Crowds of people gathered in front of a McDonald's restaurant in Beijing's Wangfujing Street on Sunday at around 2 pm. The police tried to take away two men at around 2:10 pm. The crowds had mostly dispersed by 2:50 pm. (photo/ Wang Ming-yi)
After Chinese netizens responded to calls for a jasmine revolution and attended walks in several cities, a mass of people gathered in Beijing and cities across China on Sunday (Feb. 20) afternoon where the police forces were on high alert, yet no serious conflict erupted.
Netizens in China announced 13 major locations, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tienjin, Nanjing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Changsha, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin and Wuhan, for the "Chinese Jasmine Revolution" on February 19 and said that the event was scheduled for 2pm on Sunday (Feb. 20), urging the Chinese government to implement democracy, political reform and press freedom, and guarantee housing and fairness.
After the messages spread, from Saturday about a hundred human rights activists were arrested, detained or harassed, according to Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy (ICHRD). Search terms which were deemed to pertain to the jasmine revolution were also blocked in China's microblogs and forums.
A human rights activist, Jiang Tianyong, who was detained on Saturday and his wife failed to make contact with him. Also an activist in Shangdong was detained on Sunday morning, the ICHRD said, according to Hong Kong-based media Mingpao.
A Guangzhou lawer, Liu Shihui, was attacked by five persons when he walked out of his house at noon, a user said on Twitter.
In the afternoon on Sunday, about a hundred people gathered in front of the McDonald's at Wangfujing, Beijing, according to Mingpao where they were dispersed by police.
A Twitter user said "when I went to Wangfujing, the police were jostling young people holding a bundle of jasmine. There were about 300 policemen, many police cars, and thousands of bystanders looking around."
China state-run media down played the activities of the jasmine revolution protesters. The Xinhua News Agency briefly reported Sunday afternoon that "Crowds of people gathered in front of a McDonald's restaurant in downtown Beijing's Wangfujing Street Sunday afternoon, but dispersed when the police arrived."
People started to gather at around 2 pm along with onlookers and foreign journalists. The gathering people numbered in the hundreds at their peak, according to Xinhua. The police began to take measures to relieve the traffic congestion at 2:35 p.m. and by 2:50 the crowds had mostly dispersed.
Not only police sectors, but also other public sectors were mobilized to quell the jasmine revolution protests.
China's education authorities urged students to remain on campus some activists said on Twitter.
China mobile companies were also mobilized to fight jasmine revolution. Two state-run mobile companies, China Unicom and China Mobile disabled the functionality of sending messages to a group of users and filtered the messages which included sensitive words like "jasmine."
Chinese authorities also implemented harsh rules to filter words on the internet. Even the word "today" could not be searched on some Twitter-like microblogs on Sunday.
China's President Hu Jintao Saturday stressed the importance of information network management with improved management of "virtual society" and monitoring of public opinions on the Internet.
Aside from Beijing, the police in other cities were also on high alert. Dozens of police cars were put on patrol around Guangzhou People's Park but there were few citizens there linked to the protests, according to Mingpao. At least three people were taken away by the police in Shanghai People's Square.
A mass of people also gathered around Shanghai's People's Square, with three being detained by police at around 2:00 pm, according to Xinhua. A man aged around 30 delivered a speech on the street and then promptly left as the police arrived. The crowds gradually dispersed by 3:10 pm.
Jiang Tianyong 江天勇