Disbanded union vows to fight on

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 November, 1998, 12:00am

Beijing is trying to suppress the activities of the disbanded independent group China Development Union (CDU) by blocking founder and secretary Peng Ming from leaving the country, union members said yesterday.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong-registered union, Gan Quan, said that to avoid further pressure from Beijing, members would not organise any more activities in Beijing under its name.

But they would continue to promote democracy and help dissolve social tensions without opposing the Communist Party.

Mr Peng had his passport confiscated by Lowu checkpoint officials on Saturday night when he tried to leave en route for a lecture tour of the United States.

Two other union members had planned to go with Mr Peng but their passports were withheld by Beijing police, Mr Gan said.

Border officials held Mr Peng for four hours and said his passport was not in order, spokesman for the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China Frank Lu said.

Border officials apparently told Mr Peng he could not leave the country because he was a defendant in a civil lawsuit.

The China International Cultural Dissemination Centre, the former sponsor of the China Development New Strategy Institute - a think tank under CDU - is suing the institute for defamation.

The dissemination centre, which falls under the Ministry of Public Security, severed all links with the institute in mid-October.

Mr Gan said it filed the defamation lawsuit on Thursday, saying the institute's activities had damaged its reputation and demanding more than one million yuan (HK$930,000).

Last Monday, Beijing police detained Mr Peng, Mr Gan and fellow CDU member Chang Qing for several hours and ordered them to cease all activities connected with the CDU, which claims a membership of 7,000.

But police did not order them to disband the institute, Mr Gan said.

'The institute organised a seminar China's development strategy on Saturday. We will also carry on our social research,' he said.