- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

BEIJING Police harassed Chinese dissidents during President Bush's visit to Beijing, telling at least two not to leave home and staking out the hospital ward of a doctor who is a Christian activist.
While Mr. Bush urged China to embrace liberty and religious freedom in a speech broadcast nationwide on state television, former political prisoner Jin Cheng said yesterday that police barred him from leaving his Beijing home.
"They blocked the door and said I couldn't leave," Mr. Jin said in a telephone interview. "It's very tedious. We know Bush is here, but I think it's a bit excessive."
Mr. Jin, a 43-year-old art designer, was imprisoned for 18 months in the early 1990s for publishing a human rights magazine. He said four officers visited Thursday evening and told him he could not leave his home during Mr. Bush's visit.
He said at least five officers in uniform or civilian clothes were stationed outside his residence yesterday and kept him from going to work or buying lunch.
Xu Yonghai, who works at the psychiatry department of Beijing's Ping'an Hospital, said two officers in civilian clothes were stationed in his ward yesterday. He said police were also stationed outside the hospital Thursday.
Mr. Xu is active in China's unofficial underground Christian church. He has been detained and harassed for trying to organize prayer meetings and informal discussion groups at his home.
"They told me they are here to supervise me," he said.
The agents were affecting doctors' work and "making the patients very uncomfortable," Mr. Xu added.
China commonly watches and harasses dissidents during high-level foreign visits, apparently to thwart attempts to protest or petition the visitors. Security is also tight on the anniversary of the government's crackdown on the June 4, 1989, protests for democracy on Tiananmen Square.
On Thursday, the start of Mr. Bush's two-day visit, authorities sealed off the vast square for hours.
The square, in central Beijing next to the parliament building where Mr. Bush met Chinese President Jiang Zemin, has been the site of countless protests most recently last week by members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. China outlawed the group in July 1999 and declared it a "cult."
Plainclothes agents have also tailed foreign journalists during Mr. Bush's visit, his first to Beijing as president.
In a speech yesterday to students and faculty at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, Mr. Bush called for greater tolerance.
"Dissent is not revolution," he said in remarks broadcast live on state television.


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