Chinese authorities yesterday barred foreign reporters from an ongoing demonstration by people seeking to move back to Peking from rural areas and told the protesters that they should stop discussing their grievances with foreigners.
"Save the dignity of your own country. Don't talk to the foreigners," a Peking official who refused to identify himself shouted to approximately 100 demonstrators gathered on the steps of city hall, the Los Angeles Times reported. "Foreigners can't solve your problems."
Moments later, a squad of green-uniformed police officers told foreign correspondents that they would have to leave the area where the protesters have been gathering throughout the week. Reporters were told they would need a special permit to enter the zone.
The demonstration has not been mentioned in Chinese newspapers, and no reporters for Chinese newspapers have come to the scene.
The protesters are all natives of Peking who were sent to the countryside as teen-agers during China's Cultural Revolution in 1968. All of them now live several hundred miles away in Shanxi Province, one of China's least prosperous areas, and none has been able to get official permission to return.
In China, an individual is not permitted to move permanently from one location to another without an official change in his household registration permit, a document required for a person to get housing, a job and food coupons.
Although the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, most of the youths sent out from China's large cities were required to remain in the countryside for several more years. There were large demonstrations in Peking and Shanghai in 1980 by city-bred youths seeking to return home.
Many have since succeeded in getting approval to return to their home towns. The Shanxi protesters are among thousands who are still waiting. Some of the current demonstrators blame their plight on their lack of political connections.