China has blocked the search for Egypt on Sina's microblogging service, reported Al Jazeera on Saturday.

Instead of getting results, users who search for that term are greeted with the message According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results are not shown.

 

Sina's service is seen as China's version of Twitter.

 

While the homepages of Western media publications are dominated by coverage of Egypt protests, China's state-run media gave it much less attention.

 

News on the Egypt protests has been limited to a few paragraphs and photos buried inside major news websites, but China Central Television had a report on its midday broadcast, reported Al Jazeera.

 

As violence erupts in Egypt, a key question is if Chinese authorities fear it spreading to their own country.

 

China has similarities to Tunisia and Egypt. 

 

One, the regime is not democratically elected and rules by force. 

 

Two, food inflation is soaring.  According to official data, food prices soared 9.6 percent from the previous year in December 2010 and  jumped 11.70 percent in November 2010.

 

(Many Western economists believe these figures are rigged and inflation is actually higher.)

 

Three, discontent over low wages already manifested last year in a string of migrant worker suicides in Guangdong.  The suicides prompted worker strikes, which were resolved after factory owners gave sizable wage concessions.

 

Incidentally, the revolt in Tunisia was sparked by the suicide attempt of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old college grad who snapped after the police took away his produce cart, his sole means of support.

 

Chinese authorities are no stranger to unrest.

 

About 20 years ago, massive protests in Tiananmen Square gave them a real scare; they had to resort to declaring martial law and send tanks to the streets of Beijing to resolve the conflict.

 

The 1989 protest was heavily politically motivated.  After that uprising was crushed, Chinese citizens consented to the rule of the government for the next 20 years largely because of economic development.

 

Indeed, the social contract between the government and the people are almost purely economical.  However, in the aftermaths of the global financial crisis, the government had trouble keeping up its end of the bargain.

 

For the first time in 20 years, university graduates -- even those from prestigious ones -- had trouble finding gainful employment.  Many of them form so-called 'ant tribes' -- loosely defined as educated young Chinese people living in squalid conditions --  in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

 

The migrant workers remain oppressed, as they have been for years.

 

Then, in 2010, food inflation came into the picture, which affects the poorest segment of the population the most.

 

If unrest were to break out in China in 2011, it would be based on economic (as opposed to political) discontent. 

 

In Tunisia, the decision of the military not to fire on protesters was a decisive factor in causing former President Zine eel-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country, according to NYTimes.

 

In Egypt, whether the military sides with President Mubarak or the protesters will likely be the deciding factors of the final outcome.

 

In China, contrastingly, the central government has a firm grasp on the military, as evidence by the military crackdown of the 1989 protesters.  Military support likely means that the Chinese regime will not be toppled by massive protests.

 

Even so, worried Chinese leaders have a keen interest in avoiding bloodshed in the streets and a repeat of 1989.