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Chinese Arrests Mount as Media Campaign Grows

June 24, 1989|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

BEIJING — Arrests of pro-democracy activists continued across China on Friday as the state-controlled media stepped up an ideological campaign stressing that Communist rule must not be challenged.

Local television and radio news in Beijing announced the arrest of Liu Xiaobo, a lecturer in the Chinese language department of Beijing Teachers University. The radio said that Liu met with U.S.-based Chinese dissidents in the United States last year, and that after his return to Beijing he "got involved with the incitement of turmoil and rebellion."

Police also arrested 17 teachers and students in raids on four Beijing campuses on Friday, according to unnamed Chinese sources quoted by United Press International.

The Chinese sources who spoke with UPI said that police arrested four people Friday at the Beijing Film Institute, 10 at the Beijing Normal College of Physical Culture, one from the Political Science and Law College and two at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute.

Arrest warrants have also been issued for seven prominent intellectuals, including Yan Jiaqi, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the sources told UPI.

Yan, however, has escaped to Hong Kong with his wife, according to reports reaching Beijing from the British colony. The status of the other six is not clear.

Hard-liners in the Chinese leadership have also tightened their control over China's most important newspaper, the People's Daily, which functions as the official voice of the Communist Party.

A spokesman for the newspaper told The Times today that Shao Huaze, director of the propaganda department of the People's Liberation Army, has replaced Tan Wenrui as chief editor.

Gao Di, a senior official of the Communist Party's Central Party School, has replaced Qian Liren as the newspaper's director, the spokesman added.

Tan and Qian have been viewed as supporters of reformist Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, who opposed the imposition of martial law on Beijing. Zhao is presumed to be under some form of detention and is expected to be formally removed from office soon.

Beijing Radio on Friday also reported the arrest of Li Bin, identified as a worker, who allegedly killed and then burned the corpse of soldier Liu Guogeng during street battles between protesters and Chinese troops the first weekend of June.

Liu is one of several soldiers declared a martyr in a government propaganda campaign asserting that the troops who shot their way into central Beijing on the night of June 3-4 were acting heroically to put down a "counterrevolutionary rebellion." The government version is that the troops only opened fire after they themselves came under attack by criminal elements who incited the demonstrators to violence.

The Beijing-based Legal Daily reported Friday that 786 "counterrevolutionary elements and other criminal offenders" were arrested during May and June in the northeastern city of Dalian.

The People's Daily, in a lengthy Page 1 editorial Friday that was also read on radio broadcasts, charged that during the recent pro-democracy protests--now officially called a "counterrevolutionary riot"--a "handful of persons" had "attempted to overthrow the socialist system under the name of supporting reform."

Using rhetoric seldom seen during the past 10 years of economic reforms, the editorial declared that the development of the "counterrevolutionary riot" proves the continued "existence of class struggle."

More than 2,400 people have been arrested in the crackdown so far, with at least 27 executed.

Five pro-democracy activists were arrested in Zhangjiakou, a city about 110 miles northwest of Beijing.

The Shanghai newspaper Wenhui Bao reported that 16 people, including an unnamed leader of the Tian An Men Square student protests, had been arrested in that coastal city while attempting to flee the country.

The official New China News Agency also reported that a death sentence, with a two-year reprieve that opens the possibility of commutation to life imprisonment, has been imposed on a worker who participated in a violent disturbance in the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha during the recent wave of pro-democracy protests that swept China.

Li Weihong, a young worker at the Hunan Firefighting Equipment Factory in Changsha, was charged with "beating public security personnel, overturning police motorcycles, smashing shops and robbing commodities in the shop at the city center."

Also Friday, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry denied that 13 people--arrested in China on Thursday on charges of promoting the pro-democracy movement--were spies for Taiwan.

The ministry said in a statement that the accusations were China's "conventional way of framing people with false charges rather than a fact."

China had said that the 13 men--all Chinese nationals--were recruited by military intelligence officers of Taiwan's Nationalist government.

One Nationalist legislator said China intended to "divert mainland people's anger and indignation" over the crackdown by putting the blame for the turmoil on Taiwan.

The Nationalists fled to Taiwan after their 1949 defeat by Communist forces on the mainland.

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