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Chinese police detain nine dissidents

Associated Press, 07/11/98 06:49

BEIJING (AP) - Police detained nine Chinese democracy campaigners in a crackdown that exiled dissidents said proves President Clinton left China without securing progress on human rights.

The nine, veterans of past democracy movements, have tried to set up a political party to challenge the Communist Party's monopoly on power. Their push coincided with Clinton's China trip and his less confrontational appeals to Chinese leaders to improve human rights.

Police began the wave of detentions Friday morning, taking Wu Gaoxing from his home in eastern Zhejiang province's Taizhou city, dissident groups in Hong Kong and the United States said.

Late Friday, about 150 miles to the northwest in Hangzhou city, police swarmed the home of Wang Youcai and led away Wang, Wang Peijian and Cheng Fan, as well as three others - all members of the China Democracy Party, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement said.

In separate raids on their Hangzhou homes, police took away Zhu Yufu and Wang Donghai, the Chinese Democratic Justice Party said.

Police confiscated notebooks, tapes, at least one computer and literature for the China Democracy Party, according to the U.S.-based dissidents and the center.

Wang Youcai, Wang Peijian and one other dissident announced on June 25, the start of Clinton's nine-day China tour, that they wanted to establish the China Democracy Party and would register the group with authorities as required by law.

Since then Wang Youcai, Zhu Yufu and another dissident were detained at least once each before Friday's clampdown. They were released with warnings to stop campaigning for the party, and authorities have refused to register the group.

In reporting the detentions, the exiled groups described Clinton's China policy as a failure. Clinton used his trip to try to showcase a more modern, tolerant China to a skeptical American public while cajoling Chinese leaders to allow more dissent.

``This is equivalent to giving Clinton a box on the ears,'' the Information Center said in a statement. It added that the detentions ``prove Clinton returned home from his China tour empty-handed.''

``What we said about President Clinton's policy of constructive engagement with China was accurate, that the Chinese government will not work with the free world to improve human rights because they are a brutal communist dictatorship,'' said Lian Shengde, a student leader of the Tiananmen Square democracy demonstrations in 1989 and now the head of the Washington-based Free China Movement.

Like Lian, most of the detained dissidents took part in the 1989 protest movement. Wang Youcai, Wang Peijian and Cheng Fan were students in Beijing. Wang Donghai and Wu Gaoxing staged sympathy protests in Hangzhou.

Wang Youcai spent four years in prison and Wang Donghai and Wu Gaoxing three years in the nationwide crackdown that followed the military's brutal quelling of the protests in Beijing.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center also reported today that dissident Fan Yiping, held since March, will be put on trial Monday for helping prominent democracy campaigner Wang Xizhe flee China to avoid arrest.

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