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Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 12:54 UK

China urges 'rational' protests

Protesters in Xian, 20/4/08

China has urged its citizens to be calm amid further anti-Western protests in the country, focused on French supermarket chain Carrefour.

The official Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, said patriotism should be expressed rationally.

The protesters have been angered by disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris and London.

They also accuse the West of supporting Tibetan separatists, and the Western media of bias.

The official Xinhua news agency said more than 1,000 people carrying banners had gathered in front of a Carrefour store in the city of Xian, and there were also protests in Harbin and Jinan.

Xinhua added that police were monitoring the demonstrations in the three cities, which remained peaceful.

Policeman in Qingdao, 20/4/08
Beijing does not want to see any escalation in the protests

The protests came after Saturday saw hundreds of people demonstrating in cities including Beijing, Wuhan, Hefei, Kunming, and Qingdao - often outside Carrefour stores.

Protesters denounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy's refusal to confirm whether he would attend the opening ceremony of the Games.

Carrefour has restated its support for Beijing's hosting of the Olympics this August, and denies the accusations by some protesters that it backs the campaign for Tibetan independence.

The front-page Sunday editorial in the People's Daily called on Chinese people to cherish patriotism "while expressing it in a rational way".

It said: "As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner.

"The more complicated the international situation is, the more calmness, wisdom and unity need to be shown by the Chinese people."

The BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says this is a clear sign that the Chinese government does not want to see any escalation in the protests.

Scuffles

Saturday's pro-Beijing protests were not confined to China.

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".

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 Olympic 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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