Chinese media urge calm amid anti-Western protests

China's state-controlled press urged calm Sunday after protests erupted around the nation against alleged Western bias towards Beijing's handling of Tibet ahead of the August Olympic Games.

Hundreds of Chinese protested Saturday in major cities against France and other nations where the Beijing Olympic torch relay was disrupted in recent days by protests over China's human rights record and its handling of Tibet.

"The more the Dalai Lama clique tries to disrupt the Olympic torch relay and some Western politicians and media take advantage to launch attacks and condemn China, the more we need to unify and with the people of the world hold a successful Olympic Games," Xinhua news agency said.

People interviewed in cities where protests occurred condemned the Tibetan spiritual leader for attempting to sabotage the Beijing Games. One man urged citizens to "stay rational and clear-headed," the report, carried by all major dailies, said.

Saturday's protests, the largest anti-foreign demonstrations in China in three years, mainly targeted branches of Carrefour, the French supermarket chain accused by some Chinese of supporting Tibet.

Carrefour's denial of such allegations was carried by some newspapers Sunday.

China has strongly condemned anti-Chinese protests and riots that shook the Tibetan region starting in mid-March and then reacted with angry anti-Western rhetoric to the protests that marred the Olympic torch relay in London, Paris and San Francisco this month.

But in recent days, state media have called for calm in commentaries that have underscored the need for social stability ahead of the Olympics, the first time the nation has hosted such a prestigious event.

"As citizens, we must responsibly and coolly express our patriotism in an ordered and legal fashion.... in order to safeguard overall social stability and an environment beneficial to the peaceful development of China," the leading People's Daily said in a Sunday commentary.

Sunday's dailies largely refrained from reporting on thousands of pro-China demonstrators who protested in Los Angeles, Paris, Britain and Berlin on Saturday against the perceived Western bias towards China and the protest-marred Olympic torch relays. (AFP)