China Jails Seven More Pro-Democracy Activists

CHINA announced on Feb. 25 jail sentences for seven more dissidents involved in the spring 1989 democracy movement in the biggest judgment of its kind in a year.

The new trials signal that China's Communist leaders have no intention of easing political repression, despite its recent calls for pushing forward bold, market-oriented reforms of the economy.

The sentencings coincide with a US Senate vote on legislation that would make renewal of China's most-favored-nation trading status contingent on improvements in human rights.

Beijing's intermediate court announced the conviction of the seven activists for "counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement," according to reports from the capital. Those sentenced include Wu Xuecan, a former editor of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, Beijing University students Peng Rong and Li Minqi, and student leader Zhai Weimin.

* Mr. Wu was sentenced to a four-year term for publishing a mock edition of the party newspaper. The edition, which was distributed to protesters in May 1989, called for the overthrow of hard-line Premier Li Peng and voiced support for his moderate rival, the now disgraced party chief Zhao Ziyang.

* Peng Rong was given two years for posting the results of a survey on the attitudes of Beijing students toward another round of protests in 1990. Peng also made speeches and led student marchers in the spring 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

* Mr. Li, a biophysics major at Beijing University, was detained for attacking the government in an impassioned speech to some 1,000 students attending a rally on June 4, 1990.

* Listed sixth on the government's list of "21 most wanted" students, Mr. Zhai went into hiding after the June 1989 Beijing massacre and managed to evade arrest for nearly a year.

The backgrounds and sentences of three other activists, Dong Huaiming, Wang Zhongxian, and Wang Guoqing, were unknown.

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