Human Rights Chronology: China , Hong Kong, Tibet

September - December 1997


September 1997- China retaliates after U.S. Rep. Wolf's unauthorized visit to Tibet
Chinese authorities punished the hotel and the tour group that hosted U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf when he visited Tibet in August, and also U.S. tourists already in Tibet. The Hotel Kyichu was banned from taking foreign guests for three months beginning September 22 ostensibly because Wolf's entry on the guest list was incomplete. Hotels in Tibet are required to submit such lists to the police on a daily basis. The Tibetan tour group involved was closed down and all U.S. tourists not traveling with tour groups were ordered to leave Tibet by the end of September.

September 1, 1997 - Shen Liangqing detained again; Zhang Lin held briefly
Shen Liangqing was taken into custody on September 1 in Hefei, Anhui province, only weeks after he and Zhang Lin wrote a series of open letters to the National People's Congress asking for a reversal of the government's counterrevolutionary verdict on the June 4 pro-democracy movement, the release of political prisoners, and the enactment of a series of democratic reforms. Some of their letters to Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, and Qiao Shi demanded justice for oppressed workers and for action against endemic corruption. Huang Xianqin, Shen's girlfriend, released after being held briefly, was warned not to reveal that Shen was being detained but rather to say that he was out of town on business. After Shen's mother and sister went to the police over ten times and, citing Shen's tuberculosis, asked that he be released, the police threatened them with arrest. ( See also August 12. 1997.) Zhang Lin, the labor activist released from three years' reeducation in May 1997 but under close surveillance, was picked up once for questioning in connection with the petition. He is now in the U.S.

September 2, 1997 - Pangsa monastery loses more than half its monks
After monks at Pangsa monastery resisted reeducation by the six-member work team that arrived there on September 2, 1997, the team increased its numbers, closed a small shop in Tashi Gang township belonging to the monastery, ordered a caretaker monk to refuse admission to visitors, locked the doors and boarded the windows, and asked the parents of some monks to intervene. As a result of the campaign only sixteen monks out of an original thirty-five remain at the monastery.

September 7, 1997 - German delegation hampered during mission to Tibet
German parliamentarians returning from a four-day human rights mission to Tibet decried concealment and evasion by Chinese authorities. The seven members of the Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Human Rights could not freely contact people and their movements were highly restricted, according to MP Gerd Poppe. Officials repeatedly claimed not to have heard of high-profile dissidents such as Ngawang Choephel, the Fulbright scholar and ethnomusicologist who was sentenced in secret to an eighteen-year term on December 26, 1996 on alleged espionage charges.

September 9, 1997 - Chadrel Rinpoche located
Human rights organizations announced that Chadrel Rinpoche, the abbot who headed the search team for the Panchen Lama, was found held in horrendous conditions in a secret compound in Chuangdong No. 3 Prison, Dazu county, Sichuan province. He had been there since shortly after he was sentenced in April 1997 to a six-year prison term. Located behind an isolated "strict observation brigade" (a special section of a prison where recalcitrant prisoners are held for punishment), the compound was said to be forbidden to all but three people, two commissars who report directly to the Ministry of Justice and a prisoner who acts as a guard and a cook.

September 1997 - Priest arrested in Baoding
Father Wang Quanjun from Baoding, Hebei province, was arrested in September 1997. No additional information about his circumstances is available.

September 17, 1997 - Petitioners removed from Tiananmen Square during 15th Party Congress; reporters questioned; two held
Every day throughout the 15th Party Congress meeting in Beijing, public security officers removed petitioners in Tiananmen Square and at a Party headquarter's gate. Four were detained on September 17 alone and officers questioned reporters attempting to film the story. Authorities held Ha Tai-ning, an associate editor at Ming Pao Daily News, for two days reportedly for publishing a story that made use of confidential documents. Li Binghua, deputy chief of the Beijing bureau of Ta Kung Pao, was arrested for leaking allegedly sensitive information to Ha. Held two months, he was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and forced to resign his job. Both papers deny the detentions and Li's paper insists he resigned for "personal reasons."

September 18, 1997 - Human rights NGOs denied credentials to World Bank meeting
The Chinese executive director on the World Bank board succeeded in blocking two organizations critical of Hong Kong's human rights record, Human Rights in China and the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, from attending the World Bank meetings in Hong Kong. He insisted that finance meetings were of no relevance to the two organizations.

