Economist . AN ATTEMPT by unidentified microblog users to whip up a “jasmine revolution” in China has produced little visible response so far except for police jitters and a revived official antagonism toward the foreign media. It has also created friction between China and America’s outgoing ambassador, Jon Huntsman, who was seen on February 20th near a McDonald’s outlet in Wangfujing, in downtown Beijing, where messages circulated on the internet had called on people to congregrate. (Mr Huntsman said it was a coincidence.)
The ambassador has now issued a statement strongly condemning the detention and harassment by police of several foreign journalists who tried to cover the response to another call for protest, this time on February 27th. One of the journalists was punched and kicked, by people who appeared to be plainclothes police, and then detained for several hours. Several reporters had their cameras and video equipment confiscated. A report by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (which has since been removed from the club’s website) counts 16 news organisations whose staff were harassed by police: either assaulted, manhandled, deprived of their equipment or detained. Mr Huntsman called on the Chinese government to “hold the perpetrators accountable”.