China is clamping down on social media as it grapples with a crisis over by the escape of a high-profile dissident apparently to U.S. protection. The case presents new difficulties for a Chinese leadership already struggling to deal with the scandalous downfall of a powerful politician, and it complicates U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to Beijing this week.
Yet China's use of social media in dealing with these two recent crises has been a study in contrasts.
There's a long list of forbidden terms on Chinese Twitter-like services, words for which searches are banned. In recent days, the list got longer still. Freshly banned words include "blind man" "U.S. embassy" and "consulate," as well as "Chen Guangcheng," the name of the blind lawyer who escaped last week after 19 months under house arrest.