China's Media Blackout

This is a continuation of a posting started yesterday on the situation in T***t and surrounding provinces in China.

Updates posted below

BEIJING: News out of T****t trickled to a halt today. Well, at least independent news of any credibility. The official word is pouring out at full force now though. Those *'s are there in the first sentence because many times anything with that T word in it or words of places such as the capital of T are tagged by keyword filtering devices the Chinese government uses to control information getting into the country. I might intentionally spell some things wrong to see if that helps. It is very difficult now to access many of the news stories I'm trying to read. Just tried at the Washington Post to see a story about cellphone pictures from L***a, but the page didn't load. My wife, currently in a different part of China, was trying to access my posting from yesterday here at HuffPo and couldn't get in. Foreign reporters who rushed to the provinces surrounding T over the weekend were turned back by police and other security forces. Those who were in L***a were expelled. There is really no way to get independent confirmation about the number of arrests, deaths or what may be happening in many of these places. Right now we have to take the gov't's word as the only word.

Here's the latest news that I can get to, all on Beijing time: At the IHT, some polls.

4:40pm: Just popping my head up to drop off some goodies. I tend to agree with Paul here at Zhongnanhai about the posturing on these possible mini-boycotts of the opening ceremony of the Olympics by some European countries. Also, Danwei links to a couple of interesting pieces.

10:49am: First hand account here by Richard Spencer from the Daily Telegraph on getting harassed by police.

10:40am: More on censorship at ZDNet. At Gawker, the videos that got Youtube blocked.

10:17am: A couple different items from CNN, one saying that about 100 people turned themselves in to Chinese authorities for their involvement in the protests, and another on conflicting reports of deaths in Sichuan. I can't get into the second story, and now CNN has gone down for me. Also, an NPR report on web censorship of coverage here. And some interesting footage at CTV News out of Canada.

9:55am: Got a note passed along from a friend who has a friend living in L***a, who says: "the tension and instability in the city seems to be escalating" ... but that's about all he really says about the situation, other than that he is in a safe place.

9:45am: Wow, I can get into the BBC. I've never been able to get into the BBC from Beijing. Here the Beeb editors talk about their difficulties reporting from China even in the best of times.

7:30am: Haven't had time to check out the news yet, but this piece from International Freedom of Exchange gives a good rundown of the difficulties of reporting on the crisis in T. The Foreign Correspondents Club of China has also documented 30 cases in which journalists were obstructed from reporting related to T. Here's what they sent out late last night about the troubles:

XIAHE, GANSU PROVINCE: POLICE DETAIN TV CREW, THREATEN TO CONFISCATE TV FOOTAGE
MAR. 17, 2008-- Police detained a Finnish Broadcasting Co. correspondent and cameraman outside the monastery town of Xiahe and threatened to confiscate their footage. The team arrived in Xiahe on March 15, and was trying to leave when law enforcement officers brought them to the police station. The police insisted they had a right to view the correspondents' footage because the reporters had been in a forbidden area during a police operation. The police said they would confiscate any sensitive material. "We declined to show the footage and said that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said that foreign journalists have the right to report freely. They said 'You don't want to know what will happen if you don't show us the footage," said correspondent Katri Makkonen. The journalists showed the police one tape. After 90 minutes, the reporters left with the tape they showed to the police as well as the ones they managed to hide.
LINXIA, GANSU PROVINCE: POLICE TURN AWAY REPORTER DUE TO "POLICE ACTION"
Mar. 17, 2008-- Police turned back a reporter from Britain's The Guardian after he drove over a mountain pass to enter an area where protests had taken place near the border between Sichuan and Gansu. Reporter Jonathan Watts said an English-speaking officer told him "There is a police action taking place. Foreigners are not allowed inside. These are the orders of high authority." He said a Foreign Ministry official told a colleague: "When there is some emergency, the local authority has the power to set up prohibited areas for outsiders. This is for the stability and unity of that province and this country."
XIAHE, GANSU PROVINCE: TV TEAM TURNED AWAY DUE TO "TROUBLE AHEAD"
MAR. 16, 2008-- Police stopped correspondents from Britain's ITV News at a toll both an hour
outside of the monastery town Xiahe, took details from their passports, and told them to leave. A plainclothes policeman filmed the reporters. Authorities also recorded the driver's license and license plate of the Lanzhou taxi driver, who "was terrified," said ITV correspondent John Ray. " The only explanation we were given was there was 'trouble ahead'. When we pressed them, we were told the road was damaged." On their way back to Lanzhou the journalists were pulled over at another toll booth and once again asked for their passports. "No explanation was offered; nor could they reconcile the road block with the Olympic regulations concerning foreign journalists," said Ray. ``We tried to film them, but were shooed away.'' After returning to Beijing, the ITV journalists were manhandled off a university campus where Tibetan students were holding a candlelit vigil, and people they believe to be plainclothes police photographed them.
CHENGDU, SICHUAN PROVINCE: POLICE BAR FILMING IN TIBETAN NEIGHBORHOOD
MAR. 16, 2008-- Police barred a television crew from ABC News of the U.S. from filming in a Tibetan neighborhood.
When the reporters informed police of the Olympic rule allowing foreign reporters to travel and interview anyone who consents, Stephanie Sy says police "simply shrugged and hailed us a taxi."
XIAHE, GANSU PROVINCE: POLICE TURN AWAY, TAIL REPORTER
MAR. 16, 2008-- Police turned back a correspondent for U.S. National Public Radio who was seeking to reach Xiahe.
The correspondent was first stopped at a checkpoint about 50 kilometers outside of Lanzhou. The reporter took a back road, and was turned back again at a checkpoint 20 kilometers outside of Xiahe. Louisa Lim's car was followed by a police car for about 100 kilometers. Then a black sedan tailed her for about 300 kilometers, until she had almost reached the airport.

10:10pm: It's been a long day, so before I head off to bed, I'll leave you with some good commentary from Shanghai Scrap, Peking Duck (which I can't get into either), and Zhongnanhai.

10:00pm: Just tried to access my post from yesterday and as soon as it popped up it disappeared. "Connection Dropped." Okay, here's some new news with actual figures: 1,000 were arrested in yesterday's roundups. I can't access this page from here either.

9:37pm: As mentioned yesterday, there's been some fallout from the T***t situation in relation to the elections in Taiwan this weekend, possibly eroding support for front-runner Ma Ying-jeou.

9:30pm: Thanks for the "asterisk drama" note, Thorn. Thing is it's been hard to access my own posts or anything with a lot of mentions of Tib et over here. When my rss feed isn't loading anymore and when a lot of the stories I try to access are blocked or sluggish, you try to come up with another way around it. Sometimes things are easily accessible, other times not at all. It's a strange beast.

9:02pm: The big news now is that the D**i L**a has threatened to quit if the vio lent pro tests continue in T***t. For someone who "masterminded, planned and carefully organized the riot" and is bent on undermining the Olympics, he seems awfully conciliatory.