WEI Jingsheng, one of China's best known and longest-serving political prisoners, is unlikely to be granted an early release from jail because he remains unrepentant, according to Mr John Kamm, a Hongkong-based human rights activist. Mr Kamm, who has been in Beijing for the past week, also said Chinese officials told him 18 Catholic clergymen had been released from jail over the past few months. Officials said Wei, now in the 14th year of a 15-year sentence, had been given opportunities to repent. To get him to change his political views, officials recently took him from his reform camp near Tangshan, in northeastern China, to the Haidian district of Beijing to show him how much China had prospered over the past few years. Wei got out of the car and looked around. But he reportedly stuck to his anti-government stance. All Wei said of his trip to Beijing was that as a native of the city, he no longer recognised the place. Mr Kamm said officials told him Wei ''continues to maintain a very strong anti-government position''. ''He remains completely unrepentant and continues to oppose socialism,'' he said. ''I think an early release from prison of Wei Jingsheng is extremely unlikely.'' Wei, a former electrician, was sentenced in October 1979 for having been one of the main political activists in the short-lived Democracy Wall Movement, crushed earlier that year. Mr Kamm also said there was independent confirmation that 17 Catholic clergymen had been released from detention in China over the past three months. Chinese officials said 18 clergymen had been freed. But Catholic Church sources had not yet been able to confirm the fate of the Reverend Pei Zhenping, arrested four years ago for trying to hold an outdoor mass. Most of the clergymen had been arrested over the past few years for being active in the underground church. Mr Kamm said the releases seemed targeted at improving China's image to help Beijing win the bid for the Olympic Games in the year 2000. But the releases did not represent a major change in government policy, he said. The Protestant clergy seems to have suffered less from Chinese Government repression than the Catholics. Nevertheless, Mr Kamm noted, among others, the case of Pei, a Protestant clergyman arrested in 1982 for allegedly being a Taiwan spy. He is serving a 15-year sentence.