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Security matrix put in place to prevent another Tiananmen

BEIJING--When visiting friends in China's capital, environmental activist Wu Lihong must slip away from his rural home before sunrise, before the police officers watching his home awaken. He rides a bus to an adjacent province and jumps aboard a train just minutes before departure to avoid being spotted.

In a neighboring province, veteran dissident Yin Weihong finds himself hauled into a police station merely for keeping in touch with old friends from the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement. While he's technically a free man, the treatment makes it virtually impossible to keep a job or have a normal home life.

A quarter century after the movement's suppression, China's communist authorities oversee a raft of measures for muzzling dissent and preventing protests. They range from the sophisticated — extensive monitoring of online debate and control over media — to the relatively simple — routine harassment of government critics and maintenance of a massive domestic security force.

Hugely Successful System

The system has proven hugely successful: No major opposition movement has gotten even a hint of traction in the 25 years since Tiananmen. President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping seems intent on ensuring things stay that way.

“It's extremely bad right now, much worse than in past years,” said Yin, who spent several months in prison for his role as a student leader during the 1989 protests. “There's less and less space for civil society or, if you're like me, even to just live your life freely.”

Each year's anniversary brings a crackdown on dissent, but this year has been especially harsh, say dissidents and human rights groups. Lawyers and others taking part in even minor private commemorations have been detained. Outspoken relatives of those killed in the crackdown have been forced out of Beijing.

Journalists, including those in the foreign media, have been issued stern orders not to report on unspecified sensitive topics around the June 4 anniversary, with warnings of dire consequences.

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A Chinese policeman uses a loudspeaker to order visitors to line up to go through a security check in order to enter Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China on Sunday, June 1.

(AP

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