September 18, 1997 - Chinese Communist Party "elects" new Politburo Standing Committee members Party delegates at the First Plenum of the Fifteenth Central Committee elected President Jiang Zemin; Premier Li Peng; Vice-Premier and economic czar Zhu Rongji; People's Political Consultative Conference head Li Ruihuan; Hu Jintao, a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee; Wei Jianxing, chairman of the Disciplinary Commission; and Li Lanqing, another vice-premier, to the Politburo's Standing Committee, the most powerful organ in the party hierarchy. Delegates elected another fifteen of their members and two alternates to the Politburo itself.

September 18, 1997 - Foreign news accounts blacked out
Censors ripped pages from the International Herald Tribune and the South China Morning Post in an effort to stop dissemination of photos of security personnel forcibly removing protestors from Tiananmen Square during the 15th Party Congress meeting in Beijing. State-owned China Central Television (CCTV) blocked at least one Western satellite broadcast showing Zhao Ziyang, former CCP secretary-general, addressing students on hunger strike in the square in June 1989. CCTV's monopoly of satellite broadcasts results in such frequent routine blockage.

September 22, 1997 - E.U. and PRC to resume human rights dialogue without preconditions
At a meeting at the United Nations on September 22 between Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and the foreign ministers of Britain, Netherlands, and Luxembourg representing the European Union, agreement was reached to restart an E.U.-China dialogue on human rights without any preconditions. Beijing had previously suggested it was ready to resume the talks but only if the European Union agreed not to table resolutions on the state of human rights in China at the U.N. Commission for Human Rights in Geneva.

September 25, 1997 - Four-year term for religious dissident
On September 25, the Zhengzhou (Henan province) Intermediate Court reportedly sentenced Xu Yongze, leader of the Born Again movement, an evangelical organization, to a four-year prison term for "disturbing public order." Family members had no notification of a trial and it is unclear whether Xu was sentenced administratively. He and seven others were seized in Zhengzhou, Henan on March 16, 1997 during unity talks. A leading Chinese religious official, however, acknowledged only a three-year sentence. Chinese religious leaders have mounted a particularly harsh vilification campaign to denounce Xu and discredit him as a Christian.

September 30, 1997 - One-year sentence to make easy the work of controlling the underground church
Zhang Qiyong, a twenty-year-old, received a one-year reeducation through labor sentence on September 30, 1997, just one month after his arrest in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. According to the Reeducation Through Labor Management Committee, the "illegally established" Charitable Society for the Youth of Yongqiang, which Zhang Qiyong headed, on several occasions disturbed officially-sanctioned religious activities by calling underground worshipers to parallel services held at the same time and place as official observances. On three occasions, the verdict notes, electricity to the official services was cut. According to a reliable source, the society was actually established to serve the elderly and sick. The source further reported that Chinese authorities decided that Zhang's sentence "must be ‘exemplary' to make easy the work of controlling the underground church." Two months before he was detained, on June 29, Zhang took down a banner celebrating Hong Kong's return to China.


October 1997 - Life sentence for political activities in Tibet
In October 1997, Rinzin Wangyal, serving a sixteen-year sentence imposed in 1995 for political activities, had his sentence extended to life imprisonment by the People's Intermediate Court. At the time he was in Drapchi prison, but reportedly has been moved to Tramo, Tibet's No.2 prison, 150 miles from Lhasa. A former construction worker in Lhasa, the fifty-one-year-old Rinzin Wangyal was in prison from 1967 to 1983 for alleged organizing an underground movement.

October 1, 1997 - New regulations on commercial theaters in force
State Council regulations, in effect as of October 1, 1997, require that all commercial theatrical productions serve the people and socialism and refrain from creating a negative social impact.

October 6, 1997 - U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention starts visits
A three-member delegation of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention began a ten-day visit at the invitation of the Chinese government. In line with their U.N. mandate, they were to inspect detention and prison facilities and labor camps; examine how China's new Criminal Procedure Law is being applied, discuss legal safeguards with judges, police, prosecutors, and lawyers, privately interview prisoners including those held for political crimes, and report back to the full U.N. Human Rights Commission in March 1998. Dissidents were placed under restriction during their visit.

