Washington, D.C.?Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Thursday that a well-known Chinese dissident, Peng Ming, has escaped from China and arrived safely in Southeast Asia. In an exclusive interview broadcast by RFA?s Mandarin language service, Peng stated that he organized his exodus entirely by himself. Peng appealed to the Chinese authorities not to punish friends or family members who remain behind in China. He asked that his location in Southeast Asia not be disclosed in order not to endanger those who are now assisting him. Peng, 43, was the founder of the China Development Union (CDU), an intellectual and environment research group. Banned by the Chinese authorities in late 1998, the CDU advocated an ?ecological civilization? in China. The group also called for moderate political reforms but avoided direct attacks on the Chinese government and ruling communist party. "The China Development Union has been silenced but not eliminated," Peng said in the interview with RFA. "?We have changed our method of operation. We are getting stronger and stronger." Peng had been arrested in January 1999, for allegedly ?patronizing a prostitute? ? a charge that has been used against a number of dissidents in recent years. He was sentenced without a trial to ?reeducation through labor? for 18 months, held in a detention center near Beijing, and released on Aug. 9 of this year. In the RFA interview, Peng said that a few weeks after his release from detention he learned that he was going to be re-arrested. At that point, he decided to leave China. It took "a whole month of struggling" for him to escape. In The Fourth Landmark, a book that he published in Hong Kong in 1998, Peng asserted that China should find a mode of development suited to its immense population and limited resources rather than to try to surpass Western countries with unrestrained industrialization. Peng argued that China?s industrialization over the past 50 years ?has brought about enormous potential disasters? for the environment. . Radio Free Asia is a private corporation that was established in 1996 to provide news and information to listeners in China, Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, North Korea, Laos and Cambodia. It is funded by grants from Congress. RFA?s mission is to be a forum for a variety of opinions and voices from within Asian nations whose people do not have full freedom of expression. Listener confidence in the quality and credibility of its broadcasts is RFA?s highest priority. RFA is a journalistically independent organization whose autonomy is key to providing objective domestic news and information.


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