China blocks "Egypt" searches on micro-blogs

BEIJING Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:40am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China blocked the word "Egypt" from micro-blog searches in a sign that the Chinese government is concerned that protests calling for political reform in the country could spill into China's internet space.

Searches Sunday for "Egypt" on micro-blog functions of Chinese web portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com -- sites comparable to Twitter -- showed phrases saying search results could not be found or could not be displayed in accordance with regulations.

More than 100 people have been killed in Egypt in five days of unprecedented protests that have rocked the Arab world.

Sunday, more than 1,000 protesters gathered in central Cairo, demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down and dismissing his appointment of a vice president.

China issued a warning to its citizens in Egypt Sunday, urging Chinese travelers to reconsider their plans or seek assistance from the Chinese government in Egypt.

Chinese state media has reported on the unrest, including coverage of the scores of deaths and Mubarak's first appointment of the vice-president, an announcement that may be a nod toward a political successor.

Friday, China's official Xinhua news agency reported that cell phone and internet access were cut in Cairo.

But China's censorship of its micro-blogs appears to be aimed at preventing events in Egypt from setting an example of political opposition at home.

China says the Internet is free and open for its 450 million users, but the government blocks numerous social networking sites like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube, which have been used to mobilize protests around the world.

It also routinely closes sites or scrubs content considered harmful to China's security or in breach of the Chinese law.

The Global Times, a popular tabloid published by China's Communist Party, said in a commentary Sunday that democracy was not compatible with conditions in Egypt or Tunisia, and that "color revolutions" could not achieve real democracy.

Color revolutions, a term first coined to describe democracy protests in former Soviets states, lead to "street-level clamor" in African and Asian emerging democracies, the Global Times said.

Protesters in Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" forced President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali into exile in mid-January.

"Democracy is still far away in Tunisia and Egypt. The success of democracy takes concrete foundations in economy, education and social issues," the Global Times said.

"But when it comes to political systems, the Western model is only one of a few options," the paper said.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Sabrina Mao; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)

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Comments (10)
tp9180188 wrote:
I have tried and what this news reported is true. However, whether this blocking is due to the chaos in Egypt is not absolutely right.

Jan 30, 2011 7:59am EST  --  Report as abuse
Hilmi_A_R wrote:
The domino stacks had fallen in middle east, first in Tunisia and then now in Egypt

China couldnt deal with political dissident, especially in mass number. They afraid the newer generation would rise up and wreck havoc. And with the world watching, china couldn’t effectively stifled the political dissident the way they used to do it

Jan 30, 2011 9:35am EST  --  Report as abuse
lukyjoe wrote:
i am from china.all the medias here seldom report the events happened in egypt.

Jan 30, 2011 11:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
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