Three detained in Chinese city's rally for preserving dialect

08:24, August 03, 2010      

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Three people in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have been detained by police for disrupting public order when they joined hundreds of others in a rally Sunday calling on authorities to preserve their local dialect, Cantonese, local police said Monday.

The rally took place in the People's Park and Beijing Road in downtown Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, Sunday afternoon. Police officers were deployed to maintain order.

"Most of the participants have believed in rumors (that Cantonese would be abolished) and taken part in the rally, but a few people with criminal record joined the rally to intentionally stir affrays," the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau said in a statement Monday.

A 19-year-old man surnamed Liang, 25-year-old man surnamed Tan and 42-year-old woman surnamed Guo have been detained for disrupting public order, stirring affrays and causing traffic jams, the statement said.

Liang was sentenced to a year and nine months for robbery in 2007 and Guo had been a drug addict and had received compulsory drug rehabilitation for three times since 2003, the statement said.

Sunday's rally was the second such demonstration held by Guangzhou citizens, mostly young people, since last weekend after a local political advisory body proposed early last month that Guangzhou TV broadcast more of its news programs in Mandarin or launch a new Mandarin channel.

Citizens in Guangzhou had worried that their dialect would be abolished in the promoting of Mandarin.

TV stations in China are required to broadcast in Mandarin. However, since Guangdong is adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao where Cantonese is widely used, Guangzhou TV was approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television in the 1980s to use Cantonese in order to attract viewers from the two regions.

China has eight major dialects, but the number may vary due to different classifications. It is usually difficult for those speaking one language to understand another dialect.

The Guangzhou municipal government has said that local authorities would not abolish use of the Cantonese dialect.

"We hope citizens and netizens will not believe in such rumors and take part in such a rally, and help us to create a harmonious city," the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau said in the statement.



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