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Friday, December 30, 2005

Thai Authorities Detain Five Falun Gong Refugees




Thai Authorities Detain Five Falun Gong Refugees
by Paitoon






Thailand, 31 Dec. 2005 – UPDATE - Out of five adults and three children, aged 4, 6 and 14 who were forcibly arrested last December 15 by Thai police, five adults remain in custody at the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). The arrests happened after Falun Gong practitioners held a week of non-violent protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok to condon the Hebei serial rape of practitioners by Chinese Police. All five of the refugees are under the protection of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR), nevertheless two visas have been cancelled.

Multiple conversations with immigration and UN officials indicate that the arrests were a direct result of pressure from the Chinese Embassy. According to one official who asked to be left unnamed, the embassy called the Thai Foreign Ministry “every day” during the protests.

Four-year-old Huang Ying was released from the detention center to family friends on December 27, but is devastated that her father is behind bars. “Families should be together on New Year’s Day. Now I am forced to be separated from my parents. I miss them so much. I really hope all the Falun Gong children who are forcibly separated from their parents can be reunited with their families as soon as possible,” said 14-year-old Wang Anqi. Both her parents are detained at the IDC.

Wang’s parents had their Thai visas cancelled by immigration officials on December 21. They are appealing the decision, since the motivation for the arrests was due to pressure from the Chinese Embassy. The protestors were acting within the boundaries of international human rights laws, and according to conversations with members of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, within the scope of the freedoms accorded by the Thai constitution.

Since these unlawful arrests, overseas Falun Gong practitioners and other supporters have been appealing at Thai embassies and consulates to have the detainees released immediately. One banner read, “Thailand, please do not forsake your sovereignty for communist tyranny.”

A complaint to the UN Human Rights Commission was filed on December 18 by the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group detailing the incident and recounting past repeated harassment of practitioners by the Thai government under pressure from the Chinese Communist regime.

“I miss my wife and my daughter misses her mom. I do not want to see another tragedy happen. I hope that the Thai authorities can make the right decision and release all the Falun Gong refugees unconditionally,” said Hua Feng, whose wife is detained at the IDC.

Thai nationals will continue to protest these unlawful arrests and the CPP gross human rights violations against Falun Gong in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok.

Falun Gong Practitioner Accuses Communist China of Persecution



Falun Gong practitioner accuses China of persecution
by Shih Hsiu-chuan




Taipei Times: 30 Dec. 2005 - A Falun Gong practitioner and former classmate of Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday accused China of persecuting the organization.

Zhang Mengye , who escaped from China to Thailand last month after being tortured in a detention camp, is currently visiting Taiwan.

"In this free country [Taiwan], I appeal to my old classmate [Hu Jintao] to make the right decision for his administration by respecting Chinese people's right and religious beliefs and to stop destroying the morals of the people," Zhang said.

Zhang and his wife Luo Muluan applied for refugee status after arriving in Thailand and have recently been granted political asylum.

Before being arrested and sentenced to two years in a forced labor camp, Zhang was a former senior lecturer at Guangdong Provincial Electric Power School.

"My wife and I were arrested unexpectedly in January 2000 while asking police officers stationed near Tiananmen Square to deliver a letter to the Chinese Communist Party pleading for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners," he said.

Zhang said that while in detention he was once handcuffed to a tree for three consecutive days in an agonizing position in which he could neither squat nor stand.

Zhang was re-arrested in May 2002 and sent to a brainwashing center in Guangzhou City, where he said he was tied up and dunked head-first into a dirty toilet bowl, causing him to swallow the foul water.

He also brought a charge against Tsinghua University, where he and Hu had studied together, saying that it cooperated with the Chinese government to stamp out the Falun Gong.

Abolish Communist China's Death Penalty






Standing up to the executioner
by



The Weekend Australian: 03 Dec., 2005 - On October 12, two days before he was due to die by lethal injection for murdering a former employee, Chinese tycoon Yuan Baojing took the precaution of signing over his 40 per cent share in an Indonesian oil field to the Chinese Government.


