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China Cuts University Rolls by 30,000 in Bid to Curb Dissent

From Times Wire Services

China’s government, further clamping down on intellectuals and education after crushing the student-led pro-democracy movement, said Friday that 30,000 fewer students will enter universities this fall.

Chinese sources said Beijing University, a traditional hotbed for political dissent and a center of the recent movement, was singled out in the cutback. First-year enrollment will be slashed to 800 from 2,000, and no new graduate students will be admitted, the sources said.

Government television quoted a State Education Commission spokesman as saying the overall number of students entering universities this fall would be reduced to 610,000 from 640,000.

Teaching and living conditions could not be kept up and some graduating students have been unable to find or hold down jobs, the education commission was quoted as saying in explanation.

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The report suggested that some academic programs have strayed from the Communist Party line.

“Some subjects, for instance the humanities, are not well defined,” the spokesman said. “They must be reorganized to serve the needs of socialist construction.”

Political education had become a weak link and students of all disciplines “were imbued with bourgeois ideas of every description,” the spokesman added. “Political terms such as democracy, freedom and human rights are much in vogue among students.”

Universities were centers for the democracy movement that spread across China in April and May. The movement was crushed June 3 when the army fired on unarmed crowds in Beijing, killing hundreds and perhaps thousands.

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In Hong Kong, 18 journalists of the pro-China newspaper Wen Wei Po resigned Friday in support of the newspaper’s director, Lee Tze-chung, who was sacked for condemning the crackdown. Under Lee’s direction, the Hong Kong paper had published a number of articles describing the military attack on student-led demonstrators.

Almost 3,000 people are confirmed to have been detained and at least 29 executed for their roles in the unrest.

China’s most prominent dissident, Fang Lizhi, was dismissed as vice chairman and council member of the Natural Dialectics Research Society, an independent scientific research organization, the Beijing Daily reported.

Fang and his wife, Li Shuxian, have been sheltered at the U.S. Embassy since June 7 despite China’s demands they be handed over to face charges of “counterrevolutionary” crimes.

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