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Document 9 of 12.

Copyright 1999 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

January 01, 1999 05:03 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 309 words

HEADLINE: Chinese activists prepares to set up non-political Labour Party


   Several Chinese magazines are to set up a Chinese Labour Party to champion the cause of workers, but not challenge the ruling communists, a US-based rights group said Friday.

Shengde Lian, executive director of the Free China Movement, told AFP the initiators of the party were editors of several public opinion magazines including Yulun.

"They have set up a steering committee to form the party. Its purpose is to monitor the Communist Party of China (CCP) and not to compete with it," Lian said.

The party would take up the interests of workers, including China's army of retrenched workers, and protect their rights, he said, adding a website for the party would be ready on Friday.

The move followed Sunday's sentencing of a labour activist Zhang Shanguang to 10 years in jail for "endangering state security" by a court in China's central province of Hunan.

Zhang, 45, was formally arrested on August 28 after being detained for more than a month, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

Police in Huaihua detained him on July 21 for trying to set up an organisation to defend the rights of laid-off workers, an act that "threatened state security."

China does not allow any trade unions or labour organisations other than those sanctioned by the Communist Party and regularly throws unofficial labour organisers into prison.

Lian said the act violated the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which China signed last October.

The government has already laid off more than 10 million workers from loss-making state enterprises and plans to cut six million more jobs next year, moves which could lead to widespread social unrest as redundant workers are cut off from cradle-to-grave housing, medical care and pensions.



LOAD-DATE: January 01, 1999

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