Chinese Dissident Released

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BEIJING: Just a few weeks before the U.S. Secretary of State is set to arrive in Beijing, expected to raise human-rights issues, Chinese authorities released dissident Chen Ziming. Ziming, who has cancer, and was jailed in 1989, arrived home Tuesday night on medical parole. In 1989 he was sentenced to a 13 year jail term for organizing democracy demonstrations on Tiananmen Square, which the government called "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement." Chen, who needs an operation to cure his condition was freed on medical leave, which makes it twice the Chinese authorities have released him for this reason. In 1995, out on medical parole, Chen organized a one day hunger strike to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, and was rearrested. If he was healthy enough to fast, the police reasoned, he was healthy enough to serve out his jail term. Last year, President Clinton mentioned U.S. concern with Chen's case at a meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, which may, coupled with Christopher's visit, have provided the impetus for Chen's release. It is also possible the Chinese authorities may not want Chen to die in jail. Whatever the case, there is not much hope that Chen's release signals a softening of Chinese policy on human rights.