Beijing screens more "jasmine" sites but no sign of protest
Mar 20, 2011, 12:14 GMT
Beijing - Hundreds of police maintained heavy security at several busy commercial sites in China's capital on Sunday for the fifth week of planned 'Jasmine' rallies against the government.
Most of the square outside the Hailong Building in Beijing's busy Zhongguancun district was cordoned off with blue plastic sheeting around what notices said was a 'construction site', but a subway entrance in front of the building remained open.
At least six marked police vehicles were parked near the commercial building, which was one of several new rally sites identified by the anonymous organizers for this week.
The organizers of the 'strolling' protests this week identified eight new sites in commercial areas of Beijing and 20 sites in universities, many of them in the Zhongguancun area.
Students appeared to be entering and leaving the east gates to Beijing University and People's University as normal, but two police vans were parked opposite the People's University entrance.
Security also remained tight around Beijing's best-known shopping streets, Xidan and Wangfujing, which are a few minutes either side of Tiananmen Square in the centre of the city.
Most of the large square at the southern end of the Xi Dan shopping street remained screened off, as it has been for the past two weeks.
Paramilitary police stood in front of the screens and outside the exits from the nearby Xidan subway station.
Uniformed police, paramilitary and plainclothes officers, special forces units, security guards and volunteers were strung out along Chang'an Avenue which runs between the two shopping streets across the northern side of Tiananmen Square.
The anonymous online organizers had advised people attending the rallies to 'stroll' near the protest sites but not to shout slogans, carry banners or identify themselves as protesters in other ways.
The organizers have listed dozens more planned protest sites across China since the first events on February 20.
But there are no reports of large rallies in any cities except for Shanghai, where about 100 people appeared to congregate outside the Peace Cinema last Sunday following a much larger gathering on February 27.
Police have detained or placed under house arrest dozens of well-known dissidents and activists since calls for protests began.
They have charged at least 20 people with subversion or other crimes linked to supporting or spreading information on the rallies, according to Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Defenders and other groups.
Many foreign journalists were also prevented from reporting or filming at the protest sites in Beijing and Shanghai.