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Police Surround Embassy, Dissidents’ Homes During Christopher Trip With PM-Christopher-China,

March 12, 1994

Police Surround Embassy, Dissidents’ Homes During Christopher Trip With PM-Christopher-China, Bjt

BEIJING (AP) _ Police swarmed around the American embassy and staked out the homes of Chinese dissidents today in an attempt to keep them quiet as long as U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher is within earshot.

A dissident was picked up by police today, at least the 16th detained in the past two weeks. Four foreign reporters who visited dissidents have also been detained.

About three dozen police were stationed around the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Beijing this morning. Another dozen were outside the main embassy a few blocks away.

Typically, only a few guards are stationed at either location. The extra officers seemed there as much to keep Chinese away as to protect Christopher, who was meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen on the other side of town.

Christopher was trying to convince Chinese leaders that Beijing must end political persecution or lose its low-tariff trade benefits with the United States.

Xing Hong was whisked from her home by about eight policemen today after writing a letter to the national legislature supporting direct elections and human rights, sources said. Police searched her home for the letter for about 15 minutes and confiscated several documents, one source said.

Xing has spoken with several foreign reporters in recent days, including a Dutch reporter detained today after visiting her.

Police were stationed outside the homes of several other activists, including Xu Liangying, a reknown scientist in his 70s who issued an appeal Thursday for respect of human rights and the release of political prisoners.

Two police officers guarded the door to his apartment today, and four more were stationed downstairs at the entrance to the building.

″They don’t allow our friends to come in,″ said his wife, Wang Laidi, a historian who also signed the appeal. ″They’re concerned we’ll have contact with Christopher.″

Christopher has said he has no plans to meet with dissidents. But that hasn’t stopped authorities from taking precautions to make sure he doesn’t.

Police also surrounded the homes of the families of jailed dissidents and cut their telephone lines. At least one family said American officials had quietly asked them if they’d be willing to have a meeting.

Two American journalists who visited labor activist Liu Nianchun’s home Friday were detained for six hours by police, who demanded they explain their relationship to Liu, a source said.

A Taiwanese reporter was detained for more than three hours Thursday after visiting dissidents.

Other important dissidents have left Beijing in recent days and do not appear likely to return during Christopher’s visit.

They include China’s most famous dissident, Wei Jingsheng, and Wang Dan, who topped the police most-wanted list of student leaders from the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

The two said they left voluntarily, but they may have been pushed to go to keep them from meeting Christopher.

Sources said police were stationed outside Wei’s office and Wang’s home today.

In Shanghai, activist Yang Zhou returned home after spending the night at a local police station.

There was no word about Wang Fuchen, a member of the China Study Group on Human Rights, who was taken from his home Friday by two plainclothesmen. The local police station had said Wang would be held in a hotel for several days, sources said.

The Chinese government routinely detains dissidents during politically sensitive times, such as the annual legislative session that began Thursday and visits of important foreign leaders.

Update hourly