It was a bold and desperate move, but it paid off. The canny entrepreneur, one of China's first stock-market billionaires, must have known he had two things in his favour: China's desperate search for energy resources and its haphazard application of the death penalty.

Yuan's date with death, 8.30am on October 14, came and went. At 11am he was allowed to see his wife and one-year-old son who had been waiting at the prison since early morning, fearing the worst. "I didn't know his execution had been halted until then," says his wife Zhou Ma. On the morning of his reprieve, Yuan smiled and laughed, and told his son to wait for him.

His wife says her husband is innocent and confessed under torture.

No official reason has been given for the 39-year-old's stay of execution, but few in China doubt his donation to the state, worth an estimated 50 billion yuan ($8 billion), had something to do with it.

"Legally speaking, it is not correct," says Huo Guoyun, a criminal law expert at the Political and Legal University in Beijing. "Donating to the country is not one of the conditions for the death penalty to be excused." But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen, he says.

China's fast and frequent use of the death penalty is under challenge from its citizens like never before. A debate kicked off by crusading lawyers and academics in the 1990s is running hot in the media and internet chat rooms, and the Government appears to be responding in measures the media has dubbed the "kill fewer, kill carefully" campaign.

Abolition of the death penalty is a "global unstoppable trend", says Tian Wenchang of King and Capital Lawyers, one of China's best-known advocates with one of Beijing's swankiest law firms.

In a long career he estimates he has rescued more than 20 clients from execution and lost a few less than 20 to it. Although many legal academics want the death penalty abolished, the rule of law "doesn't have a long history in China" so ordinary people are "not used to thinking in a legal way", Tian says. "It will really be a process to guide, to lead the populace to think in a legal way."

China's Supreme Court vice-president Wan Exiang said recently that abolishing the death penalty was "almost beyond discussion in China because the millennium-old notion of murderers paying with their own lives is deeply ingrained in people's lives".

But experts list a litany of problems that lead to many mistakes in China's use of the death penalty. For one, the courts simply don't attach enough importance to the life of ordinary people, Huo says. The death penalty is applied inconsistently, with standards varying widely from province to province and even court to court. Judges, many appointed as a reward for good service to the military or the Communist Party, often have limited knowledge of the law. Many are corrupt.

"It must happen" that a death penalty can be bought by your enemies and a pardon can be bought by your friends, Huo believes. Confessions are extracted under torture. Executions are often carried out with extreme haste, within a couple of days or even hours of the sentence being delivered. Appeals seldom succeed because they are heard by the same court that delivered the sentence.

A couple of recently exposed miscarriages of justice have boosted the case against the death penalty, including that of She Xianglin, who 10 years ago was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. But in March the supposedly murdered woman turned up in their village, saying she had run away because she was tired of married life. Her husband was released four days later.

Every year China executes more people than the rest of the world put together, many times over. Exactly how many is a state secret, but Amnesty International's tally of execution notices in state media was 3400 last year, although it is probably 10,000. In the US last year, 59 people were executed.

China has 68 capital crimes. As well as rape, murder and killing pandas, they include non-violent crimes such as "separatism" (advocating independence for Tibet and Taiwan), "endangering national security", smuggling, tax evasion and corruption. Death sentences are administered by a bullet to the back of the head or, increasingly, by lethal injection. In the drug-rife southern border province of Yunnan, mobile execution vans were recently introduced to cope with the executioner's heavy workload.

Executions tend to cluster before public holidays and important Communist Party meetings which, according to state media, create a safer environment.

Huo says it will be at least 50 years before China gets rid of the death penalty, as most ordinary Chinese strongly favour it and officials depend on executions to keep the social order in the face of an upsurge in criminal activity among the poor caused by the growing wealth gap.

Meanwhile, lawyers are focused on getting the death penalty removed for economic crimes and getting the number of executions published. The number will be huge, but announcing it "will encourage China to raise the standard of the rule of law", believes Wang Shizhou, an academic lawyer at Beijing University.

Last month the Supreme People's Court said it would resume the right to review death sentences imposed by lower courts, which it forfeited to provincial courts in 1983 in a move to improve efficiency. Some say this could reduce executions by one-third.

