Riot police last night gathered outside the Fujian Provincial Government Building in Fuzhou in a standoff with about 50 demonstrators who had occupied its reception office in protest against being forced out of their homes. Witnesses said they saw dozens of policemen grouped outside the building. One bystander said: 'Several more coaches of policemen have arrived. It looks like they will take action against them. 'The communist authorities usually strike when there is nobody on the street to see,' the witness said. The protesters were demanding 'proper' compensation from Fujian authorities or the overturning of a ruling by Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court to leave their homes to make way for a property development project in the city centre. Although the authorities had offered them new houses, the protesters claimed they were of poor quality and too far from the centre. The protesters took over the office yesterday afternoon, demanding dialogue with senior Fujian government officials. A general department director was earlier sent to negotiate, but a lawyer for the protesters said the official only lectured them for more than two hours, urging them to obey the government order and make way for the development. As darkness fell, protesters lit candles after officials turned off the lights at the reception office. They left the office shortly before midnight but remained outside the building after the police threatened to arrest them for violating rules on delivering petitions. The group insisted they would not go home until their demands were met.