Great piece by Perry Link on why the Chinese leadership is nervous about all this democracy hubbub in the Middle East: Middle East Revolutions: The View from China
Yes, the use of technology to promote democracy and civil liberties is a concern, but the big issue for China seems to be the destruction of the idea that some people just need authoritarian leaders to be happy.
I love the end of the lede graf:
Thus, while Chinese censors have declared the word Mubarak (along with “Egypt” and others) to be “sensitive” and have set up filters to delete any message that contains it, Chinese Web users, in their usual cat-and-mouse game, have invented witty substitutes. These include “Mu Xiaoping” and “Mu Jintao”—which, by playing on the names of China’s own autocrats, get around the censors and up the ante at the same time.
And obviously the Egyptians knew they were playing to an international audience.
We all saw the signs in English on the U.S. media and on BBC. But there were also signs in Chinese, a fact not missed by Link — but missed by the Western media.
How Egyptians might feel about China, whether in regard to the government in Beijing or the people who have endorsed Charter 08, is hard to say. But it is certainly interesting that a few of the protesters’ signs in Tahrir Square—“Mubarak Go!” and “The Egyptian People Demand Mubarak Resign”—were written in Chinese.
Clearly the Egyptians understood truly global impact of their actions. (Wonder if there were any signs in Hebrew?)