Students said Wednesday they will hold a "great protest" for democratic reform now that the government has rejected their demand for recognition of new independent student unions.
The government also said that unidentified non-students who oppose communist rule have been advising student protesters from behind the scenes, and it suggested that leading dissident Fang Lizhi might be one of them. Fang denied involvement.The accusation seemed to herald government action against liberal thinkers admired by students. Such action against Fang and other leading independent intellectuals followed student protests in 1987.
"Our protest tomorrow will show that Chinese democracy has arrived at a new stage," said student leader Wu'er Kaixi of the Beijing Normal College.
Thursday is the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, the first pro-democracy student protests in China.
"Tomorrow we shall carry out a great protest with the support of the people," Wu'er said. "May Fourth is a people's holiday."
About 60 journalists for state-run newspapers announced plans for their own protest Thursday to express anger over censorship, especially tight controls over what they have been allowed to say about the student protests.
The protests began April 15 and are the biggest in 40 years of communist rule, but most papers are limited to printing only brief, understated reports on the events provided by the official Xinhua News Agency.
Tens of thousands of Beijing students have joined in marches, sit-ins, pamphleteering and a class boycott to press their demands for democratic reforms. Students in a half-dozen other cities have held smaller marches; some students in Tianjin and Shanghai have boycotted class.
The general secretary of the Communist Party, Zhao Ziyang, Wednesday addressed a handpicked audience of thousands of youths at a May Fourth celebration in the Great Hall of the People. He praised the 1919 protests for their contribution to China's advancement, but he said stability is what the country needs now.
"If stability is destroyed, what can be achieved?" he said. "Can science and democracy be achieved? They cannot. All that will result is turmoil."
Police said they would close central Tiananmen Square on Thursday, apparently in an effort to head off another demonstration there.
Last Thursday, about 150,000 students and their supporters broke through police lines into the square, China's symbolic seat of power.
Students from several other cities also said they planned marches Thursday in solidarity with the Beijing students' demands for a free press, an end to official corruption and other reforms.
Government spokesman Yuan Mu Wednesday rejected demands from the students to recognize their new independent group, the United Association of Beijing Universities, and meet with members. Protest leaders had said if the government rejected the demands, they would march.
Yuan told a news conference he hoped the students would not stage a protest, but he refused to say what action would be taken if they did.