Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heavy policing stops Beijing protests

Chinese authorities cracked down hard to prevent protesters gathering in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district on Sunday. Using a large police presence, some in plain clothes and some armed, people were constantly moved on and anyone spotted taking pictures was immediately set upon.

There have been many online calls to start protests calling for greater freedom in China in what has been dubbed China's "Jasmine Revolution". Censors have attempted to thwart the spread of information by banning words such as Jasmine, Revolution and even Wangfujing. Despite this the message has reached some and there have been small numbers of Chinese turning up at locations across the country.

But China does not respond well to open dissent and this was evident in the area around Wangfujing where armed police could be spotted on street corners and dog patrols paraded along the streets. Members of the media were stopped from entering the area and some were forcibly detained. At least one TV crew from Germany was arrested and many foreigners were stopped and questioned.

There were bizarre scenes as street cleaning trucks drove back and forth the main shopping precinct forcing would-be protesters and shoppers onto a narrow strip of pavement on either side. Police, some with dogs continually moved people along and eventually cleared the entire shopping area of pedestrians. All along the shopping precinct police officers could be seen checking many Chinese people for identity papers many of them indignant that they could not wander unhindered.

Information circulating on the Internet had called on citizens to gather and shout: "We want food! We want work! We want housing! We want fairness!" However there was only one vocal protest from one person refused entry into a department store. "I want to shop," he exclaimed to the police officer barring his way [Other reports: AP / Bloomberg / Monsters & Critics / Yahoo News / Washington Examiner / Tom Spender]

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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