The original, New York-based Occupy Wall Streeters must be pretty happy with how their movement has taken off around the globe. In addition to the dozens of protests taking place in U.S. cities, Occupiers have cropped up across Europe and the Americas, as well as in South Africa, Australia, and a spattering of East Asian countries, as shown in this Google Map of the protests below.
But notice that citizens in two heavyweights on the world stage--Russia and mainland China--haven't joined in on the fun just yet. (The closest so far: a roughly 40-person demonstration did happen at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange this weekend, Bloomberg reports.) Today, officials from China and Russia, who've seen their fair share of protests in the past, have a few haughty words on the little brew-ha-ha they've been watching develop in the West.
Vladimir Putin, defending his latest spending plan to a crowd of international CEOs, decided to use his speech as an opportunity to comment on the movement and how it differentiates Russia from the U.S., Reuters reports today. In his first public comments on the protests, Putin, who is running for reelection, argued that his budget, with a heavy emphasis on social programs, would mean that no Occupy protests need occur in Russia:
Hundreds of thousands of people -- not just a bunch of outcasts but hundreds of thousands -- are coming out onto the streets to demand what their governments are unable to fulfill ... If this (social spending) does not take place, then we could get to a situation which we see in countries with developed economies.
Meanwhile, China offered its first official word on the protests: they bring up some good points, but let's not do them in China. According to an AP report, the nation's foreign minister said of Occupy Wall Street:
"We feel that there are issues here that are worth pondering," said Liu Weimin, a foreign ministry spokesman during a regular briefing in Beijing.
"We have also noticed that in the media there has been a lot of commentary, discussion and reflection. But we think that all of these reflections should be conducive to maintaining the sound and steady development of the world economy," Liu said, without elaborating.
However, there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm among officials for having protests in China itself. One of China's state-run newspapers, the Global Times, wrote that the Chinese should "calmly observe the protest movement and the global situation, and not be confused by extreme points of view," according to the AP. In a more strongly-worded op-ed published yesterday, a Global Times editor wrote that the movement "points its finger directly at the heart of the problem"--that is, Wall Street, and capitalism in general--but doubts that it will succeed:
Although it seems almost impossible that drastic change will be brought by the Occupy Wall Street movement, the lackadaisical reaction from the top down is alarming. Perhaps because the movement accurately points out the crux of the problem, politicians opt for living in denial.