2 Dissidents Denied Travel Despite China's Promises

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Despite promises by the Chinese government in November, two prominent dissidents are being denied permission to travel overseas.

Han Dongfang, imprisoned for 22 months for organizing an unofficial labor union that supported the 1989 Tian An Men Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing, has been unable to get permission to apply for a passport, a Chinese source said Thursday.

And Hou Xiaotian, the wife of one of China's most famous political prisoners, remains unable to win permission for overseas travel. Hou's husband, Wang Juntao, is serving a 13-year sentence for allegedly helping to plan the 1989 demonstrations.

Han, 28, who works at a factory run by the Ministry of Railways, suffers from severe tuberculosis that developed during his imprisonment. He has been offered financial support and free medical treatment by a doctor in America.

Officials have said that Han and his wife could travel to the United States after completing administrative formalities. But in China, an employee needs approval from his work unit to apply for a passport and Han's factory has refused to grant the permission.

Chinese officials in November indirectly made a public promise to allow Han to travel overseas by revealing such a plan to John Kamm, a Hong Kong-based U.S. businessman and human rights activist who has been used by Beijing for such announcements.

Other promises made to Kamm in November--including the dropping of criminal charges against Han and the freeing from prison of student leader Wang Youcai--have been fulfilled. Beijing also followed through on a promise made to Secretary of State James A. Baker III during his November visit here by granting exit permission in December to dissident journalist Dai Qing.

Times researcher Nick Driver contributed to this article.

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