Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

China Stiffens Stance on Dissidents, Even as US Reviews Trade

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

China Stiffens Stance on Dissidents, Even as US Reviews Trade

Article excerpt

BEIJING'S ruling Communists are struggling to stifle increasingly vocal Chinese dissidents.

As the United States scrambles to improve relations with China, that diplomatic effort was dealt another blow April 1 when Wei Jingsheng, China's most famous dissident, was arrested in China's capital for the second time in a month. He was swept away by security officials as he tried to return to Beijing.

Held for 12 hours, given a "talk," and then released, according to the All China News Agency, Mr. Wei has yet to return home or contact his secretary. Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned that Wei, who was freed from prison last September after serving more than 14 years for political protests in the late 1970s, was not allowed to meet foreign journalists.

At the same time, a Hong Kong newspaper reported over the weekend that one of its reporters has been sentenced after being held for six months for allegedly stealing state financial secrets. The Hong Kong press said that the journalist had been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

Chinese police continued to harass foreign journalists yesterday when Lena Sun, Beijing correspondent of the Washington Post, was detained after taking photographs at a cemetery containing graves of victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Ms. Sun was the fifth foreign correspondent to be taken into custody in the last month.

During this sensitive run-up to President Clinton's June decision over whether to extend Chinese trading privileges, Chinese dissidents and analysts say the detentions show Beijing's determination to nip a budding dissident movement even at the cost of its foreign trade. "If push comes to shove, the Communist Party is willing to sacrifice international trade for domestic security and control," says a prominent Chinese dissident.

The release of some prominent dissidents last year has reinvigorated political activism in China for the first time since the Army brutally quashed democracy demonstrations in 1989. …

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