About 4,000 farmers, workers and students burned China's best-known dissident in effigy Wednesday in the first government-sponsored rally since the pro-democracy student movement began six weeks ago.
The rally in Huangcun, 20 miles south of Beijing, came as communist authorities pressed ahead with tactics aimed at intimidating and discrediting the 10,000 students occupying central Tiananmen Square.Several people said officials forced them to participate in the 40-minute rally in support of Premier Li Peng's hardline policies.
Also Wednesday, about 3,000 pro-democracy students marched from Tiananmen Square to city police headquarters, where they held a sit-in to protest the arrests of three labor leaders.
They also demanded the resignations of senior leader Deng Xiaoping and Li, who imposed martial law in Beijing on May 20 and ordered a crackdown on workers pressing for a freer China.
Zhao Pinglu, head of the independent trade union to which the workers belonged, said they were released late Wednesday afternoon after being questioned for a day about the new union's activities.
China's communist government bans all but the official All China Federation of Trade Unions.
"Down with kidnapping!" the students shouted. It was the second straight day of protests in front of the police office.
At the government-sponsored rally, demonstrators marched to an outdoor stadium carying banners reading: "We support Li Peng" and "We oppose the small group causing turmoil."
The event lacked enthusiasm of the demonstrations in Beijing, where hundreds of thousands of people have marched to demand democratic reforms and an end to official corruption.
Rally leaders burned an effigy of astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, an outspoken proponent of democracy, but they failed to stir the crowd.
Few joined leaders in shouting slogans such as "Long live the Communist Party!" and "Down with Fang Lizhi!" Students responded to the slogans with giggles.