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Document 27 of 39.

Copyright 1998 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

June 29, 1998 12:34 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 482 words

HEADLINE: China detains activist over opposition party

   (ADDS White House reaction, background, fixes distance in par 4) By Lorien Holland

BEIJING, June 29 (AFP) - China on Monday detained Wang Youcai, a pro-democracy activist who had applied to set up an opposition party just hours before US President Bill Clinton arrived for his state visit.

Wang was taken from his home in eastern Zhejiang province mid-afternoon Monday, his wife Hu Jiangxia said.

"Plain-clothes police came to our house around one o'clock and talked to my husband about his activities and about the Chinese Democracy Party. They took him away just before four o'clock," she said.

The detention came as Clinton flew out of Beijing for China's commercial centre of Shanghai, which is some 150 kilometres (80 miles) (eds: correct) from Wang's home.

"President Clinton must tell the Chinese government now that they must release Mr Wang unconditionally," the Washington-based Free China Movement said in a fax.

"If not, he should cancel the rest of his schedule in China to show his strong protest at the Chinese government's manipulation," the group added.

US officials travelling with Clinton said they were unaware of Wang's detention but said the US government and official delegation would "continue to raise these issues with the authorities."

A string of dissident detentions in the central city of Xian ahead of the president's arrival there last Thursday caused Clinton to order his ambassador to make an official protest to the authorities.

"While the president's trip is focusing on China's potential, there are of course still major problems in this regard which we will continue to take up in discussion with the Chinese authorities," a US official said.

"While there has been some progress, incidents like this are still taking place," he added.

Wang Youcai, who was number 15 on the government's most-wanted list after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, lodged an application to form the Chinese Democracy Party with Wang Donghai and Lin Hui on Thursday just hours before the start of Clinton's visit.

It was the first open application to form an opposition party since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, and came despite almost zero tolerance from the government towards open dissent.

Wang Donghai and Lin Hui both said they had so far been unaffected.

In an interview Sunday, Wang Donghai said they had used the cover of Clinton's visit to mount a challenge to the Communist Party's monopoly on power.

"I think everyone is playing the American card at the moment because President Clinton is here," he said.

"We chose this time as it is very suitable, as everything is very calm and safer than usual," he said by telephone.

A second group of Chinese dissidents said Saturday they had also lodged an application to establish an opposition political party -- the Chinese Democracy and Justice Party.



LOAD-DATE: June 29, 1998

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