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Copyright 1998 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

December 18, 1998 05:53 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 321 words

HEADLINE: Dissidents to trigger communist party power struggle: rights group


   A wave of international support surrounding the trials of dissidents Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai, could magnify growing factionalism within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and trigger a power struggle, a US-based rights group said Friday.

"There currently exists different factions inside the CCP leadership regarding how China should deal with dissidents," said Ning Ye, lawyer and spokesman for the US-based Free China Movement, in a faxed statement received here.

"This could trigger a power struggle within the CCP," he added.

According to Ning, the scale of protest launched by the opposition China Democracy Party (CDP) members surrounding the trials of Qin and Wang is an "unprecedented breakthrough since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre."

The two men, founding members of the fledgling CDP, have been charged with attempting to overthrow the state, amidst angry international protest over China's ongoing suppression of its dissidents.

Qin and Wang were tried Thursday in separate courts in the central cities of Wuhan and Hangzhou respectively, but verdicts had not been announced as of Friday.

Ning claimed that the government's original plan, to punish a select group of leading dissidents in order to quell the movement, triggered an unexpected "world-wide and highly publicized movement in support of the CDP."

"Now the Chinese Communist Party has a real dilemma," he said.

Lian Shengde, Free China Movement executive director, pointed to the wide ranging support the CDP now claims, including workers, college students and even retired CCP ranking officials.

"The Chinese people have shown that they are hungry for democracy in China. They are willing to risk their freedom just as they did in 1989," Lian said.

A student-led pro-democracy demonstration in the spring of 1989 led to a brutal army crackdown on June 4 in which hundreds were killed according to witnesses.



LOAD-DATE: December 18, 1998

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