Police widen net to crack down on minor dissidents
By WILLY WO-LAP LAM
PUBLIC security agents in Beijing have widened the dragnet to haul in ''second-tier'' dissidents, or those not involved in the frontline of the pro-democracy crusade.
Sources in the dissident community said police had recently detained several intellectuals who were not running underground rings, drafting manifestoes or disseminating ''anti-government literature''.
They confirmed that a former philosophy major at Beijing University, Li Hai, had been detained more than a month ago.
Mr Li, in his late 20s, took part in the 1989 democracy movement and was briefly incarcerated afterwards.
He was reportedly friendly with organisers of the Peace Charter movement, which tried to encourage dialogue between the Communist Party and other political organisations.
Several leaders of the Charter movement have been arrested in the past year.
''Li provides a kind of behind-the-scenes, spiritual support to a few dissident organisations,'' a source said. ''He definitely has no intention of confronting the authorities.'' Western diplomats in Beijing said the trend, begun in mid-year, of police officers detaining dissidents without informing their relatives, had continued.
In one instance, a police officer told the close relative of a dissident that if information about the case was divulged, it would ''hamper our investigations''.
Under Chinese law, the public security bureau must inform the detainees' relatives of the place of detention and the suspected criminal offence.
The diplomats said after detaining the big-name or frontline dissidents, the police were tracking down people who were only indirectly involved in the pro-democracy activities, including intellectuals and entrepreneurs who were suspected of funding underground rings.