WASHINGTON, Nov. 4--Chinese authorities have detained a Communist Party elder suspected of leaking secret information about Party personnel decisions to the author of a landmark book on China�s leadership transition, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The man, aged 70 and described as a �highly respected� person, was approached by three people--including a former subordinate--and asked to leave his home with them on Oct. 18, Zong Hairen wrote to RFA�s Mandarin service. Zong is the pseudonym of the the Chinese author of "Disidai" (�The Fourth Generation�), which gives an inside account of China's ongoing transition to a new generation of leaders.

The suspect, whom Zong declined to name, �ended up in a guest house of a certain government ministry. As of today, he has not returned home. In Party political jargon, he is undergoing �shuang gui� [interrogation] regarding what he knows about the personnel decisions of the 16th Party Congress,� Zong wrote.

�I have also learned that he has been summoned because of the book �Disidai.' He is suspected of having disclosed Party and state secrets. These suspicions are completely unfounded. I am indignant at this turn of events and feel I must speak out,� he wrote in a letter dated Nov. 1, 2002. �Although he is an acquaintance of mine, there exist no political ties between us. Ours is a relationship limited to the exchange of greetings. While �Disidai� contains sufficient reliable material, he never participated in any kind of activity related to it.�

The Chinese government has increased jamming of RFA radio signals since Oct. 1, when the Mandarin service began broadcasting excerpts of �Disidai.� Zong also described extensive efforts by Chinese officials aimed at ferreting out who leaked secret information to him about what would transpire at the forthcoming 16th Communist Party Congress in Beijing, which begins Nov. 8.

�Four days after The New York Times first reported on the book, the politburo member in charge of safeguarding state secrets called a meeting, held in the small conference room of his office. Two officials were summoned to this meeting--a deputy chief of the Party central office and a chief at the Party organization department,� Zong wrote. �These two were summoned because their respective offices were considered the most likely channels through which secrets could be leaked.�

Since late September, moreover, almost all home-phone conversations in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound have been monitored and recorded. �The authorities also stepped up their monitoring of Internet, mobile-phone, and long-distance phone communications to the extent that their workload almost doubled,� Zong said.

RFA�s Mandarin service secured exclusive, worldwide broadcast rights in Mandarin to "Disidai," published in English as �China�s New Rulers: The Secret Files,� edited by Andrew Nathan and Bruce Gilley. The broadcasts will conclude Nov. 8, when the 16th Communist Party Congress convenes in Beijing. The book predicts that President Jiang Zemin, 76, will step down as party chief during the Party Congress and hand over the presidency in March, despite reports that aides have asked him to consider staying on.

"Disidai" means �Fourth Generation� and refers to China�s emerging leaders. Jiang�s own cohort is known as the third generation, after the late Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996 as a private, nonprofit corporation, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.


Contact: Sarah Jackson-Han, 202 530 7774


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