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Document 14 of 39.

Copyright 1998 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

July 12, 1998 11:15 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 596 words

HEADLINE: Chinese dissidents react angrily to detentions

DATELINE: (ADDS open letter to president)

    By Lorien Holland

BEIJING, July 12 (AFP) - Chinese dissidents reacted angrily Sunday to the detention of five pro-democracy activists who attempted to set up a political opposition party during the visit of US President Bill Clinton.

"The Chinese government has again demonstrated to the world that they have no credibility," the Free China Movement said in a statement signed by 142 dissidents from inside and outside the country.

"We sternly condemn the Clinton administration's unprecedented betrayal of freedom (by praising improving human rights in China during Clinton's visit here)," it added.

On Saturday, police in the eastern province of Zhejiang rounded up nine dissidents who were connected to the fledgling Chinese Democracy Party (CDP).

While four were released the same day, the future looked increasingly bleak for three of the five that remain in detention.

Another 18 mainland activists dispatched a letter Sunday to President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji urging immediate action to free the detainees.

"President Jiang recently anounced to the world that China would sign the international covenant on political and civil rights in the autumn, but the fact is that this serious violation of citizen's rights is against your own commitments," the group said, according to one of the co-authors, Qin Yongmin.

"We are deeply concerned and fearful of this action and we call on you to order the Zhejiang police to immediately correct this wrong action and release these citizens," it said.

Xian-based dissidents Lin Mu and Yang Hai, who were detained during Clinton's visit to the central Chinese city last month, also made a call for the immediate and unconditional release of the five.

"The families of Wang Youcai, Wang Donghai and Zhu Yufu have already been informed by the police to bring clothes and daily necessities to the detention centre," said Lu Siqing, spokesman of the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human rights and Democratic Movement in China.

"This means that at the very least they will be detained for a long time, and the situation does not look good," he added.

The activists applied to set up the CDP just hours before the arrival of Clinton in China at the end of June. Their application was the first since the Communist Party took power in 1949, and came despite almost zero tolerance from the government towards open dissent.

Wang Qiang, one of the four dissidents released Saturday, said police repeatedly told him the CDP was an illegal organisation, while other sources said they feared there would be charges of conspiring to overthrow the government.

"The Chinese authorities detained our CDP leaders on the charge of conspiring to overthrow the government. The charge is libellous and a distortion of the facts," the fledgling party said in a statement released from the United States.

"The CDP is not a party seeking the overthrow of the government through a consiracy. The CDP is a political party which calls for fair political competition with the Chinese Communist Party and these rights have been specified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," it added.

Although Jiang Zhu say they would like to move toward democratic elections, they insist China will not be ready for such a move for at least 50 years.

"We believe that the Chinese communist dictators are unable to eradicate the CDP and its spirit. We also believe that the advancement of the Chinese pro-democracy movement, no matter how difficult it is, will not be stopped," the CDP said.



LOAD-DATE: July 12, 1998

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