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China Democracy Activist Detained

February 6, 1999

BEIJING (AP) _ Police in China on Saturday detained a member of a banned political party who had helped set up a party branch just two days earlier, a human rights group said.

Wang Zechen was among several dissidents who announced on Thursday the establishment of the Liaoning provincial branch of the China Democracy Party, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.

Branches also were established in four other parts of the country on Saturday in defiance of the government’s crackdown on the would-be opposition party.

Activists now have set up at least 16 branches since the party was founded in June. Three of its most prominent members were put on trial for trying to subvert China’s communist system and sentenced to terms of 11 to 13 years in prison.

In another development, activists on Saturday set up a committee to coordinate the work of the branches in the cities of Beijing, Wuhan and Tianjin, the provinces of Liaoning, Shaanxi, Henan and Hebei, and North America, said its executive chairman, Zha Jianguo.

The group named as chairmen Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai _ the three party leaders now serving prison sentences _ and Wang Xizhe, a longtime activist in exile in the United States.

Eleven activists in China will hold rotating three-month terms as head of the group’s executive committee, Zha said.

Update hourly