China Rearrests Dissident, Detains Beijing Journalist

Times Staff Writer

A former Chinese political prisoner who once studied at the University of Arizona was rearrested Tuesday for allegedly participating in pro-democracy protests in Shanghai this spring.

Yang Wei, 34, who was released in January after two years in prison for participating in student demonstrations, was detained Tuesday in Shanghai on charges of conducting “demagogic propaganda for counterrevolutionary ends,” the official New China News Agency reported.

Also disclosed Tuesday was the detention in Beijing of Dai Qing, a prominent journalist for the official Guangming Daily.

In a separate development, the Beijing office of Japan Air Lines received a letter from a previously unknown group threatening to kill two Japanese citizens a month in China. The letter charged that “Japanese pirates collude with the Communist Party dictatorial government and plot to launch a large-scale economic invasion of China.”


Japan has taken a relatively mild stance toward China since the June 3-4 massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing, arguing that it would not serve the interests of the West to isolate China.

An official of the Japanese Embassy here, Hideo Watanabe, said the embassy had not determined how serious the threat might be.

Dai, the Guangming Daily reporter, was among 12 prominent intellectuals who on May 14, the day before Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev arrived in Beijing for the first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years, called for a compromise between pro-democracy student demonstrators in Tian An Men Square and the government.

The Dai group’s statement, published in the Guangming Daily on May 15 during a brief period of virtual press freedom, proposed that the students “temporarily” leave the square and that the government agree to three demands: no reprisals, recognition of the legality of student associations and no violence against hunger strikers in the square.


According to the Guangming Daily, the statement went on to say: “These 12 scholars stated in their appeal that if the government could not satisfy the above-mentioned demands, they would fight together with the students firmly.”

Police went to Dai’s home Tuesday during dinner and led her away, saying they wanted to talk to her, according to Dai’s husband, who was contacted by telephone by the Associated Press. He said he had not heard from her since she was taken away. There has been no official report of Dai’s arrest.

The New China News Agency, in its report on Yang’s arrest, said he had been working as a translator in a factory after his release from prison but that he “didn’t show any penitence” and “continued to provide information” for the New York-based Chinese Alliance for Democracy. The alliance, formed by dissident Chinese students in the United States, has been officially labeled a “reactionary organization” in which it is illegal for Chinese citizens to be involved.

During the spring pro-democracy demonstrations, Yang allegedly went to Shanghai university campuses and “mixed in the student parties or hunger strikes, collecting information for the organization and instigating students to oppose the Chinese government,” the official news agency reported.


Yang was at the University of Arizona from 1983 to 1986, earning a master’s degree in molecular biology. In late 1987, after Yang had been in detention for many months but before his trial, Congress adopted a resolution declaring that he had broken no Chinese or U.S. laws and calling for his release.