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Web Entrepreneur On Trial in China

February 13, 2001

BEIJING (AP) _ A Chinese entrepreneur was put on trial Tuesday on subversion charges after articles commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests appeared on his Web site.

Huang Qi’s trial in the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court in western China was closed to the public, and his family wasn’t allowed to attend, court officials said. No verdict or sentence will be announced immediately, the court said, declining to provide further details.

Huang is accused of ``inciting the overthrow of state power.″ Human rights groups say that refers to government claims that his site mentioned the independence movement in the northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang and the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.

Huang was arrested at his home in Chengdu in western China on June 3, the day before the 11th anniversary of the government crackdown on the pro-democracy protests.

Huang set up his Web site, www.6-4tianwang.com, in 1999 as a bulletin board for missing persons reports. The site attracted postings about the pro-democracy movement because ″6-4″ is the reference in Chinese to the June 4 crackdown.

Postings before the anniversary called for a reversal of the official verdict that the protests were ``counterrevolutionary″ turmoil. Human rights groups say the site also drew comments about human rights abuses and official corruption _ sensitive issues about which China seeks to tightly restrict public discussion.

Huang has denied responsibility for those postings.

The case comes amid government efforts to tighten control over the Web. Beijing is eager to promote its use for economic development while crushing attempts to spread criticism of communist rule. New rules issued in October order companies that host Web sites to monitor their content and report anything politically undesirable.

Huang’s arrest drew international protests from journalistic and human rights groups.

``The Chinese government continues to deny its citizens their fundamental rights, including the right to free expression. The Huang Qi case makes it very clear that the advent of the Internet has not changed this grim political reality,″ the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.

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