Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Beijing on alert as Tiananmen anniversary nears

Democracy campaigners marched through central Hong Kong on Sunday but there are no signs of dissent on Beijing's streets as the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approaches. On Saturday 13 activists were arrested for erecting a Tiananmen Square remembrance statue in a busy shopping district in Hong Kong but all were later released on bail.

The march came ahead of an annual candlelit vigil this Friday. Last year the event year drew about 150,000 people who gathered to mark the anniversary of China's bloody crackdown on protesters near Tiananmen Square in 1989. Protests over the weekend in Hong Kong only drew an estimated thousand demonstrators however [AFP / Daily Mail].

Last year in China, authorities tightened control of the Internet ahead of the anniversary. Popular email services GMail and Hotmail were blocked for a time and Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites were also blocked. Facebook and Twitter remain blocked and the restrictions have become tighter over the last year.

In what might be a sign that the authorities may be tweaking the so-called Great Firewall of China, some users in the country found that searches for pornography were less restrictive than usual [Telegraph blog]. An image search for 'porn' returned dozens of hardcore images instead of the usual place markers or a block on the search altogether. It is possible this may be just a glitch, as has often occurred before,

On Beijing's streets there appeared to be a higher than usual police presence. Armed SWAT teams could be seen around the city some standing by shiny black Hummers. While protests are unlikely, the authorities are seemingly keeping a watchful eye for anything unusual.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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