Demonstrations against "Tibet independence" continue in China

Updated: 2008-04-20 22:10

Demonstrations against "Tibet independence" continued in several Chinese cities on Sunday.

Demonstrators took to the streets in the northwestern city of Xi'an, eastern Jinan, and central city Wuhan, and the northeastern cities of Harbin and Dalian.

The rallies followed Saturday's demonstrations in Beijing, Xi'an, the eastern cities of Hefei and Qingdao, Wuhan, and the southwestern city of Kunming.

They mainly gathered in front of the outlets of French supermarket chain Carrefour, chanting "Oppose Tibet independence", and "Oppose CNN's anti-China statements" on Sunday morning.

Police were monitoring the demonstrations, which did not affect the supermarkets' normal operation.

More than 1,000 students and citizens in front of the Carrefour in Xi'an held banners, saying "Strongly oppose CNN's anti-China statements" and "Condemn Tibet secessionist in France tearing up the Five-Star Red Flag".

They chanted "Support the Olympics", "Go China" and "Condemn CNN" through loudspeakers.

About 50 of the demonstrators wore the same kind of red T-shirts. Passers-by joined them in chanting slogans.

Carrefour has been accused by Chinese Internet users of supporting the Dalai Lama group, which Carrefour China denied in a statement released on Wednesday.

"Today's activity is simply an awareness-raising activity, aimed at finding a way out for the patriotic emotions of our students," said Wu Sheng, Xi'an resident and one of the organizers.

"We do not support a boycott of French companies because the economy is globalizing. We choose Carrefour front doors because we draw more attention there," Wu said.

The organizers folded the banners and persuaded the crowds to disperse as the number of demonstrators kept increasing at around 11:00 am, in order to put the situation under control.

At a Carrefour outlet in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei Province, more than 2,000 people, mostly students, gathered at 5 pm Sunday, holding national flags and banners saying "Let France apologize" and "Go China".

The outlet was still open for business on Sunday with discounts to attract customers. But the number of customers was less than half of that of the previous weekend, outlet staff told Xinhua.

Another 1,000 people in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, signed a ten-meter-long banner, saying "Support the Olympics and love our China".

Traffic was blocked by the 1,000 demonstrators. More than 100 policemen were monitoring the crowds. The demonstration began on Sunday morning and most protesters had been persuaded to disperse by police.

The city government promised on Sunday to maintain social and business order, including the operation of Carrefour.

One of the three outlets of Carrefour in Dalian, a coastal city of northeast China's Liaoning Province, shut on Saturday because of the protest and remained closed on Sunday.

Chen Bo, media manager of Carrefour Greater China, refused to answer questions over the phone on Sunday, saying he would release a statement by e-mail later in the day.

Carrefour has 112 stores on the Chinese mainland.

Many Chinese newspapers and Internet portals published comments on the "boycott Carrefour" campaign on Sunday.

"We should not boycott Carrefour for many reasons, including the benefits of Chinese employees," said Olympic torch bearer Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound fencer, on the Internet. She held on to the torch when a protestor tried to snatch it away in Paris on April 7.

The People's Daily, the Communist Party of China flagship newspaper, called for rational action to express patriotism and maintain social stability in a comment written by He Zhenhua.

"We should cherish patriotism and should also express our feelings rationally. Only in this way can we maintain social stability, win the opportunity for development and make our country stronger and more beautiful. This is real patriotism.

"To better serve the fundamental and core interests of our country and show real patriotism, we need to show the Chinese people's calm, wisdom and unity in a complicated international situation," He said.

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