By Jeremiah Jenne
BEIJING, China -- Last Sunday's planned protests were something of a bust but that hasn't stopped activists from posting another series of anonymous letters on the US-based Chinese language website Boxun urging Chinese citizens to take to the streets this weekend. The new statement is even more ambitious in scope, listing demonstration sites in 23 cities around China and inviting people to take part if only "to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear."
Despite last weekend passing more or less without incident, China's security forces are on high alert. Internet speed -- never one of China's strong points -- is even more hit or miss than usual. The social networking site LinkedIn briefly joined Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube when it was temporarily blocked earlier this week, though I was able to access it without a VPN just a little while ago.
Other Internet users have reported problems with their VPNs, setting off a mini-panic among businesses and residents who rely on them to access overseas sites.
There's even been some talk that government concerns could mean problems ahead for China's most used microblogging site Sina Weibo, though industry analysts (and Sina) insist that's not likely to happen. Sina Weibo is however currently blocking searches for sensitive terms including "Wangfujing" (the designated protest site in Beijing), "Jon Huntsman," "Hilary Clinton," and, of course, "Jasmine."