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Chinese Communist-Run Newspaper Blasts Mideast Protest Movements

BEIJING -- A Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper on Saturday attacked anti-government protest movements in the Middle East and dismissed the possibility of something similar happening in China.

Such movements have brought nothing but chaos and misery to their countries' citizens and are engineered by a small number of people using the Internet to organize illegal meetings, the Beijing Daily, published by the city's party committee, said in a front-page editorial.

"The vast majority of the people are strongly dissatisfied (with the protests), so the performance by the minority becomes a self-delusional ruckus," the newspaper said.

The editorial appeared amid anonymous calls posted on the Internet for Middle East-inspired protests in dozens of Chinese cities the past two Sunday afternoons.

While drawing few outright demonstrators, the appeals have deeply unnerved authorities constantly on guard for any sign of challenges to Communist rule. Police and security agents shooed away onlookers and assaulted and detained journalists who turned up at the designated protest sites in Beijing and Shanghai.

Foreign reporters have been repeatedly warned to stay away from the sites this weekend and threatened with unspecified consequences if they disobey.

China's censors have carefully shaped local coverage of the protests in the Middle East to discourage Chinese citizens from drawing inspiration from them. State media emphasize the protests' negative effects on the societies and economies of the countries involved and give prominent coverage to the woes of Chinese workers evacuated from Libya and elsewhere.

In its editorial, the Beijing Daily attempted to draw a sharp distinction between China and the Middle Eastern countries roiled by unrest, where disdain for long-serving autocratic rulers has frequently been fueled by high unemployment and economic woes.

Chinese people, it said, support their nation's political stability, economic development, and favorable government policies. Those looking to create or discover news of Middle East-style protests in China will come up empty, it said.

"However, we must clearly recognize that there are always people inside and outside the country with ulterior motives who want to seize on the problems we have encountered over the course of development in order to incite unrest," the newspaper said.