Delayed Repression: Fang Jue - an example of a Reformer

08/01/1999
Press release

In mid August 1998, the alarm was raised: Fang Jue
has disappeared. His friends and family contacted the
Chinese administration in vain. Everywhere, the
answer is the same: no-one knows where the former
civil servant of the municipality of Fuzhou (Fujian) is.

Fang Jue’s relatives are requesting an investigation.
The office for national security sends them back to the
local police station which allows them to get into Fang
Jue’s home. They witness a depressing sight as they
enter the house via the courtyard: drawers upsidedown
, scattered paper, the telephone receiver hanging
at the end of its wire... there isn’t the shadow of a
doubt left; Fang Jue has fallen in the hands of the
security forces.
Author of a highly controversial manifesto on the need
for widespread reforms, “ China must go through a
new transformation: proposals for a democratic
faction.”, Fang Jue is not an ordinary dissident. Born in
Beijing and now in his forties, he worked at the
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and prior to his
transfer to Fuzhou, at the Political Science Research
Institute. Therefore, he comes from within the power
apparatus. Although the “Proposals” bear only his
signature, they followed debates and thoughts
occurring within the progressive party. As well as
revealing a strong desire for change from leaders at
various levels in the party and the government, the
Proposals also underline the impossibility to express
any independent opinion outside the governmental
framework. Together with his anonymous co-authors,
Fang Jue recommends direct elections, the respect of
freedom of speech and association, religious
tolerance, the separation between the party and the
government, the start of negotiations with the Dalai
Lama, the acknowledgment of the status quo in Taiwan
and deal with foreign politics, nuclear disarmament
and local security.
In January 1998, large extracts from the Proposals
were published by Le Figaro and the Washington Post.
Since then, observers in China and abroad are
especially interested in Fang Jue’s fate, a true test of
the Chinese government’s openness. If nothing bad happens, it would mean that the ice is melting and
that the government is tolerating a little freedom.
Nothing; no reaction from the authorities. Are they
hoping that Fang Jue will be forgotten ? Fang Jue who
left public service in 1995 to set up a commercial
company, expressed himself publicly on various radio
stations, maintained his contacts with various exiled
Chinese associations and had business trips abroad.
The net was tightened after a few month. Several of
Fang Jue’s friends have been “invited” by security
agents who are keen to meet them. They wish to be
introduced to the circles associated with Fang Jue.
Around July 25th 1998, Fang Jue ceases to appear,
and his telephone is continuously engaged.
It is not until late September that close ones were
made aware that Fang Jue was arrested for “fraud”, a
month before, on August 28th. They have not seen him
since, as his rights of visit and correspondence have
been suspended. The only person allowed to meet
him in Beijing detention center number 44 is his
solicitor whom he himself appointed. The latter, Li
Huijeng, has dealt with such delicate cases before. It
is he who in December 1995 had taken up the
impossible challenge of defending Wei Jingsheng who
was condemned to 15 years imprisonment; an
impossible challenge since as in most political affairs,
the verdict is established well before the trial has
taken place.
It is obviously not the first time that the Chinese
government has diverted the legal system to free itself
from trouble makers, reformers, human rights activists
or supporters of democracy. Are Human rights in China
getting better ? We should judge according to the
evidence.

Beatrice Laroche

Human Rights in China

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