Chinese dissidents inspired by the Jasmine revolts invited citizens to a pro-democracy stroll at 2 pm on Sunday. Instead, hundreds of riot police, dozens of plainclothes officers, guard dogs and street-cleaning trucks spraying jets of water arrived at the designated sites in Beijing and Shanghai.
The security machinery, greater than the first attempted protest last Sunday, showed a nervous intolerance for sloganeering and opposition ahead of the Chinese parliament session in March.
AP reported that two Chinese in Beijing and four in Shanghai were driven away in police vans. There were no major protests barring scuffles between foreign camera crews and the police. The online posts had urged citizens to 'stroll, watch or pretend to pass by' making it hard to discern protestors from onlookers.
The campaign was limited to posts on banned websites, while the majority of citizens remained unaware since searches related to 'jasmine' and 'Wangfujing' were blocked.
"Its (China's) ideal is to pre-empt Internet-organised real-life demonstrations,'' said Simon Shen, a Hong Kong-based specialist on Chinese online nationalism. At 9 am Sunday, Premier Wen Jiabao conducted his own online campaign with a live chat. Wen gave sensitively worded answers on price rise, income and regional inequalities and corruption that challenge the communist party's grip on social stability.
Wen said that China's talent pool and education reflected its rise better than the GDP.