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Copyright 1997 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

November 28, 1997 07:32 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 255 words

HEADLINE: Dissidents call on Wei Jingsheng to lead Chinese democratic movement


   Four Chinese groups opposed to the communist government have called on released dissident Wei Jingsheng to take charge of the country's democratic movement.

"For almost 20 years, Wei Jingsheng fought strongly for the democratic movement in China," said the four foreign-based groups in a statement released by the Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

"Despite his ordeals, he has not changed his ideal. In doing so he has won the respect of all Chinese dissidents."

Wei, who is considered the father of the democratic movement, was freed by China on November 16 after spending nearly all the past 18 years in prison. He went to the United States for medical treatment.

The groups backing Wei were named as the Paris-based Federation for Democratic China and the US-based the Party for Freedom and Democracy in China, Chinese Democratic Party and Alliance for a Democratic China.

Their appeal came, however, only a few days after two dissidents who have remained in China, Xu Wenli and Ren Wanding, who said Wei had been falsely made the torchbearer of the Chinese democracy movement.

Wei said Tuesday he would not get involved in the "internal quarrels" of the dissident movement.

The four democracy groups called on all dissidents to meet for a congress "to find precise working methods and to set aims."

They said they hoped Wei Jingsheng "will take part in the coordination of all the parties so a new page can be turned for China's Democratic movement."



LOAD-DATE: November 28, 1997

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