BEIJING, June 10, 1989 (UPI) - China announced Saturday the arrests of more than 400 democracy movement activists in a growing sweep of Beijing and at least five other cities as authorities deported the first foreign journalist since the start of the political crisis.
The U.S. Embassy said a special Cathay Pacific plane that was to evacuate foreigners failed to leave Hong Kong because it was not given clearance to fly to Beijing. It was not known whether Hong Kong or Chinese aviation officials denied the clearance.
The plane was to have picked up 89 foreigners, most of them Americans, who were driven by bus into Beijing from nearby Tianjin by the U.S. mission. The group had attempted to leave Tianjin by plane earlier in the week, but was turned back at the airport.
The flight, part of a stream of aircraft that have been ferrying foreigners out of the country all week, was rescheduled for Monday.
With Beijing firmly in its control, the military appeared to continue to reduce the size of its armor occupying the capital, with a convoy of 16 tanks, 35 armored personnel carriers and 11 supply trucks moving east at about 11:15 p.m. out of the city center.
''In order to protect Beijing, martial law troops have arrested more than 400 ruffians, some of whom were caught while hiding out in Hebei Province, Tianjin and Shanghai,'' the official Beijing People's Broadcasting radio station said on its nightly news program.
The national China Central Television news said the prisoners included a number of leaders of the independent students and workers unions that emerged after a student protest in Beijing on April 17 spawned the largest nationwide anti-government demonstrations since the founding of communist China in 1949.
The national television report named student leader Guo Haifeng, described as secretary-in-chief of the Beijing independent student union, as one of those arrested.
The government has labeled as ''ruffians and thugs'' tens of thousands of people who poured into Beijing streets last weekend to confront soldiers and tanks dispatched to end a peaceful 22-day-long occupation of central Tiananmen Square by students demanding greater democracy, a free press and an end to rampant official corruption.
Hundreds of men, women and children are believed to have been killed by the army as it moved to enforce a martial law decreed issued by conservative Premier Li Peng May 20. The blood-letting sparked protests in other cities around the nation.
Students and intellectuals have expressed fears of a wider crackdown in the wake of a victory by hardline Communist Party elders in a power struggle with moderates over dealing with what has been denounced as a ''counter-revolutionary rebellion.''
The government has launched an intensive propaganda blitz through state-controlled media designed to place the blame for the violence on protesters, encourage the public to turn in democracy movement activists and justify retribution.
Central Chinese Television's national news Saturday featured footage of men, their heads bowed, being led into a building in Beijing by armed soldiers and questioned by uniformed officers. One of the men, accused of setting fire to an armored personnel carrier, appeared to have been beaten.
The report said the suspects were arrested on charges that included violence against security personnel, torching buses and military vehicles, looting, spreading rumors and inciting unrest.
In another segment, the station broadcast a portion of a U.S. television interview with a witness recounting how armored vehicles had crushed protesters beneath their treads. A caption read: ''This is a rumor monger. Please inform the Public Security Bureau when you see this man.''
The broadcast also showed police in Shanghai, Wuhan, Harbin and Shenyang leading away and interrogating people arrested during protests against the vicious military crackdown in the capital. It did not say how many had been detained.
Radio and newspaper reports in Shanghai, where students have blockaded roads and train tracks and held ''funeral marches'' for those killed in Beijing, said more than 130 people have been taken into custody in the eastern port city in recent days.
About 40 students staged a four-hour sit-in outside Shanghai police headquarters Saturday demanding the release of members of an independent workers union and were joined by about 200 other protesters, who were held back by police lines set up around the building.