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Control Over Tiananmen Square Tightened After Foreigners' Protests

China News Digest, 18 February 2002

[CND, 02/18/02] After about 50 Falun Gong followers from North America and Western Europe protested in Tiananmen Square and were detained last week in Beijing, police tightened screening on Thursday and Friday to prevent any further protests that may happen during U.S. President George W. Bush's visit next week, the South China Morning Post reported on Saturday.

According to the report, two or three uniformed police, soldiers or plain-clothed guards were stationed at all access points to the square on Friday when the reporter went to check out. A uniformed police officer stopped the reporter at the exit of a subway station on the edge of the square and asked in English to see his passport. The officer checked the visa and asked his purpose of visiting China, then thanked him for his answer, while a plain-clothed officer also looked at the passport without saying a word.

Police checked Chinese visitors' larger bags as they entered the square. In the square Chinese families waved national flags and took pictures, an all year-round activities. While Mr. Michaels walked along one side of the square, a man wearing a sweater, blue jacket and dark trousers followed him for about 100 meters before turned away. No one else followed him.

Despite one report that a European visitor had been checked three times, the patrol police did not check every foreigner. An officer and a soldier simply watched the reporter entering the square via a pedestrian crossing from other two exits of the subway stations. (LIU Weimin)