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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Warned Not to Protest




BEIJING -- China appealed to citizens Wednesday not to stir up trouble over Friday's 10th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests even as dissidents intensified their demands for redress.


In a rare direct mention of the 1989 movement, the ruling Communist Party's leading newspaper accused Western governments and dissidents, then as now, of trying to foment discord to weaken China.


"The firm and resolute suppression of the political turmoil in Beijing in the spring and summer of 1989 was extremely timely and completely necessary to preserve the country's independence, dignity, security and stability,'' People's Daily said.


"No matter in the past, the present or the future, unity and stability are the Chinese people's secret weapon for victory,'' the front-page commentary said.


People's Daily's head-on approach underscored the communist leadership's confidence in guiding public perceptions about the anniversary. A strident anti-Western media campaign begun after NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia on May 7 has whipped up nationalism and channeled public anger against the United States.


The military assault that killed hundreds and ended seven weeks of protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, remains a sensitive issue in Chinese political life. Irrespective of how they viewed the protests' calls for democracy, many Chinese, especially in Beijing, resent the government's use of the military to attack unarmed students.


Beijing closed off one source of information about the anniversary. Police ordered tourist hotels and foreign-invested residential compounds to stop carrying CNN as of Tuesday, the U.S.-based cable television network and managers of the facilities reported. Ordinary Chinese are already prohibited from receiving CNN, which has run reports and retrospectives about the crackdown.


The People's Daily commentary also served as a warning to dissidents not to use the anniversary to tap into widespread discontent over unemployment, falling incomes and corruption. Police have intensified surveillance of dissidents and are holding at least 28 of nearly 80 democracycampaigners questioned in recent weeks, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.


At least seven dissidents were detained Wednesday, including Zha Jianguo, Gao Hongming and Wang Zhixin in Beijing and four others in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the Information Center said. Zha's daughter confirmed his detention.


Police also refused permission for 70 dissidents in the central city of Xi'an to hold a candlelight vigil to mark Friday's anniversary, the center said.


In an unusual display, at least seven soldiers in camouflage drilled with assault rifles fixed with bayonets on the fringes of Tiananmen Square.


A half-dozen plainclothes security agents kept watch outside the apartment of Ding Zilin and Jiang Peikun, retired professors whose 17-year-old son was shot in the crackdown. The agents have warned and questioned all the couple's visitors, telling them to stay away during this "sensitive time.''


For years, Ding and Jiang have organized others who were wounded or whose family members were killed in the assault and lobbied the government for redress. They and the families of 159 victims and 70 of the wounded have demanded a government apology and investigation in a lawsuit filed last month and announced Tuesday in New York.


China's general prosecutor, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said it had not received the group's documents - filed May 17 and 24 - and said the suit would not be accepted.


"The party center has already drawn its conclusion over the turmoil. We won't accept any indictment arguing this point,'' said an official in the indictment collection office who declined to give his name.