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Elaborate Rules Frustrate Would-Be Olympic Protesters


The Chinese rules governing protests make Tuesday the last day anyone can apply for permission to demonstrate during the Olympic games, which end Sunday. As Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing, the officially designated protest parks have yet to see any demonstrations.

The process for filing for permission to hold a protest in Beijing can be daunting.

Applications are expected to include detailed information for all participants and they must be filed five days in advance. Protests are approved only if they do not harm "national, social and collective interests."

Authorities will provide a response only 48 hours before the requested rally time.

Despite these hurdles, China's official Xinhua News Agency said 77 protest applications were filed since August 1, a week before the games opened.

The complaints ranged from labor and medical disputes to inadequate welfare.

Of the applications filed, three were from overseas. Two were suspended because they did not provide sufficient information. Chinese authorities rejected the other one because it violated laws against demonstrations and protests.

Of the 74 Chinese applicants, Xinhua quoted authorities as saying they withdrew their requests because their problems were "properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments, through consultations."

At the office where the protest applications are received, one petitioner, Sun Liwei, tried to apply Monday to hold a protest.

Sun says she would like the public security bureau to accept her request to demonstrate and protest, to call attention to the problems of the underprivileged. She says her protest is "not a big deal," and that she would follow the law of China.

The vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, Wang Wei, told reporters it is not realistic to expect that "problems" would all be resolved during the Olympics.

"So, in response to these problems, we think that you do not really understand Chinese reality," Wang said. "China has its own version and way of exercising our democracy."

Meanwhile, human rights groups charge that Chinese authorities have detained some Chinese citizens who have applied to hold protests. When asked about this, public security authorities had no comment.