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Document 7 of 39.


Copyright 1998 Associated Press  
AP Worldstream

September 11, 1998; Friday 01:02 Eastern Time

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 314 words

HEADLINE: Democracy activists try to register opposition party in China

DATELINE: BEIJING

BODY:
    Democracy activists trying to register an opposition political party in a Chinese province said Friday that officials gave them reason to hope they might succeed.

Dissidents have been trying to register the China Democracy Party with the government since U.S. President Bill Clinton visited China in June. Police in eastern Zhejiang province rounded up 12 democracy campaigners connected to the group in July.

But Xie Wanjun and Liu Lianjun said in a statement that officials of the Civil Affairs Ministry in Shandong province have been more encouraging, according to accounts from human rights groups. On Thursday the officials told the dissidents their application would be granted if it met all national laws.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported that one official showed the Shandong dissidents a memo saying the government was considering their application.

If approved, it would be the first time that the ruling Communist Party has allowed an opposition party to be formed since coming to power 49 years ago.

''We cautiously appreciate the positive gesture made by the Chinese government towards the long expected relaxation of the taboo on free association in the People's Republic of China,'' the Washington-based Free China Movement Network said in a statement.

Instead of summarily dismissing the application, the government officials told the activists what additional information was needed, including a statement about the necessity of organizing such a group, the Free China Movement Network said.

In their initial application, the Shandong activists stated the China Democracy Party did not intend to challenge the leadership position of the Communist Party.

Beijing has long allowed a small number of minor parties, but they have no power and play a minor supportive role.





LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

LOAD-DATE: September 11, 1998



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