China detains citizens who spread call to protest

Few people knew about the campaign due to China`s wide Internet censorship.

Beijing: Officials in China rounded up Internet users who had reposted a call for protests and charged them with subversion as the authoritarian government continued its campaign to crush any Middle East-style democracy movement, activists said Wednesday.

Though only a handful of people responded to the call to demonstrate in 13 cities across China this past weekend and were met by a show of force from authorities, the unidentified organizers issued a renewed appeal to gather peacefully in parks or near monuments at 2 p.m. on Sundays. For the protest-shy, it said people could participate by simply taking an "afternoon stroll" at the appointed time and place.

Because of China`s pervasive Internet censorship, few people were likely to know about the campaign. Twitter and Facebook, instrumental in Egypt`s protests, are blocked in China. Tech-savvy Chinese can circumvent controls using proxy servers or other alternatives, but few of the country`s Internet users seek out politically subversive content.

Apparently undeterred, organizers said in an online posting that sustained action was needed to show Beijing that its people expect accountability and transparency absent from the current one-party Communist system.

"We invite every participant to stroll, watch or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear," said the announcement posted Tuesday on U.S.-based Chinese-language news website Boxun, which is blocked in China.

Bureau Report