The wave of anti-government protests in the Middle East and North Africa inspired by Tunisia's 'Jasmine' revolution has now reached Asia. Supporters of democracy in China planned protests similar to those rocking the Arab World, but only to be squashed.
Following in the footsteps of the Arab protesters, organizers used social media to mobilize the movement for a 'Jasmine Revolution,' the title given to the Tunisian revolt which dethroned President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The demands were food, jobs, housing and justice, The International Business Times reports.
Before the call for demonstrations, Chinese authorities detained or put under house arrest as many as 100 people, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. They include well-known lawyers and human rights activists. Some of them were taken into custody after a meeting last week to dicuss the plight of Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who is being held prisoner in his home in rural Shandong province.
"Police actions have ostensibly been carried out to prevent activists from helping Chen Guangcheng, but at a deeper level, the reason is Egypt, Tunisia, and the flower revolutions," the Hong Kong-based rights center quoted one of the lawyers saying.
The Chinese government has tried to restrict coverage of the uprisings across the Middle East for fear of comparisons between its own one-party system and those that are now being challenged by restive citizens. Searches for the words "jasmine" and "Egypt" are blocked on many websites, according to Los Angeles Times.