A Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper on Saturday attacked anti-government protest movements in the Middle East and dismissed the possibility of something similar happening in China.Such movements have brought nothing but chaos and misery to their countries’ citizens and are engineered by a small number of people using the Internet to organize illegal meetings, the Beijing Daily, published by the city’s party committee, said in a front-page editorial.
“The vast majority of the people are strongly dissatisfied (with the protests), so the performance by the minority becomes a self-delusional ruckus,” the newspaper said.
The editorial appeared amid anonymous calls posted on the Internet for Middle East-inspired protests in dozens of Chinese cities the past two Sunday afternoons.
China’s spending on internal public security overtook national defence for the first time last year, underlining Beijing’s growing concern about public unrest.The finance ministry said, in a budget released at the weekend, that spending on public security grew 15.6 per cent to Rmb549bn ($84bn) last year, compared with defence spending that grew 7.8 per cent to Rmb533.4bn. Public security spending was Rmb34.6bn, or 6.7 per cent, over budget.
Tens of thousands of policemen, security guards, civil guards, volunteers and even helicopters are patrolling main squares across the country to thwart any sign of a “jasmine revolution”. In recent days, anonymous calls on the internet had called on Chinese to express their discontent towards the corruption and problems of government and society yesterday the third Sunday of the month, by taking a “walk” in designated places.Apparently no-one that could have been defined a “demonstrator” was seen: the squares and shopping centres were full as usual with people and passers-by. But the police, uniformed and plainclothes, established control points everywhere, fearing above all journalists and foreigners, demanding their passports and banning them from doing interviews with passers-by. Dozens of foreign journalists, for the second consecutive Sunday, were detained in Beijing and Shanghai.
In recent days, appeal to university students had also appeared on websites to join the simple protests, called “jasmine rallies”. In fact yesterday police patrols and security agents combed the university areas in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities.
In Shenzhen, thousands of policemen and security guards remained outside the McDonald’s I in Huaqianbei, the place designated for the “walk”, and other hundreds of police in riot gear waited in trucks and buses. In Guangzhou, the police filmed passersby.
Despite the deployment of these forces, the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi denied that there is any tension in China. In a press conference held today on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, he told reporters that “I have not noticed any sign of tension [in China].” He also denied that foreign journalists have been beaten by police. Last Sunday, February 27, a reporter for Bloomberg was punched and kicked by plainclothes police in the area of Wangfujing. ” There is no such issue of Chinese police officers beating foreign journalists” said Yang.
For more, see my History News Network blog Deja vu
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