China hails 'progress' but quells protest on human rights anniversary

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China marked international Human Rights Day on Wednesday with newspaper editorials and television commentaries hailing the country's"unremitting efforts" and"nonstop progress" in promoting free speech and individual rights.

It was also a busy day for public security officials, who were dispatched to quell a protest of about 40 people who rallied outside the gated headquarters of the Foreign Ministry in Beijing. After calling for free elections and demanding a crackdown on corruption for about 30 minutes, the demonstrators were herded onto buses and taken away.

For Liu Xiaobo, one of the most high-profile dissidents in China, Wednesday also marked the third day of detention for what friends and relatives say was his role in drafting a bold public letter that demands political, legal and constitutional reform. The document, published on the Internet and signed by 303 Chinese academics, artists, farmers and lawyers, was released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a product of the United Nations and a foundation for human rights laws around the world.

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