October 8, 1997 - Underground church leader seized
Chinese authorities finally caught up with Bishop Su Zhimin, the underground bishop of Baoding diocese, in Xinji, Hebei province, after he had eluded them for seventeen months. An October 28 report that he subsequently was released appears to be incorrect. He is believed to be in a detention center in Qingyuan county, Hebei province; his unofficial seminary has been closed. The sixty-five-year-old bishop, who spent over twenty years in jail, managed while on the run to release an open letter to the Chinese government detailing some of the persecution in his diocese and asking for a stop to all religious repression.

October 9, 1997 - Beijing tells Washington to prevent demonstrations during Jiang's visit
A Foreign Ministry spokesman told Washington that Beijing would hold the U.S. administration responsible if demonstrations mar Jiang Zemin's state visit at the end of October.

October 14, 1997 - Shanghai dissidents under close watch
With the opening of the Eighth National Games in Shanghai on October 12, police stepped up restrictions on the dissident community. On October 14, officers invited Yang Qinheng, released in 1996 after three years in a reeducation camp, to come to the local police station. Although he managed to avoid an appearance, intense harassment is preventing him from leaving his home. Bao Ge, released in June 1997, does venture out but is followed everywhere.

October 15, 1997 - Ma Lianggang prevented from working
For over a month police have made it impossible for former prisoner Ma Lianggang to find work, leave his house or make a telephone call. In early September police even detained him for twenty-four hours. Formerly a student at Anhui University, Ma, described as a "key member" of the Hefei Students Autonomous Federation, was sentenced in connection with the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Arrested again in April 1992 for involvement in an underground organization, he was released on medical parole in September 1993 when China was trying to secure the years 2000 Olympics, then sentenced again in December 1996.

October 15, 1997 - Released dissident detained again
Sichuan dissident Chen Wei, released in May 1997 after completing a five-year term, was detained for forty-eight hours after six state security agents and two police officers ransacked his home in Suining during a three-hour search on October 15. Officers gave no reason for the raid but confiscated books, unpublished essays and poems, and court statements made by Chen during his 1994 trial. Exercising his rights not to be held more than twenty-four hours without judicial agreement, the twenty-eight-year-old Chen walked out of the police station but was forcibly returned and locked up for another day. Chen, part of a group of sixteen detained in May 1992 for counterrevolutionary offenses, has been unable to find work since his release because of police interference. He is a graduate of the Beijing University of Science and Engineering.

October 16, 1997 - State Council issues white paper on religion
In its newly-released white paper on religion, the State Council claimed that freedom of religious belief is guaranteed in China today as it has been historically. In stating that religious organizations in China run their own affairs, the paper implied no government interference whatsoever in religious activities.

October 18, 1997 - Job mobility limited in Beijing
The Beijing Municipal People's Congress has passed a new set of regulations banning workers with business and technological secrets from changing jobs if doing so would hurt their employers' interests. And enterprises have been forbidden to hire workers with knowledge of state secrets or national technological knowledge. The law goes into effect on January 1, 1998.

October 18, 1997 - Beijing jams Radio Free Asia's Tibet broadcasts
Monitors in New Delhi and Almaty, Kazakhstan, reported that RFA's signal was blocked on October 2, 9, and 13.

October 19, 1997 - Armed Chinese police cross Nepal-Tibet border in search of Nepal businessman
A contingent of the People's Armed Police from the Tibetan border town of Dram (Zangmu in Chinese) raided a house in Tatopari, Nepal, three miles from the border, in search of a Nepal businessman who owed money to a trader in Dram. An editorial in the October 30 Kathmandu Post emphasized that the incident violated "all norms of international behaviour."

October 20, 1997 - Shen Liangqing released on bail
After forty-seven days in illegal detention, Chinese officials released Shen Liangqing on bail. (See September 1, 1997)

October 20, 1997 - Jiang Zemin rejects calls for release of Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng
In an interview with Time magazine, Chinese President Jiang Zemin refused to endorse releases for Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng. "They were brought to justice not because they are so-called political dissidents, but because they violated China's criminal law. Decisions on when prisoners in China's jails are released are matters for the judicial department to settle according to the law," he informed his interviewer.

