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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 11:29 UK

China 'yet to approve protests'

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Two policewomen patrol in Ritan Park on 3 August 2008
Three parks have been set aside for protests - but none have taken place

China has received a total of 77 applications to stage protests during the Olympic Games period - but none has been approved.

Beijing's public security bureau said 74 applications were "withdrawn", two were "suspended" and one was "vetoed".

China was praised by the International Olympic Committee when it said protest areas would be set up for the Olympics.

But it appears no application has managed to meet China's strict rules on who can and cannot stage a protest.

The news came as the IOC called the Beijing Olympics a "success", even though the Games are only half-way through.

'Incomplete'

The protest applications involved a total of 149 people, including three foreigners, according to a spokesperson from Beijing's public security bureau.

The majority were withdrawn because the problems they raised could be better dealt with by "relevant authorities or departments through consultation".

State-run Xinhua news agency, which reported the spokesperson's comments, said these problems involved disputes about work, health and welfare issues.

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Two applications were suspended because "their procedures were incomplete", the spokesperson said. "It doesn't mean their applications have been rejected," the spokesperson said.

The vetoed application was turned down because it violated China's law on demonstrations and protests, Xinhua reported.

That law - brought in shortly after the Tiananmen killings in 1989 - requires applicants to provide a range of information about an intended protest.

This includes the type of posters and slogans to be used, how many people intend to take part, and the names and addresses of protest organisers.

A demonstration can be turned down if it could harm national sovereignty or unity, or even if the police suspect it will "undermine public order".

Protesters were supposed to be able to demonstrate in Shijie, Zizhuyuan and Ritan parks during the Olympics.

But no areas appear to have been set up for protesters inside the parks, which are being heavily policed during the Olympics.

Some would-be protesters even appear to have been arrested after making applications to stage demonstrations.

'Very relaxed'

Just before the announcement by the public security bureau, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies praised China for the smooth running of the Games.

Things were going so well that a key meeting between the Chinese Olympic organisers and senior IOC officials had been postponed until Saturday, she said.

The Co-ordination Commission usually met every day during the Olympics but at these Games there had been little for them to discuss, Ms Davies said.

"It very much reflects the very relaxed and happy position the IOC is in, in terms of how it views the success of these Games," she added.



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