Rights group slams 'lack of progress'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 1994, 12:00am

IN a hard-hitting report released yesterday, the US-based Human Rights Watch/Asia painted a sad picture of the human-rights situation in China and claimed an overall deterioration in the country.

The report, which said China had intensified overall suppression of dissent, came less than three weeks before US President Bill Clinton must determine whether Beijing has made ''significant, overall'' progress on human rights to enable the US to renew its privileged trading status.

The watchdog said Beijing had made virtually no progress on human rights in the past year. ''Contrary to assessments expressed in recent weeks by several senior US administration officials, significant progress has been made on virtually none of the seven items specified in the May 1993 Executive Order linking Most Favoured Nation renewal to human-rights improvement,'' the report said.

''If anything, there has been a 'significant, overall' deterioration in the human rights situation in China since the Executive Order was issued.'' The group also dismissed a list of 235 political prisoners furnished to Beijing to Washington saying it only provided ''minimal information hitherto unavailable on only five persons''.

The list was forwarded by Foreign Minister Qian Qichen to US Secretary of State Warren Christopher two months ago. It has been cited by US officials as a step forward by Beijing in satisfying the Executive Order.

The only real concession was the release last month of leading dissident Wang Juntao, who has been allowed to go to the US for medical treatment, the group said.

''For his release to be significant, however, it will have to be followed by releases of other prisoners with particular priority given to those with serious health problems such as former senior official Bao Tong and social scientist Chen Ziming.'' The report - the first of a two-part series by the human-rights watchdog - documents 88 new arrests and trials.

The second part which is due to be released next week will provide information of as many of 500 hitherto-unknown cases of persons detained and sentenced in the Beijing area because of their association with the 1989 democracy movement.