BEIJING, Sep 27 (Reuters) Beijing police detained five foreigners during a raid on a fashionable bar area last week for being in China illegally, police today said.
The capital is tightening security ahead of a key Communist Party meeting in mid-October and next year's Olympic Games, when thousands of foreigners are expected to flood into the city.
Witnesses told Reuters that paramilitary forces swept through the streets of Sanlitun, a district in eastern Beijing which is also home to many embassies.
They said police had rounded up about 20 African nationals suspected of selling drugs, forcing some into police vehicles.
Witness accounts said anyone with dark skin had been targeted, and some beaten.
The police said in a short statement that ''they had started a Sanlitun cleansing campaign'' and detained for investigation five illegal residents in accordance with Chinese immigration law.
The statement had no comment on the use of force, on whether drug dealers had been targeted or on the nationality of those detained.
Chinese police rarely get involved with foreigners if they can help it, owing to poor foreign language skills and their not wishing to cause diplomatic problems.
Beijing has a large and growing foreign population. Many come to study Chinese, hoping to leverage their skills in the world's fastest growing major economy.
REUTERS ARB PM1220