China put on a display of force Sunday following an on-line call for anti-government protests across the nation. Several foreign journalists were physically assaulted and detained, including two VOA reporters. Security officials are determined to put down any signs of the kind of unrest that has shaken the Middle East.
Chinese security forces were deployed following the second on-line call in a week urging peaceful protests against Communist Party rule.
Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers patrolled expected protest sites in China's two main cities, Beijing and Shanghai.
Police removed five men gathering at a planned protest site in Shanghai.
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In Beijing's main shopping and tourist district, close to Tiananmen Square, several foreign journalists were physically assaulted and detained. Many were ordered to destroy film footage and photographs.
Raw video of police action in China:
Among them were two Voice Of America reporters filming at the scene, including Beijing bureau chief Stephanie Ho.
She was shoved into a shop by what appeared to be plain-clothed police. There is a point at which the incident could have turned more violent. But a uniformed officer intervened and ordered them not to hit woman.
Ho was escorted out of the area and detained for an hour before being released. Several other foreign journalists said they were also accosted by authorities.
China mobilized its security forces after a website urged Chinese citizens to copy the pro-democracy "Jasmine Revolution" sweeping the Middle East.
But few heeded the call to attend the gatherings.
Several senior government officials this week rejected claims China could be hit by protests like those that have rippled across the Middle East.
They say the country is enjoying an economic boom with none of the widespread unemployment and poverty that ignited rebellion in countries like Tunisia and Egypt.
Nevertheless, calls for pro-democracy protests have raised concern.
Dozens of dissidents and human rights activists have been detained and internet discussions and searches about the Middle East uprisings are heavily censored.