China sentences dissident to labor camp

Copyright © 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Associated Press

  • Chinese dissident Wang starts life in U.S. exile

    BEIJING (April 21, 1998 3:43 p.m. EDT -- A secret meeting with an exiled democracy campaigner who had slipped back into China led to a two-year sentence in a labor camp for a dissident, a monitoring group said Tuesday.

    Wang Tingjin, a math teacher from the eastern city of Bengbu who previously served a two-year sentence for dissident activities, was taken from his home by police on April 14, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.

    The Hong Kong-based group said his wife learned Monday that the 43-year-old Wang had been sent away for "re-education through labor," a punishment imposed without trial.

    News of Wang's imprisonment came two days after China paroled dissident Wang Dan and sent him into exile in the United States. His release was regarded as a goodwill gesture to Washington ahead of President Clinton's visit to China in June.

    Chinese government spokesman Zhu Bangzao denied again today that any deal was made with Washington over Wang's release.

    He also hinted that Wang Dan could be sent back to prison if he tried to return to China, noting he has not completed his 11-year prison term.

    The reason given for Wang Tingjin's two-year sentence was that he "disturbed social order" by meeting Chinese activist Wang Bingzhang on Feb. 6, the Information Center said.

    An important figure in China's democracy movement, Wang Bingzhang ended his exile of nearly two decades in January, sneaking into China under an alias to help dissidents form an underground opposition party.

    He was captured by police in Bengbu, in Anhui province, in February and deported to the United States.

    Wang Tingjin is at least the third democracy activist reportedly sentenced to a labor camp in the past two months.