As Egypt sneezes democracy, China fears catching a cold

The rumblings of a popular discontent threatening to overthrow the 30-year-old autocratic government of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is being acutely felt in China whose communist dictators fear that the uprising could fuel calls for reform at home. The word “Egypt” has now joined the rank of censored or blocked terms on the internet in china, according to the AFP, the Wall Street Journal online (WSJ), and numerous other media services Jan 31.

The WSJ report said the Chinese authorities appeared to have censored the word “Egypt” on Twitter-like microblogging sites in the country. Almost all of the comments posted beneath the few limited reports on the unrest—mostly from the state-run Xinhua news agency—that have been published on Chinese news sites in the past few days had been deleted by Jan 30, it said.

The report noted that the strict online controls illustrated the Communist Party of China’s concern that the Internet was providing China’s citizens with a new means of information and organization that could challenge its monopoly on power, as had happened with other authoritarian governments in recent years.

The report said China’s state media had provided limited coverage of the unrest in Egypt, including the scores of reported deaths, the cutting of Internet and cellphone access, and president’s appointment of a vice president. The AFP report said these stressed the lawlessness in Egypt and the need for order – echoing calls by China’s foreign ministry – and Beijing’s plan to send two chartered jets to Cairo to bring home more than 500 stranded Chinese.

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