Hong Kong activists yesterday blasted the mainland for sending Wang Dan into exile and using him as a pawn in Sino-American relations. They noted that while it was good for Mr Wang to get out of jail, the move should not be taken as a sign of improvement in the mainland's human rights situation. Szeto Wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, said he was glad Mr Wang could get access to medical treatment and continue his studies. 'But like all dissidents who were released, Wang is being sent into exile,' said Mr Szeto, warning that Mr Wang was being used as a pawn in the mainland's American policy. 'It does not indicate any human rights improvement on the mainland. We still have a list of over 1,000 names of those imprisoned for their democratic involvement.' Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said he was sad Mr Wang's release was prompted only by Bill Clinton's upcoming visit. Lee Cheuk-yan of the alliance and The Frontier described it as a 'successful' hostage deal. 'Mr Wang was traded in for better business opportunities and international images of China,' he said. 'Only if Mr Wang was free in China could we claim it an improvement in the human rights situation.' Dissident Han Dongfang branded exile as an effective way to eliminate dissent on the mainland. 'Sending political prisoners to other countries does not mean human rights conditions in China have improved,' said Mr Han, himself exiled in the SAR. 'A responsible citizen wanting to criticise China has only two choices - either you are sent to jail or you have to leave the country.' Citizens Party head Christine Loh Kung-wai welcomed Mr Wang's release to the United States, saying it should be in accordance with his will. She said: 'To a certain extent, Wang is willing to go. He has spent so many years in jail at this young age. If he is himself willing to go, it is hard to blame anyone.' She noted that the mainland leadership was more relaxed over human rights questions, citing statements on China's signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.