Beijing blocks internet searches on Egypt
Chinese authorities are censoring internet references to protests in
Egypt, fuelling speculation the government is deeply concerned about the
effects Middle East unrest could have in China.
Two of the country's biggest web portals have blocked search words such as "Cairo" and "Egypt".
This follows discussion on Chinese social media websites where bloggers
have drawn parallels between the uprisings in Cairo and similar
incidents in China, including the 2009 protests in the north-western
province of Xinjiang.
Days of violent protests in Cairo have dominated news headlines across
the world and it is no different for the mainstream media in China,
except for one thing.
"These reports have been avoiding discussion of the problems in these
countries leading to the uprisings," City University of Hong Kong
Professor Joseph Cheng told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific program.
Beijing authorities are focused on web-based discussions - targeting two
of China's biggest web portals, Sina.com.and Netease.com.
"We certainly see some censorship of media, especially at the internet level," Professor Cheng said.
Wanning Sun, a professor of Chinese media and cultural Studies at the
University of Technology Sydney, sees the government's actions as a
"Individuals are saying interesting things about what is going on ... or
they are perhaps thinking about some of the historical parallels
between what is going on in Egypt and what went on in China more than 20
years ago," he said.
"Then ... the government starts to get a little bit nervous. [It says]
'hey, social media is going the wrong way, it's getting a little bit
erratic. Let's do something about it'.
"It seems to me more a reactive thing rather than a deliberate, strategic move."
Professor Cheng says China has its own economic-related problems that may be aggravated by the Egyptian example.
"Chinese leaders are quite concerned with the issue of unemployment among graduates," he said.
"Every year, China produces 6.3 million or so of university graduates, and their unemployment rate is as high as 30 per cent.
"Certainly this is understood to be a source of grievances."