Jailed official Speaks out

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The Independent Online
THE MOST senior Chinese official jailed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre has spoken publicly for the first time since his release, calling for controls on the power of the Communist Party, writes Teresa Poole.

In a warning which will embarrass China's leaders, Bao Tong said: "If there are no controls on a power, internally it could be unpredictable and internationally it could also be unpredictable." He added that the brutal 4 June army crackdown could have been avoided had there been controls on the Communist Party.

Mr Bao's comments were made on the eve of today's ninth anniversary of the shootings in which hundreds of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators were killed. About 20 dissidents have been detained in the past two weeks ahead of the anniversary. This year, the government is particularly anxious that the date should pass without public protests on the mainland because President Bill Clinton is due to make his first state visit to China in just three weeks' time.

Mr Bao was the most senior party insider to face trial and imprisonment after 1989. He was jailed for seven years after being found guilty of leaking state secrets - warning the students in May 1989 that martial law was being imposed - and not released until May 1996.