But 15 years later, it would appear that the grassroots urge to democratize China is still strong.
Murray Scot Tanner reports in the International Herald Tribune that Beijing is again confronting a growing volume of popular protest. Interestingly, reports of this widespread protest are being confirmed by China's own police forces, which used to routinely deny permission for most protest demonstrations. Tanner writes:
Recent official police statistics are striking. The number of demonstrations increased from 8,700 to 32,000 from 1993 to 1999 - an increase of 268 percent. The number probably swelled past 40,000 in 2000. In no year during this period did protests increase by less than 9 percent, and in the financial crisis years of 1997 and 1998 they spiked by 25 and 67 percent, respectively.In particular, the Chinese are protesting a number of things, including the undemocratic communist regime, "grievances against rapacious managers and corrupt local officials," and unfair working and economic conditions.
Though we lack nationwide data for the years since 2000, Chinese government reports indicate that the number of public protests has probably risen each of the last three years. Sichuan, China's largest province, apparently saw an increase in protests of almost 20 percent last year, to nearly 1,500.
Tanner shows how Chinese protesters are getting more sophisticated in their tactics, showing a brave kind of maturity in the face of severe reprimands.