Press Review: Huanqiu apparently relaxes Egypt Commenting

People’s Daily online (人民网) had an article on Saturday which explored the paths Egypt might take after president Mubarak’s departure. After pointing out that the military had vowed to respect all existing international treaties, Li Xiao (李潇), a People’s Daily correspondent in Cairo,  describes the military leaders’ and the opposition groups’ current situation. The military leaders’*) fourth communiqué, he writes, had stated that the existing cabinet would temporarily continue to govern. It wasn’t yet possible to assess if the public would find the communiqué acceptable. The military leaders were in discussions and explorations concerning the transitional period. Li touches on several possibilities, such as presidential elections within sixty days (as the current constitution would require after a president’s resignation), a transitional period longer than sixty days, or a new constitution, which would define a president’s powers, the maximum number of terms in office, etc. Concerning the possibility of a new constitution, Li quotes an American University researcher (阿里·侯赛因) that there was a variety of different demands from different opposition groups.

Opinions among the Muslim Brotherhood, concerning the transitional period, weren’t all identical either, writes Li. While some gave the army credit for a neutral position during the demonstrations, and advocated dialog with the military, there were also younger brotherhood members who were expecting a broader base and membership of a government of unity during the transitional period.

Former International Atomic Energy Agency director general Mohamed El Baradei is quoted as saying that during the difficult transitional period, the military should share power with the people (军队应与人民共享权力).

Enorth (Tianjin) kept most of  its articles on the situation in Egypt shorter, and seems to depend on Xinhua newsagency reports mostly, and on (中国网) occasionally.  Enorth did, however, carry a longer Xinhua article on Saturday, dealing with the development on crude oil prices after Mubarak’s resignation. While Egypt was no major oil-producing country, there had been concerns about control of the Suez Canal. Mubarak’s resignation had led to falling oil prices, as tensions were now expected to ease. The New York stock market had started somewhat lower on Friday, but quickly began to rise after the news of Mubarak’s resignation had been out. European stock markets had also been generally rising after Mubarak’s resignation. However, market analysts and brokers remained cautious about Egypt’s situation and expected market performances, writes Xinhua, quoting from two opinions.

"On the first day after Mubarak, Egyptians spontaneously cleaned up Liberation Square"

"On the first day after Mubarak, Egyptians spontaneously cleaned up Liberation Square"

That said, forum exchanges seem to remain a sensitive issue. A forum where a photographer named Adi was quoted as saying that there was hope in Egypt, and where spontaneous activities to clean up Liberation Square after the demonstrations were apparently described too, was apparently rejected or “blocked by administrator” (可能被管理员屏蔽或删除!) later.

"Possibly blocked"

"Possibly blocked"

Meantime, the English-language Global Times (affiliated with China Daily) reports that

The world countries agree that the fall of Mubarak’s regime will usher in a new era in the Middle East in general, while expressing concerns over the future of the country and the Middle East.

Huanqiu Shibao‘s main headline is that Egypt’s current cabinet will remain in office, pending elections. And different from recent days, there are readers’ comments again, even if only fifteen, more than twenty-four hours after publication. And interestingly, not everything is harmonized:

In the end, they didn’t open fire (终于没开枪),

says one comment, and another, more skeptical comment suggests:

Let’s wait until they hand the power to the people – let’s talk again then (先还政于民再说吧).


*) Referred to as Egypt’s Highest or Supreme Military Commission (埃及最高军事委员会) in the articfle.

“The Greatest Democracy for Humankind…”, February 3, 2011
On the Events in Egypt, Adam Cathcart, February 11, 2011

6 Responses to “Press Review: Huanqiu apparently relaxes Egypt Commenting”

  1. Great stuff, JR, wish more bloggers (including myself) were able to get to this kind of analysis more regularly…


  2. The good thing about the blogosphere is that when one blogger misses some news, another will probably run into it… One blog means little. Many blogs combined matter more. I just followed a hunch – after all, it was now obvious that Chinese propaganda would have to live with Egypt minus Mubarak, no matter if there’s going to be chaos or orderly transition. I don’t think that anyone of us bloggers has the means to cover Chinese affairs comprehensively.


  3. Update re Huanqiu comments: the number of comments is now down to eleven.


  4. Yup, another interpretation is that the censor has seen that the reaction from Chinese people to this uprising has been less than entirely sympathetic, and therefore thinks that it is safe to give it a higher level of exposure.

    Personally, I think that just as with some Euro-American (particularly Israel-friendly) commentary about the uprising in Egypt, the racial angle has played a part here. Chinese people are a lot less symptathic to Arabs than they might be to even, say, North Koreans.


  5. The propaganda department is probably still in unchartered waters. What it seems to hand down to the more commercial press is that they must publish Xinhua, People’s Daily or other party publication articles when it comes to Egypt as a topic. The article that was published by Huanqiu Shibao on Sunday hails from Xinhua, too. If the situation in Egypt allows, they will spin it as chaos. If it doesn’t, they will focus on how China is different and more successful than Egypt will ever be.

    For sure, there is strict censorship on the article I linked to, on Huanqiu Shibao. The number of comments were at fifteen on Sunday, reduced to eleven this morning, and is now at eleven again. The one saying that in the end they didn’t open fire has been deleted.

    Another newer comment refers to 23 per cent of Iraqis living under the poverty line after the instability of so many years – etc..
    That fits sufficiently to remain published.

    But your allegation that Chinese people weren’t sympathetic to Arabs is very unfair, FOARP.
    The Chinese people see the Arab people as good friends, good partners and good brothers.
    Says Uncle Wen.



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