Online calls for peaceful Chinese protests to resemble Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" have ended with a number of reporters and citizens being bundled into Chinese security vehicles.

The protests had been planned via anonymous messages left on a U.S. website in China, and called for people to rally against the government in 13 cities including in Beijing and Shanghai to mirror the ongoing Mideast democracy movement.

Instead, a mix of protestors and onlookers in Beijing's tourist area, where the 2 p.m. Sunday protests were to take place, saw a heavy clampdown, in which police checked passers-by and warned away foreign journalists.

"Today showed that whether or not Chinese security believed this is a real threat, they are certainly going to act like it," CTV's Ben O'Hara-Byrne told CTV's News Channel from Beijing.

"The idea that there is opportunity and that people will lead better lives in China certainly seems to be a lot more impressive than it was in Egypt or Lybia or than Tunisia. That being said, there is still a lot of inflation here, prices are going up, wages are too. But the prices of food went up by 10 per cent last month alone so people are feeling the pinch. There are a lot of people here upset by the perception of corruption… and the government knows that."

During the day, police used a number of tactics to quell potential protests, such as shrill whistles and street cleaning trucks, but were thrown off by the fact that supposed protestors mixed with tourists and shoppers.

Near Shanghai's People's Square, uniformed police blew whistles non-stop and shouted at people to keep moving, though about 200 people -- a combination of onlookers and quiet sympathizers who formed a larger crowd than a week ago -- braved the shrill noise.

In Beijing, trucks normally used to water the streets drove repeatedly up the busy commercial shopping district spraying water and keeping crowds pressed to the edges.

Foreign journalists met with tighter police controls. In Shanghai, authorities called foreign reporters Sunday indirectly warning them to stay away from the protest sites. Police in Beijing followed some reporters and blocked those with cameras from entering the Wangfujing shopping street where protests were called.

Plainclothes police struck a Bloomberg News television reporter, who was then taken away for questioning.

Police also detained several Chinese, at least two in Beijing and four in Shanghai, putting them into vans and driving them away, though it was not clear if they had tried to protest.

While it isn't clear how many people -- if any -- came to protest, the outsized response compared with last week shows how the mysterious calls for protest have left the authoritarian government on edge.

Online posts of unknown origin first circulated on an overseas Chinese news website 10 days ago. They called for Chinese to gather peacefully at sites every Sunday, in a show of people power meant to promote fairness and democracy.

However, China's extensive Internet filtering and monitoring mean that most Chinese are unaware of the appeals, effectively limiting the audience.

Police have questioned, placed under house arrest, and detained more than 100 people, according to rights groups. At least five have been detained on subversion or national security charges -- in some cases for passing on information about the protest calls.

Senior politicians from around the country converged on the capital this week for the legislature's annual session and a simultaneous meeting of a top advisory body -- events that always bring high security.

Police seemed to outnumber pedestrians at Wangfujing. Groups of men with earpieces crowded the seats near the window of a KFC outlet scanning the street outside.

After blocking entrances to Wangfujing, police took away foreign news photographers, camera crews and reporters from The Associated Press, the BBC, Voice of America, German state broadcasters ARD and ZDF, and others. They were taken to an office, where they were told special permission was needed to report from Wangfujing.

With reports from CTV's Beinjing bureau chief Ben O'Hara-Byrne and the Associated Press