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Chinese authorities tightened restrictions on foreign reporters last week. It comes as calls for Middle East-style protests intensify around the country. Authorities are also accusing journalists who try to show up at these protests of trying to disrupt public order.
At least seventeen foreign reporters in China were arrested and detained on Sunday, according to Associated Press. It happened after they showed up to this site in Shanghai where a protest was planned, but had no permission to be there.
So far, few of the protests in China scheduled by anonymous web postings have gone ahead. But that hasn't stopped Chinese authorities turning popular shopping strips in Beijing and Shanghai into media no-go zones, just in case.
Authorities are now threatening to expel foreign journalists from the country if they report from the Beijing city center without applying for permission at least three days ahead.
This appears to be a major backtrack on the more relaxed reporting laws introduced before the 2008 Olympics.
Uniformed and plainclothes police last week harassed, punched and kicked reporters in potential protest areas like Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu accused journalists in a news briefing of trying to disrupt public order.
[Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman]:
"Some people shouldn't use the law as a shield. The truth of the issue is that some people are afraid of a lack of chaos, and want to cause trouble in China. If the person has this kind of intention, then no law can protect them."
Security is already higher than usual in Beijing as the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference holds its annual meeting.