HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
SLAMMING THE DOOR ON DISSENT
Wang Dans Trial and the New State Security Era
Vol. 8, No. 10 (C), November 1996
SUMMARY | RECOMMENDATIONS | TABLE OF CONTENTS
With its decision to bring Chinese dissident Wang Dan to trial on October 30 on the charge of conspiracy to subvert the government, the most serious charge in the Chinese criminal code, the Chinese government has signaled its determination to deny freedom of speech and association to any citizen daring publicly to raise fundamental criticisms of government policy. The charge sends a message to Chinas dissidents that the courts will no longer draw a distinction between political speech or writing on the one hand and concrete action on the other: both levels of dissent are henceforth to be indiscriminately treated as endangering state security. It casts serious doubt on the commitment of top Chinese officials to the vaunted reform of the countrys legal system. And it shows conclusively that Western mantras about economic growth producing political liberalization notwithstanding, Chinese leaders are growing increasingly intolerant of dissent. In addition, by holding Wang Dans trial just weeks before the visit to Beijing of U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and just weeks after visits of German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, Beijing has chosen to disregard international expressions of concern over its human rights record.
Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to release Wang Dan and drop all charges against him. The government should also permit international observers, from the diplomatic community, the press corps and international legal and human rights organizations, to attend the trial in Beijing Intermediate Court No.1.
If Wang Dan is found guilty as charged, the international community must not stay silent:
Chinas chief trading partners, including the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Japan, should postpone plans for any official trade missions to China where government ministers accompany corporate representatives for the express purpose of signing major business deals. There should be a moratorium on such ministerial-led visits until major human rights improvements, including the release of key political prisoners, take place.
Human rights in China should be a top agenda item in any high-level bilateral meetings with senior Chinese officials, including President Jiang Zemin, at the time of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, November 20-25. Officials from APEC countries should publicly call for human rights improvements as an integral ingredient of Chinas long-term economic and social development.
State visits, including proposed summits of Chinese leaders with the presidents of Germany (November) and the U.S. (sometime in 1997), should be used as leverage for achieving concrete human rights objectives and should only take place if those objectives, including the release of key prisoners, are achieved.
The countries in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Americas, including the U.S. that support progress on human rights and that are represented on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, should begin efforts now to ensure that a resolution on human rights in China and Tibet is introduced and passed during the next session of the Commission in Geneva in 1997.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
II. BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
III. THE STATES CASE AGAINST WANG DAN
IV. MANUFACTURED QUOTATIONS
V. DANGEROUS LIAISONS
VI. CONCLUSIONS: A NEW LOOK FOR CHINAS LAWS ON DISSENT
VII. APPENDIX I(a): BILL OF INDICTMENT AGAINST WANG DAN
VIII. APPENDIX I(b): APPLICABLE LEGAL STATUTES
Human Rights Watch November 1996 Vol. 8, No. 10 (C)
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