Universities urged to join jasmine rallies
Beijing warns against 'street politics' as fresh call heard for protests today.
Priscilla Jiao, Mar 06, 2011, SCMP
Beijing warned people yesterday against "street politics" as the anonymous organisers of "jasmine rallies" on the mainland issued an open letter to major universities calling for more gatherings today.
A commentary in the Beijing Daily newspaper, an official Communist Party mouthpiece in the capital, said: "It is worth noting that at home and abroad some people with ulterior motives are trying to draw this chaos into China by using the internet to incite illegal gatherings, create problems and stir up `street politics'. People are strongly against such a self-directed farce."
The warning, published on the opening day of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, called such protests "behavioural art". It said threats to social stability could bring disaster, and stressed the importance of stability to economic development. The warning has been widely published on Chinese state media websites. There have been low-key rallies in some mainland cities on the past two Sundays.
Yang Huanning , deputy chief of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, said he was confident that the security situation was under control. The bureau plans to hold a press conference on social stability at 2pm today, the same time that rally organisers have asked people to gather.
Security has always been extremely tight for the annual meetings of the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and the Communist Party has made maintaining stability a priority. Public security expenses surpassed those of the military last year, according to a report by the Ministry of Finance.
Beijing has mobilised 739,000 police officers, officials, security guards and residents organised into local patrols to guard against mishaps during the two sessions, China News Service reported.
The open letter to major universities across the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan appeared on a Boxun.com blog yesterday. It said: "We, as the organisers of the rallies, are also your peers and participants in the rallies, and we are your alumni and as young as you are." The recipients included Peking University, Tsinghua University, Renmin University, Fudan University, Sun Yat-sen University and Xiamen University.
"We cannot keep silent in a cruel reality in which a son of a police official in Baoding , Hebei , received a light sentence after running over and killing a person and another student was beaten to death by a train administrator," the letter said.
It added that the privileged elite could easily make fortunes by stamping on social order.
It called upon students to take a stroll on the main squares of their campuses, in front of university administration buildings or other locations mentioned previously.
Since mid-February, online messages have encouraged people to take a "stroll" in busy locations of some big cities to express their discontent with social problems. These include rising housing prices, inflation and the poor employment prospects of university graduates.
Despite a heavy police presence, people turned up in Beijing and Shanghai last week but it was impossible to distinguish demonstrators from regular shoppers.
A renewed call this week asked people to gather in 41 cities, up from 27 last Sunday, with more than two separate locations designated in over 10 cities. A Facebook account holder has also called on Christians in 38
cities to pray at 2pm every Sunday, with many of the designated locations matching those of the so-called jasmine rally calls.
With inouts from : TONY HENDERSON