But the problem remains that even if the Supreme Court recommends reconsidering a death sentence, the final decision rests with the original sentencing court.

So it was with Dong Wei, a 26-year-old peasant sentenced to death for murder in 2003. He was saved from the bullet with four minutes to spare after his lawyer managed to thrust his review request before a judge, who called the executioner by mobile phone just in time.

The lawyer said his client acted in self-defence when, pinned to the ground by three assailants who'd insulted his girlfriend, he groped for a brick. But when asked to reconsider the sentence, the Shaanxi Province Supreme Court decided its first judgment was sound and Dong Wei was executed.

"I was notified after he was killed. They left no time for any legal action," says his lawyer Zhu Zhanping, who confesses he wept profusely and drank a toast to "an innocent soul" on hearing the news. "Before Dong Wei's case I didn't feel so strongly about it. After Dong Wei's case I have joined the army opposing the death penalty in China."

McCartney Boycotts 2008 Beijing Olympics




McCartney attacks China over fur
by Adrian Addison




BBC Six O'clock News: 28 Nov. 2005 - Sir Paul McCartney has vowed never to perform in China after seeing horrific undercover footage of dogs and cats being killed for their fur.

The former Beatle also said he would boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics after viewing the footage taken in a fur market in Guangzhou, southern China.

The film shows animals being thrown from a bus, and into boiling water.

A Chinese official said boycotts were not justified, and blamed US and European consumers for buying the fur.

In the film, dogs and cats packed by the dozen into wire cages little bigger than lobster pots are pictured being thrown from the top deck of a converted bus onto concrete pavements.

The screaming animals, many with their paws now smashed from the fall, are then lifted out with long metal tongs and thrown over a seven foot fence.

They are then killed and skinned for their fur.

Animal welfare group Peta believes many of them are still alive as their skins are peeled away.

Sir Paul, and his wife Heather, looked aghast and close to tears as they watched the footage for a special report for the BBC's Six O'clock News to be screened on Monday.

They urged people not to buy Chinese goods.

"This is barbaric. Horrific," said Sir Paul.

"It's like something out of the dark ages. And they seem to get a kick out it. They're just sick, sick people.

"I wouldn't even dream of going over there to play, in the same way I wouldn't go to a country that supported apartheid. This is just disgusting. It's just against every rule of humanity. I couldn't go there."

In another piece of the harrowing footage, shot this summer by an undercover investigator connected to the People for the Ethical treatment of Animals (Peta) campaign group, cats are seen squirming inside a sack which is then thrown into a vat of steaming water.

They are boiled to death and skinned by a fleecing machine similar to a launderette tumble drier.

Some of the 28-minute footage is too gruesome to be broadcast.

Campaigners estimate that over two million dogs and cats are killed for their fur in China every year. China also farms animals such as mink for their fur and makes over half of the world's fur products.

McCartney added: "How can the host nation of the Olympics be seen allowing animals to be treated in this terrible way?"

Heather McCartney, herself a vociferous animal rights campaigner added: "I've seen so much footage where these poor creatures are clearly alive when they're skinned. And for what? For fashion? It's sick.

"People in every other country in the world should now boycott Chinese goods."

"If they want to consider themselves a civilized nation," said Sir Paul, "they're going to have to stop this."

A spokesman for the Chinese Ambassador in London told the BBC: "Though cats and dogs are not endangered, we do not encourage the ill treatment of cats and dogs.

"But, anyway, the fur trade mostly feeds markets in the US and Europe. Most of this fur is not for the Chinese market. So the Americans and Europeans should accept the blame.

"We have no plans to clamp down on this internally that I am aware of - it is for the US and Europeans to take their own action. They should boycott fur as a fashion material.

"I do not agree with Mr McCartney and his wife's point of view - a boycott of Chinese goods and the Olympics is simply not justifiable."

It is not currently illegal to trade in dog and cat fur in the UK and most of Europe.

Ethical abhorrence

But the UK government sees any legislation as being a European issue - as once the fur enters Europe from China, free trade and the difficulty of identifying the fur makes it almost impossible to police.

