Frightened by the revolutions sweeping the Middle East, China is now cracking down on Western journalist, putting them under watch and in some cases detaining them as political dissidents, according to The New York Times.
On Sunday, about a dozen European and Japanese journalists in Shanghai were herded into an underground “bunkerlike” room and kept for two hours because they tried to cover a planned protest near People’s Square in Shanghai.
In Beijing, meanwhile, plainclothes officers openly stood outside the home of an American correspondent who was severely beaten by security officers the previous week as he sought to cover a protest there. From there they trailed the reporter to a basketball game, recording his trip on video the entire time.
Other journalists and photographers were visited in their homes over the weekend and repeatedly warned not to try to “topple the party.”
They bullying tactics represent a marked shift for the Chinese authorities and a sign of the government’s resolve to head off any antigovernment revolts like those that have swept the Middle East and North Africa during the past two months, the Times reported.
Journalists were warned by the Foreign Ministry on Thursday that they should not rely on the 2008 decree “as a shield.”
David Bandurski, an analyst at the China Media Project of the University of Hong Kong, told the Times that the Chinese have “gone into control mode once again. What we are seeing now, in the short term, is China is closing in on itself, because it doesn’t have another answer or response.”
He added: “Intimidation of journalists is the classic response. It is not necessarily entirely new, but it is something we have not seen for a long time.”
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