BEIJING — Long lines of people were observed Tuesday at the Beijing Public Security Bureau as authorities began enforcing a requirement that all Chinese obtain special exit permits before they are allowed to apply for visas at foreign embassies.
The new regulations, announced Sunday, invalidate exit documents issued before Tuesday as the government moved to tighten its nationwide dragnet for suspected participants in the pro-democracy movement. Chinese guards outside foreign embassies and consulates turned away visa applicants without the proper permits.
The new requirements ensured that the police will have a second chance to make background checks on travelers to determine whether people who obtained passports and exit permits before the crackdown had anything to do with the pro-democracy protests.
15 of 21 Are at Large
A number of students have gone underground since the army drove demonstrators out of Tian An Men Square on June 4 after a bloody assault on the city. With the arrest of fugitive student Liu Gang, 28, on Monday, 15 of the 21 student leaders placed on a wanted list for undertaking a "counterrevolutionary rebellion" remained at large. Beijing Radio reported Tuesday that Liu had been arrested in Baodang, south of Beijing.
Thousands of Chinese go abroad to study every year, and it is widely believed that some students active in the protests that began in mid-April will try to slip out of the country before being caught in the massive wave of arrests now under way. The government's relentless campaign of propaganda, fear and intimidation has triggered a rush in foreign visa applications over the last two weeks, Western diplomats say.
So far, more than 1,300 people have been arrested for their association with the democracy movement and related disturbances, accused of counterrevolutionary conspiracy, "rumor-mongering," arson and assault. Already 11 have been put on trial and sentenced to death.
As if to underscore the threat, the Supreme Court issued orders to the lower courts to "severely punish counterrevolutionary elements who have been charged," the People's Broadcasting Radio Station reported Tuesday.
The state radio also continued its attacks on the United States, relying on a now familiar propaganda tactic of quoting a letter from an unnamed "professor" who accused Americans of plotting China's "large-scale, counterrevolutionary chaos" because astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, China's best-known political dissident, and his wife, Li Shuxian, have been given sanctuary in the U.S. Embassy.
The letter said the recent turmoil in China was caused by "very small cliques who hate our country" and was "supported, encouraged and plotted by reactionary forces abroad."
It went on: "Hong Kong and Macao forces have for a long time engaged in reactionary propaganda. . . . Some illegal organizations . . . based in Canada and the United States spared no effort to encourage this movement.
"The United States, which claimed during this movement to be friendly to China, played an inglorious role. Fang Lizhi and his like got encouragement and support from the United States. . . . American Embassy staff and journalists were constant visitors to Fang's house."
"Fang Lizhi ran away to seek refuge in the U.S. Embassy, and the Americans received him, so people have reason to suspect that Americans plotted this large-scale counterrevolutionary chaos."
In an interview with United Press International, a spokesman for China's Trade Ministry warned that China will retaliate in kind if the United States imposes economic sanctions against Beijing.
"Those who try to impose economic sanctions toward China are interfering in our internal affairs," said the spokesman, Liu Xiangdong. "They will not reach their goal. We will not bend over.
"If the United States takes some actions in that field, then China will also take some measures accordingly," he said.
Meanwhile, in what may be an indication of things to come, a group of 18 Chinese "boat people" arrived in the Philippines last week, prompting a U.N. official there to warn of a possible exodus from China as the political atmosphere becomes more repressive.
A wooden boat carrying 16 men and two women landed in Batanes province June 13. It was not certain what part of China the refugees came from, Karola Paul, deputy representative of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told the Associated Press in Manila.
In Taiwan, the United Evening News reported Tuesday that more than 30 people from the Chinese mainland have reportedly reached the island by boat since troops massacred demonstrators as they marched toward Tian An Men Square on June 3-4, the Associated Press reported.