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The Chinese government has been rounding up dozens of human rights defenders, lawyers and others and has banned foreign journalists from filming in parts of the capital Beijing.
It follows anonymous calls on the internet for Middle East-style democratic protests in China.
With the country's annual People's Congress due to begin on Saturday, the ruling Communist Party appears to have real concerns about the possibility of unrest.
The 13.8 percent jump in China's planned budget for police, state security, armed civil militia, courts and jails was unveiled at the start of the annual parliamentary session, and brought planned spending on law and order items to 624.4 billion yuan ($95.0 billion).
As Chinese authorities continue to round up lawyers, activists, and others suspected of being sympathetic to mounting calls for more rapid reform, I’ve noticed a number of recent comments that China has not simply slowed down the process of opening up, but has, in fact, mothballed previous attempts to improve Chinese courts as a site of conflict-resolution—a “post-Lehman drift away from western ideas of rule of law,” as the Financial Times put it last week. “Legal experts say there is renewed support for civil cases to go to mediation, a process conducted by a Communist party official, rather than to court—party wisdom trumping the law.”
This definitely surprised me: my rough sense has been that legal reforms were inching ahead—however slowly—but when I turned to a couple of Beijing-based lawyers who work closely with Chinese officials and track trends in legal practices, they confirmed that, indeed, recent years have seen Chinese courts move in some discouraging directions.
“There has definitely been a significant push over the last several years to promote the use of mediation to resolve civil disputes—at multiple levels of the dispute-resolution process,” one lawyer (no names, because of the political sensitivity of the issue) told me.
Pro-reform demonstrations were held in over a hundred Chinese cities. The government was ready to crack down on some of them, especially in the larger cities. But the sheer number of cities that unexpectedly sprouted demonstrations caught officials by surprise. The national government quickly promised more reforms and cleaner government. Unimpressed, reform minded Chinese called for another round of demonstrations on March 6th. In addition to much less government corruption, reformers want free politics (more than one party, the Communist Party, allowed to operate) and laws that curb the excesses of large companies, and bad business and government practices in general.
China warns foreign media not to cover protests
By ALEXA OLESEN
Mar 3, 7:48 AM EST
The furor surrounds a news event that apparently never transpired. No large protests seem to have erupted at the designated demonstration spots, though at least one activist was detained for being present at one of them.
The situation evolved out of online posts of unknown origin that first circulated on an overseas Chinese news website nearly two weeks ago, calling for Chinese to gather peacefully at sites every Sunday in a show of people power meant to promote fairness and democracy. A renewed call this week expanded the target cities to 35 from 27. China's extensive Internet filtering and monitoring mean most Chinese are unaware of the appeals.
US voices concern to China over media crackdown
Feb 28 07:13 PM US/Eastern
The US ambassador to Beijing, Jon Huntsman, voiced "deep concerns" to the Chinese authorities over a harsh crackdown on foreign journalists, a US official said Monday.
Huntsman met with several American and other China-based foreign journalists who "had their equipment seized, were illegally detained, harassed, and at least in one case, severely beaten," he said.
The US embassy in Beijing said it was aware of reports that foreign reporters had been "detained or physically harassed" and called on China to ensure their rights, as well as to respect the public's right to freedom of expression.
The Bloomberg journalist was repeatedly punched and kicked by a group of at least five men in plainclothes -- apparently security personnel -- who also took his video camera and detained him in a nearby store, the news agency said.
Went to Xidan today. First police officer told me no problem as long as i wasn't reporting. The second one suggested I leave.
Plainclothes security who followed all the back to the metro station waved off a third set of officers, said we'd already been taken care of
At Xidan, rows of police and plainclothes on street, in mall, everywhere.
During past 2 days have been told by a police officer that it was OK to be somewhere, and then told by another officer/security to leave
Lots of security in downtown Beijing today with NPC ongoing and third week of protest calls. Many obvious plainclothes police...
An official Communist Party-run Chinese newspaper is attacking protest movements in the Middle East and dismissing the possibility of something similar happening within China.
The Beijing Daily published by the city’s party committee says such movements have brought nothing but chaos and misery to their countries’ citizens and are being engineered by a small number of people using the Internet to organize illegal meetings.
Originally posted by smallblockchevy
China is a sleeping dragon lying in wait.