Anti-war activists in Beijing have tested the limits on the authorities' tight control on protests - and are on the verge of a major victory. A group has submitted an application to stage a protest in the capital, and appears to have been handed de facto approval for the event. While sympathetic to the activists' opposition to the war, the Beijing Public Security Bureau fears the demonstration may get unruly or set a dangerous precedent. Tong Xiaoxi, an organiser of the rally planned for tomorrow, said his group had submitted the application on Tuesday. They advised that about 500 protesters intended to march to the US embassy and stage a two-hour sit-in. Mr Tong said that, according to the law, the Public Security office must notify the applicants of a decision two days before the planned protest. Permission is automatic in the absence of a reply. With the clock ticking, Mr Tong and his group are hopeful. He said it would be a significant step towards democracy if citizens could exercise their rights to assembly and demonstration. 'Our group has followed the law step by step, and our stance is consistent with that of the government. I am hopeful that we can get permission,' he said. Chinese authorities have made it clear they wish to keep the lid on anti-US sentiment. They are mindful of the need to avoid antagonising the US, and recall the chaos that followed protests against the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Han Deqiang, a Beijing academic who had staged a sit-in with other left-leaning scholars, said he would join the protest if permission was granted. Meanwhile, a group of foreigners living in Beijing, called BeijingPeaceAction, received permission to march tomorrow.