China shows ripple effect of Egyptian protests

People gathered in Beijing and Shanghai, apparently to stage anti-government demonstrations.

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 18:10 PM IST

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.