Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 15:36 UK

Anti-French rallies across China

Anti-French protesters in Chinese city of Wuhan on Saturday

Protesters in several Chinese cities have gathered to demand a boycott of French products and denounce campaigns for Tibetan independence.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in cities including Beijing, Wuhan, Hefei, Kunming, and Qingdao - often outside stores of the French chain Carrefour.

Passions ran high, but the protests were closely patrolled by police.

Protesters say they are angry at the scale of protests that accompanied the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

They have also denounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy's refusal to confirm whether he will attend the opening ceremony of the Games.

Pictures from the central city of Wuhan showed large crowds congregating outside a Carrefour supermarket.

'No to French goods'

The chain, which reportedly operates more than 100 outlets in China, has restated its support for Beijing's hosting of the Olympics this August, but is accused by some protesters of backing the campaign for Tibetan independence.

Pro-Beijing protesters in the Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday
There were also protests in Paris (pictured) and two British cities

"Oppose Tibet independence, support the Olympics," read one placard; "Say no to French goods," said another.

Some placards went further, depicting Nazi swastikas on the French flag.

Many protesters also bore images of the disabled Chinese athlete Jin Jing, who shot to prominence in China after fending off anti-Beijing protesters in Paris.

In Beijing, protests were reported at a Carrefour, and outside the French embassy and a French school, though police were said to have dispersed the crowds rapidly.

"For the moment, it's pretty calm," a Carrefour employee in Beijing told AFP news agency earlier on Saturday, confirming that dozens of protesters had gathered outside.

"There is a strong feeling that authorities do not want it to get out of hand," said the employee, who did not want to be named.

Media 'bias'

The pro-Beijing protests were not confined to China.

Protesters use lorries to block access to an outlet of the French Carrefour chain in Hefei, eastern China
In Hefei, protesters used lorries to block access to a Carrefour shop

In Paris, several thousand protesters gathered in the Place de la Republique, many wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan "Let's make the Olympics a bridge, not a wall", reported the AP news agency.

Meanwhile, more than 1,300 protesters gathered outside BBC buildings in the British cities of London and Manchester to protest against alleged bias in the coverage of Western media.

Campaigners for Tibetan independence have used the Olympics torch relay in several cities around the world to stage public protests against Chinese rule in Tibet.

Scuffles between torch bearers and protesters in cities including London and Paris have forced host nations to mount tight security operations to protect the torch on its journey.

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