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3 Shot in First Executions for China Protests

June 22, 1989|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

BEIJING — Shanghai executioners, carrying out the first in a growing wave of death sentences imposed on anti-government protesters, Wednesday killed three men convicted of setting a train on fire.

Xu Guoming, a brewery worker; Yan Xuerong, a radio factory employee, and Bian Hanwu, an unemployed worker, were shot before a crowd of observers, a Shanghai city government spokesman said. He gave no further details, but executions in China normally are carried out with a single shot to the head.

The executions came despite pleas for clemency from the United States and several Western Euro pean nations.

The three young men had been part of an angry mob that attacked the Beijing-Shanghai express on the night of June 6 after it plowed into a crowd of demonstrators and killed six people.

Wire reports quoted government sources as saying an additional seven people were executed Thursday in Beijing for taking part in anti-government demonstrations. The seven were sentenced to death June 17 on charges of "setting fire to military trucks, stealing military goods and assaulting soldiers of the People's Liberation Army during the recent counterrevolutionary rebellion," the New China News Agency reported.

Those blocking the train's path had been protesting the bloody suppression of demonstrators in Beijing the previous weekend. The Chinese army, according to Western intelligence estimates, killed at least 3,000 people while shooting its way into central Beijing to clear pro-democracy student protesters from Tian An Men Square.

The Beijing massacre touched off violent protests around the country, followed by arrests that now number at least 1,600. The round-up of suspects continues, and quick show trials have begun.

In Jinan, capital of coastal Shandong province, 45 protesters "who seriously endangered public order" were tried before 10,000 spectators, Beijing Radio reported Wednesday. A Chinese journalist in Jinan told the Associated Press that 17 of the defendants were sentenced to death but that some may have been granted two-year reprieves.

Nationwide television Wednesday evening showed the interrogation of three Beijing men accused of attacking and killing soldiers during the violent confrontation on June 3-4, when crowds of Beijing citizens sought to block the army's advance into the capital.

In a report indicating that the dragnet is expanding to catch establishment intellectuals involved in the protests, the official China Daily reported that arrests in the capital included a 46-year-old woman who works as a researcher at the Semiconductor Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Several of China's best-known reformist intellectuals--including Yan Jiaqi, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Wang Ruoshui, a former deputy editor-in-chief of the official People's Daily--have disappeared and are presumed to be in hiding or under arrest.

The United States on June 5 granted refuge in the U.S. Embassy to China's most famous pro-democracy activist, astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, and his wife, Beijing University physics professor Li Shuxian. The Chinese press has carried bitter daily denunciations of the American action, which is based on the principle of inviolability of diplomatic premises.

On Wednesday, the Legal Daily argued that the United States has no right under international law to protect Fang and his wife. The government-controlled newspaper issued a vague threat of unspecified action.

"It is easy to see that the U.S. Embassy in China is not American territory, and therefore it has no power to offer protection," the article said. "To use an embassy compound to enable lawbreakers to avoid punishment has nothing to do with the proper functions of an embassy. . . . The U.S. Embassy should bear responsibility for its behavior."

The official New China News Agency, quoting unnamed sources, also rebutted the U.S. plea that China show mercy to those condemned to die.

"Chinese judicial departments have never arrested and tried anyone who only participated in demonstrations," the report said. "The 11 thugs have been sentenced to death according to China's criminal law because they committed heinous crimes of beating, smashing, looting and burning."

Hard-line Premier Li Peng took the opportunity of a meeting Wednesday with Foreign Secretary Humayun Khan of Pakistan to issue a sharp public warning against attempts to pressure China to adopt a softer policy toward dissent.

Li, according to a report by the New China News Agency, made reference to China's long and close friendship with Pakistan by citing a Chinese saying that "a long road tests a horse's strength."

"When China is in difficulties for the time being, it sees clearly who are true friends and who are false ones, " Li said.

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