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China fails to approve 77 protest applications

August 19, 2008|From the Associated Press

BEIJING — Chinese authorities have not approved any of the 77 applications they received from people who wanted to hold protests during the Beijing Olympics, state media reported.

According to the rules governing protests, today is the last day anyone could apply for permission to demonstrate during the Olympic Games.

The state-run New China News Agency said Monday that the applications received since Aug. 1, a week before the Games opened, included such things as labor disputes and inadequate welfare.

But 74 of the applications were withdrawn because the problems "were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations," the news agency said, citing an unidentified spokesman for the Public Security Bureau.

Two other applications were suspended because they did not provide sufficient information and one was rejected because it violated laws against demonstrations and protests, the spokesman said.

Protests have become common in China, including workers upset about factory layoffs and farmers angry about land confiscation. But the Communist leadership remains wary about large demonstrations, fearing that they could snowball into anti-government movements.

In July, China said protests would be allowed in three parks far from Games venues.

But there were also rules: Applications with detailed paperwork had to be filed five days in advance and protests must not harm "national, social and collective interests." A response would be provided 48 hours before the requested rally time, officials promised.

There have been no demonstrations in the designated areas since the Games started, though small unregulated protests have occurred in other parts of the city. Most have been conducted by foreigners who were swiftly deported after unfurling "Free Tibet" banners.

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