The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said today it is “appalled by the attack on one of our members by men who appeared to be plain clothes security officers in Beijing.”
Other journalists who went to the same part of Beijing to do their jobs had problems with the police, including being manhandled, pushed, detained and delayed.
Read Full Statement.
The actions against the journalists came as they tried to cover planned demonstrations organized under the “Jasmine Revolution” banner. The government was so worried about the demonstrations that the police put on a major show of force.
In addition to the heavy police presence, street cleaning vehicles and men with brooms swept back and forth along the designated streets in Beijing and Shanghai, preventing pedestrians from slowing down. A construction site appeared on Wangfujing earlier this week, blocking off a stretch outside the hamburger bar.
Associated Press reported that Shanghai police used whistles to disperse a crowd of around 200, although it was unclear if the people were anything more than onlookers. It said officers detained at least four Chinese citizens in the city and two others in Beijing. It was not clear, however, if those detained had tried to protest.
This cry from Egypt is cited in a wonderful piece by Yoani Sanchez in her Generation Y blog from Cuba: Egypt 2.0
The access to information and freedom to communicate with others that the Internet allows is a major problem for dictators. That is why China has the Great Firewall and blocks Facebook and Twitter, why Iran controls access to online sources and why Libya and Egypt literally pulled the plug on the Internet connections.
It didn’t work in Egypt. More and more people in Iran and China are working their way around the government efforts. And now more info is slowing coming out of Tripoli as people do techno work-arounds.
The legitimacy and confidence of any government shows best when the critics come out. And the leadership in China is showing how insecure they are.
Keith Richburg reports from Beijing that the calls for demonstrations around China for a “jasmine revolution” have seriously spooked the authorities. (Chinese police face down Middle East-style protests)
The deployment of water cannons and extra security around the target demonstration areas in Beijing and Shanghai showed how fearful the authorities are of the Chinese people standing up against the corruption and lack of transparency that exists in the Chinese government and ruling party.
As long as I can remember — and we are going back at least 25 years — the Chinese Communist Party claims to have been waging a war against corruption. They make pronouncements of how they are removing corrupt and leaders and the government arrests a handful of corrupt local politicians. But when it get too close to the ruling class at Zhongnanhai, the accusers are arrested or harassed.
The current wave of discontent — that seems energized by what is happening in North Africa — includes the growing middle class in China. This middle class sees their path to a better life blocked by corruption and arbitrary government policy seemingly answerable to no one. These are the same complaints of many in the Arab uprisings. So now more Chinese seem to be looking to North Africa as an inspiration.
And that is why the terms “jasmine,” “Egypt,” and “Libya” are being blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
Clearly it is the growing access to ideas and information that scares the Chinese leadership the most. Yet, at the same time, they say that for China to progress to the next level of development, the restrictions on the exchange of data and news has to change.
Remember this interview: (Well if you are in China, you can’t see it.)
CNN/Fareed Zakaria interview with Premier Wen:
The calls for weekly “Jasmine Revolutions” in China have the security forces on edge. And it makes life difficult for journalists trying to cover the events.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China issued a statement giving the journalists some tips.
Many correspondents in Beijing have gotten calls with warnings about reporting in the vicinity of Wangfujing this weekend, ranging from friendly reminders about reporting regulations to specific warnings. The FCCC strongly urges everyone to carry all necessary press credentials and passports, to avoid being provoked into confrontations, and to avoid in any way endangering Chinese assistants.
And then it gets interesting:
Some correspondents have been told to register at a Wangfujing district office for permission to report there. This office does not appear to have a listed number and the PSB [Public Security Bureau] was unable to provide one to correspondents who asked.
The public office where reporters need to register to report in the area has an unlisted number.
The FCCC is concerned about and monitoring arbitrary interpretation of the reporting regulations. Please inform us if you are blocked from reporting in public space. China’s reporting regulations, which took effect in Oct. 2008, state: “To interview organizations or individuals in China, foreign journalists need only to obtain their prior consent.”
ABS-CBN News in the Philippines has a VERY cool interactive map that show how many Filipinos are in the Middle East/North Africa area. The map shows not just the number of Filipinos but also their remittances back to family back home.
And when you get to remittances, then you are talking about a very real local connection to an international event.
Check out the story at INTERACTIVE: What unrests in Mideast, N.Africa mean to Pinoys and the INTERACTIVE MAP.
Many thanks to@The_CopyEditor, Jojo Pasion Malig in Manila for Tweeting about this.