3 Shot in First Executions for China Protests

Times Staff Writer

Shanghai executioners, carrying out the first in a growing wave of death sentences imposed on anti-government protesters, Wednesday killed three men convicted of setting a train on fire.

Xu Guoming, a brewery worker; Yan Xuerong, a radio factory employee, and Bian Hanwu, an unemployed worker, were shot before a crowd of observers, a Shanghai city government spokesman said. He gave no further details, but executions in China normally are carried out with a single shot to the head.

The executions came despite pleas for clemency from the United States and several Western Euro pean nations.

The three young men had been part of an angry mob that attacked the Beijing-Shanghai express on the night of June 6 after it plowed into a crowd of demonstrators and killed six people.


Wire reports quoted government sources as saying an additional seven people were executed Thursday in Beijing for taking part in anti-government demonstrations. The seven were sentenced to death June 17 on charges of “setting fire to military trucks, stealing military goods and assaulting soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army during the recent counterrevolutionary rebellion,” the New China News Agency reported.

Those blocking the train’s path had been protesting the bloody suppression of demonstrators in Beijing the previous weekend. The Chinese army, according to Western intelligence estimates, killed at least 3,000 people while shooting its way into central Beijing to clear pro-democracy student protesters from Tian An Men Square.

The Beijing massacre touched off violent protests around the country, followed by arrests that now number at least 1,600. The round-up of suspects continues, and quick show trials have begun.

In Jinan, capital of coastal Shandong province, 45 protesters “who seriously endangered public order” were tried before 10,000 spectators, Beijing Radio reported Wednesday. A Chinese journalist in Jinan told the Associated Press that 17 of the defendants were sentenced to death but that some may have been granted two-year reprieves.

Nationwide television Wednesday evening showed the interrogation of three Beijing men accused of attacking and killing soldiers during the violent confrontation on June 3-4, when crowds of Beijing citizens sought to block the army’s advance into the capital.

In a report indicating that the dragnet is expanding to catch establishment intellectuals involved in the protests, the official China Daily reported that arrests in the capital included a 46-year-old woman who works as a researcher at the Semiconductor Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Several of China’s best-known reformist intellectuals--including Yan Jiaqi, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Wang Ruoshui, a former deputy editor-in-chief of the official People’s Daily--have disappeared and are presumed to be in hiding or under arrest.

The United States on June 5 granted refuge in the U.S. Embassy to China’s most famous pro-democracy activist, astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, and his wife, Beijing University physics professor Li Shuxian. The Chinese press has carried bitter daily denunciations of the American action, which is based on the principle of inviolability of diplomatic premises.


On Wednesday, the Legal Daily argued that the United States has no right under international law to protect Fang and his wife. The government-controlled newspaper issued a vague threat of unspecified action.

“It is easy to see that the U.S. Embassy in China is not American territory, and therefore it has no power to offer protection,” the article said. “To use an embassy compound to enable lawbreakers to avoid punishment has nothing to do with the proper functions of an embassy. . . . The U.S. Embassy should bear responsibility for its behavior.”

The official New China News Agency, quoting unnamed sources, also rebutted the U.S. plea that China show mercy to those condemned to die.

“Chinese judicial departments have never arrested and tried anyone who only participated in demonstrations,” the report said. “The 11 thugs have been sentenced to death according to China’s criminal law because they committed heinous crimes of beating, smashing, looting and burning.”


Hard-line Premier Li Peng took the opportunity of a meeting Wednesday with Foreign Secretary Humayun Khan of Pakistan to issue a sharp public warning against attempts to pressure China to adopt a softer policy toward dissent.

Li, according to a report by the New China News Agency, made reference to China’s long and close friendship with Pakistan by citing a Chinese saying that “a long road tests a horse’s strength.”

“When China is in difficulties for the time being, it sees clearly who are true friends and who are false ones, " Li said.

“Now, some countries have exerted diplomatic and economic pressures on China and tried to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Li continued. “This is short-sighted and unreasonable, and we believe that more people will change their opinions so long as they get to know the facts.”


The state-controlled media also stepped up efforts aimed at pinning responsibility for this spring’s massive pro-democracy protests on reformists centered around Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. It is widely presumed that Zhao, the loser in the power struggle touched off by the student protests, is under some form of detention and will soon be replaced as party chief.

The New China News Agency, in an advance release of an article to be published in the next edition of the Beijing Review, charged that unnamed plotters--presumably Zhao and his allies or aides--leaked confidential, top-level information to student demonstrators with extraordinary speed. The report also contained a rare public admission that the Communist Party Central Committee had been deeply split over how to respond to the student protests.

“During the student agitations, a few people who were able to obtain top-level secrets of the central authorities even sent people to some of Beijing’s colleges and universities and to Tian An Men Square to divulge confidential information and stir up disturbances,” the article said.

“Sometimes, only a few hours after a meeting of the Standing Committee of the party Politburo had been held, and before the subjects discussed had been transmitted officially, certain university campuses were already in possession of the information and had made it publicly known,” the report continued.


“The different views of the party Central Committee with regard to the student agitations were widely publicized by a minority with ulterior motives, and this caused serious ideological confusion.”

As an example of the leaks, the report said student protesters learned “very quickly” of the secret decision to impose martial law in Beijing on May 20. This was the real reason students called off their weeklong hunger strike on the evening of May 19, the article said.

Despite the harsh crackdown on protest, Chinese leaders and mass media have been almost desperately urging foreign businesses to maintain their ties with the country.

The New China News Agency carried a whole series of reports aimed at promoting international economic ties. These included:


-- A report that foreign businesses will in the future be permitted to set up officially recognized chambers of commerce in China.

-- An announcement that 10 large international industrial exhibitions will be held this year in Shanghai.

-- A report that a Japanese businessman said investors from his country have confidence in China’s economy. “Some businessmen from the United States and the European Community have expressed their desire to continue to invest in China,” the report added.

-- A statement by Ma Shizhong, vice governor of Shandong province, stressing that his part of China has “a favorable environment for import of foreign capital and introduction of up-to-date overseas technology.”


-- A statement by Mao Rubai, vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, that even though the capital city of Lhasa has been under martial law since March, some tourist groups have recently been granted entry permits. Tibet intends to increase its cooperation with foreign countries, he said. “We are determined to promote tourism as a priority sector despite the enforcement of martial law,” Mao added.

-- Even Premier Li joined the chorus. “There will be no change in China’s policy of reform and opening to the outside world,” Li said to his guest from Pakistan. “I am optimistic about China’s future.”

RELATED STORIES: Pages 6 and 9