As workmen finished scrubbing clean Peking's freewheeling "Democracy Wall," a substitute wallposter area opened today with strict rules and business hours carefully posted.
The first two wallposters to go up in the new area, in the somewhat remote Yuetan (Moon Altar) Park, had been carefully removed by their authors from the old Democracy Wall and brought to Yuetan to be registered under the new, stricter procedures designed to eliminate annonymous attacks on the government.
By day's end, the plan seemed to be working, with only about 10 wallposter authors daring to register their names and addresses and none launching any direct attack on China's top leaders. No more than 20 people at any time gathered to read the posters, which used to attract hundreds of weekend readers at the centrally located Democracy Wall along the Avenue of Eternal Peace. a
The first two old posters, and most of the new ones that followed, complained of bureaucratic neglect or malice hindering efforts to right some personal wrong.
A third poster, the first new one to go up on the Yuetan wall, recounted a 1978 accident in which the author was hit and seriously injured by a police car driving, he said, without lights. He said he had not been able to work in the 10 years since but that the police had not compensated him for his injuries. He had been jailed four times, apparently because of his constant complaining.
Dissidents here have complained that the registration requirement will frighten away potential government critics. A notice promised no posters would be censored, but added that the authors would be responsible for any liberal or illegal statements.
"I think this new system is good, it will prevent incorrect statements," said Li Chunsheng, a 27-year-old driver who stopped to read some posters during a break from work. "As a driver, I think it's safer here too, since a lot of traffic went be the old wallposter area."
A notice posted by the wallposter registration office said posters could only be registered from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. It said the office would be closed all day Monday, and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for "study."
Yuetan Park is in the western part of Peking about a mile for the old Democracy Wall, which had been the scene of occasional anonymous posters highly critical of the government since authorities loosened reings on free expression and permitted the wallposter area to be created a year ago.
The shift in location seemed designed to take the wallposters out of the public eye.