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China Tries 4 Dissidents; Charges Falun Gong Figures With Spying

THE WASHINGTON POST -- BEIJING

China put four political dissidents on trial for subversion Monday and charged the jailed leaders of a banned spiritual movement with the capital crime of stealing state secrets.

Analysts said the escalation of the government’s campaign against dissent was designed as a slap at foreign critics and a clear warning to other would-be domestic opponents.

Human rights protesters have dogged a European tour by President Jiang Zemin over the past week, but the Chinese leader has ignored the Tibetan, labor rights and other activists who have greeted him noisily in Britain and France. Asked about the demonstrators Monday in Paris, Jiang told reporters: “I don’t know their concerns exactly. In many countries I have visited, I have encountered this phenomenon.”

But Lu Siqing, founder of the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, said Chinese leaders intended to send a message by putting four prominent organizers of the China Democracy Party on trial Monday while Jiang was abroad. “They want to show their strong resolve against Western human rights policy,” Lu said.

U.N. Approves Timor Force

THE WASHINGTON POST -- UNITED NATIONS

Setting aside concerns about the United Nations’ finances, the Security Council voted unanimously Monday to send 8,950 peacekeepers, 1,640 international police officers and 200 military observers to oversee East Timor’s transition to independence.

The creation of the U.N. Transitional Administration for East Timor comes three days after the organization established a 6,000-member peacekeeping mission for the West African country of Sierra Leone, where a July agreement ended a brutal civil war. Together, the two missions will more than double the number of U.N. peacekeepers around the world, previously 14,000.

Moreover, shortly after Monday’s vote, the council opened negotiations on yet another peacekeeping mission, this time for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials said the world body might send as many as 15,000 peacekeepers to the Central African nation, formerly named Zaire.

The spurt in U.N. peacekeeping comes with the ability to fund such operations is in doubt, largely because of the failure of the United States to pay its debts.

The top U.N. peacekeeping official, Bernard Miyet of France, said the East Timor force could cost $700 million to $1 billion in its first year. The United States is billed for 31 percent of the cost of all U.N. peacekeeping missions, but Congress has demanded a reduction to 25 percent. Although the Clinton administration supports the East Timor mission, it has no commitment from Congress to pay the U.S. share.

“This is the right course of action,” Peter Burleigh, the deputy U.S. representative to the United Nations, said after the Security Council’s unanimous vote. “The international community must help the people of East Timor, first to rebuild their shattered lives and then to construct the institutions that they will need to become an independent state.”