October 20, 1997 - Three Hollywood movies fail to find Hong Kong distributors
Two movies about the Dalai Lama, Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet, and Red Corner, about corruption in China, have failed to find distributors in Hong Kong and allegations of self-censorship have surfaced. In addition, organizations such as the Foreign Correspondents Club who want to organize small screening may face criminal persecution. In November 1996, the director of China's Film Bureau had warned the Walt Disney Company that China would not be happy if Kundun, which traces the life of the Dalai Lama up to his exile from Tibet, went ahead. He made it clear that Disney's other interests in China would be affected.

October 22, 1997 - Tibetan monk arrested for hauling down Chinese flag
Chinese authorities arrested Ngawang Beyjey after he removed the Chinese flag atop Drepung monastery near Lhasa.

October 25-November 2 - JIANG ZEMIN IN U.S.

October 27, 1997 - China signs ICESCR
On October 27, China signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Before it comes into force, the document requires ratification by China's National People's Congress which will not meet until March 1998. No mention was made of reservations which may center around worker rights, in particular the right to strike and to form independent trade unions.

October 29, 1997 - Hong Kong legislature curbs labor unions
New amendments to labor laws approved by the Hong Kong legislature on October 29 limit union affiliation with international bodies. For example, Hong Kong's chief executive must approve contribution of union funds to any trade union outside Hong Kong and must approve affiliation of a union with any foreign organization except those for workers, employers, and relevant professional organizations. In addition, union funds may no longer be used for political purposes within the SAR.

October 1998 - Former Foreign ministry employee released early
Zhao Lei, found guilty in May 1993 of "leaking state secrets to foreigners" and sentenced to a six-year term, was released eighteen months ahead of schedule. Her husband is still imprisoned, serving out a ten-year sentence. Zhao had worked as a translator for foreign correspondents in Beijing, and it was her connection with one of them, Lena Sun, that led to her arrest.

October 31, 1997 - China cancels participation in Tokyo Film Festival
Government control of film entries into foreign film festivals was in evidence on October 31 when Chinese officials withdrew two films already scheduled for showing in the Tokyo Film Festival. No reason was given, but the festival is scheduled to close with a screening of Seven Years in Tibet. (See October 20.)

October 31, 1997 - China cuts ties to three Hollywood studios
In retaliation for production of three films, Kundun, Seven Years in Tibet, and Red Corner, China's Film Industry Administration Bureau banned importation of all films and co-productions with Disney, Columbia TriStar, and MGM. A memo from the Chinese Ministry of Radio, Film and Television argues that "Taking up Tibet and human rights issues, those films viciously attack China (and) hurt Chinese people's feelings." The memo further stated that "Although the matter has been taken up by the Chinese parties concerned, and all kinds of efforts have been made, those three American companies are still pushing out (these) films. We must maintain sharp vigilance."


November 1, 1997 - 300-member church denied permission to register
Chinese authorities denied permission to register to the 300-member No.28 Under the Bridge Church in Qingdao, Shandong province. The congregation was further ordered to stop meeting and to vacate the rented house it used for services. Chen Wejun is the church's pastor.

November 5, 1997 - Dissident goes into "temporary" exile
Bao Ge and his sister Bao Tong left for the U.S. on November 5 to escape continual harassment by Chinese officials. Denied identification papers, Bao was unable to find employment; phone service was periodically disconnected; and a constant police presence kept track of visitors and of the activities of family members. After Bao completed his three-year reeducation through labor sentence on June 3, 1997, he was warned to stay out of politics. For several days before he was freed, public security warned Bao's mother not to be "too active" and to refrain from revealing anything to foreign journalists about her son. On September 18, Shanghai police took her to the Public Security Bureau for questioning, called her their "enemy" and threatened to arrest her if she continued issuing an open letter already sent to Jiang Zemin and the foreign media. In her letter, Ms. Wang asked President Jiang to end police and municipal government persecution that had forced her family to live almost in poverty. Bao himself was held for four or five hours and suffered a police beating.

November 6, 1997 - Winter "strike hard" campaign aimed at separatists
At a Lhasa City Public Security Bureau mobilization meeting on November 6, 1997, it was announced that the winter "strike hard" campaign would be aimed at "cracking down on separatists' sabotage activities and various criminal activities."

