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China Reform Monitor, No. 142, November 30, 1998
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, D.C.

Officials crack down on Internet, Christian and NGO "subversion";
Chinese media ordered to rally behind Communist Party

November 24

China's first public show-trial on a dissident's use of the Internet is scheduled to take place in Shanghai, the Washington Times reports. Defendant Lin Hai was arrested on March 25 and charged with "inciting subversion of state power" for distributing pro-democracy articles to thousands of Chinese e-mail addresses and providing addresses to overseas electronic human rights publications, including Washington-based VIP References. Lian Shengde, publisher of VIP References, which is distributed to more than 250,000 addresses, says Chinese authorities will use this case to scare off pro-democracy activities on the Internet.

Since the Internet was introduced in China in 1995, there are now 1.2 million users and the web has become an important tool for democracy activists. Authorities have harassed some Internet users and have blocked websites such as the New York-based Human Rights in China. "Within the next three years, the Chinese government will have more control over the Internet," says Human Rights in China director Xio Quang, "because it will build a new national gateway and have a monopoly."

November 26, 1998

A crack down on illegal church activities has resulted in the arrest of more than 70 Protestant "house church" leaders, reports the New York Times. The crackdown occurred in central Henan Province, during a meeting of underground Protestant leaders from around the country. According to the Human Rights in China organization, one woman, Cheng Meiying, from northeastern China, has reportedly been beaten so badly while in detention that she suffered brain injuries. Another church leader, Li Wingrui, was shot in the thigh while escaping police. He is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

November 27

Chinese authorities are cracking down on the growing number of non-government organizations [NGOs] because some are lobbying for political and social change, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. This week Beijing police raided the office of the China Development Union and detained seven members for questioning. The CDU, created to stimulate debate on China's economic, social and political problems, was shut down last month after organizing a series of seminars calling for political reform.

November 28

At a national conference in Beijing, the Communist party ordered the media to toe the Party line to maintain social stability, reports Xinhua news agency. "The media must adopt a correct attitude and uphold party and ethnic unity to pave the way for the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the Macau handover next year," said Party propaganda chief Ding Guangen. "The media must give the party's image greater priority."

According to the South China Morning Post, authorities in Beijing are disturbed by books and other publications on political change, the need for social reform and liberalization of thought. While state media have highlighted corruption cases, the Government fears the exposure of workers' demonstrations and rural unrest, resulting from Premier Zhu Ronji's economic reform programs.

--Al Santoli

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