Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 08:06 UK

New anti-French rallies in China

Protesters and police outside a Carrefour store in Beijing, 01/05
These protests were much smaller than previous anti-French rallies

Hundreds of people have staged protests in four Chinese cities against the French supermarket chain Carrefour.

Demonstrators carried banners opposing Tibetan independence and supporting the Olympic Games - which will be held in Beijing in August.

Carrefour became a target for activists in China after the Olympic torch relay was disrupted by pro-Tibetan protesters in the French capital, Paris.

The supermarket has issued a statement saying it is not involved in politics.

In April there was a rash of anti-French protests focusing on Carrefour stores, following the Olympic torch's difficult passage through Paris.

A pro-Tibetan protester had tried to snatch the torch from Paralympian fencer Jin Jing during the Paris leg of the relay.

The incident received huge coverage in China's state-run media, and rumours began to circulate on web forums that Carrefour gave funding to pro-Tibetan groups - which it denies.

During April there were protests outside Carrefour stores involving thousands of people in a dozen Chinese cities.

The authorities have been calling for calm in recent weeks.

But placard-waving protesters gathered outside Carrefour stores in south-eastern city of Fuzhou, Shenyang in the north-east, and Changsha, capital of the central province of Hunan.

The BBC's Dan Griffiths, in Beijing, says a handful of protesters have been detained outside one store in the capital.

He says the latest protests are much smaller than previous demonstrations against Carrefour.

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