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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Opinion website The Punch has justified its existence by attracting a comment from Casey Whale, a journalist and resident of Shanghai. "As an Aussie journo living and working in Shanghai I’m used to censorship, but this is ridiculous," Whale says. Whale then points visitors, via a link, to website The Shanghaiist where footage is available to view that shows Chinese police blocking videoing by journalists at Tiananmen Square.

It is truly bizzarre. As the journalists circle around, the police interpose umbrellas between the camera and the journalist, who is trying to put together a few words on-screen in memory of the day. One policeman wears trousers made with cloth that has a pattern that matches the umbrella he is carrying. Bizarre is not the word!

A related video on the website shows that Chinese authorities have blocked several popular online services, including Twitter. This type of influence on the media is rare, the commentator says. The last time it was this bad was during the Tibet crisis of 2008, she says.

The Punch ran several stories on Tiananmen today, 4 June (the 20th anniversary of government suppression of pro-democracy rallies at the famous Beijing tourist locale). The one Whale commented on dealt with ex-prime minister Bob Hawke's silence in the run-up to the day of remembrance, despite repeated requests for an interview.

Robert JL Hawke and Associates has an office in Shanghai and Hawke apparently visits “five or six times a year”. In March Hawke noted improvements in China's methods of dealing with difficult issues.

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