U.S. officials criticize China for harassing of dissidents Arrests and forced moves reportedly preceded visit


BEIJING -- U.S. officials expressed concern to the Chinese government yesterday over reports that several dissidents had been detained and others harassed in preparation for President Clinton's state visit.

"We're very concerned that some dissidents may have been detained or otherwise disrupted," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said soon after Clinton's arrival in Xian. He said that U.S. Ambassador Jim Sasser had conveyed this to Chinese officials.

In the Xian area, three democracy advocates reportedly were detained and a fourth was forced to leave.

Yang Hai of Xian, one of about 70 people around the country who had signed an open letter calling on Clinton to meet with dissidents during his visit, was taken away by police yesterday, according to the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, a Hong Kong-based monitoring group.

Wednesday, Yan Jun, also of Xian and another signer of that letter, and Li Zhiying, who lives in a nearby town and has signed various petitions to the government, were detained as well, the monitoring group said.

Yet another Xian resident who had signed the open letter to Clinton, Fu Sheng, was put on a train to Qingdao on Wednesday.

Security forces in China often use temporary detentions to intimidate dissidents and prevent their activities at sensitive times, such as Clinton's visit. In addition, more than 2,000 people are believed to be in labor camps or prison for longer terms for their pro-democracy activities.

Still, in the months since the Chinese government released prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng into exile in the United States in November, after President Jiang Zemin's state visit to the United States, scores of people around the country have been signing petitions and writing open letters calling for democracy and a reappraisal of the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Many of them face constant police harassment.

In the eastern city of Hangzhou yesterday, three democracy campaigners applied to register a new political party, the Chinese Democratic Party, and one of them was later detained, his wife told reporters.

The Communist Party has a monopoly on power and allows a few token parties to operate only under its guidance. In an unusual and risky move, Wang Youcai, Wang Donghai and Lin Hui left application papers for their opposition party with a Zhejiang provincial office.

Yesterday afternoon, Wang told reporters, "We hope Clinton will pay attention and support the establishment of an opposition party in China, so we chose today to register."

Pub Date: 6/26/98

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