CHINESE authorities got a bad case of the jitters during the fifth anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre, keeping Beijing quiet over the weekend with a massive show of force, intense police surveillance, and a ban on all public group activities.
Although security usually tightens in Beijing before anniversaries of the 1989 crackdown, in which hundreds of Chinese were killed, Western diplomats said Chinese authorities were visibly more nervous this year.
Amid growing unrest over rising prices and layoffs among workers at failing state enterprises, the Communist leadership is extremely tense over their inability to control spiraling inflation and official corruption. Those issues were at the root of the 1989 pro-democracy movement that was brutally crushed by the Army in Beijing.
The authorities clamped a curfew on Beijing University, the center of the 1989 protests, and sealed off the house of a Beijing couple fasting in honor of their son who was killed during the demonstrations. Many prominent activists were either under detention, were forced to leave Beijing, or left to avoid surveillance. Others were warned to avoid foreign journalists, and some were placed under round-the-clock scrutiny.
Plainclothes police closely tailed foreigners in Tiananmen Square and followed foreign journalists and some diplomats. Major hotels were ordered by police to discontinue satellite broadcasts of CNN, which showed film footage of the 1989 massacre.