November 7, 1997 - Secretary of Tibet Party Committee warns against "hidden enemy"
On November 7, Tibet Party Committee Secretary Chen Kuiyuan cautioned vigilance against a fourth category of "hidden enemy," "reactionaries long hidden inside the region." His reference was to "patriotic personalities" or Tibetan cadres who retain their loyalty to the Dalai Lama. He illustrated his theme with the example of Chadrel Rinpoche, sentenced on April 21, 1997 to a six-year prison term for his role in the search for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism (See September 9, 1997.) According to Chen, Chadrel Rinpoche, former abbot of Tashilhunpo monastery was "trusted by and received special treatment by the Party and government for many years, rebelled against the Party and country at the crucial moment, and stabbed the Party in the back."

November 11, 1997 - Re-education extended from monasteries to lay population on trial basis
Excerpts from a Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) Nationalities and Religious Affairs Commission report published in the November 11 Tibet Daily acknowledged that a joint work team has been formed to carry out patriotic education among monks, nuns, villagers, and students in Kyimshi township as a pilot project for the whole region. According to the report the township was chosen because of the "acute and complicated anti-separatist struggle that has been going on for years" in the township and a nearby monastery. In June 1993, a large demonstration took place in the area which reportedly resulted in the dispatch of 1,700 soldiers and the arrests of thirty-five residents.

November 15, 1997 - Party team investigates Zhao Ziyang petitions
The Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection is checking whether Zhao Ziyang, secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party when he was ousted in the wake of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, violated Party discipline by filing two petitions. One, issued in the form of a letter on September 12, the first day of the Fifteenth Chinese Communist Party Congress, asked the Chinese government to engage in dialogue about the 1989 pro-democracy movement and perhaps to reassess its verdict that the movement was counterrevolutionary. The government replied that its decision was final and returned Zhao to house arrest. Restrictions on his movements had eased somewhat over the eight years since the June 4, 1989 crackdown, but the new strictures included no visitors, no telephone calls, and no leaving his quarters.

November 16, 1997- Wei Jingsheng released on medical parole
Only weeks after the China-US summit, Chinese authorities released Wei Jingsheng on medical parole. Wei was allowed a five-hour visit with his family at a guesthouse outside of Beijing before boarding Northwest Airlines Flight 88 to Detroit where he was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital for treatment and observation. China's most famous dissident was first arrested in 1979, paroled for six months in late 1993-early 1994, then "disappeared," and finally re-arrested. He was serving a fourteen-year term at the time of his release.

November 20, 1997 - Deepening of patriotic education campaign announced
In a decision taken during the "Third Enlarged Plenary of the Fifth TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) Party Committee" (November 17-20), patriotic education was extended beyond the monastic community. Jampa Kelden, the vice-chair of the TAR Office on Education in Lamaseries, announced that steps would be taken to "spread patriotic education in the agricultural communities, towns, cities, government organs and schools." He told the plenary that measures were needed to "eliminate the Dalai's influence and win people's hearts."

November 21, 1997 - No response to wife's appeals for dissident's release
After years of appeals to China's Supreme Court and to local Shandong courts, Chen Lantao's wife finally made public her appeal for a reduction in Chen's original eighteen-year term. Sentenced under the now defunct charge of "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement" and under charges relating to his holding illegal gatherings, obstructing traffic, and shutting down production at one factory, Chen has already seen his sentence reduced by five years.

November 26, 1997 - Wife seeks medical parole or sentence reduction
After a November 24 visit to Liu Jingsheng in Beijing No.2 Prison, his wife asked that he be released on medical parole or alternately that his fifteen-year term on charges of counterrevolution be reduced. Liu, who in the late 1970s co-edited a dissident journal with Wei Jingsheng, was one of fifteen arrested in 1992 for setting up several dissident organizations including the Free Labor Union of China.

November 26, 1997 - Call for "total war against Dalai clique"
According to a Tibet television commentary there is a need for "total war — in thinking, in theory and in the ideological realm — on the Dalai and his separatist forces."

