China shows ripple effect of Egyptian protests
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 18:10
Beijing: The Egyptian revolution that led to the ouster of its ruler Hosni Mubarak had a ripple effect in China, as crowds of people gathered in Beijing and Shanghai, apparently to stage anti-government demonstrations but were dispersed after police detained some of them.

Several hundred gathered in front of a McDonald's restaurant in Beijing's Wangfujing Street on Sunday afternoon apparently after a message circulated by a US based website calling on people to launch Egyptian style protests against the one party rule in China.

People started to gather at around 2 pm on the busy shopping street in downtown Beijing, and together with onlookers and foreign journalists, the gathering people were numbered in hundreds at their peak, according to the witness.

Today's protests were the first visual action by dissident groups which appeared to have been galvanised after the jailed prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo was awarded Nobel Peace Prize, which was strongly resented by China.

Interestingly the protests were reported by the English services of the state run Xinhua news agency.

When police on patrol tried to take away two men from the crowd at around 2:10 pm but they were surrounded by foreign journalists with their cameras, it said In Shanghai a similar crowd gathered at the People's Square.

Three people from the crowds were taken away by police the news agency report said.

A man aged around 30 started to deliver a speech at around 3:00 pm at the intersection of Yunnan Zhong Road and Hankou Road but left when police came.

Later the crowds gradually dispersed, the report said.

These protests were unprecedented by China's standards as no anti government protests were allowed. China is abuzz with rumours of Jasmine revolution for the past few days as the protest Egyptian protests spread to several Gulf countries. Some reports even spoke of arrests.

Both Liu and his wife who was kept under house arrests were not allowed to go to Oslo to receive the prize.

Later reports said several academicians who openly expressed support to Liu have been removed from service or detained but there was no official confirmation about it.

China effectively blocked most of the social websites like Face Book and Twitter but several managed to log to them through US based Virtual Private Networks, (VPNs).

Also China which has over 450 million internet connections, highest in the world has about 50 million microbloggers (over 100 million according to unofficial figures) who converted their medium and news media, posing a major challenge to government controlled by the Communist Party of China, (CPC).

Several Chinese microbloggers have complained in the recent weeks that most of the reports relating to Egypt were blocked by the internet firewalls here even though state run English media, specially the state television CCTV gave wide coverage to the protests in Egypt as well as other countries.


First Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 18:10

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