BEIJING, March 5 China told its people on
Saturday not to heed calls to emulate protests that have rocked
the Middle East, warning that any threats to Communist Party-led
stability could bring "disaster."
This was the government's most public warning yet against
calls for Middle East-inspired pro-democracy protests that have
spread from an overseas Chinese website, triggering tighter
censorship, intense security in Beijing and new restrictions on
The commentary in the Beijing Daily newspaper, a Communist
Party mouthpiece, signaled that China's security crackdown would
not let up.
"Everyone knows that stability is a blessing and chaos is a
calamity," said the newspaper, which is the mouthpiece of the
Communist Party administration for China's capital.
The warning came on the same day as the opening of China's
annual parliament in the capital, where Premier Wen Jiabao
warned that inflation could corrode social stability.
Police smothered any weekend protests before they had a
chance of forming, and some foreign reporters who went to the
scene of the would-be gathering on the Wangfujing shopping
street in downtown Beijing were beaten up.
But the commentary told citizens to beware. Hard-won order
was at stake, it said.
Uprisings across the Middle East have toppled authoritarian
governments in Tunisia and Egypt and now threaten to Muammar
Gaddafi, the long-time strongman of Libya.
"This turmoil has brought a massive calamity to the people
of these countries," said the newspaper in the commentary which
was widely repeated on many Chinese state media websites.
"It is worth noting that at home and abroad some people with
ulterior motives are trying to draw this chaos into China. They
have used the Internet to incite illegal gatherings," it said.
"There are always some people at home and abroad who want to
exploit the problems existing in our development to provoke
trouble," it added, urging citizens to "conscientiously protect
harmony and stability."
The protest calls in China have little chance of taking off.
Beijing has mobilised 739,000 police officers, officials,
security guards and residents recruited into local patrols to
guard against mishaps during the parliament, reported the
official China News Service.
Police have rounded up dozens of dissidents since online
messages from abroad urged pro-democracy gatherings inspired by
the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia. Internet censorship also
means that few Chinese residents are aware of the protest calls.
Chinese police have threatened to revoke the visas of dozens
of foreign journalists if they continue "illegal" reporting from
sites where overseas websites have called for anti-government
"Those people intent on concocting and finding Middle
East-style news in China will find their plans come to nothing,"
said the Beijing Daily commentary.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley, editing by Miral Fahmy)