China state media slams calls for protests

China`s state media stepped up its criticism of recent calls for anti-government rallies.

Updated: Mar 06, 2011, 11:21 AM IST

Beijing: China`s state media stepped up its criticism of recent calls for anti-government rallies Sunday, saying stability was key amid concern unrest sweeping the Middle East could spread to the Asian nation.

The reports come a day after a similar comment piece was published for the first time in a state-run newspaper, amid renewed online calls for citizens to gather in dozens of cities to participate in "strolling" demonstrations Sunday.

"Firstly we must recognise that some people with ulterior motives at home and abroad are using various means to incite `street politics`," a report on the front page of the Beijing Youth Daily said.

"They are using the Internet to create and disseminate false information, incite illegal gatherings in a bid to bring the chaos in the Middle East and North Africa to China, to mess up China."

A report in the Jiefang Daily, the official Communist Party mouthpiece in Shanghai, also carried a similar comment piece, urging people to "maintain social harmony and stability."

"People must... highly cherish and consciously maintain hard-won stability like they take care of their own eyes," it said.

The anonymous calls for the weekend rallies, inspired by popular uprisings in the Arab world, have heightened official concern about unrest in China amid growing resentment at issues such as a yawning wealth gap and corruption.

Reflecting this unease, an official budget report unveiled at the nation`s annual parliament session on Saturday revealed plans to allocate 624.4 billion yuan ($95.1 billion) for law and order in 2011.

This represents a 13.8% jump from last year, and compares to a planned hike of 12.7% for national defence spending to 601.1 billion yuan.

On Sunday, campaigners behind the so-called "Jasmine rallies" again called for people to gather in cities across China, despite a heavy security presence at the designated rally sites in Beijing and Shanghai last weekend.

Several foreign journalists who turned up at the site in a Beijing shopping street on February 27 were roughed up, and police have told reporters they could lose their permission to work in China unless they follow the new rules.

Activists also say more than 100 known dissidents and rights advocates have been rounded up since the protest calls.

Bureau Report