China's '50-cent' party takes on the jasmine revolutions

In addition to police crackdowns on public gatherings, the Chinese state -- or at least its supporters -- appears to have launched an online commenting campaign to discredit calls for a "jasmine revolution" in China. China Digital Times (CDT) writes:

Chinese users have noticed that suddenly a new group of Chinese accounts opened and became active during the last week. Some of these accounts have forged the names of activists and even included avatar photos of dissidents and activists. Most of the messages sent from these accounts, which have been tracked and compiled by other Chinese users, include pro-government comments typically sent by the so-called 50 Cent Party.

The 50-cent party is a nickname for the undercover pro-government Internet commenters who are allegedly paid that much per comment. Here are a few of the comments, as translated by CDT:

If we are democratized, there will be bunch of groups. America would support one, Russia another and Japan another…haha. Chinese people are famous for being traitors who sell out the national interests, and Chinese people are good at fighting against each other. When the time comes, China’s history will repeat itself again. ...

I am satisfied with the way things are. Does America have no dark side? Each coin has two sides, I am not willing to participate in any revolution which risks deteriorating my quality of life. What if I were to lose my life in the revolution? I am not that dumb. ...

I’ve seen a story in the international news lately, about the upheaval in Egypt. My conclusion, in short, is that it’s been brought about by the Americans’ running dogs, and no good will come of it. Americans are the sort who’ll blow up the bridge once they’re across it themselves. ...

Whatever Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, told her friend about being cut off for a long time from her friends and family, and her morale collapsing, her life looks very comfortable to me, taking foreign friends’ US dollars and enjoying life. No wonder so many people don’t really work and just make trouble here, because they can just live off of US dollars! Wow! ...

Those of you always going on about how bad the Communist Party is, why don’t you try governing 1.5 billion people for a bit? Winning the approval of the vast majority of people as they have is an amazing achievement! Not everyone gets along in America, either: why do you think there’s so much crime there? ...


Burma's generals attempt to prevent revolution by cross-dressing

With revolutions sweeping the Arab world, autocratic leaders from China to Vietnam to Zimbabwe are leaving nothing to chance, cracking down hard on potential troublemakers. Burma's eccentric military ruler Than Shwe, on the other hand, had a different idea for hanging on to power:

And so many Burmese were baffled earlier this month when Than Shwe and other top generals, appearing at a nationally televised ceremony, shed their dress uniforms for the Burmese equivalent of women's dresses. "I don't understand why the generals were wearing women's [sarongs] but they looked very weird," said a Rangoon mechanic, Myint Oo. Others put a more sinister spin on the generals' sartorial selection. "It's yadaya," said a Rangoon-based astrologer who asked not to be named, referring to Burma's particular brand of black magic. [...]

According to Wai Moe, a journalist with the Irrawaddy, an online magazine run by Burmese exiles, two interpretations of the the general sporting a ladies' sarong have gained the most currency. The first is that astrologers have predicted a woman will rule Burma, and so by donning women's clothes, Than Shwe and the other generals are attempting to fulfill the prophecy through some superstitious sleight of hand. The second, fuzzier interpretation, is that by dressing in women's clothing, the generals are somehow trying to neutralize Suu Kyi's power. After Than Shwe brutally suppressed an uprising led by Burmese monks in 2007, anti-regime activists launched a campaign asking people to send women's underwear to the leader because they said the generals believe that contact with women's underwear will sap their power. By wearing sarongs, they may believe they are cancelling out Suu Kyi's ability to sap what they view as the virile male power that underpins their leadership.

Time for a ladies underwear revolution?

This isn't the first time Than Shwe has made some odd decisions for allegedly astrological reasons. He also replaced Burma's 100-kyat note with a 90-kyat note because it was luckier, and he moved his capital to a remote outpost, reportedly, because his star was in decline.