The Occupy Wall Street protests in the U.S. have drawn increasing attention in China, where media figures and China’s voluble online community are arguing over what it means for the U.S. Earlier this week, a small group of pensioners in China’s central Henan province even rallied in support of the U.S. protesters, though nostalgia for Mao Zedong’s bygone era appeared to be a main driver. “Resolutely supporting the American people’s mighty ‘Wall Street revolution,’” read an unfurled banner during the demonstration Thursday at a park in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, according to video footage posted online as well as the leftist website Utopia. The website said several hundred people took part.
It seems safe to say–as Obama administration officials debate whether to adopt a more populist tone and appeal to the protesters as a voting bloc—that this is not what they had in mind. Based on the online video, it was a quiet protest. Some of the old men fumbled with their red arm bands, which called for world-wide solidarity. Many simplly stood quietly, hands clasped behind their backs. “United, proletarians around the world,” was one of the slogans the pensioners chanted. The Henan demonstration was a far cry from Mao’s anti-rightist campaigns during the early years of the Communist party’s rule, but a deeper discussion has been brewing within China’s media and Internet about the protests.
The protests have become big news in China and have been closely followed by the local media. They have also drawn mixed reactions. Some have been pleased to see frictions in the U.S., showing that its occasionally finger-waving democratic rival can be less than perfect. Still others sympathized with the protesters, which is perhaps understandable in a nation grappling with its own surging brand of capitalism and where major institutions hold so much power. Late last month, a strongly worded op-ed appeared in the state-run China Daily newspaper accusing the U.S. media of ignoring the demonstrations. The piece, penned by Chen Weihua, a senior newspaper staffer based in New York, said major media companies in the U.S. had imposed a “blackout” on coverage of the protests.