BEIJING // An online campaign is urging people in 13 Chinese cities to rally every Sunday to press for government transparency and free expression, after a call last week for Middle East-style protests.
The call, posted this week on a blog run by the overseas-based human rights website Boxun.com, appears to be from the same group behind a web campaign calling for protests last Sunday that echoed those roiling the Arab world.
The earlier call produced a heavy police turnout at designated protest sites in Beijing and other cities. The events were lightly attended, however, and free of major incidents.
"What we need to do now is to put pressure on the Chinese ruling [Communist] party," the renewed appeal says. "If the party does not conscientiously fight corruption and accept the supervision of the people, then will it please exit the stage of history."
Apparently attempting to make a statement without falling foul of China's security forces, participants were urged not to take overt action but to merely show up for the 2pm "strolling" protests.
"We invite every participant to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear."
China's government has shown growing unease over the unrest in the Arab world, heavily censoring or blocking media reports and online discussion of the upheaval, which has, among other things, toppled presidents in Tunisia and Egypt.
The call for weekly Jasmine rallies, a reference to Tunisia's so-called Jasmine Revolution, was labelled as an "open letter" to China's rubber-stamp parliament. The National People's Congress opens its annual session on March 5.
At least two people were seen being taken away by police, one for cursing at authorities, and another who shouted "I want food to eat!"
Other cities included in the new call range from Harbin in the far northeast to Guangzhou in the south.
Authorities have detained two people, including the Sichuan democracy activist Chen Wei, for spreading the earlier protest appeal on the internet, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported.