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China's Would-Be Protesters Denied

Ge Yifei, right, says she was not allowed to apply for a protest permit. She and friend Xu Pingli want to protest a developer and their local government.
Ge Yifei, right, says she was not allowed to apply for a protest permit. She and friend Xu Pingli want to protest a developer and their local government. (By Ariana Eunjung Cha -- The Washington Post)
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Zhu Jian, a police official in Suzhou who questioned Ge upon her return, said he was "not allowed" to talk about her situation.

Ge said that after she left the Public Security Bureau, she was taken by the men from Suzhou to a hotel.

As she stewed there under virtual house arrest, Ge said she concluded that she could not blame Beijing officials for her troubles. Their local counterparts were responsible instead, she said.

"The central government had a good idea to become more open. They are genuine," she explained. "But my personal feeling is that the lower governments are worried about losing face and don't want the protests."

It wasn't until late Friday afternoon that she told the men she was ready to go home.

They took her to the train station and sent her back to Suzhou. Two new police escorts were waiting for her when the doors slid open 12 hours later.

Researchers Wu Meng and Crissie Ding contributed to this report.


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