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Entries in Jasmine Revolution (3)

Monday
Mar072011

China Cracks Down on International Journalists

Peter Parks/AFP/Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK
By CLARISSA WARD, ABC News

(BEIJING) -- It started out as a story about anonymous online calls for a "Jasmine Revolution," calls that, it must be noted, were not met with any notable enthusiasm from Chinese people.

But it has turned into the story of China's nervousness about recent upheaval in the Middle East and north Africa and how this skittishness has changed the working landscape for international reporters in China.

In the week since last Sunday's abortive protests, in which about a dozen journalists were detained or manhandled and one reporter was beaten quite severely, China has made it clear that journalists must familiarize themselves with the "new rules" for reporting in the country, by putting in official requests with the government to carry out interviews in Beijing.

This seems to constitute a repealing of Premier Wen Jiabao's decree in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics that journalists can operate freely without seeking specific government permission.

China's foreign ministry has denied that any journalists were beaten up by Chinese police, saying, "there is no such issue as Chinese police officers beating foreign journalists."

Our cameraman, a Filipino national, was visited Friday night by police who demanded to see his passport and press card and reminded him of the importance of abiding by Chinese law.

Two policemen banged on my door Saturday afternoon bearing a similar message.  They claimed that they needed to talk to me about my registration and asked for my passport and residency.

Although they did not mention my reporting, their parting words were unambiguous: "Make sure you understand Chinese law."  Dozens of other journalists have faced similar visits and worse.

At least four journalists have complained that their Gmail accounts have been hacked into, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.

ABC News went to a shopping area Sunday called Xidan, one of the locations for the "stroll" called for by Jasmine Revolution organizers.  It was the third week of calls for protests, and there were no visible protestors that we saw, but hundreds of uniformed police and plainclothes officers, watching our every move and talking into radio pieces.

Within five minutes of walking down the street, I was clocked by one such plainclothes officer who was observing me from a pedestrian overpass.  I was surrounded by police, demanding to see my passport.

I was not carrying a camera and they had no way of knowing I was a journalist from looking at me; it was clear that I was stopped simply because I was white.

They took my passport and press card and wrote down all my details.

Two men carrying video cameras taped the entire thing, moving around me in circles.  They were perfectly polite but told me clearly, "you better good bye."  When we tried to take another route, we were stopped by two other groups of police.

Most journalists in China feel exasperated by the situation and are incredulous that China's security arm is turning what would likely be a non-story (the lackluster turn-out for a "Jasmine Revolution") into such a scandal.

While the tactics being used at this stage are mostly thuggish -- threats, intimidation, and a little bit of roughing up -- many are wondering whether the government will follow through on its threat to strip disobedient journalists of their credentials and residency.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb272011

Journalists, Not Revolution at Sunday's 'Jasmine' Protests

Photo Courtesy - PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- Western journalists were perhaps the largest part of a "jasmine revolution" protest Sunday afternoon in Beijing.

After an anonymous online group called for the protests in 23 cities across China, Western journalists congregated at the designated meeting point in Beijing: a McDonald's restaurant on Wangfujing.

Though the media seemed to account for much of those present, security forces were ready, setting up a makeshift checkpoint and trying to block access, but with limited success.

On the street, police hurried journalists and tourists along as "street sweepers" chased loiterers with brooms to keep them moving. At 2 p.m., the designated protest time, people were locked into the McDonald's and surrounding stores. Several news crews were also reportedly detained at a local police station.

The anonymous organizers criticize China's government as "fascist with a corrupt political system and degrading judicial system" where "officials and their offspring enjoy the monopoly of various resources." The group complains of sky-rocketing property prices, lack of opportunities for ordinary Chinese, a widening wealth gap and a lack of civil rights.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb222011

China Activists Detained After Calls for 'Jasmine Revolution'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BEIJING) -- The anonymous group that called for Sunday's "jasmine revolution" in China has issued another online statement demanding the release of activists who have been "put under house arrest or detained without due legal process" in the wake of the abortive protests.

The group urged people to participate in continued protests, with information on the venue and timing to be released Wednesday.

In the declaration, they criticize China's government as "fascist with a corrupt political system and degrading judicial system" where "officials and their offspring enjoy the monopoly of various resources." The group complains of sky-rocketing property prices, lack of opportunities for ordinary Chinese, a widening wealth gap and a lack of civil rights.

At a press conference Tuesday the foreign ministry refused to comment on the calls for a "jasmine revolution," saying only that most Chinese people want stability and that "this is something that no person or force can shake."

In the northern city of Harbin, a lawyer for a Chinese Internet user who goes by the name of Miao Xiao, said that his client had been charged with "inciting subversion of state power" for spreading information about the jasmine revolution. He is in police custody.

In Shanghai, human rights activist Feng Zhenghu, told ABC News police had come to his house on Sunday afternoon after he posted photographs of the protests on Twitter.

Chinese police were out in full force on Sunday after anonymous calls for a "jasmine revolution," borrowed from the name of Tunisia's revolt, went out online. The message first went up on a U.S.-based Chinese language website, which is blocked in China, and quickly spread to microblogs and social networking sites. It called on people to protest in 13 cities and chant, "we want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio