When tragedy strikes in the West, governments and civic groups often observe a moment of silence. To remember those killed in the earthquake in Qinghai Province on the Tibetan Plateau last week, the Chinese established the entire day today as a day of mourning (哀悼).
The government made it impossible to miss this commemoration. Flags were flown at half mast, all entertainment establishments like bars, karaoke clubs, and theatres were closed for the entire day, and much of the Chinese entertainment content on the web was taken down. Major websites also changed their color schemes to black and white. Additionally, television entertainment (i.e. music videos, dramas, etc…) was rescheduled, and special reports of the tragedy were broadcasted instead.
While the intentions behind this display were no doubt honorable and good, some also believe that the government does see benefit in organizing a highly visible, wide-ranging, national demonstration that impacts everyone as it can serve as a reminder to the public of its authority and power.