Reuters reports riots in China, not against Japan but against land-grabbers and other extra-legal or quasi-legal activities by the rich and powerful. To me the shock is not that one such riot has occured but the scale of the problem:
About 58,000 protests took place across the country in 2003, according to a report in the Communist Party-backed magazine Outlook. The state-controlled media are barred from freely reporting on many protests, and details are often hard to come by. Video footage of a violent protest is rarer still.
Mark Steyn's recent China column is looking better and better. On the other hand this disquiet would seem to be one reason why the PRC must have been so happy to see Microsoft's kowtowing on the portal/blog front. I can't see it having effect in the longer term because any democracy campaigner worth his salt is going to be coining obvious replacement words in the way that Private Eye in the UK used Uganda as an alternative to sex or "tired and emotional" for drunk. Choose the right alternative and all the secret policement look like complete wallies as they try to ban some common word such as "Cabbage" because they claim that people are using "Cabbage" when they mean "Democracy". This is, I think rather more important that it sounds at first, if the secret police look stupid then people start to lose their respect and fear for them, and that is a fundamental requirement for a popular revolution.
Despite the great firewall of China built by Cisco, Nortel*, Microsoft etc. - the technology equivalent of the way Swedish and Swiss companies helped the Nazis during WWII in my opinion - the Chinese government simply cannot in fact prevent internet (and mobile phone) users doing subversive things. They can, perhaps, slow down the dissemination of information and make it hard for anti-government information to be broadcast on a predictable and frequent basis but scalability and the availability of easy to use highly secure encryption schemes and peer to peer communication methods (skype for example has both an open API and built in encryption anyway) makes the idea that networks of dissidents can be tracked and/or stopped a failure from day one.
*Disclosure: in a very, very small way I was involved in some of the Nortel effort