Croc's post was done while mine was half baked due to business calls or I'd have simply echoed his views!
The CNN timeline is one I wished I had read before posting as it seems that the demonstrators had cut off lawful activities in a part of Beijing and the timeline shows the gov't had some fear of uprisings across China. Gov'ts have a responsibility to maintain the law of course and we hope that they don't go too far.
I loved Hilary Clinton's statement too until I sat back and said WTF... why don't they apply that type of thinking to Guantanamo or even the illegal war in Iraq! If I am thinking like that, you bet the Chinese leaders are thinking that too. They see the west's hectoring and lecturing as BS as they too have much to be ashamed about and they'd be telling other nations to go ... themselves if they got criticized.
During the torch fervor I was blown away by the response of Chinese I know who were so freaking angry at the torch attacks and for a moment that scared me to think that Chinese people could be that angry and all in unison. I am sure the gov't saw that too and that is why they took steps later to stop their angry cheer leading as they too could see how fragile their social fabric would be if they had unrest there and how easy it would be for someone to get the populace into a fervor that could be directed against them! It's the old adage in the Bob Dylan song, "if you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose." That is why you don't see rich nations fighting each other in wars these days. Those who could be dangerous to social unrest would be those not in the economic mainstream and as China is still developing, it has many, many not yet full economic participants and thus I can see why they fear these risks.