CHINA> Regional
Reports of clash with housing protesters denied
Updated: 2008-08-05 00:19

BEIJING - Security authorities in Beijing on Monday issued a statement denying that police clashed with protesters who met with foreign media earlier in the day on Qianmen Street (Qianmen Dajie) in the city center, voicing dissatisfaction with government compensation for demolition of their houses.

"Police officers didn't clash or scuffle with the protesters, nor did they interfere with journalists' news gathering activities, or detain any protesters on Monday," said the statement.

The Chongwen District Government confirmed that some 15 protesters from the Qianmen area of Chongwen District met two Associated Press correspondents in front of a roast duck shop near Qianmen around 10:30 am on Monday, while Japanese TV staff were filming in front of the shop.

This caused a traffic jam as other people joined to watch the scene.

Being informed of the traffic jam, the police rushed to the scene and dealt with the congestion, leaving soon after the traffic jam was cleared. The Japanese TV crew's work was not interrupted, the statement said.

The incident was the subject of at least two AP reports. An initial report said that Olympics protesters clashed with police in Beijing; a later one noted that women claiming to be members of a neighborhood committee were involved in the incident.

The later story, filed at about 3:13 pm Beijing time, discussed the demonstration and said: "The police officers did not interfere, but women who said they were members of a neighborhood committee pushed and led the protesters away from the area."

In an interview with AP correspondents at 12:30 pm, Zhong Yongming, deputy chief of the Chongwen District Government, said that 96 percent of the residents who used to live in the old Qianmen area, featuring poor public works, serious safety problems and dilapidated housing, were pleased with the upgrading project in the area and the solutions offered to rehouse them.