Leading China dissident released after 11 years

PROMINENT dissident Wang Xizhe is expected to return to his Guangzhou home today after spending 11 years in jail for promoting democracy on the mainland.

And depending on the progress of Sino-American relations, the 45-year-old philosopher may be the next dissident allowed to leave the country for the United States.

Wang's wife, Ms Su Jiang, 42, and their 17-year-old son, Wang Huaizhou, were reunited with the activist yesterday at Guangdong's Huaiji Prison.

It is understood that Wang was released yesterday but by late last night, the three had not returned to their home in the Henan district of Guangzhou.

The Marxist theorist is said to be in poor health after having been placed under solitary confinement for 11 years.

He Qiu, another Guangzhou activist and a close friend of Wang's, said yesterday although he had not been tortured in prison, Wang's health was ''noticeably weak''.

''He has been allowed to have daily exercise outside his cell since last October and his health has got better since then,'' said He, who was released two years ago.

Sources close to the Wang family said despite the immense pressure in prison, Wang never ''recanted'' his belief in democracy.

Wang was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment in February 1981 for ''engaging in counter-revolutionary incitement'' and ''accepting financial allowances from reactionary organisations''.