China rounds up dissidents in advance of official US visit

CHINA released its most famous dissident yesterday after holding him in custody for 24 hours. Other political activists remained in police detention following the crackdown at the end of last week ahead of the arrival of the United States Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, on 11 March.

Wei Jingsheng, who was picked up by police on Friday morning, yesterday telephoned a colleague and said he was in a rural county to the north of Peking and planned to return home later in the day. There were no details of his detention.

It also emerged that at least six dissidents in Shanghai had been detained for around 24 hours during the visit to the city last week of John Shattuck, the senior US human rights envoy, who was in China assessing the need for further human rights progress. One of them, Yang Zhou, told Reuter that his home was surrounded by plainclothes public security officials on Thursday when he had been due to meet Mr Shattuck. He was then taken into detention and released on Friday.

Mr Yang told Reuter: 'They said, unless you change your thinking we will strike against you with great severity, and each time we strike it will be harsher.'

At least five others were also detained, including Bao Ge. Mr Bao has campaigned for Japan to pay compensation to the Chinese for Second World War atrocities and has been warned that he could be detained again later this month when the Japanese Prime Minister visits China.

The Chinese government appears to have been more concerned with blocking meetings between dissidents and US officials than with the impact such actions might have on the human rights dialogue with the United States.

Mr Wei dined with Mr Shattuck when the US envoy was in Peking, and his recent arrest may have been to warn him not also to see Mr Christopher this week. Mr Wei, an outspoken pro-democracy activist from the Democracy Wall era, was released last September after serving all but six months of his 15-year sentence.

There was no news yesterday about three legal activists, Zhou Guoqiang, Wang Jiaqi and Yuan Hongbing, who were detained on Friday and accused by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of violating criminal laws.

The crackdown on Thursday and Friday brought a swift response from President Clinton, who in June must decide whether China has made sufficient human rights improvements to secure renewal of its Most Favoured Nation trading status. 'We strongly disapprove of what was done, and it obviously is not helpful to our relations,' he said. A 'very stern statement' had been sent to the Chinese authorities.

China's attempted public relations exercise seemed to have gone awry yesterday when five American journalists returned from an official trip to the notorious Lingyuan No 2 prison in Liaoning province after being refused permission to talk to Liu Gang, 33, who was jailed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration.

The journalists were shown videos of Mr Liu, saw him on silent closed-circuit television, and at one point were allowed to watch him through a window as he walked with guards. But they were not permitted to ask him about reports that he has suffered physical and psychological torture.

Xin Tingquan, a warden, said Mr Liu was a liar. 'Because he distorts the truth and he says things that do not accord with the truth, we don't let anyone (visitors) talk with him,' he said. 'We're not afraid of letting you see him. But he says some untruthful things.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn