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Mon., Jan. 04, 1999 at: Lon 5:44 p.m. Pra 6:44 p.m. NY 12:44 p.m. HK 12:44 a.m.

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China Labor Party Founders Seek Official Recognition

BEIJING, Jan. 04, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) The founders of a new party announced Saturday via electronic mail they would seek to formally register the China Labor Party, despite Beijing's attempts to clamp down on dissent.

Li Yongming, the founder of the China Labor Party, said in an e-mail that a group of young people behind the party wanted to apply to the Beijing civil affairs bureau for approval on April 19.

"We are the generation after 1989 who are dissatisfied with the social situation, the corruption and low efficiency of the Chinese government and lack of rule of law," Li said.

U.S.-based dissident Shengde Lian, who helped to publicize the formation of the party, said the group members were not dissidents but ordinary citizens but he declined to provide telephone contact numbers for safety reasons.

Instead, Li sought relative secrecy using e-mail and an alias as mystery surrounded the party.

Frank Lu, spokesman for the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democracy in China, said he had not heard of any attempts by China-based dissidents to set up a new party.

A temporary national committee with 50 members and would seek to draw its membership largely from the working class, including retrenched workers, Li said.

"Our party's responsibility is to monitor the Chinese Communist Party and represent the working class," Li said in his e-mail. "We want to see, if we, who have declared that we will never seek political power and never participate in politics will also be charged with subversion," he said.

Li said the party would devote itself to getting authorities to freeze all bank accounts and carry out an investigation to weed out corruption.

It will push the authorities to stop the restructuring and mergers of state-owned enterprises and set up an effective supervisory mechanism by the people so that the loss of state assets can be arrested.

It also aims to push the government to immediately set up and implement a minimum living allowance for those living in the cities.

Li threatened to "radically commit suicide" if the authorities refuse to treat the application in a lawful manner.

China has refused to approve applications to set up the country's first opposition party in 49 years of communist rule.

Courts in China last month sentenced three prominent dissidents associated with the fledgling opposition China Democracy Party to lengthy jail terms for subversion.

xuwenli02.gif Beijing-based Xu Wenli (pictured) was given a 13-year jail term, the party founder Wang Youcai in eastern Hangzhou city was handed 11 years while Qin Yongmin in central Wuhan city was sentenced to 12 years.

Another court in central Hunan province sentenced labor activist Zhang Shanguang to 10 years imprisonment last Sunday for endangering state security after he called for the setting up of independent trade unions. ( (c) 1998 Agence France Presse)

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Last updated Mon Jan 4 17:44:47 1999 GMT.