Beijing to Set Up Olympic Protest Zones

City tense, locked down over fears of attack
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2008 1:08 PM CDT
Chinese paramilitary police rehearse an oath taking ceremony near the Bird Nest National Stadium at the Olympic Green in Beijing, China, Tuesday, July 22, 2008.    (Ng Han Guan)
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(Newser) – Beijing will set up specially designated zones for protesters during next month's Olympics, a security official said today, in a sign that China's authoritarian government may allow some demonstrations during the games. "This will allow people to protest without disrupting the Olympics," said the director of the Shanghai Institute of American Studies, which lobbied Chinese leaders to set up the protest zones.

Human rights groups, however, dismissed the move as cosmetic, since activists have been denied visas. Worries about terrorist attacks and protests of any kind have prompted one of China's broadest security clampdowns in years.