About 200 deomonstrators marched through Peking demanding democracy and artistic freedom today, as most Chinese quietly celebrated the 30th anniversary of communist rule.
The demonstrators were protesting police closure of an unofficial art exhibition which began last Thursday in a park next to the Peking Art Gallery.
Chants of "We demand political democracy; we demand political freedom" were heard from the demonstrators as they made their way to municipal headquarters from Democracy Wall, where political militants put up posters and sell underground magazines.
Police kept the demonstrators moving but did not try to interfere with the three-hour march, except to prevent the column from passing through the city's main Tienanmen Square.
The demonstrators, carrying banners and placards, sent a five-man delegation inside city hall to present complaints to officials who promised to pass them on to higher levels.
The unofficial art exhibition, which included 144 works by 23 artists, was dismantled on Saturday because police said permission had not been obtained for the exhibition that "interfered with the normal activities of the masses."
We believe the action of the police represents a direct challenge to our constitutional rights," said Wang Kak Ping, one of the artists.
Most Chinese commemorated the birth of the communist state by holding family outings or dinners. Today was a public holiday but there were no official festivities.
Hua Guofeng, the Chinese premier and Communist Party chairman, climaxed official anniversary ceremonies at a glittering state banquet Sunday night, with a 1,200-word toast that mentioned Mao Tse-tung only once in passing.
On the same occasion a year ago, Hua declared that China must "hold high the great banner of Chairman Mao."
The anniversary came as Hua prepared for a trip to France, West Germany, Britain and Italy, his first to the noncommunist world.