Reporters Without Borders urged Jacques Chirac to press for the release of journalist and cyberdissident Huang Jinqiu, serving 12 years in jail, as the French president entered the third leg of a China tour in the eastern city of Shanghai.
Huang, who was sentenced for "subversion" on 27 September, is in prison in Changzhou, some 300 kilometres from Shanghai where Chirac was spending the day on 11 October.
The international press freedom organisation has made it clear it is depending on the French president to use his visit to China to promote freedom of expression.
Huang Jinqiu, a regular contributor to the website Boxun, was arrested on 13 September 2003 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province in the east of the country. His family had no news of him for several months and only learned in January 2004 that he was being held in Changzhou jail.
Born in 1974, Huang worked as a journalist for several newspapers and magazines of which the best known was Yangcheng Wanbao. It was while continuing his journalism studies in Malaysia that he became well known for his uncompromising political articles carried by Boxun, under the pseudonym of Qing Shuijun.
The Chinese authorities began to keep a closer eye on the cyberdissident’s activities since, in January 2003, he announced he intended to found a political party, the China Patriotic Democratic Party (CPDP). Huang was arrested a few days after his return to China.
Some 60 Chinese cyberdissidents and Internet-user are currently in prison, Reporters Without Borders added.