A DTI spokesman told the BBC: "The government shares the ethical abhorrence felt by many. That is why it banned by statute fur farming in the UK in 2000.

"Action is best taken at the EU level as a harmonised approach throughout the EU would have greater impact and avoid obstacles to the operation of the single market."

There is little evidence, as yet, of the fur products being sold in the UK. Campaigners insist they are available up and down the country, but it is impossible to tell the difference from other fur without the aid of expensive genetic tests.

The British Fur Trade Association, which represents the booming fur industry in the UK, insists that its members do not knowingly use dog and cat fur and have introduced a fur labelling system to try to guard against its use.

"As an industry, we are against any form of animal cruelty," said a spokeswoman.

"We deplore and work against the mistreatment of animals. For this reason, we also actively support and encourage the adoption of Western fur farming practices on Chinese fur farms."

Ruse accusation

But pro-fur campaigner Richard D North says a European ban is heavy handed.

"This is a ruse by campaigners to attack the legitimate fur trade. Nobody has ever found a large amount of cat and dog fur in the UK.

"The European fur industry would never use it. Why bother, when there are lovely skins from properly farmed animals?"

Euro MP Struan Stevenson has an array of cat and dog products in his Brussels office - including a coat made from Alsatian skin, a pelt made from four golden retrievers and a blanket made from around 70 cats. All were bought in Europe.

"It's cheaper to make these things from cat and dog than it is to make synthetic fur," he told the BBC.

"It really is time for this trade to be banned and the EU border to be sealed against it. And the new trade commissioner is more than sympathetic."

Markos Kyprianou, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, is responsible for this area of EU law.

His spokesman, Phillip Todd, told the BBC: "As a human being, the commissioner abhors this trade and is very supportive of there being a ban. There are, however, legal obstacles which would need to be addressed before a ban could be put in place."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Revolution Number Nine






Revolution Number Nine
by Kevin Steel



Western Standard
: 11 July 2005 -Guo Guoting is not so much happy to be in Canada as he is relieved. And he says he's not going back to China--at least not anytime soon. The 46-year-old lawyer from Shanghai flew in to Ottawa on May 20, travelling on a visitor's visa, ostensibly to attend a meeting. The real reason he's here, he says, is because he's fleeing persecution in his home country. Though he spent most of his career practising international maritime and trade law, in 2003 he redirected his career into the minefield of civil rights, defending jailed journalists, fellow civil rights lawyers, and practitioners of Falun Gong, a [spiritual movement] outlawed by Beijing's Communist regime. Because of his work, he says, police have raided his office and seized his computer, the state suspended his law licence, and on March 10, he was put under house arrest.

Through a network of Chinese dissidents and Falun Gong [practitioners] abroad, Guoting's cause quickly went international. Among others, then Liberal MP David Kilgour fired off a letter to Beijing, calling for Guo's release. "I wanted them to know that if they want to be respected members of the international community, then they are going to have to respect civil rights," says Kilgour, who's now an independent, having quit the Liberal caucus in April. "They can't treat lawyers this way."

On June 4, the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Guo publicly renounced the oaths he took, as a young member of the Red Guard, pledging lifetime fidelity to the Communist Party of China [CPC]. "Why do I resign from the Red Guard? Because I agree with the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party," Guo says in halting English. Guo wanted to join the movement renouncing membership in the CCP and "push it," he says. "I would ask anyone who is in the Communist party to resign it as soon as possible, because in China if there is no Communist party, a new China will be born."

The Nine Commentaries have been circulating feverishly across China's mainland since they were first published in November in the dissident newspaper The Epoch Times. The nine long essays, detailing the history and crimes of the CPC from its inception in 1921, to its seizing power in 1949, through to the present, are most frequently copied across peer-to-peer computer networks (the same ones Canadian teens use to swap illegal MP3 downloads) to get around Beijing's censorship controls. With such titles as "On How the Chinese Communist Party Is an Evil Cult," The Epoch Times published the essays to kick off a campaign urging people to quit the CPC. And so far, the paper claims, more than two-million Chinese citizens have publicly renounced their membership.

