Although it remains unclear exactly how paranoid the Chinese authorities remain over possible Egyptian-inspired, democratic protests, this insider view would suggest that Beijing isn’t taking too many chances:
On Saturday, February 12, the day after Hosni Mubarak resigned in Egypt, some of the members of the politburo of the Communist Party of China held a special meeting in Beijing to discuss the events in the Middle East. News of this meeting came via a democracy activist in Beijing, who said that a secretary who was present had leaked a summary of its contents. The democracy activist is a person who is well positioned to judge the authenticity of such a report.
On February 18, the summary of the Politburo meeting was also posted publicly on Boxun (“rich information”), an independent Chinese language news web site. It reads:
The agenda for the meeting was “to adjust foreign policy” and the main purpose was to decide on tactics to counter the current wave of democratization in the Middle East. The meeting set revised targets for the police and the military, but the primary emphasis was on propaganda. The meeting called upon the Propaganda Department and its subsidiary organs to do the following:
—Halt all independent reports, commentaries, and discussions (including Internet threads), whether in the print media or the Internet, on the situations in Egypt and similar places;
—Strengthen work in filtering and managing blogs, microblogs, and discussion forums;
—Assure that media in all locations uniformly adhere to the standard texts of the New China News Agency in any report or commentary on the Middle East.
The meeting decided, as well, that all of the major newspapers under the Propaganda Department must strengthen their guidance of public opinion and stress the theme that the current turmoil “is plotted by the United States behind the scenes.” At the same time, efforts to criticize and control microblogs must be sharply increased, and advance measures should be taken to prepare for the possibility that part of the Internet will be shut down. Following the meeting, propaganda chiefs across the country were given an additional instruction to “reduce reporting on any sensitive incident that might occur in your locale.”