Olympics-China Media Watch: What protesters?

On the eve of the opening ceremony, Xinhua News Agency waxes philosophical about the torch’s journey tomorrow to the Bird’s Nest, its home for the next three weeks. It hasn’t been an easy road, and Xinhua refers to the “obstacles” the torch encountered in foreign cities, as well as the Sichuan earthquake in May that diverted its path.

But official Chinese-language news makes no mention that I can see of the last couple of days’ protests within Beijing. 

CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz notes the enterprising foreign media coverage of  protesters who managed to thwart the Olympic security behemoth. But even in the informal media, word of the protests is not so easy to find in Chinese. Hong Kong blogger Roland Soong found it on Duowei News, a Chinese language Web site based in the United States. (He argues that the reason news of protests isn’t crawling around the Chinese Web is not entirely due to censorship, but because in his opinion it’s a non-story.)

The Chinese-language commentators on the U.S. site seem to have little sympathy for the protesters. Soong translates one commentator:

The Chinese people, the Beijing people are too soft. When these monkeys climb up the electricity pole, why don’t they shoot them down with slingshots? Why wait for the police to come? The people of Beijing are disgraceful. No guts.

Which raises the question of why the censors would want to keep this news quiet. Is it because the protests are seen as an embarrassment to China? Or does the government fear an anti-foreigner reaction in China?