November 27, 1997 - Appeal for dissident's release either ignored or rejected
After their monthly visit on November 17 to Beijing No.2 Prison, Sun Liyong's parents petitioned Justice Minister Xiao Yang for Sun's release on medical parole. In 1995 a similar request was turned down because Sun had not admitted his crime and because he was not sick enough to qualify. It is not known if the current request has been officially turned down or simply ignored.

November 30, 1997 - Three Protestants sentenced
Qing Jing, Feng Xian and Mo Sheng, three Protestant evangelists arrested on March 16 along with Xu Yongze (see September 25), were sentenced on November 30. Qing, who is Xu's wife received a one-and-a-half year sentence; the two others are serving two-and-a-half year terms. There is no information as to the charges or whether the three were sentenced administratively.


December 4, 1997 - Arrests follow pedicab driver protest
Riot police reportedly beat and arrested pedicab drivers in Zigong, Sichuan province, during a large-scale protest over the banning of the vehicles. A government spokesperson denied the size of the protest, insisting that riot police had not been called out and that no one was beaten or arrested. The protest followed an earlier incident in Zigong in June 1997.

December 6, 1997 - Zhejiang joins other administrative units in implementing strict religious regulations
Zhejiang province's new religious regulations, similar to those issued by Shanghai, Heilongjiang, Guangzhou, and Chongqing, require all religious communities to accept government control. Places for religious activities must register, only registered clergy may perform clerical duties, authorities must be notified before religious followers receive or visit foreign religious organizations or personnel, and all religious publications must be vetted by the appropriate government authorities. Regulations also prohibit religious debate in churches and temples and conversion of Chinese citizens by foreigners.

December 7, 1997 - Another Hebei priest arrested
Father Chen Cangbao from Yixian, Hebei province, was arrested on December 7, 1997. No further details are available.

December 8, 1997 - Abducted businessman released after agreeing to guarantee loans
On November 14, six or seven men reportedly abducted Liu Chi Keung, a Hong Kong businessman and deputy to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and his aide from the Shanghai airport. Liu was taken to Tianjin and placed under house arrest at a hotel associated with the Chinese military, the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Almost two weeks later, Liu's brother was able to meet with him, and company managers from Flow Chart International Holdings flew to Beijing and Tianjin to "take care of the problem." But it took another week for Liu to be released after agreeing to use his other investments in China as a guarantee for money borrowed from a Tianjin company. Government officials denied any knowledge of the episode.

December 1997 - Chen Ziming still held at home Chen Ziming, "released" on medical parole on November 6, 1996, was reported to be still a prisoner in his own home. He cannot go outside, see anyone but his family, use a telephone or write anything. For him to visit a doctor requires lengthy negotiations with the Public Security Bureau, and then he can go only with a police escort. Originally sentenced in 1991 to a thirteen-year term as a "black hand behind the black hands" at Tiananmen Square in June 1989, Chen was paroled in May 1994 on medical grounds but was reimprisoned on June 25, 1995 on the pretext that the skin condition, the reason of record for the parole, had cleared up.

December 1997 - Bishop Su sighted
An unconfirmed report placed Bishop Su Zhimin in Shanghai in December in the company of government personnel. The account does not contradict reports that he is in detention. It has been the practice of religious authorities to take underground bishops "on tour," ostensibly to show them the effects of China's modernization, but also to diminish their influence among their followers.

December 1997 - Strike Hard campaign to continue indefinitely
Supreme People's Court President Ren Jianxin notified the presidents of all people's courts that there will be no change in the Yanda (Strike Hard) policy. He characterized it as a "safeguard of public security that ensures the protection of state security and social stability in the first stage of socialism." The campaign, which began throughout China on April 28, 1996 and was originally scheduled to last three months, involves a stepped up arrest and sentencing program. In its wake, thousands have been executed, most in summary fashion, and hundreds of thousands have been arrested. Among those who have been targeted in Xinjiang are so-called splittists who advocate independence for the non-Han Muslim minorities. In Tibet, a prime objective is a crackdown on "sabotage initiated by splittist elements."

