Plainclothes personnel riding in a marked police vehicle detained AP correspondent Bill Foreman, and authorities escorted him out of the village of Dongzhou in southern Guangdong province.
He went there to confirm reports of renewed protests in the village where two years ago three men were shot and killed in demonstrations against government land acquisition. At the time, residents said the government gave them inadequate compensation for land taken to build an electric power plant. In December 2007, Radio Free Asia reported that about 1,000 riot police fired tear gas at protesters in Dongzhou. Residents were reluctant to speak about the protests to a foreign correspondent.
Foreman said while he was walking down a narrow side street lined with shops, four plainclothes officers in a marked police car grabbed him by the arm and put him in the car without saying what he had done wrong. At the police station, after 30 minutes, a vice director of the propaganda department of the local communist party committee showed up. He wanted to see Foreman’s passport and press card. He also wanted to know to whom he had talked and what they said. (Foreman said he couldn’t understand anyone because they spoke in dialect).
Foreman brought up the new media guidelines, and the official said the law allows local governments to declare that certain places are off limits because of security concerns. Another official said reporters would probably be allowed to return to Dongzhou by February. After an hour, the authorities drove him to the closest big city, Shanwei, about a half hour away and checked him into a hotel.