Security tightened as China warns against protests

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Security tightened as China warns against protests

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China’s warning that it will not tolerate any Arab-style protests has been backed up by increased security on the streets.

Police in Beijing kept a close watch on Tiananmen Square. Security patrols were stepped up around a main shopping area, where an online call had urged people to protest.

Beijing has tightened censorship and reporting restrictions. Controls and checks on foreign tourists and journalists have also been increased.

A similar clampdown has been reported in Shanghai.

Internet censorship means few Chinese are aware of calls for pro-democracy protests, but the authorities are taking no chances.

“Security and stability is the common wish of the Chinese people,” Wang Hui, a spokeswoman for Beijing City Government, said at a news conference. “If people think they can stir up incidents here, it’s just an illusion. If people are looking for events such as those in the Middle East and Africa, they are doomed to failure.”

On Saturday a plan for a 13.8 percent hike in the domestic security budget was put before the National People’s Congress.

Premier Wen Jiabao focussed on the economy but state media warned against social protests.

Dissidents have been rounded up since online messages appeared from abroad urging pro-democracy rallies.