July 28, 2008

Dissident to Use Return to China to Test New Beijing Policy

Text of report in English by Japan's largest news agency Kyodo

Sydney, July 28 Kyodo - Leading Chinese dissident Chen Ziming, currently on his first overseas trip since being released from prison over a decade ago, plans to test the Chinese government's "free entry, free exit" policy ahead of the Beijing Olympics, he said here Monday.

Two months ago, Chen was granted permission by the government to leave the country, a move he described as an important step towards a more tolerant approach from Beijing.

However, Chen, who is visiting Australia on a holiday and for an academic exchange, said the real test will be whether he can return "peacefully" to China on Wednesday.

Chen, 56, who was released on medical parole in 1996 but remains under police surveillance, said he hopes the Beijing Olympics would lead to greater political openness, improved human rights and structural change within China.

Zeming told reporters there had recently been more than 50,000 people expelled from Beijing alone, in an effort to prevent the West from learning about the grievances of many people within China.

Chen was sentenced to a 13-year prison term in February 1991 for helping to mastermind 1989's Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations, which the army violently crushed.

Chen was joined by fellow dissident Wang Juntao, who is permanently based in the United States.

Both men have played leading roles in China's democracy movement since 1976.

Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0704 28 Jul 08.

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