Monthly Archives: February 2011

Update: Journalists beaten/harassed in Beijing

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.

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If you want to liberate a country, give it Internet

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.

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Jasmine tweets show weakness in Chinese rule

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:

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed_edition&videoId=world/2010/10/01/gps.wen.china.censorship.cnn

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Filed under Asia, Censorship, China, International News Coverage

Journalists in Beijing run into unlisted barrier

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.”

 

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What the Middle East means to the Philippines

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.

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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

Calling Winston Smith: New marching order from Ministry of Truth (China)

Thanks to China Digital News for the latest update on directives about what media are and are not allowed to run.

Here are some samples. And you will notice, that with each of these items, there is nothing that says the information is false. The central authorities just don’t want the information to get out.

You sure don’t want anyone to know that maybe a party picked candidate is not qualified.

Candidates for Representative at People’s Congress

February 21, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: Please delete all posts related to the item “Candidates for Representative at the People’s Congress Have No Legal Standing” found on any website or interactive space, including micro-blogs, blogs, online forums, breaking news services, and text messages.

The last thing a central government concerned with “stability” wants is any discussion of higher fuel costs.

Fuel Price Increases

February 19, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: For news on the fuel price increases issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, all websites are requested to close commentaries and news postings. Delete all related discussions on platforms such as micro-blogs, blogs, online forums, instant message services, and text messages.

I’m not sure what “leather milk” is but it sure upsets the central censors.

“Leather Milk”

February 18, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: Please immediately remove all news related to “leather milk” from the front pages of websites. Interactive spaces such as online forums, blogs, micro-blogs, and text messages are forbidden from hyping and discussing this incident.

And my favorite that many in the U.S. would like to see implemented in the States. (But that pesky First Amendment keeps getting in the way.)

WikiLeaks

February 17, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: It is not permitted in any form to repost or report information related to the distorted reports and malicious hype found on WikiLeaks that implicate the diplomacy, exchange reserves and investments, and other sensitive problems. All on-line interactive spaces are to thoroughly search out this type of information and immediately delete it.

Again, note that there is nothing in the “orders” that imply or state flat out that any of the information is false or misleading. The only thing the government wants is for no one in China to hear about these things.

Oh, and “jasmine” continues to be blocked by the Internet censors.

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China reacts to microblogging

To no one’s surprise, the Chinese leadership sees microblogging as a tool to destroy China. And events in Egypt and Libya are just more “evidence” of that belief.

China Digital Times has a series of articles about how Beijing is reacting to the use of microblogging sites such as Twitter in the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. They are well worth a read.

Microblogging in China and Egypt: Two Views

From China Media Project director Ying Chan:

Despite all attempts by the leadership to stifle the discussion and “guide” public opinion, however, popular voices demanding the truth and pushing for greater openness have only increased. On the virtual public square of the Internet, Chinese explore sensitive issues through the constant invention and re-invention of memes, so that keyword blocking becomes largely irrelevant; they use proxy servers to get around censorship and post what they wish.

The gap between the people and the government is deepening as well, a divide compounding the gaps between rich and poor, and between the city and countryside.

From People’s Daily columnist Li Hongmei:

Just give another thought to the case of Egypt, the Western media again never hesitate to cash in on the idea that the Egyptian uprising was Internet Revolution, and it was Twitter and Face book that helped spur on international coverage of the events unfolding, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. However, the West pays no heed to the true feeling of the ordinary Egyptians who actually have no access to computers, and pushed to streets by the few elites with some idea of reform enlightened by the Western-style democracy, and motivated to follow suit by the slogans and symbols which sound all alien to their knowledge.

Kinda sounds as if the official Chinese line is that democracy is alien to Arabs and therefore they (the Arabs) shouldn’t have it.

In another article (China Official Warns Of Domestic Unrest And “Hostile” West) the party leadership pulls out all the stops:

Chen Jiping, deputy secretary general of the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee:

“The schemes of some hostile Western forces attempting to Western and split us are intensifying, and they are waving the banner of defending rights to meddle in domestic conflicts and maliciously create all kinds of incidents.”

And, of course, those “schemes” are all being carried out by the use of unfettered Tweets.

There are a whole series of updates and commentaries at the CDN site about China’s reaction to blogs and microblogs:

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Filed under Censorship, China, International News Coverage