While protesting in the park, stop and smell the 100 flowers

Tankman 100 FlowersIt was announced recently that three Beijing parks, miles away from the Olympic events, will be reserved as areas where people can “protest” during the Olympics.

Of course, to protest, you’ll have to apply five days in advance and hope your cause isn’t considered, the rather ubiquitous, “against national interests” (anyone wishing to raise a sign against the domestic policies of Azerbaijan are welcome).

The decision to allow the Disney-flavoured protests comes from the on going pressure the global community has put on China because the Games aren’t as open as they were promised to be.

Liu Shaowu, security chief for the BOC, explained, “Assembling to march and protest is a citizen’s right. But it must be stressed that when exercising this right, citizens must respect and not harm others’ freedoms and rights and must not harm national, social and collective interests.”

It raises the question: what is there to protest that doesn’t, in some way, conflict with national, social or collective interests? I guess I could protest my ingrown toe-nail, or maybe the gas that eating Sichuan food gives me? Hey, Hey ho, Hui Guo Rou has got to go, hey, hey ho!

Even more present in the mind of would-be protesters has to be the consequences of raising a sign of protest in a country that has historically be very open to rounding up voices of dissent after allowing or even encouraging them to do so.

Foreigners are also allowed to apply to protest, and can do so at their local Entry and Exit Bureau – you know, the same place you apply for your visa. You do the math.