June 28, 2006


One Riot Breaks Ground in China (Edward Cody, 6/28/06, Washington Post)

For 24 hours, thousands of rampaging farmers here unleashed their rage over confiscated farmland this month -- holding local officials hostage and, clubs and bottles of acid in hand, forcing a band of private security guards to spend the night cowering behind locked doors.

The riot in many ways resembled other uprisings in rural China in recent years. But this one ended with a twist: The villagers won significant concessions.

Outcry greets new Chinese bid to muzzle media (GEOFFREY YORK, 6/28/06, Globe and Mail)
A new attempt to clamp down on China's media has provoked an outcry from Chinese journalists and parliament members, sparking a controversy that could kill the proposal. [...]

[I]n an unexpected mutiny, the Chinese media responded angrily to the proposed law this week. "These restrictive regulations will not only cause an absurdity in emergency situations, but it will show that some people have insufficient knowledge about the functions of the news media," said a commentary in Southern Metropolitan Daily, a prominent Chinese newspaper.

"The media's watchdog role is accepted by the public as common sense," the newspaper said. "Using the law to affirm governmental control over the administration of news outlets is an utterly dangerous endeavour."

The website of the People's Daily, the state-run newspaper, published criticism of the draft law by several Chinese media outlets. "There is a lot of evidence that some local governments have delayed their reports on disasters, or even lied or intentionally concealed the facts for their own benefit, in recent years," one newspaper said. "These actions are increasing. Without monitoring by the media, will those officials become even bolder?"

A popular website, Red Net, said the law would violate press freedom and the public's right to know. "It would make the public doubt the government's ability to deal with emergencies," it said. "The media have an obligation to report on emergencies. From the public viewpoint, the media should not be fined but should be praised."

In chat rooms on the Chinese Internet this week, the reaction to the proposed law was equally unhappy. "If this is approved, why would we still need the media?" a commentator asked on one website. "It's a tragedy for China," another said. "Are they afraid of the people's voice?"

Even the state-owned news agency, Xinhua, acknowledged that the draft law was under attack from some parliamentarians and might be revised.

When the Tsar won't fire into the crowds anymore he's toast.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 28, 2006 9:59 AM

"...the law would violate press freedom and the public's right to know..."
They're confusing the US media with their own.

"Are they afraid of the people's voice?"
Short answer: yes. Dictatorships and strong-arm governments always fear the voice of the people, though what the people actually say may be less important then the fact that the people were willing to say it. Double the fear factor if the people get away with saying it.

Posted by: Jay at June 28, 2006 12:41 PM