China's having some wee riots by a few troublesome dead-ender Uighurs. Hundreds are dead. The media always wants to "cover" things like this. China has a new media management strategy, though: savvy PR! The Uighurs have a counter-strategy: breaking shit.
China's normal strategy when these things happen is to lock down the city in question, flood it with cops, push out state propaganda, silence the internet, and tell foreign reporters nothing. This time, though, they've organized a nice media tour! Discount hotel rooms, official briefings, ready-made photo montages, and all.
Journalists were invited Tuesday morning on a government-escorted tour of one of the Uighur neighborhoods hit hardest by the violence. But they were explicitly barred from conducting any interviews without government minders present, and television journalists who sought to wander on their own were reported to have been stopped by police or paramilitary officers who demanded that they turn over their film.
Not much different from covering the White House, really. Give it a few years and you'll see fat foreign reporters gorging themselves on spring rolls and summarizing press releases from the central government. But the crafty Uighurs responded with some inspirational protestations—they "smashed the windshield of a police car and several police officers drew their pistols before the entire crowd was encircled by officers and paramilitary troops in riot gear."
All right in front of reporters, which gave them good ways to lead their stories, rendering all the hard work the Chinese put into those official briefings practically useless! [SIGH]. Don't worry, repressive Chinese authorities. Once you get the press corps fat and happy, all this muckraking is over. Trust us.
[Pic via a good video at The Guardian]