03/11/2011, 00.00
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Jasmine Revolution leads to arrests as China says no to democratic reforms

Dissidents and pro-democracy activists are detained to prevent possible street protests called by anonymous online organisers in the past few Sundays. National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo rejects Western style democratic reforms, but the authorities fear protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Human rights and pro-democracy activists continue to be arrested in China as the authorities try to pre-empt Jasmine Revolution-like protests, called by anonymous online organisers in the past few Sundays. Yesterday, the Chairman of the National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo, rejected Western-style democracy for China.

In Guangzhou (Guangdong), police two days ago took away Xiao Yong, a well-known human rights activist, China Human Rights Defenders reported. His fate is unknown.

Sun Desheng has also been in prison for the past two days on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power." He reportedly attended a dinner with friends, including some notorious pro-democracy activists. The event took place on 15 February in Guangzhou. A picture of the dinner was also found on the computer of Liu Shihui during a police raid at his home on 24 February.

Petitioner Wang Fengmei was detained a week ago on a train going to Beijing and sent home to her native village. Another petitioner, Ruan Kaixiang, was forced to leave Beijing and go back to his village in Henan.

On 5 March, pro-democracy activists Zhu Yufu and Wei Shuishan were detained in Hangzhou to prevent them from taking part in possible demonstrations the next day, Sunday.

Eleven dissidents have been placed under house arrest, including Wang Rongqing, Chen Shuqing and Qi Huimin.

Dissident Mo Jiangang was arrested last Sunday in Guizhou. Wu Huaying and Zhuo Yougui were jailed a week ago in Hebei. On Tuesday, the couple Fu Jingjiang and Liu Jie were also placed under house arrest.

Last Saturday, petitioner Gao Liping was beaten in the streets by unknown attackers. Later, police forced her to go back to her home district of Fengtai.

For the past three weeks, anonymous calls have appeared online, urging people to take to the streets to protest peacefully, with information about when and where to congregate.

For weeks, police have patrolled the places indicated in the calls, breaking up any group, ready to act against anyone suspected of gathering. Foreign journalists have not been allowed to go for a stroll in the designated places.

So far, no demonstration has ever taken, but the authorities are so jittery that they have thrown hundreds of people in prison throughout the country just to prevent protests.

Those taken into custody have not done anything wrong or even said anything wrong. They are still guilty though because they are dissidents or pro-democracy activists, or just ordinary men and women who went for a walk or tried to get on a bus not far from the places indicated for protest.

Speaking before the National People’s Congress yesterday, Chairman Wu Bangguo categorically rejected Western-style democracy for China. He strongly criticised the notion of separation of powers, arguing that it would undermine social stability.

For some experts, Wu’s speech marks a break with recent statements by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao who last year warned that the gains obtained through economic reforms would be lost without adequate political and diplomatic changes.

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