Check out the review of Shredder in the March issue of the ABA Journal.

Global Intelligence Update

Red Alert

March 20, 1998

Chinese Leadership Reshuffle Offers no Respite for Dissidents

In an open letter to new Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, distributed on Wednesday by the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, 12 Chinese dissidents from eastern Zhejiang province demanded that Zhu use his new power to institute greater individual freedoms and create a constitutional democracy in China. A chief architect of China's moves toward a mixed market economy, Zhu recently replaced Li Peng as Premier, when Li became Chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC). (http://www.stratfor.com/services/gintel/region/stories/030698.html)

Despite Zhu's credentials as an economic reformer, the prospects for a shift to greater freedom and democracy in China are currently very slim. On Thursday, rights groups in China reported to Agence France Presse on a new crackdown on Chinese dissidents, including five detentions, an arrest, and a disappearance. According to AFP's sources, veteran dissident Fan Yiping was arrested on March 16 in Guangzhou for allegedly spreading leaflets from the U.S.-based China Democracy and Justice Party. Three other Guangzhou dissidents reportedly were also temporarily detained for questioning for involvement with the China Democracy and Justice Party. Dissidents in Fujian and Hunan were also temporarily detained in the past week, while computer engineer Lin Lianjun disappeared on March 17 after installing computers for dissidents in Fujian. Four additional dissidents were arrested in early March for calling for political reforms in open letters to the NPC.

Pressured by China's economic downturn, which was already underway before the Asia-wide economic crisis hit and has only been exacerbated since, China's leaders are in no position to launch new political reforms. Quite the contrary, as China's economic crisis accelerates into an internal political crisis--pitting the Interior against the Coast and both against Beijing--we can only expect greater repression from Beijing.

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