public security bureau sent out SMS messages to citizens: 'According to law, marches must obtain permission. The masses, in expressing their warm patriotic sentiments, must be orderly, rational and law abiding.'  This was interpreted as tacit approval, even though there was plausible deniability in the weak reminder about legality.  On the day of the march, the public security bureau even provided road signs on where the marchers should go.  So who else could the 'conspiracy behind the curtain' be but the Shanghai government itself?  Might the Liberation Daily editorial be a salvo directed by the central government against the Shanghai government?  So this is another theory about the factional fighting.

Strange days are here ...