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The Associated Press

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The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.

June 29, 1998, Monday, PM cycle

SECTION: International News

LENGTH: 517 words

HEADLINE: Chinese dissident arrested after trying to register democratic party

BYLINE: By ELAINE KURTENBACH, Associated Press Writer


    Chinese police detained a democracy activist today who was trying to set up an opposition political party - the latest dissident rounded up during President Clinton's visit to China.

Plainclothes police showed up at Wang Youcai's home in eastern Hangzhou city this afternoon and took him away three hours later, according to dissident groups in the United States and Hong Kong.

Having been turned away by officials Friday, Wang had planned to try again today to register his China Democracy Party with provincial authorities, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement said.

The application marked the first time Chinese dissidents have openly tried to gain government approval for an opposition party, the Washington-based Free China Movement reported.

Wang, a student leader in the democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989, was at least the sixth dissident taken into custody since Wednesday.

Wang spent 2 years in prison for helping lead the 1989 protests and has had repeated run-ins with police ever since.

His detention came as Clinton left Beijing for Shanghai, China's financial center. Clinton took up the previous arrests with President Jiang Zemin, but Jiang afterward defended the police action as important for security.

In China, Clinton has emphasized the need for the government to allow more freedom. Addressing students and faculty at Peking University today, he called a freer society necessary to maintaining economic prosperity.

However, Clinton has refused appeals by Chinese democracy and human rights campaigners to meet with a dissident.

In the latest such appeal, 125 Chinese dissidents called on Clinton to meet former Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted by party elders for resisting the 1989 military crackdown.

Zhao has lived under house arrest since being purged nine years ago and remains a potent symbol of a more tolerant era in Chinese politics. Last week, he reportedly sent party leaders a letter urging a reassessment of the protests.

In an open letter released today, the 125 dissidents said Zhao would have pushed democratic reforms together with economic ones and in the process corruption and unemployment would have been less severe.

Four of the six dissidents detained in the past week were arrested in Xi'an, Clinton's first stop, and released after the president left.

Authorities in Guilin have told the family of democracy campaigner Li Xiaolong that he will not be freed until after Clinton tours the southern city Thursday.

Also today, The Los Angeles Times reported that a Chinese dissident jailed during the 1989 crackdown was warned by security officials not to speak to foreign journalists during Clinton's visit.

"I was told by the police I have to refuse to give any interview to any foreign journalists," said Bao Tong, the highest-ranking advocate for democracy to emerge from the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party.

Bao told the Times he felt compelled to cancel a meeting in Beijing with one of its reporters. He did speak to the newspaper by telephone.


LOAD-DATE: June 29, 1998

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