News / Asia

China Muzzles Media to Prevent Mideast-Style Protests

Policeman asks foreign journalist to leave area near Peace Cinema, after calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" protest, organized through internet, in downtown Shanghai, February 27, 2011
Policeman asks foreign journalist to leave area near Peace Cinema, after calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" protest, organized through internet, in downtown Shanghai, February 27, 2011
Heda Bayron

Chinese authorities appear to be nervous about the spread of protests that have toppled and threatened Middle Eastern and North African rulers in recent weeks.

The government has threatened to revoke visas and expel foreign journalists who report from certain busy areas of the country without prior approval.

Last Sunday, about 16 foreign journalists were detained and harassed by security forces in the Beijing shopping district of Wangfujing. The journalists were there to document a small gathering of people who responded to Internet calls for public gatherings to support the "Jasmine Revolution" in the Middle East and to call for reform in China. One American journalist was beaten so badly he was hospitalized.

Press freedom

Freedom of expression in China is already severely curtailed. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and many foreign broadcasters, like the Voice of America, are blocked, as are many foreign news Web sites.

Spreading protests

But since the protests in the Middle East and North Africa shook long-entrenched governments there, China has stepped up efforts to prevent similar protests.

Gilles Lordet, research coordinator for Asia at Reporters without Borders in Paris, says China has increased its control over the media and government critics since human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October.

"It shows the nervousity [nervousness] of the government about demonstrations, about the possibility of that the demonstrations in the Middle East can have an impact on [a] network of human rights defenders, journalists and defenders of freedom of expression in China," Lordet said. "We see that it is a policy that’s more and more strict since the attribution of the Nobel Prize to Liu Xiaobo in October. The situation of the Middle East increased the nervosity of the government on this subject."

Track record

China’s communist party has ruled the country since 1949. The last mass anti-government protest in Beijing ended in bloodshed in 1989, when government forces fired at hundreds of students in Tiananmen Square. In 2008, unrest in Tibet was put down by the military, and in 2009, the government again suppressed riots in the Xinjiang autonomous region.

The organization Chinese Human Rights Defenders warned Thursday of a “new wave of frenzied repression in China. The group says many activists across China have been arrested or placed under house arrest for endangering state security and subversion related to calls for a Jasmine Revolution.

"I think we are seeing one of the harshest crackdowns in the last, probably, five years because if you look at how many people are under soft detention, there’s over a hundred," said Wang Songlian, a research coordinator for the group. "That number is more or less the same as the period during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. But I think the difference here is that how quickly the government mobilized the police to put these activists under soft detention."

Social harmony

The government under President Hu Jintao has stressed the importance of social harmony. It has spent heavily on advanced surveillance systems, Internet censorship and other ways to snuff out social unrest or dissent before they spread. Some political analysts say this makes it impossible to easily launch a challenge against the government.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Thursday the Chinese government has nothing to fear and any attempt to destabilize the country cannot succeed.

Some overseas Chinese Web sites have called for protests again this Sunday. However, it is unclear whether citizens in China can still see these messages.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid