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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 14:19 GMT
China's Hu 'defuses student protests'
Chinese Vice President, Hu Jintao, has reportedly intervened to try to end large a student protest, according to Chinese press reports.

The reports said Mr Hu stepped in to defuse protests by in the eastern city of Hefei which were sparked by a traffic accident in which two students are believed to have been killed.

Mr Hu, the newly installed leader of the Chinese Communist Party, is reported to have ordered that the driver involved be severely punished - one of the key demands of the protesters.

Correspondents say that although student demonstrations have been rare in China since the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the authorities remain wary of any unrest.

Traffic safety

The 20-year-old driver, who is believed to have run through a red light knocking down the students, has been detained by police, according to Wen Wei Po, a Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper.

The paper said there was no sign of trouble on Wednesday and classes resumed as normal.

Students at Hefei Industrial University, in Anhui province, protested on Tuesday, gathering outside the headquarters of the provincial government and blocking the streets.

"The students were of course angry. They want the government to construct a bridge to make it safer for students to cross the street," a woman who lives on the campus told AFP news agency. She did not want to be named.

During the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, students demanded an end to corruption and were joined by workers and others.

Hundreds of unarmed demonstrators were killed when troops and armed police moved in to end six weeks of demonstrations.

The Chinese Government has never given a full account of the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

See also:

15 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
15 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
28 Dec 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
14 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
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