December 23, 1997 - Government demands stepped-up efforts to block outside religious interference
A Ministry of Public Security and Religious Affairs Bureau circular ordered all localities to prepare for Christmas, the New Year, and Spring Festival by tightening controls on religious information and personnel from abroad. The circular noted that non-religious people-to-people exchanges as well as personal correspondence were being used to bring religious materials into China and it warned of the dangers to stability the increased flow represented. In addition, the joint circular recommended criminal sanctions and disciplinary measures against party members and officials who joined in illegal religious activities.

December 1997 - Prison protest during visit of UN Working Group
Not until after the release of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention's report on their October visit to China (see October 6), did it become known that prisoners in Drapchi prison, Tibet, staged a protest supporting the Dalai Lama on October 11. Prisoners involved reportedly were beaten and transferred to solitary confinement once the U.N. experts left. Further reports suggest that Tibetan cadres were transferred out of the prison and more Chinese cadres moved in. According to Working Group members, Chinese officials assured them that no harm came to any of those involved in the protest. A second disturbance in the prison reportedly followed the departure of the group.

December 25, 1997 - Religious repression in Fujian province
A Chinese official confirmed that an incident related to religion took place in Pingtan, Fujian province on Christmas day. The details, including the detention and beating into unconsciousness of Father Lin Rengui after he said mass and the arrest of some forty followers who tried to help him, were not, however, specifically confirmed.

December 26, 1997 - Crackdown on illegal publishing begins
A State Press and Publication Administration three-month campaign designed to crack down on illegal publishing includes a ban on "reactionary" materials. According to a report in China Daily, "publications with serious political problems" as well as other publication difficulties need to be addressed quickly and forcefully.

December 28, 1997 - Party officials counsel crackdown on threats to social stability
Officials at a late December national conference on law enforcement reportedly advised local authorities to prepare to crack down on any incidents of worker unrest that could pose a threat to stability, but to deal with non-political economic protests with persuasion and education. Unofficial trade unions, the officials emphasized, should be banned immediately, and all known dissidents should be closely watched to prevent their collusion with unemployed workers.

December 28, 1997 - Seminary graduate detained
Zhao Wuna, a graduate of East China Theological Seminary, was detained on December 29, 1997. Her son, who had been trying to visit her, was told the case was under investigation and no visits were permitted. Zhao, born in 1948 and resident in Shanghai at the time of her arrest, had decided some time after her graduation to take up independent evangelism. No further details are available.

December 29, 1997 - More executions in Xinjiang
According to the January 2, 1998 Xinjiang Legal Daily, sixteen people were executed in Urumqi, Xinjiang, on December 29. The number of Uighurs among the group is in question. Chinese authorities claim those executed had been charged with murder and robbery, that they "created disorder to split the motherland" and helped "fan ethnic hatred." Exile sources say the executions are related to the rioting and looting in Yining in the early part of February 1997. (See July 22, 1997.)

December 30, 1997 - Controls on Internet tightened
Draconian new regulations which took effect on December 30 outline a widened range of Internet crimes, among them political subversion, leaking state secrets, splitting the country, and "defaming government agencies." Punishments include fines as high as 15,000 renminbi (U.S.$1,800) and unspecified "criminal punishments." The regulations appear to be aimed at dissidents at home and abroad; Hong Kong and Taiwan are specifically mentioned. Among the twenty-five articles, applicable to individuals and institutions alike, one provides that Public Security Bureau personnel have the responsibility of supervising Internet providers, and that the providers have the responsibility of helping the PSB to uncover violators. The State Council promulgated the new "Administrative Measures for Ensuring the Security of Computer Information Technology, the Internet" on December 11. Earlier, on May 30, 1997, new rules demanded that all organizations with access to international computer networks be licensed. To acquire licensure, companies had to disclose the nature and scope of their networks and the addresses of their computer hosts. Violators were to have their operations closed down and be subject to fines as high as U.S.$1,800.

December 1997 - Shanghai dissident able to see his wife only once in twenty-two months
Dafeng Labor Farm (Jiangsu province) authorities have only permitted Yao Zhenxiang one visit from his wife since he was apprehended on April 26, 1996. A long-time financier of Shanghai's human rights movement, Yao had fled to France in 1994 but had voluntarily returned to China after being officially assured he would not be harmed; instead, arrested along with his brother Yao Zhenxian, he received a three-year reeducation through labor sentence on the trumped up charge of duplicating and distributing pornographic videotapes.

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