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Chinese media silent over Burma crisis

Latest update : 2008-01-08

While there's been little discussion of the Burmese crackdown in the Chinese press, bloggers outside the country condemns it.

As Burma’s security forces cracked down on pro-democracy protesters last week, dramatic images of the repression made headlines across the world – but not everywhere. Across the border in mainland China - the Burmese government’s biggest backer - newspapers and television stations kept their reporting to a minimum.
 
China’s best-known newspaper, the “People’s Daily,” regarded as the official organ of the Communist Party, has run no articles about the last two weeks of protests in Burma, according to Chinese citizens posting on Internet forums. A check of the newspaper’s Web site finds nothing about Burma.
 
Some Chinese newspapers picked up a report from the official Chinese news agency Xinhua on Thursday, the day Burmese security forces started cracking down on the protests. “The soldiers fired warning shots and teargas… but without triggering any large-scale conflict,” the agency report reads. The Western media on the same day showed images of the fatal shooting of a Japanese journalist during a demonstration, and foreign diplomats reported that hundreds of monks and protesters had been arrested.
 
While the Burma story has been on the front pages of Western newspapers, their Chinese counterparts have generally kept the story inside the newspaper in the “international news” section.
 
A source inside a Chinese newsroom told FRANCE 24 that he and his colleagues had been told not to run stories about the Burmese crackdown.
 
Full coverage of the protests in Burma can only be found on the Web. Although Internet in the country is heavily censored, many articles from foreign media and news agencies slip through the automatic filters set up by the cyberpolice.
 
Outside China, a different story…
 
For dissident Chinese bloggers outside the country, it’s a different story. They call for the Chinese government to condemn the Burmese crackdown and criticize China for its January 2007 veto of a proposed UN Security Council resolution on Burma’s democratic and human rights record.
 
Li Guotao, a dissident in Shanghai who has been imprisoned several times, suggests in his article published at “Jiuzhou Wanguo,” (“Quatre coins du monde”) a forum for the Chinese expatriates living in North America, a reform should be made in the UN voting system so that the one-veto system no longer be applied to human rights issues.
 
Pan Xiaotao, a political commentator from Hong Kong, compares the recent events in Burma with the bloody 1989 assault on demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. “A similar democratic wave came to China in 1989 too, and ended with the same brutal repression,” Pan wrote in an article posted on a dissident Web forum, the Federation for Human Rights.  “But the difference between Beijing and Rangoon is that the former has since made all her efforts to attract foreign investment and develop the country’s economy, which, in some degree, distracts the Chinese people’s attention from their political rights.”
 
However, Pan warns the Chinese government that the stability now seen in China is fragile. “Once economic problems occur, all the social problems that China has got today will be amplified immediately: corruption, unequal distribution of wealth, ecological deterioration… all these will finally challenge the Chinese political system.”
 

Date created : 2008-01-07

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