Chinese Dissidents Abroad Launch New Movement

MEETING for the first time since the violent events of Tiananmen Square ended the ``Beijing Spring,'' an international group of Chinese dissidents has created a united front to continue the struggle for reform. Coming from the United States, Canada, Asia, and across Europe, more than 160 Chinese met in Paris to debate and amend, reject and vote, for two days over the weekend before forming the Front for Democratic China (FDC).

Organizers view the new group as an eventual legal alternative within China to the Chinese Communist Party. The front announced as its goal the abolition of China's single-party system and adoption of a democratic political system respecting human rights and the principles of a market economy.

Elected to preside over the organization, which will maintain its headquarters in Paris, was Yan Jiaqi, noted Chinese political scientist and former aide to deposed Chinese Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang. The group elected as vice president Wuer Kiaxi, one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen uprising. His boyish face is no doubt recognizable by millions of media watchers who followed events in Beijing last June.

``This event marks the beginning of the end of the dictatorship of the Communist Party in China,'' Mr. Jiaqi said at a press conference following the inaugural conference. Noting that expatriated Chinese dissidents are ``well aware'' of an unextinguished hope within China for democracy, he added that the FDC would be ``the new hope of the Chinese people, and it will be heard around the world.''

Members of the organization's 15-seat board of directors, who reside around the world, said they would operate within China by ``sending the truth back in'' via traditional news media and other means.

Wa Runnan, a noted Chinese entrepreneur and former director of the Stone Corporation, a private electronics firm in China, said the group would employ all means of communications - telexes, cassettes, videotapes, publications - to maintain contact with the Chinese people.

Elected the organization's general secretary, Mr. Wan noted that ``any organization without funds can't last,'' but added matter-of-factly that the FDC would ``have no [financial] problems as long as I'm the general secretary.''

In addition to the financial support of other pro-democratic and human-rights organizations and membership dues, the organization is known to have benefitted, even before its formal creation, from the support of Chinese communities around the world.

The three-day conference offered the Chinese a taste of democracy most of them were not accustomed to. The successful presidential ticket, which won by a vote of 96 to 44, was opposed by two university students from California. The students were unhappy with prospects, before the conference even started, of an unopposed ticket - something which they view as undemocratic.

There is also some disappointment at the degree to which former government officials and business representatives are represented on the new board of directors. But some delegates said such connections would be useful in maintaining contact with pro-reform factions that they said still remain within the Beijing government.

``We know there is small-scale guerrilla warfare every night in [Beijing], and disunity within the government,'' said Wa Danong, a law student from St. Louis. ``We need to keep supporting opposition inside China.''

Delegates expressed disappointment in the US for continuing relations with the Chinese government, citing a recent meeting with the Chinese representative to the upcoming round of GATT talks. On the other hand, there was high praise for France, which the Chinese government has severely criticized recently for encouraging the ``meeting of criminals.''

Mr. Jiaqi, however, insisted that the group's intent was not criminal. The object of their organization, he said simply, was ``the pursuit of happiness.'' -30-{et

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