Tuesday, December 1, 1998 Published at 22:22 GMT
China cracks down on democracy party
Xu Wenli: Held as a 'criminal suspect'
Police in China have detained one of the country's most prominent dissidents and four other members of a fledgling opposition political party.
She said more than 20 police officers then spent almost four hours searching their home before removing a computer, fax machine and address books, as well as documents, many connected with the CDP.
The move has been condemned by the United States.
He said the matter had been raised with the Chinese authorities, and added: "We have said for some weeks now that we are disturbed by the recent number of detentions of dissidents that serve to limit political debate in China."
Others also detained
His wife said she believed his detention could be connected with this.
The dissident has been questioned by police on a number of occasions in recent months, but his wife said this was the first time police had shown a formal detention warrant - which allows a suspect to be held for up to a month.
At the same time, activists who recently founded a CDP branch in the central city of Wuhan were also detained.
These included Qin Yongmin, a close ally of Mr Xu, and two others, according to a Hong Kong-based dissident group, the Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.
Activists fear more arrests
Another party member was also reported to have been detained in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where attempts to establish China's first independent political organisation began this summer.
Activists are thought to have been emboldened by China's recent signing of the UN's covenant on civil and political rights, which guarantees the right to establish political parties.
National People's Congress Chairman Li Peng was reported on Tuesday as saying that any political organisation pushing for a multi-party system "will not be allowed to exist".
In an interview with the German newspaper, Handelsblatt, he said: "China promotes democracy and practises rule of law but our road is not patterned on the Western approach that features the separation of powers, multi-party system and privatisation."