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Web users beat censors to attack ‘authoritarian’ opening ceremony

Michael Sheridan
London Times [1]
Sunday, Aug 10, 2008

WHILE the world marvelled at the spectacular opening ceremony in Beijing, a surprising backlash was materialising this weekend among Chinese internet users.

A significant number of those posting comments on some less closely censored websites said the ceremony had glorified authoritarian rule and one said it reduced individuals to “cogs in a machine”.

Yesterday even the website of the People’s Daily, the Communist party newspaper, recorded more readers criticising the event than admiring it, with some calling it “empty” and “boring”.

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While the majority of Chinese people reflected the positive global reaction to the ceremony, the openness of the online dissent was surprising given the government’s draconian measures to crush any criticism during the Games.

China sent at least 58 citizens to labour camps for “reeducation” to stop them staging protests in Beijing, according to official figures. Eight more were given prison sentences and 45 others are awaiting punishment for daring to travel to the capital to raise their grievances.

All such protests were effectively stifled before Friday’s ceremony but yesterday the work of Zhang Yimou, who directed the show, was subjected to unusually strong public criticism.

“The actors looked like a swarm of ants,” complained Guo Yuquan, on Cat898.com, a popular website. “What was the idea? It was to consider people just as cogs in a machine. I think he got his ideas 100% from North Korea.”

Full article here [1]