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China tamps down Middle East-inspired protests before they can gain momentum

March 1, 2011 Comments off

washingtonpost.com

The Chinese government met protesters with a show of force Sunday. In Shanghai, police converged whenever a group of more than a dozen people seemed to be forming. (Peter Parks)

BEIJING – Police and security officials displayed a show of force here and in other Chinese cities Sunday, trying to snuff out any hint of protests modeled on the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. In Shanghai, several hundred people trying to gather were dispersed with a water truck.

Premier Wen Jiabao, meanwhile, used a morning Internet chat to promise to purge senior officials who are corrupt and to rein in inflation and rising home prices, directly addressing some of the most common grievances of ordinary Chinese.

Since a January uprising in Tunisia spurred similar anti-government protests across the Arab world, threatening long-entrenched authoritarian regimes, China’s Communist rulers have reacted nervously, with both defensive and aggressive tactics.

Officials have used state-run media outlets to dismiss any comparisons of those regimes with China. At the same time, they have stepped up public comments on the need to address “social conflict” and to tackle problems such as the growing income disparity between the rich and poor. They also have Read more…