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Kohl Criticized For Planned Visit To Chinese Military Base

November 11, 1995 GMT

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Human rights groups and political opponents criticized Helmut Kohl on Friday for his planned visit to a military base in China.

The visit would be the first to a Chinese military base by a Western leader since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when Chinese troops killed hundreds of pro-democracy protesters.

Kohl was to fly Saturday to Beijing to begin a 10-day trade-related visit to China, Vietnam and Singapore. He will be accompanied by 18 executives from some of Germany’s leading corporations.

The chancellor’s agenda includes a visit Wednesday to a Chinese infantry division at Qingdao.

An aide to Kohl, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the unit Kohl was visiting was not involved in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

American and French military officials have already visited the base, the aide said, and Kohl wants to raise his country’s military relations with China to the same level as Germany’s main allies.

Guenter Verheugen, a deputy leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said the base visit would be ``an enhancement of status (for China), whether Kohl wants it or not.″

Volkmar Deile, head of the German branch of the human rights group Amnesty International, said it was ``shameful″ that developing political, economic and military ties ``is accompanied by ineffective human rights rhetoric.″

Kohl should demand the rehabilitation of dissidents who died at Tiananmen Square and those who are in prison in his talks with Chinese leaders, he said.

Kohl has visited China in 1984, 1987 and 1993.