BEIJING (AP) _ A veteran democracy activist has been detained in southeastern China amid a nationwide clamp down on dissent, a human rights group reported today.

Meanwhile, dissidents in seven provinces have proposed setting up civilian watchdog groups to combat the corruption that has deeply angered many ordinary Chinese.

Police in Fuzhou, the provincial capital of Fujian, told Lin Xinshu's family that he was detained Wednesday for seven days for violating rules requiring him to report to a local police station three times a day, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.

Lin has been interrogated by police 12 times since sending an open letter to President Jiang Zemin titled ``Without democracy, a hopeless China,'' the Hong Kong-based group said.

Lin, who is in ill health, refused to report to police three times a day, it said.

Elsewhere in China, dissidents in Henan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Sichuan and Hunan provinces jointly submitted an application to the Civil Affairs Ministry to set up anti-corruption groups.

``Corruption is a millstone on the economy, a time bomb threatening to wreck social stability,'' the activists said in a faxed statement.

The statement did not explain how the groups planned to help the government curb rampant corruption.

It said the group would wait for the ministry to approve their joint application before making individual applications to local authorities.

China requires all unofficial groups to register with the authorities, and in most cases applications are turned down.