Protests continue; restraint urged

Updated: 2008-04-21 07:19

Demonstrations against Tibet separatist activities continued yesterday in several Chinese cities amid calls for people to be rational in their protests.

Xi'an, Jinan, Harbin and Dalian witnessed protests following Saturday's demonstrations in Beijing, Xi'an, Hefei, Qingdao, Wuhan and Kunming.

Protesters yesterday gathered in front of outlets of French supermarket chain Carrefour, chanting "Oppose Tibet independence", and "Oppose CNN's anti-China statements".

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

Police were monitoring the demonstrations, which did not affect the supermarkets' operations much.

More than 1,000 protesters held banners in front of Carrefour in Xi'an, chanting "Support the Olympics", "Go China" and "Condemn CNN".

"Today's activity is simply to raise awareness, and for finding an outlet for the patriotic emotions of our students," said Wu Sheng, a 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 only because we draw more attention there," he said.

The organizers folded the banners and persuaded the crowds to disperse as the number of demonstrators kept increasing at around 11 am.

About 100 people gathered in the rain at Carrefour in Jinan, Shandong province, waving the national flag and banners with themes opposing "Tibet independence", "loving the motherland" and "supporting the Olympics". They marched to the city's Quancheng Square at 1 pm after gathering in front of the supermarket for half an hour.

In Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, about 1,000 signed a 10-meter-long banner, saying "Support the Olympics and love our China".

One of the three outlets of Carrefour in Dalian, a coastal city of Liaoning province, shut on Saturday because of the protest and remained closed yesterday.

The city government promised yesterday that it would maintain social and commercial order, including Carrefour's business.

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

Carrefour has 112 stores on the Chinese mainland.

Meanwhile, a front-page editorial in yesterday's edition of the People's Daily called on people to "cherish patriotism while expressing it in a rational way".

"As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally, and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner," the commentary said. "The more complicated the international situation is, the more calm, wisdom and unity need to be shown by the Chinese people."

China Daily-Xinhua

(China Daily 04/21/2008 page1)