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Document 8 of 12.

Copyright 1999 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

January 06, 1999 10:33 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 390 words

HEADLINE: China authorises police to fire on demonstrators: dissident group


   China's leadership has authorised its law enforcers to open fire on demonstrators if they need to disperse protests provoked by its economic reforms, a US-based dissident group said Wednesday.

"The Chinese Communist Party Central Political and Judiciary Committee issued a classified directive to all public security forces and the armed police a few days ago," the Free China Movement said in a statement.

"The directive provides for the armed forces to immediately open fire on mobs or organised gangsters without warning and without reporting to their superiors in advance under (certain) circumstances," it said.

Attacks on leaders' residences, military or police facilities, key government agencies or broadcasting facilities and theft of weapons were among circumstances where such action could be taken, it said.

In particularly sensitive cities which have already seen sporadic protests from unpaid and laid-off workers like central Wuhan and Changsha, in southern Hunan province, rules had been issued to prohibit the blocking of traffic.

Police could use force if protesters refused to retreat within five minutes in those cities, the organisation said.

China has been hit by a spate of protests as its draconian reform of its inefficient and debt-ridden state-owned sector has resulted in millions of redundancies.

The government showed its sensitivity to the subject of social unrest when last month it sentenced labour activist Zhang Shanguang to 10 years' imprisonment for "endangering state security".

Zhang had set up an organisation to protect the rights of laid off workers and given an interview to US-based Radio Free Asia on peasant unrest.

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.

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

"We have kept on receiving calls from people asking us what they should do because their rights of survival are threatened," the Free China Movement statement said.



LOAD-DATE: January 06, 1999

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