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Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
China jails anti-corruption monitor
Shanghai scene
China's economic boom has encouraged corruption
By the BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Beijing

A court in China has jailed an anti-corruption campaigner for four years on charges of subversion.

The man, An Jun, was arrested last July, after setting up an anti-corruption monitoring group with members in 12 Chinese provinces.

He is reported to have been accused of writing essays which attacked the Communist Party.

The news came as China's media hailed Tuesday's defeat at the United Nations of a US motion criticising its human rights record.

China's leaders have said fighting corruption is a matter of life and death for the ruling Communist Party.

But when 41-year-old An Jun began his own anti-corruption campaign, he soon fell foul of the authorities.

Corruption Monitor

Mr An, a manager at an export trading company in the central province of Henan, set up the China Corruption Monitor two years ago. Human rights groups say it attracted 300 members across China, uncovering around 100 cases of graft.

But in July An Jun was arrested. Relatives said prosecutors cited unpublished essays he had written as proof that he aimed to subvert the government and attack the party.

A court spokesman in Xinjang city confirmed that Mr An was found guilty in early April. But he would not confirm claims from human rights groups that sentencing was delayed until after Tuesday's key human rights vote at the UN in Geneva.

Chinese ambassador at UN
Chinese Ambassador Qiao Zonghuai applauds the UN vote

Human rights

The verdict was announced as China celebrated its success in blocking debate of US calls for criticism of its human rights record.

Officials say China's anti-corruption campaign has been stepped up this year, with the execution of a deputy provincial governor, and the suspension of a vice-chairman of the country's parliament.

State media on Wednesday reported that six officials and business people had been sentenced to death in Beijing for misusing sums of up to 44 million.

Official nervousness

But official nervousness about public anger over corruption means the authorities are likely to be more sensitive than ever about citizens attempting to take their own action on such issues.

And with concerns about social stability on the increase, some analysts believe the authorities are worried that uncontrolled revelations about corruption could add to public dissatisfaction.

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See also:

18 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
China escapes UN censure
16 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Beijing stresses party role
08 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Top Chinese official executed
04 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese premier attacks corruption
15 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese official sentenced to death
31 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
New rules for Chinese judges
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