News / Asia

China Blocks Some Internet Reports on Egypt Protests

Chinese youth work at computer stations at an internet cafe in Beijing, China (file photo)
Chinese youth work at computer stations at an internet cafe in Beijing, China (file photo)
Stephanie Ho

The Chinese government is blocking access to searches for the word “Egypt” on social networking Internet sites in China. Experts say the move reflects the government’s fears that the protests in Egypt could whip up unrest in China.

A search for the Chinese word for “Egypt” on the microblog function of Chinese Web portal Sina.com brings up a message saying the results can not be displayed.

Sina.com public relations officer Ma Taotao confirms that Chinese searches for Egypt are blocked on its instant messaging site, Sina Weibo.

Ma says the company itself did not make the decision, but is only following the “relevant Chinese laws and regulations.” He gives no details and does not say which government department is responsible. He says he does not know how long the restriction will be in force.

The Chinese government already blocks Internet access to online social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, which are based in the United States. But millions of Chinese have been able to use domestic microblogging sites for instant messaging services.

Jeremy Goldkorn runs the China media Web site Danwei.org, which tracks changes in China’s media and Internet.

"I haven’t seen any instruction from any of the Chinese information control government bodies, but I think there must have been some instruction going out to news organizations and Web sites to only use official Xinhua copy about the events in Egypt and Tunisia, and to de-emphasize and cut down on netizens discussion about this," Goldkorn said.

The widespread use of the Internet is a relatively new development in China, but Goldkorn says the government has moved to limit access to information about other recent global events.

"There was a similar type of censorship when there were the so-called color revolutions going on in Eastern Europe, and I think that the reasons are fairly obvious - that the government would prefer that the people don’t draw parallels to what is going on in Egypt with anything that could go on in China," Goldkorn added.

Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong echoes that thinking.

"Above all, their (the Chinese government’s) first priority is to maintain social and political stability," Shi said.

Shi says the government has been concerned with public unrest since it cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrations around the country in 1989. He describes this kind of nervousness as China’s current political culture.

"This kind of political culture will shape China for a long time. So, within China, everyone knows that our government is extremely concerned about weiwang," Shi added.

"Weiwang" means maintaining social stability.

Peking University International relations professor Zhu Feng describes efforts to control Web access to information about Egypt as a "preventative countermeasure."

Zhu says there are existing situations of social instability in China, and the government is especially nervous because it is the Lunar New Year holiday period.

China has long feared what it considers separatist movements in its Xinjiang region and Tibet. It also has concerns about public anger over official corruption, inflation, land seizures and other social concerns that have sparked protests in the past few years.

Zhu says he thinks the Internet has become the most effective tool to disseminate news.

Zhu says he is afraid that cutting off the Internet will become a government’s universal method for dealing with a popular uprising.

The Egyptian government cut off Internet access in the country because of concerns that protesters were using social network media to organize their activities. In recent years, countries like China and Iran have made similar moves following mass protests.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid