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Labour activists detained in China ahead of US diplomats' visit


NEW YORK (AFP) - Chinese police detained labour activists in the northeastern city of Liaoyang over the weekend and warned them against meeting with visiting US diplomats and journalists, Human Rights in China said.

Citing unidentified sources, the New York-based rights group said labour leaders Wang Zhaoming, Pang Qingxiang and Wang Dawei were picked up from their homes and taken to the city's Public Security Bureau.

Referring to an upcoming visit from US embassy personnel and reporters who had voiced a wish to meet the labour activists, police officers told the three that any contact would have "serious consequences."

The activists were among a group of labour leaders who helped coordinate demonstrations in Liaoyang in March last year that gathered crowds of up to 30,000 to denounce corrupt local politicians and demand greater help for laid-off workers.

Human Rights in China also reported that Liaoyang police forced their way Monday morning into the homes of Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang -- two other activists currently in custody awaiting the outcome of their trial for trying to use the workers' protests to overthrow state power.
The police remained in the two men's homes until late in the evening, monitoring their family members, the group said.

"The workers have been protesting serious problems that exist in China," said Human Rights in China president, Liu Qing.

"The Chinese government should try to address these problems rather than persecute those who expose them," Liu said.