A Protester In The Headlines...Unless You're In China

We've noted it before and we'll probably note it again: woe is the media in China. You've probably noticed that much of the coverage here in the U.S. of Chinese president Hu Jintao's visit to the White House centered on an outburst from a protester who attended the event as a member of the media. From the Associated Press' lead:
In a surprise outburst that cast a diplomatic shadow, a screaming protester confronted President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao and interrupted the welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn Thursday. Bush later apologized to the Chinese leader.

"President Bush, stop him from killing," the woman shouted, to the surprise of hundreds of guests spread across the lawn. "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong" — a banned religious movement in China.

While that may have been the headline around here, in China, you'd probably have no idea it happened. A network stringer reported as much, noted National Review's The Corner and CBS Correspondent Barry Petersen, who is based in Beijing, explains further in a "Reporter's Notebook" piece on the Web site today:
The Falun Gong are especially frightening to China's Communist leaders because Falun Gong is an organization able to mobilize tens of thousands. The Communist Party wants to make sure there is only one such organization in China: that would be the Communist Party.

So they are a bit, shall we say, hypersensitive, about Falun Gong.

Which is why the 1.3 billion Chinese who happened to watch Chinese TV or read the government-controlled press might be excused for knowing nothing about the protest - because the official press did not report it.

The government's censors struggled valiantly to black out CNN and BBC satellite feeds into China that showed the woman. This happens with some frequency whenever foreign broadcasters air unflattering stories about China: they get blocked. Foreign broadcasters know better than to try and feed such stories OUT of China, because the censor at the satellite uplink will push his "go to black" switch.

So you can read the whole story of Hu's visit in the English-language China Daily and see - not a single word about the protest.

For an American correspondent in China, it's certainly a different world.