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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March 2008, 10:31 GMT
China criticises Western media
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Police in Kangding county, Sichuan province, 21 March 2008
The situation remains tense in Tibet and surrounding areas
China has launched an attack on Western media organisations for what it says is biased coverage of the recent unrest in and around Tibet.

State and party-controlled newspapers say some Western media reports have displayed "ignorance and prejudice".

Individual Chinese have also vented their anger in internet chatrooms about these so-called biased reports.

They have also been contacting foreign journalists directly sometimes with threatening messages.

The criticism appears part of a wider campaign by the Chinese government to make sure its version of events in Tibet and elsewhere is the dominant one.

The tone was set on Monday in an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party-controlled People's Daily.

"We're afraid it looks as if [the Western media] is not just ignorant, it is also prejudice. That's why it deliberately ignores the truth and misleads the public," said the editorial.

It was followed on Tuesday by similar comments in other state-controlled newspapers.

Public relations war?

Writing in The Beijing News, Zhou Qing'an, a media expert from Beijing's Tsinghua University, said Western journalists had made up stories from photographs.

"These reports have quoted out of context and misled the public," he said.

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A headline in Tuesday's English-language China Daily said: "Netizens ( internet users) hit back at Western bias."

Individual Chinese people have also been contacting Western media organisations based in China to vent their frustration.

"Don't write the nonsense without using your brain," one person wrote in an email to the BBC.

An American media organisation has received hundreds of threatening telephone calls and faxes, and has had to temporarily abandon its bureau.

David Bandurski, of the China Media Project, said criticism of the Western media was part of a public relations war being waged by Chinese officials.

"Officials are playing this up in a big way and it's taken on a nationalistic tone," said the Hong Kong-based researcher.

Mr Bandurski added that the Chinese government was strictly controlling what was being reported about the unrest, which began on 10 March.

He said he did not expect to see any bold coverage of the unrest in Tibet and other Tibetan areas of China.

"The government won't allow it, but it would also be suicide from a business point of view if news outlets don't take this nationalistic line," he said.

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