Beijing has sent an emergency circular asking students and workers nationwide to remain calm during the anniversary of the Nato bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The message has been dispatched over the past few days to Communist Party committees in colleges, labour unions, and other units. A party source said yesterday students in universities in Beijing and other cities had made known their intention to hold rallies and gatherings to mark the anniversary of the incident next Monday. The circular said it was imperative that citizens 'remain in utmost unison with party central authorities'. It said party members and others must have faith in Beijing's ability to fight for and secure the country's best interests. The document hinted that protests were undesirable, and said maintaining social and political stability was the most important task. Verbal instructions were also given by party leaders to university heads to prevent students from holding anti-US or anti-Nato protests. A Beijing source said many students had expressed their indignation at the embassy bombing in e-mails and Internet chat-rooms. They were also dissatisfied with Washington's explanation that the bombing was an accident. However, the source said, the authorities were anxious to prevent a recurrence of anti-US protests while Congress was deliberating China's permanent normal trade relations status. The administration of President Jiang Zemin was also afraid that - as was the case last year - anti-Western demonstrations might change into protests against Beijing's inability to 'stand up to the neo-imperialists'. 'The party leadership is worried that anti-US protesters will be joined by those who want to hold demonstrations against the pro-independence movement in Taiwan,' the source said. 'Beijing wants the nation to remain calm and united in the run-up to the May 20 inauguration of [Taiwan president-elect] Chen Shui-bian.' Anti-US and anti-Nato demonstrations last May drew crowds exceeding half a million and resulted in the worst Sino-US crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It is understood, however, that apart from trade ties, Beijing needs Washington's help in reining in pro-independence sentiments in Taiwan. Last week, the US State Department warned Americans to be aware of the anniversary and avoid 'any areas where demonstrations occur' when they are in China. However, it did not warn Americans against travelling to China.