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What can Chinese revolutionaries learn from Serbia?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a United Nations of resistance—a place where resisters around the world can come together and compare notes about their campaigns? Or maybe there already is one. Just look at the flags above.

We wrote not long ago about the young bloggers who are quietly fomenting a Jasmine Revolution in China. The one that The New York Times featured in its article, a 27-year-old in New York who writes under the aliases Gaius Gracchus and Hua Ge (“Flower Brother”), has been doing his homework. At Boxun.com, China’s popular (and banned) alternative news website, he interviews Ivan Marovic, one of the leading minds behind the nonviolent Serbian student movement that brought down Slobodan Milošević in 2000.

Do you have a message to the Chinese authorities who are still in power? Did you have a message for Milosevic when he was in power?

Yes we had a message for Milosevic when he was in power, and I think the same message can work for the Chinese authorities. That is, is it impossible to prevent people when they wish to be free. That is just not going to work because you can only spend more and more effort, more and more energy in preventing them, but eventually they will prevail. And this was what happened in Serbia. He had finally to step down. There was no way he could avoid that. So that would be my message. [Some corrections made.]

A large part of Gracchus/Hua’s strategy is turning the Chinese regime’s overreactions against Jasmine Revolution activities into an advantage. It’s quite amazing, and a bit pathetic; the word “jasmine” has been banned from Chinese social media, and a festival dedicated to jasmine flowers has been cancelled. Even a video of Hu Jintao singing about jasmine flowers has been pulled from the internet. Reports the Japanese paper Asahi:

Despite the heightened Internet activity, any hint of protests within China are quickly clamped down on by the authorities.

Hua said, “A major motive among young people who want to take part is making fun at how very sensitive the authorities have become.”

Sound familiar? Remember the now-renowned “barrel of laughs” action that Marovic and his friends used to help their fellow Serbians lose their fear of the dictator:

China is a very different place than even Milošević’s Serbia, with a much more repressive, reactive state, which has a lot more money and guns behind it. But there’s no need to confuse firepower with political strength. When the people start believing that the regime is a joke, that’s the beginning of the end.