WORLD : Chinese Shrug Off Counter Rally

<i> From Times wire services</i>

Burned effigies of China’s most famous dissident and slogans supporting Premier Li Peng failed today to fire up the 4,000 people attending the first government-sponsored rally in six weeks of political turmoil.

Many participants said officials told them to attend the rally, the latest effort by conservatives to discredit the pro-democracy student movement and consolidate their position in a power struggle with moderates.

Effigies of astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, an outspoken dissident who has campaigned for democracy, were torched at the rally at a stadium in Daxing county, about 20 miles south of central Beijing.