June 03, 2005

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The June 4th roundup (updated)

The approach of June 4 means it's that time of year: arrest time. First it was Ching Cheong. Now Reuters is reporting the arrest of members of the Chinese Acadamey of Social Sciences, one of the country's top think-tanks. As usual, no one is quite sure why, but people rarely are in China. But the timing isn't co-incidental, as Richard has also noted.

It's the hallmarks of a police state. It's why June 4, 1989 needs to be remembered.

Update (June 3rd)

Reuters is reporting these arrests are linked to the arrests of Ching Cheong, along with some more interesting information from Cheong's wife. Full article below the fold.

Richard says the arrests are based on the mauscripts of a book about Zhao Ziyang by an old friend of his, Zong Fengming. Not surprising. What is surprising is China's ongoing attempts in dealing with Ziyang's legacy. Too important to completely dismiss and too troublesome to ignore. Excellent to watch.

Tom has plenty of links and notes China's quick backtracking on the spying allegations.

The wife of a Hong Kong-based reporter China has accused of spying said he had worked with an academic at a government think-tank held on suspicion of leaking state secrets, but denied her husband had done anything wrong.

The connection was revealed in an open letter to Chinese President and Communist Party boss Hu Jintao, in which Mary Lau said scholar Lu Jianhua and her husband, Ching Cheong, were innocent and called for their release.

Lu had often sought Ching's views while researching Hong Kong's political situation and Taiwan, said Lau's letter, published in several Hong Kong newspapers on Friday. Ching helped Lu arrange meetings with top government officials, various politicians and academics.

"Whatever Ching Cheong and Mr Lu Jianhua did, they were resolutely on the side of Chinese people and they acted for the interests of China," she wrote. Ching, 55, the chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, was detained by Chinese security agents in the southern city of Guangzhou on April 22.

China accused him on Tuesday of spying for unnamed foreign intelligence agencies, but his wife was adamant he was set up while trying to obtain sensitive, unpublished interviews with the late Zhao Ziyang, toppled as Communist Party chief in 1989 for opposing the Tiananmen massacre.

If charged and convicted, Ching could face the death penalty. Lu, a sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the government's top think-tank, was also taken into custody by security agents in April on suspicion of leaking state secrets, sources familiar with the case told Reuters.

Chen Hui, an assistant to the director of the Academy's General Office, was detained around May, a source said, adding that Chen had had access to classified documents.

Ching's detention has drawn heavy criticism from the United States and media groups around the world. Lau said Beijing's recent moves to reconcile with Taiwan's opposition parties, culminating in historic visits by two key opposition leaders to mainland China in April and May, were a result of Ching's recommendations.

Beijing regards self-governed Taiwan as a wayward Chinese province to be brought back to the fold, by force if necessary. "In order to communicate better, and to secure Ching Cheong's views on Hong Kong's sovereignty handover and the reunification of China, Mr Lu Jianhua often related to Ching Cheong the words of Chinese leaders -- including the sayings of yourself and other Chinese leaders," Lau wrote in her open letter to Hu. "This should be regarded as a necessity of work, and not the leaking of secrets," she wrote.

Ching had also helped Lu arrange meetings with top government officials, various politicians and academics, Lau said. Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, has seen huge pro-democracy demonstrations in recent years.

News of the detentions broke ahead of the sensitive anniversary of June 4, 1989, when Chinese troops crushed pro-democracy protests centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square killing hundreds, perhaps thousands.

posted by Simon on 06.03.05 at 12:14 PM in the Hong Kong democracy/politics category.


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Latest Twist In Ching Cheong Case
Excerpt: This afternoon SCMP carries a piece by William Foreman of AP on the latest twist in the Ching Cheong case. The reporter, Ching Cheong, was detained in April after security officials found notes detailing the leaders’ classified remarks in the journali
Weblog: Daai Tou Laam Diary
Tracked: June 3, 2005 08:15 PM


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