Chinese students denounce U.S. campaign

A policeman confronts anti-war protesters after they unfurled a banner in Beijing on Sunday. — AFP

A policeman confronts anti-war protesters after they unfurled a banner in Beijing on Sunday. — AFP  

SINGAPORE March 30. A number of Chinese students and foreign residents in Beijing held separate rallies against the U.S.-led military strikes in Iraq. Elsewhere in East Asia, Jakarta, capital of the world's most populous Muslim-majority Malaysia, today witnessed the biggest anti-war rally yet in the vast Indonesian archipelago.

In China, the new Government, headed by the President, Hu Jintao, and the Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, was among the first powers to call for an immediate end to the hostilities. In more recent days, the Chinese authorities have begun to urge the U.S. to end the war quickly. It is in this context that today's anti-war rallies in Beijing attracted much international attention as an apparent manifestation of some pent-up anger against America's militarism.

At the Beijing University campus, scores of students gathered to raise their voice against the war in a largely symbolic protest that would speak for millions of others. Having apparently obtained permission from the Chinese authorities to stage the demonstration, the students held an orderly protest. They arranged what were described as display-boards which carried pictures and articles about the ongoing war.

Meanwhile, an estimated 200 foreigners gathered in the diplomatic district before marching towards the U.S. embassy. According to an official account, the rally by the foreigners lasted about 40 minutes and passed off peacefully. The protesters ranged from workers of foreign businesses in China to foreigner students and members of international non-governmental organisations. The overriding theme was the demand for a quick end to the war.

In Jakarta, a mammoth crowd gathered in front of the U.S. embassy and raised slogans against the U.S.-led campaign. According to an estimate, at least 200,000 people joined the rally, even as political leaders and the younger sister of the President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, addressed the protesters.

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