China's unprecedented public crackdown on political dissent widened today with the announcement of a second trial and a declaration by Communist Party Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping that citizen critics of the government do not "represent the genuine feelings of the people."
Deng, who first inspired the yearold democracy movement and now seems determined to cool it down, volunteered his criticism of the dissidents in a meeting with visiting U.S. governors.
Chinese authorities announced today that Fu Yueha, 34, the country's most prominent female dissident, went to trial charged with organizing mass disturbances and libeling a man by accusing him of raping her.
Yesterday, another prominent dissident, Wei Jingsheng, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after what appears to be the first "public trial" of a dissident in China.
In Washington, the State Department issued an unusually strong statement about the sentencing of Wei, saying the United States is "surprised and disappointed at the severity of the sentence." Spokesman Hodding Carter added that Ambassador Leonard Woodcock had taken "a personal interest" in the case, a fact known to the Peking authorities.
[it is believed to be the first time the United States has expressed public concern to China about a specific human rights case in that country.]
Fu's trial recessed for further investigation at the end of the day, and Chinese authorities continued their efforts to dampen growing interest in free expression and criticism here by televising scenes from yesterday's trial of Wei, an underground magazine eidtor.
The official People's Daily printed extensive accounts of Wei's trial, including what appeared to be a transcript of his conversation with an unnamed foreigner to whom he allegedly gave secret military information.
Diplomats here remain puzzled about why Peking decided now, just as Communitst Party Chairman Hua Guofeng is visiting Western Europe, to begin trials of dissidents who have been in jail since early this year.
Newspaper coverage of the democracy movement here has been heavy in France and Britain, and diplomats predict that the trials could cause embarrassment for Hua during his visits to those countries.
The plubicity appears to be an attempt to win favor with Chinese intellectuals and foreign observes by showing that Chine is resorting to due process in open tribunals. At the same time, publicizing the stiff penalities apparently is intended to make government critics more cautious.
The official New China News Angecy said the "public trial" of Fu began at a Peking court this morning to consider charges of "libel and violations of public order by organizing mass disturbances." Dissident sources have described Fu as active in organizing the first marches in January by people petitioning for government action to solve their personal grievances.
Yesterday's trial for Wei, found guilty of passing military information to a foreigner and making counterrevolutionary statements, also was called "public" by the news agency, although in both cases no foreign journalists were allowed inside. Tickets apparently were issued only to official Chinese television and news agency personnel and to about 400 government workers.
Chinese leaving the courtroom today were reluctant to talk to foreign journalists. One man would say only that the trial was continuing and that Fu, who unlike Wei accepted help from a government-supplied attorney, spoke in her own defense.
The Chinese news agency said Fu was a construction worker in the Xuanwu district services company and was arrested by Peking police April 3.Dissidents and diplomats say she was initially detained Jan. 18.
Fu was accused of bringing false charges against Geng Yutian, the former acting party secretary of her brigrade. The news agency said, "In April 1973 Fu accused Geng of raping her on the night of Feb. 14, 1972. The service company conducted an investigation and found the charge groundless and anounced the result of the investigation at a public meeting in her brigade in 1974. Fu, however, continued to make the same charge, the indictment said."
The news agency said Fu then "got together several people to write and post up an announcement which called on all those who had personal grievance to gather at Tiananment Square. On Jan. 8, Fu led a group to create disturbances at Tiananmen Square and West Changan Street."
Despite the arrest of Fu, marches and sit-down demonstrations by people pressing personal grievnces in Peking have continued sporadically, with few if any reported arrests, right up to last week.
Last month the government announced that a thousand officials had been assigned to help such people solve their complaints against local authorities.
Many of the complaints stem from political upheaval in the 1960s, when officials from Deng Xiaoping on down were fired and disciplines because of accusations that they opposed the egalitarian policies of the late chairman Mao Tse-tung.
The present government, taken over by Hua and Deng after Mao's death, has restored the emphasis on merit and many people are seeking old jobs and priviliges back.
But when the governors of Hawaii, Montana, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Vermont met with Dent today, he volunteered a comment about China's political situation.
"As for the so-called Democracy Wall," Deng said, referring to Peking's principal wallposter area, "the demonstrations and the sit-ins, these cannot represent the genuine feeling of our people."
Peking's evening television news showed about two minutes of film from Wei's trial yesterday, with no sound track but an official narration.