Locals burn a French national flag outside a Carrefour supermarket in Qingdao, Shandong province April 18, 2008. Chinese official media have sought to temper nationalist calls to boycott foreign businesses accused of backing Tibetan independence, urging angry citizens to focus on economic development.
BEIJING, April 19 - Hundreds of Chinese citizens protested on Saturday in the central city of Wuhan and in Beijing against France's attitude towards Tibet and the Olympic Games, according to police and witnesses.
Many of the demonstrators congregated in front of Carrefour, the French supermarket accused by some Chinese of supporting Tibet.
"There were around 100 or 200 people outside the store holding up signs, asking people not to go inside to shop," one person living on a street near one of the Carrefour shops said.
There were 300 demonstrators to start off with, a separate source said quoting the local police.
The news came as two small protests erupted in China's capital Beijing around the French embassy and the French School, and also around four Beijing Carrefour stores.
"For the moment, it's pretty calm. There are about 50 to 100 protesters in front of the stores with banners, but the police are there," a Carrefour employee, who did not want to be named, said.
"There is a strong feeling that authorities do not want it to get out of hand."
Anti-French sentiment in China has been on the increase ever since the chaotic leg of the Paris Olympic torch relay, where pro-Tibet protesters tried to wrestle the flame out of the hands of Jin Jing, a disabled athlete.
The resentment towards France has also been amplified by French president Nicolas Sarkozy's hesitation about attending the Olympics opening ceremony on August 8, following riots in Tibet last month and the subsequent Chinese crackdown.
Violence in the Himalayan region's capital Lhasa erupted on March 14 after four days of peaceful protests against 57 years of Chinese rule, and spread into neighbouring Tibetan-populated areas.
Beijing's crackdown has drawn condemnation from international organisations and several foreign governments.
"There were a couple of hundred people, mostly young people in the morning, and by noon they were gone," a person working in a bookstore near a Wuhan Carrefour store on another street told AFP.
"I don't know whether they were persuaded to leave or what. I didn't see any signs, only some national flags."
Carrefour has been accused by Chinese Internet users of supporting Tibet, a fact that the supermarket chain has strongly denied.
"Information circulating on the Internet in China that suggests the Carrefour group plays any role in Chinese domestic politics or its international relations is false and unfounded," it told AFP on Tuesday.
The foreign affairs department of the Wuhan city government refused to give AFP any information, and the local police station said they had not heard about it.
President Sarkozy has previously linked his own appearance at the Olympic Games opening ceremony to progress on China's human rights record in Tibet.
France will be holding the rotating presidency of the EU at the time of the Beijing Olympics.