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People's Deputy From Taiwan Bucks Communist Line

INTERVIEW: HUANG SHUN-SHING

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HUANG SHUN-SHING is a quirky, self-styled "freeman of the world."

That is why, he says, he got involved in opposition politics in his native Taiwan, came to mainland China eight years ago, and joined the rubber-stamp National People's Congress (NPC). But he later quit in disgust, and plans to return to Taiwan next month.

As China's national legislature begins its annual two-week session this week, Mr. Huang, one of the few voices to enliven the bromidic proceedings in recent years, will be missing.

Last year, after attempts to debate the controversial Three Gorges dam project failed, Huang resigned from the legislature, brandishing his deputy's badge and declaring to reporters, "This is the last souvenir. I won't be an NPC deputy."

Earlier, he says, in attempts to spur democracy, he unsuccessfully opposed special privileges for showcase economic zones in southern China, called for Premier Li Peng's resignation after the 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters, and pushed through a measure for a secret ballot. But when it came time to exercise the new power, Huang was alone among the almost 3,000 deputies in casting a confidential vote.

Now, Huang, 70, says he is going home, disillusioned but with no second thoughts. "It is the Communists who should have the regrets because they didn't expect that I would refuse to go along with their demands," he said in an interview in his dusty, cluttered NPC office, where he also lives. "I made some breakthroughs for democracy within the parliament so it is the Communists who should have the regrets."

In a mixed mood, China's puppet legislature opened yesterday amid calls to loosen further economic controls, moves to tighten the Communist Party's political grip, and stormy rhetoric against Britain over Hong Kong. In his opening day speech, Prime Minister Li accused Britain of fomenting disorder in Hong Kong by advancing its plan for political reform in the colony due to return to Britain in 1997.

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