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Document 16 of 39.

Copyright 1998 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

July 11, 1998 07:48 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 431 words

HEADLINE: Eight more China dissidents behind bars, ninth on the run

DATELINE: (UPDATES with names, details)

    By Luisetta Mudie

BEIJING, July 11 (AFP) - Eight Chinese dissidents who tried to set up an opposition party during US President Bill Clinton's state visit have been arrested and a ninth is on the run from police, dissident sources and overseas human rights groups said Saturday.

Wang Donghai, Wang Youcai, Wang Qiang, Zhu Zhengming, Fang Xiaohuang, Wang Peijian, Cheng Fan and Wu Gaoxing were taken away by public security officials on Thursday and Friday, while police have been unable to find the ninth, Lin Hui, the sources said by telephone.

Wang Donghai, Wang Youcai and Lin Hui had applied last month to set up a legal branch of their underground Chinese Democracy Party.

Their application, the first attempt to set up an authorised opposition party since the communists came to power in 1949, coincided with a visit to China by Clinton at the end of June during which China was praised for its growing openness.

Chinese democracy lobby groups based abroad also drew links between the arrests of the dissidents and the United States' move to cooperate more closely with China.

One group, the New York-based Chinese Democratic Justice Party, emphasised that the arrests came soon after Clinton left the Chinese mainland on July 2.

"As soon as people leave, the tea gets cold," the group said in a statement.

Another organisation condemned Clinton's policy of engaging with Beijing on human rights following news of the detentions.

"What we said about President Clinton's policy of constructive engagement with China was accurate: that the Chinese government will not work with the free world to improve human rights, because they are a brutal communist dictatorship who no respect for freedom, democracy or human life," Lian Shengde, executive director of the New York-based Free China Movement, said in a statement.

Chinese dissidents and human rights groups in the US had written an open letter to Clinton before his nine-day visit, criticising his policy of engagement as a means of improving China's human rights record.

Republicans opponents in the US Congress had mounted a campaign to discredit the trip, putting forward witnesses who testified to forced abortions and other human rights abuses under China's one-child policy.

Although China's President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji both say they would like to move towards democratic elections, they insist China will not be ready for such a move for at least 50 years.

The government does not tolerate dissent and regularly imprisons those who voice their opposition.



LOAD-DATE: July 11, 1998

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