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Copyright 1998 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

December 01, 1998 11:37 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 727 words

HEADLINE: China detains six in crackdown on opposition party

DATELINE: (ADDS protest over detentions)

    By Patrick Baert

BEIJING, Dec 1 (AFP) - Six Chinese dissidents, including two vocal opponents of the state, have been detained in a concerted police crackdown on the fledgling China Democracy Party (CDP), relatives and a rights group said Tuesday.

At the same time, CDP founder Wang Youcai was officially placed under arrest, after earlier being detained for breaching terms of his parole, his wife said.

"We strongly protest the ongoing persecution of these citizens' efforts to organise a peaceful, open political party," the US-based Free China Movement Network, which groups 30 dissident organisations, said in a faxed statement.

"We warn the Chinese government not to close off the last chance of peaceful reform in China as advocated by the China Democracy Party."

In a coordinated sweep late Monday, police in Beijing picked up Xu Wenli, 54, at the same time as Wuhan-based Qin Yongmin, 44, was detained in central China, relatives said.

Police gave notice they were detaining the pair under suspicion of attempting to overthrow the state, an accusation commonly levelled against China's dissidents and a move that frequently leads to lengthy prison terms.

The two veterans of China's dissident movement have been singled out by police for their repeated and vocal demands to have the CDP legally recognized by local authorities since its launch in late June.

Their detentions left few vocal activists behind, but three dissidents in Beijing -- He Depu, Gao Hongming and Wang Zhiming -- protested and called for their immediate release.

"We express our disappointment and fury at the neglect by some local officials of the basic criteria of human rights," they said in a statement received by AFP.

"This contradicts the international covenant on civil and political rights China has just signed. We hope the state leaders will correct these local officials' wrongdoings."

Wang, from eastern Zhejiang province, was also officially arrested on Monday after a month in detention for breaking parole conditions on an earlier charge of subversion, his wife said.

"The police told me this afternoon that Wang Youcai was officially arrested yesterday and that they have another 30 days to press charges," she said.

While Qin and Xu remain in detention and have not been officially arrested, the moves against the three most vocal members of the CDP come shortly after a high-level warning that opposition parties will not be tolerated.

"If an organisation is designed to go for the multi-party system and attempts to negate the leadership of the Communist Party then it will not be allowed to exist," said Li Peng, the head of China's parliament and number two in the Communist Party hierarchy.

"Under our constitution, the Communist Party is the leader of China's revolution and nation-building," he said in an interview published Tuesday in the Handelsblatt, a German financial and business daily.

Police at Wuhan's Xingouqiao police station confirmed Qin was being held, while Qin's father said police had indicated they were investigating a charge of attempting to overthrow the state.

Xu's wife, He Xintong, said meanwhile that she was not optimistic over the fate of her husband after he was taken away by 20 police.

"The police specified that Xu was being 'detained' and not just 'questioned'," she told AFP. "They told him that he was a 'suspect'."

Police searched Xu's home for almost four hours, seizing documents, his personal computer and a fax machine.

They last took him into detention in October during the visit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and warned him to stop all activity linked with the CDP.

The detentions of Xu and Qin and the formal arrest of Wang came as four lesser-known CDP members were also detained, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Information and Democracy in China said.

In Wuhan, Chen Zhonghe, Lu Xinhua and Xiao Shichang were taken away by police, while a sixth party member, Lai Jinbiao, was also taken away in Zhejiang province.

Efforts to obtain official recognition for the CDP began in Hangzhou at the end of June, during US President Bill Clinton's landmark state visit to China.

Since then, attempts to set up provincial branches of the CDP in Shanghai, Beijing, and at least seven other provinces have failed.



LOAD-DATE: December 01, 1998

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