Human rights part of game, students claim

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 February, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 February, 1993, 12:00am

A LEADING Chinese students' activist group in the United States has written to President Mr Bill Clinton warning him that China is using jailed dissidents as bargaining chips to gain advantage with the West.

The student group claimed that the Chinese Communist Party had turned the human rights issue to its advantage. Political prisoners are released a few at a time to break deadlocks with the US on trade and other issues.

''When pressure from the international community builds up or when the Chinese Government tries to resolve a disagreement with a Western country over issues of trade, loan or technology transfer, it will release a few prisoners of conscience,'' the Washington-based Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars said.

''Meanwhile, it will fill up its storage by arresting others. And this human resource is inexhaustible.'' The group was formed in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and claims to represent 40,000 students and scholars across the US.

The letter, which calls on Mr Clinton to step up pressure on China over human rights, was sent as the US began formulating a new policy towards Beijing.

It was accompanied by a report which spelled out in great detail examples of alleged human rights abuses against political dissidents.

The federation cautioned Mr Clinton to be on guard against special interest lobbyists who have ''descended on Washington DC to whitewash China's human rights record''.

In an apparent reference to lobby efforts by Hongkong and the US business community to protect China's Most Favoured Nation status, the student group said: ''Armed with money and power, they are determined to prevent any economic sanctions against the Chinese Government.'' Accusing the former Bush administration of being weak on China, the group said Mr Clinton's tougher position had led the Beijing regime to conclude for the first time since Tiananmen that it could not avoid economic sanctions without making a few gestures.

But the federation said the recent release of Wang Dan, a key student leader during the Tiananmen uprising, had not changed the fate of thousands of others still in jail.

''The repression has never ceased,'' the letter said.