MPs in daring nuclear protest

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 1995, 12:00am

A DOZEN European MPs staged a daring demonstration against nuclear testing on the steps of China's Great Hall of the People yesterday.

The 11 women and one man were protesting against nuclear testing by both China and France, which detonated a bomb on Wednesday.

The eight Danish MPs, along with two Finns and two Norwegians, marched in a line down the steps of the hall in the heart of Beijing, wearing T-shirts saying 'Stop' in Chinese characters and with a red nuclear mushroom cloud underneath with the French word 'Non'.

The group staged their protest as they left a meeting of female MPs from around the world held in the hall.

The Danish delegation then delivered a letter protesting against Chinese nuclear testing to Qiao Shi, head of China's National People's Congress.

They asked Mr Qiao to give the letter to Chinese President and Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin.

The letter said: 'As members of the Danish delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women, we urge you to stop the nuclear tests in China for the sake of the global and our natural environment.' Helle Degn, chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Denmark, said Mr Qiao made no comment except to offer a polite 'thank you'.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Chen Jian urged Western countries not to over-react to China's tests and said China needed to continue them.

'We will stop nuclear testing once we've finished the plan. Nuclear testing is an inevitable step in China's progress,' he said.

The protest came a day after France exploded a nuclear device at its South Pacific Mururoa Atoll test site, setting off waves of anger around the world.

'We think it is very important,' Ms Degn explained.

'There are sometimes events in history where it is very important that all people have to stand up and raise their voices. That is why we have chosen this moment.

'We thought it was the right time, the right place to show our feelings and opinions . . . to raise our voices against nuclear testing from China, from France and from all countries.

'When we are here in China we will not miss that chance,' she said.

China's most recent nuclear test was carried out last month in its remote western region of Xinjiang, but it says its nuclear arsenal is small and poses no threat to other countries.

China has carried out two tests this year at Lop Nor in Xinjiang, but maintains it will stop all nuclear testing once a comprehensive test ban treaty comes into force.

Diplomats have said they expect China to carry out at least three more tests next year before the treaty is expected to take effect at the end of 1996.

Military strategists say China's nuclear testing is part of a process of miniaturising its nuclear warheads so they can be carried by a new class of ballistic missiles, some of which can reach Japan and even the American West Coast.