| Updated at: 0931 PST, Saturday, February 12, 2011|
BEIJING: China's tightly-controlled media on Saturday reported news of Egypt's president yielding to massive protests, but glossed over details of the popular uprising and emphasised the need to restore order.
Online discussion about the protests has been muffled since the turmoil began, in a sign that the unrest is worrying Beijing, which restricts content seen as a potential challenge to the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party.
Internet forums appeared firmly under the censors' control Saturday, while newspapers limited their coverage to the official website news agency's reports and glossed over the underlying political factors and calls for democracy.
"Social stability should be of overriding importance," the English-language China Daily said in an editorial, adding that protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak to go had caused "havoc" and disrupted people's daily lives.
"It is hoped that the Egyptian military, government and its people will make every effort to maintain social stability and restore normal order," it added.
Failure to restore stability would be "perilous to regional peace and stability", it added. It also reiterated Beijing's standard line that the turmoil was "an internal affair" to be resolved without foreign interference.
State television network CCTV briefly reported the fall of Mubarak, with footage of protesters cheering.
The Beijing Youth Daily reported that Mubarak had stepped down, noting that he had fled to the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, but did not mention the underlying grievances behind the 18 days of protest.
The Beijing News noted that hundreds of thousands of people were involved in the protest movement, emphasising that the country's vice-president had urged people "to return home and go back to work as soon as possible".
Since the beginning of the turmoil, China's coverage has stressed Cairo's lawlessness and the need for order -- echoing calls by the foreign ministry.
China is extremely sensitive to any news involving social unrest and actively censors content seen as a potential challenge to the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party.
China's leaders have faced mounting public discontent in recent years over political hot-button issues including persistent reports of abusive government officials, dangerous environmental damage and now surging inflation. (AFP)