From The New York Times: "But while it’s true that sudden, radical change is not likely to happen in China, that’s no reason for despair: change has been under way in China for years, but in forms more subtle than most people outside the country understand.
After the government crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it was widely assumed that Beijing had quashed any chance for meaningful dissent. But protests have become more common since then, over everything from wages and polluted land to dam-building and animal rights. They have involved workers, villagers, migrants, environmentalists and public-interest lawyers.
Protest is also increasingly common on the Internet. I recently counted 60 major cases of online activism, ranging from extensive blogging to heavily trafficked forums to petitions, in 2009 and 2010 alone. Yet these protests are reformist, not revolutionary. They are usually local, centering on corrupt government officials and specific injustices against Chinese citizens, and the participants in different movements do not connect with one another, because the government forbids broad-based coalitions for large-scale social movements."
Yang is associate professor of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and the author of The Power of the Internet in China.