Officers from the station rounded up 23 Thai guides early this afternoon at Cape Promthep viewpoint, a popular stop for busloads of Chinese tourists.
Another 100 Thai guides descended on the police station in protest this afternoon.
The guides, all Mandarin speakers, say that police were investigating accusations that a Thai guide struck a Chinese guide.
''The Thai guides involved say there was a verbal argument but no physical violence,'' said the President of the Phuket Professional Guides Association, Panomphol ''Pete'' Thummachartniyom.
''In any event, the Thai guides are working legally while the Chinese guides are working illegally. The police turn a blind eye to that illegality.''
The protest began at 1pm and was still going at the police station close to 5pm. A senior officer said there may have been a misunderstanding. The guides were ''invited'' to the station, not arrested.
A spokesperson for the Phuket Labor Office said that only Thais could be guides but many Chinese who lived on Phuket were registered as managerial staff of travel companies, sometimes even as managing directors.
''If they are caught acting as guides they should be arrested,'' the spokesperson said. The issue of illegal guides has often been raised with no solution found yet.
Khun Pete said the numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Phuket was down but more because of the advent of the change in seasons than the coup.