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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Regional media split on Burma protests
Buddhist monks and Burmese people run past a burning motorcycle in Rangoon
Protesters clash with security forces

Regional media coverage on 26 September to Burma's street protests ranged from factual reporting to calls for action by governments.

As reports of security forces cracking down on protesters emerged, mainland China's media were restrained in their coverage, in contrast with Hong Kong media, which urged China and other regional countries to condemn the Burmese authorities.

Indonesian editorials called on regional countries to take a united stance. A Vietnamese blogger was scathing about the lack of media reporting in Vietnam.

CHINA AND HONG KONG

On 26 September, mainland Chinese media have been largely restrained on reports of the protests, with none of the media outlets reporting the crackdown on protesters near one of Rangoon's holiest pagodas.

Xinhua, the state-owned news agency, has been reporting reactions from the Chinese foreign ministry amid one or two factual accounts. The news agency reports have said the protests began with fuel price rises, and echoed foreign ministry comments made yesterday that "Burma will handle the issue properly".

The official China Daily newspaper has carried a report headlined "China hopes for stability", quoting foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying: "China always sticks to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries".

The party newspaper Renmin Ribao carried no reports on Burma on 26 September, observers said.

By contrast, some Hong Kong press commentators have been more vocal in urging China and Asean members, such as Thailand, "to renounce their indifferent approach".

A commentator in Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper said China and Asean members should "openly or covertly exert pressure on the [Burmese] military government", urging them to ask the junta "to adopt a restrained approach in dealing with these peaceful petitions... before it is too late".

Similarly, a commentator in Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper argued for China "to join with the majority of members of the international community and severely condemn the Burmese military government".

Observers have noted postings on a Chinese forum on Burma, located on the popular news portal Sina, expressing hope that the Burmese government and monks would both exercise restraint.

Some posts suspect Western and US involvement in the protests, while others have been expressing support for the Burmese protesters and democracy.

One participant said: "The turmoil in Burma is a huge threat to China, Burma is within China's traditional sphere of influence, and the US imperialists and international anti-China forces are definitely meddling in this."

INDONESIA

Media in Indonesia have been reflecting similar calls for regional countries to take a firm stance on democratisation in Burma. One editorial in Jakarta's Suara Karya said "democracy in Burma is once again being tested".

Meanwhile, another editorial in Media Indonesia asked for the release of the opposition party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the introduction of "a transition towards an open government system".

Republika urged "China, India and Asean to take a united stance" on Burma's "roadmap towards democracy", otherwise "the rallies will go nowhere and mean nothing, except just a memory of parades".

EXILED, CITIZEN MEDIA

Both Mizzima, the Delhi-based Burmese opposition news agency, and Irrawaddy, the Thailand-based Burmese publication, have been reporting mainly factual accounts of the protests in cities around the country, and the crackdown by security forces.

Some bloggers, based in neighbouring countries, have advised restraint while dealing with the issue, while some have voiced frustration at the lack of reporting in their own nations.

On 25 September, blogger Diacritic criticised Vietnamese newspapers for not giving the protests due coverage, saying: "Tuoi Tre, Vietnam's most popular and widely read daily newspaper allocates five sentences... while Thanh Nien raises the ante by sparing seven sentences... to what other international news sources have dedicated front page editorials."

Diacritic went on to say that "Burmese colleagues [on 25 September] informed us of the rumour that this evening, internet access will be shut down in Myanmar to prevent further leakage of photos and videos that have found wide circulation among the internet".

Another Singapore blogger, Monsoon Blogging, hoped the crisis would help in bringing about a change in Myanmar, saying: "It is time for Myanmar to wake up".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.



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