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Copyright 1998 Central News Agency  
Central News Agency

July 14, 1998, Tuesday

LENGTH: 419 words

HEADLINE: US CALLS FOR THE RELEASE OF MAINLAND DISSIDENTS

BYLINE: By Jay Chen and Flor Wang

DATELINE: Washington, June 12

BODY:
    US State Department spokesman James Rubin on Monday urged Beijing to release all imprisoned dissidents and said the US will continue asking Chinese authorities to improve their human rights record.

Answering questions at a regular news briefing, Rubin said the US government is aware of the reported arrests of about a dozen dissidents in the mainland, but they cannot confirm the reports.

He said Washington has asked its embassy in Beijing to gain an understanding of the incidents and asked that mainland authorities release all those dissidents who remain detained.

Repeating remarks made by US President Bill Clinton during his recent visit to mainland China, Rubin said Beijing should allow mainland Chinese people to freely express their political and religious opinions and release all dissidents who have been arrested for doing so.

Washington's engagement with Beijing is not equal to its recognition of Beijing's policy, Rubin said. Washington believes Beijing has "grave problems" in its human rights policy, pointing to arrests of dissidents who have voiced different political views and those who attempted to set up a new political party, he added.

Rubin said Washington will continue to raise those questions to Beijing and continue pushing for improvement.

Asked about whether Beijing's recent arrests of political dissidents following Clinton's mainland trip were meant as a reaction against Clinton's remarks on human rights in the mainland, Rubin said both Clinton and Secretary of State Madelaine Albright had said that they do not expect mainland China to change overnight.

The spokesman said Clinton's message to mainland leaders is that they must improve its human rights record if they wish to join the mainstream of the international community.

More than 10 dissidents in Hangzhou were reportedly arrested by local public security authorities since last weekend for trying to establish an opposition "China Democracy Party." Five of them, including Wang Youcai, Wang Donghai and Zhu Yufu currently remain detained.

Lian Shengde, spokesman for the US-based "Free China Movement," said mainland pro-democracy activists based here are preparing to launch a campaign to seek the release of the detained dissidents. He said the detainees may be sentenced to prison terms of at least 10 years if found guilty of "counter-revolutionary" charges.

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

LOAD-DATE: July 15, 1998



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