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China Frees 4 of 9 Dissidents

July 12, 1998

BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese authorities have released four democracy activists rounded up in a crackdown on an opposition political party but are keeping five others in detention, a human rights group said Sunday.

Police formally arrested three of those detained in Friday’s crackdown and told their families to prepare clothes for them, a possible sign they might be tried or sentenced to a labor camp, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.

Chinese police can send people to labor camps without trial.

The three _ Wang Youcai, Wang Donghai and Zhu Yufu _ were leading members of the China Democracy Party, a political group dissidents tried to set up to challenge the ruling Communist Party. They were detained in Zhejiang province, eastern China, the Hong Kong-based Information Center said.

Two other party members, Zhu Zhengming and Cheng Fan, also remained in detention, although their whereabouts were unknown, the Information Center said.

Police also were searching for Lin Hui, a founding member of the party, said a party statement faxed to Beijing by Chinese dissidents in exile.

The statement said police arrested the party’s leaders on the serious charge of plotting to subvert the government.

The Information Center said four other campaigners detained in Friday’s crackdown _ Fang Xiaohuang, Wang Peijian, Wang Qiang, and Wu Gaoxing _ were released Saturday.

On Sunday, 18 dissidents nationwide appealed for the release of those still detained, the Information Center said. In a letter to President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, the dissidents said the detentions ran counter to government pledges to improve human rights, it added.

One of those who signed the petition, dissident Lin Xinshu from southeastern Fujian province, was detained for eight hours Saturday and released with a warning about his pro-democracy activities, the Information Center said.

Wang Youcai, Wang Donghai, and Lin Hui announced the formation of the China Democracy Party on June 25, the start of U.S. President Bill Clinton’s nine-day China tour.

But authorities have refused to allow the group to register, as required by law, and Wang Youcai, Zhu Yufu and another dissident were each detained at least once before Friday’s clampdown. They were released with warnings to stop campaigning for the party.

In a statement condemning the latest clampdown, dissidents in exile in the United States urged the U.S. Congress to hold an emergency meeting to evaluate ``the serious consequences and harm″ done to the embattled Chinese democracy movement by Clinton’s trip and his China policies.

Clinton used his trip to showcase a modern, tolerant China and to publicly cajole Chinese leaders to allow more dissent. Clinton was aiming to defend his policy of ``constructive engagement″ with Chinese leaders from critics who want to see him take stronger action against human rights abuses and other problems in China.

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