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Chinese Dissident Expelled to US

January 27, 2003

A prominent Chinese dissident, Fang Jue, has arrived in the United States after being expelled from China.

Fang Jue was escorted on board a plane bound for the US by Beijing police, said the New York-based Human Rights in China.

A businessman and former government official, he is best known for a statement issued five years ago that called for direct elections at all levels of Chinese government, freedom of the press and independent trade unions.

He said he was speaking for many younger middle and high-level government officials frustrated by lack of reform and China's "gerontocracy".

Mr Fang was later arrested and charged with fraud, receiving a four-year jail term, in what activists said was punishment for his open criticism.

'Political persecution'
He reportedly told the court his imprisonment was an act of "political persecution".

He was released in July 2002, but disappeared in November before an important Communist Party congress.

His release comes a month after the expulsion of Xu Wenli, another pro-democracy activist, to the United States.

Liu Qing, president of Human Rights in China, said in a statement:

"We've been objecting for some time to the deplorable way the Chinese Government has been harassing Fang Jue, and of course we're glad that he's been released from his secret detention.

But we're very disappointed that once again the Chinese Government has decided that it can only deal with a dissident by ejecting him from his homeland to a life in exile."

The group said Mr Fang was not allowed to see family before boarding his plane, and was only allowed to telephone his sister after the plane had departed.

The plane was bound for Newark airport, New Jersey, where he is thought to have transferred onto a flight to Chicago.

'Medical parole'
"Fang had not even had formal charges brought against him since his arrest," said Mr Liu's statement.

"So it appears now that the Chinese Government feels it can round up dissenters and eject them from the country at will."

No official information has been given about the grounds for Mr Fang's expulsion.

However, Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Jih Pao said he had been released on "medical parole" - a convenient way, the paper alleged, for the government to expel unwanted elements.

"In fact, Fang Jue has no big health problem," the paper said.

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