China subdues protests with whistles and trucks

Large numbers of police – and new weapons such as shrill whistles and street cleaning trucks – squelched overt protests in China for a second Sunday in a row yesterday after more calls for peaceful gatherings modeled on recent democratic movements in the Middle East.

Near Shanghai's People's Square, uniformed police blew whistles nonstop and shouted at people to keep moving, though about 200 people – a combination of onlookers and quiet sympathizers who formed a larger crowd than a week ago – braved the shrill noise. In Beijing, trucks normally used to water the streets drove repeatedly up the busy commercial shopping district spraying water and keeping crowds pressed to the edges.

Foreign journalists met with tighter police controls. In Shanghai, authorities called foreign reporters yesterday warning them to stay away from the protest sites, while police in Beijing followed some reporters and blocked those with cameras from entering the Wangfujing shopping street where protests were held. Police detained several Chinese, at least two in Beijing and four in Shanghai, putting them into vans and driving them away, though it was not clear if they had tried to protest.

While it isn't clear how many people – if any at all – came to protest, the outsized response compared with last week shows how the mysterious calls for protest have left the authoritarian government on edge. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, where popular frustrations with economic malaise added fuel to popular protests to oust autocratic leaders, China has a booming economy and rising living standards. Still, the leadership is battling inflation and worries that democratic movements could take root if unchallenged.

"Rapid inflation affects people's livelihoods and may affect social stability," Premier Wen Jiabao said in an online chat yesterday. While he did not mention the Middle East, he later added: "I know the impact that prices can cause a country and am deeply aware of its extreme importance."

Online posts of unknown origin that first circulated on an overseas Chinese news website 10 days ago have called for Chinese to gather peacefully at sites every Sunday in a show of people power meant to promote fairness and democracy. A renewed call this week expanded the target cities to 27, from 13.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Business Development B2B - Year 1 OTE £25,000

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Several opportunities to join t...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Administrator

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a small, busy team s...

Recruitment Genius: 2nd / 3rd Line IT Field Engineer

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT Support c...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works