China protest call smothered in police blanket

Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:47pm GMT

A U.S. embassy spokesman said he was "disturbed" by reports of foreign journalists being physically harassed.

"We call on the Chinese government to respect the rights of foreign journalists to report in China and urge public security authorities to protect the safety and well being of anyone who is subject to illegal harassment or intimidation," embassy spokesman Richard Buangan said.


It was impossible to tell who were simply shoppers and who had shown up to support silently the call to demonstrate.

Security was evident throughout Beijing's Wangfujing shopping street, one of the venues singled out as a protest site by the website, Shoppers strolled along, but there were at least 40 public security vehicles at the south end of the pedestrian-only street.

Passage was partly blocked by construction fences that went up late in the week outside a McDonald's restaurant, which the Boxun message designated as a place for the gathering. The McDonald's was shut down on Sunday afternoon for about an hour.

"A few days ago some people were creating a stir over by the McDonald's, so they have stepped up security," said an employee at a nearby store. She said she did not want her name reported.

At least one news photographer was ordered into a police vehicle and forced to delete photos from her camera.

A similar call for protest a week ago brought out few people, and dozens of dissidents and human rights activists have been detained or warned to avoid such activities.   Continued...

<p>Police disperse a crowd after calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" protest, organised through the internet, in front of the Peace Cinema in downtown Shanghai February 27, 2011. An online call for anti-government protests across China on Sunday instead brought an emphatic show of force by police determined to deter any buds of the kind of unrest that has shaken the Middle East. Lines of police checked passers-by and warned away foreign photo journalists in downtown Beijing and Shanghai after a U.S.-based Chinese website spread calls for Chinese people to emulate the "Jasmine Revolution" sweeping the Middle East and stage gatherings in support of democratic change. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>
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