It will be very interesting to see where this goes. China Digital Times tagged a longer
Pacific Epoch Epoch Times article here. Zou Tao, the founder of the NotBuyHouse movement, has a blog here and a general website for the NotBuyHouse Alliance here. A couple of important points. First, Zou Tao is a longtime political activist. His latest blogpost helpfully reviews his background in this regard. He describes himself as a social activist and volunteer working on the social problems of the weak and poor. He lists some of his previous campaigns, beginning in 1999 with "Open Letter on Volunteering to Campaign for the People's Congress" and "Open Letter to Society on Being a Real Citizen" [that's not a good translation, frankly, but it's a tough phrase to render in English]. He has also been a consumer representative on a number of Shenzhen forums on digital television costs and rising parking costs. In short, an active figure in municipal politics.
Second point: Zou's political experience has shaped a sophisticated use of the internet to drive his movement. He has logos of varying sizes for people to copy onto their own websites, and a specific strategy for how people can help disseminate the word online.
Unknowns: Zou's current whereabouts, according to Epoch Times
Pacific Epoch. Personally, I'm always sceptical about the accuracy of Pacific Epoch's Epoch Times' reporting, but they say that Zou was detained on his way to deliver a letter to top Chinese leaders in Beijing. He then became reticent while talking to PE ET reporters, though one can understand why that may be since PE ET is known to be linked to the Falun Gong. [Note: I got the names mixed up. Apologies to Pacific Epoch, which is a consultancy and research firm whose work I admire].
Another unknown is what Zou wants to do with the "alliance" and the "movement" that he has started. There's a strong current of populist anger at speculators, which clearly taps into widespread fear about the stability of housing supplies and the ability of blue collar workers to buy in. All understandable on one level, yet surely quite threatening to the government. Check out the NotBuyHouse Alliance's goals, as posted on their website.
- to express our extreme dissatisfaction with housing prices that are "higher than England and the U.S."!
- through our actions, to generate action from the appropriate government bureaus, and to gain the attention of society!
- let the [real estate] developers die in the toilets, let the houses rot in the speculators' hands! [Note: no idea what "die in the toilets" refers to. Is there a particular issue with toilets and real estate in Shenzhen?]
- unite all the forces that can be united, and through our practical actions, let the artificially high housing prices return to a rational position
- absolutely do not buy a house for three years, unless housing prices come within an acceptable scope
- broadcast our objectives, let more people understand us, and join with us
Could this be the first deliberate Internet-organized protest campaign that has gained international recognition? How far has it spread? What will happen now?