Wed, Feb 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

`Spies' for Taiwan on China list

CLEMANCY CASES Beijing for the first time released a list of prisoners that will be shown clemency, including 20 that had been jailed for allegedly spying for Taiwan


China has for the first time volunteered information on 56 political prisoners, including alleged spies for Taiwan and Tibetan nuns, who have been or will be shown clemency, a human-rights watchdog said yesterday.

The prisoners, held in 11 provinces or autonomous regions, had been released on parole or had their sentences cut last year or would be shown clemency soon, the San Francisco-based Dui Hua group said on its Web site.

"This is the first time that Beijing has provided information on a large group of prisoners whose names are not known in the West," John Kamm (康原), executive director of the foundation, said in a statement.

Of the 56 prisoners listed, 51 were being considered for sentence reductions, or had already been given reduced sentences, Dui Hua said.

Included were 13 Tibetans, while 20 others were from Fujian Province and had been jailed for spying for Taiwan, it said.

The revelation came ahead of the annual session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva next month during which China hopes to avoid censure for what critics say is an abysmal rights record.

The EU is also considering lifting an arms sale embargo imposed on China after the People's Liberation Army crushed the student-led Tiananmen Square demonstrations for democracy on June 4, 1989.

But the EU has come under fire from US lawmakers, who argue that the human-rights record of the world's most populous nation has shown no improvement since then.

Fujian Province logged the most clemency cases, 20, followed by the Himalayan region of Tibet with 11, said the foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving human rights by means of duihua, or dialogue, between the US and China.

Most of the Fujian inmates were serving sentences for endangering state security, or were Chinese nationals who spied for Taiwan, the group said.

Jiang Yijiao (江宜教) and Xu Qilin (徐其林), who were given long sentences in 1982 for espionage, had been recommended for sentence reductions, the group said without elaborating.

"The fact that so many of the prisoners are serving sentences for spying for Taiwan raises another possibility: that China has been quietly releasing Taiwan agents as part of an effort to improve cross-strait relations," the foundation said.

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