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China: Anxiety Over Middle East Turns Light on Foreign Reporters
Caroline Lorraine

Mar 7, 2011, 01:18

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As China's anxiety rises about Middle East and North Africa-style protests, its measures to squelch them within its own borders are impacting foreign reporters.

While its strong actions in recent days have mainly been directed at detaining Chinese dissidents, The New York Times reported that on Sunday some European and Japanese reporters in Shanghai were kept in an underground room for 2 hours. The step was taken after the reporters wanted to monitor reactions to unidentified Internet calls urging Chinese citizens to hold "strolling" anti-government demonstrations near Shanghai's People's Square.

The Times report said in Beijing, plainclothesmen watched the home of a U.S. correspondent through the weekend. The same correspondent was beaten the previous week as he sought to cover a similar gathering in the capital. Other correspondents told the Times seven security people also followed the reporter to a Sunday basketball game.

The Times said security people also visited a dozen or so other journalists and photographers in their homes during the weekend to renew warnings about not causing trouble.

These measures have come in the wake of unidentified messages on Chinese-language Web sites asking people to take anti-government "strolls" at 2 p.m. every Sunday at popular locations in major Chinese cities. Thus far, the crackdown has succeeded in preventing any such protests.

One analyst in Hong Kong, noting China had relaxed some of the rules for foreign journalists during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, told the Times the government has "gone into control mode once again."

"What we are seeing now, in the short term, is China is closing in on itself, because it doesn't have another answer or response," the analyst said\

Source: UPI

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