Swift crackdown after calls for “Jasmine revolution” posted online in China

The Chinese authorities suspended searches for content on the country’s Twitter-like microblogging service operated by Sina in a move to stifle mention of a “Jasmine Revolution” that was to be staged in Chinese cities on Sunday.

The move came after calls were circulated online for people to join the protest and shout “we want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness”.

Status updates including the word “jasmine” on popular Chinese social networking site Renren.com were met with an error message and a warning to refrain from postings with ‘political, sensitive … or other inappropriate content.’

Calls for “a “Jasmine Revolution” are reported to have first appeared on the US-based, Chinese-language website Boxun.com, telling Chinese users to demonstrate in 13 cities across the country, including the capital Beijing. The Chinese site is currently down and using a temporary site during the DDoS attack.

Text messaging services were also unavailable in Beijing due to ‘technical issues’, the Daily Mail reports.

Plain-clothed and uniformed officers were deployed in Beijing, Shanghai and several other cities and more than 100 activists are reported to have been taken away by police, confined to their homes or missing.

The Guardian quotes Nicholas Bequelin, the Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch:

I think it is significant, not in terms of whether it is going to topple the political system, but in indicating China is not immune from larger global trends about the impact of new communications on people’s aspirations.