Masha Ma, a Chinese national visiting Canada to do graduate work at the University of Toronto, officially quit the Communist party after the commentaries were published. "They helped me develop my own independent thinking and I realised I had been brainwashed to believe so many things," Ma says. At age 8, she says she was a member of the Young Pioneers; at 13, she joined the Youth League and at age 18, while still in high school, she became a full member of the CPC. In her childhood, she recalls being taught to memorise mantras like, "The sun is big, the earth is big, but nothing is bigger than the benevolence of the Party," and "Mommy's close, Daddy's close, but no one is closer than Chairman Mao," Ma says. The essays, she says, only solidified her change of heart, which began after she arrived in Canada and saw a documentary on the Tiananmen Square massacre, and realised she'd been lied to all her life. "As a child, I was told that the protesters were trying to kill the soldiers and that Beijing residents were trying to separate from the state, so they threatened the security of the country. We were even asked to memorise the names of the martyrs--the soldiers," Ma says. Following that, she attended a U of T conference on Canada-China relations. There she met a man whom she was told was a Falun Gong practitioner. "I was so scared because in China they are regarded as [slandered term omitted] and all the books and videos are burned." But after doing independent research in the free media, she realised it had all been more lies. Ma even ended up marrying the man she met at the conference.

On the heels of the mass resignations came the high-profile defection on May 26 of the first secretary of the Chinese consulate general in Sydney, Australia, Chen Yonglin. Chen's request for political asylum was initially refused--some have speculated because Australia is seeking closer trade ties with China. Though he's now in hiding, the 37-year-old diplomat has issued statements detailing the existence of vast Chinese spy networks in Australia, the U.S. and Canada. Shortly afterward, Hao Feng Jun, a high-level Chinese security agent, also requested asylum in Australia and corroborated Chen's claims about the spy network.

Rumours of a Chinese spy network operating in North America are nothing new; the government's suppressed Sidewinder report and Washington's Cox Report both detailed the existence of agents in industry and government here and in the States. And only months before Hao and Chen's claims went public, CSIS had once again warned the government about the spread of Chinese espionage in Canada. "We want the government to take action," says Opposition foreign affairs critic, Stockwell Day, who is demanding the government launch an investigation. "To my knowledge they have not yet followed our request of calling in China's ambassador and asking the tough questions that need to be asked about these very serious allegations."

Day also complains that none of these issues are getting any attention from most Canadian media--not unlike their failure to foresee the collapse of the USSR in the late eighties. In fact, just days before Chen's defection, Day had given a major speech on the impact of the Nine Commentaries at a conference at the U of T that was even reprinted in The Epoch Times. "It's difficult to get the press gallery to focus on things like Canada's external security needs, democracy and human rights," says Day. And if the seismic shift in Chinese politics begun by the commentaries continues, and ends up bringing down the CPC regime as quickly as the Soviets fell 15 years ago, Canadians are bound, once again, to be caught completely by surprise.


Dalai Lama Rejects Tibetan Buddhist Praise of China



Dalai Lama rejects Tibetan Buddhist praise of China by Terry Friel



DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) 29 Dec. 2005 - The Dalai Lama said on Wednesday the most senior Buddhist in Tibet had obviously wanted to please Chinese authorities by praising Tibet for its political stability and prosperity.


In an interview with Reuters, the 70-year-old Nobel Laureate painted a very different picture of Tibet saying that torture and human rights abuses were still the norm.

The Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism and its political struggle, said he was saddened by reports monks had been killed and tortured by Chinese authorities for refusing to denounce him as a "separator" bent on damaging China.

"I had stressed if they have to denounce me then please denounce me -- no problem," he said firmly in his palace beneath snow-tipped Himalayan peaks in northern India.

"Their safety is more important. Just please denounce me," he said, wearing traditional Buddhist purple robes.

The Beijing-sanctioned 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, now 16 and who along with his parents is under China's protection, said in a rare interview with China's Xinhua news agency a few days ago that Tibet was open and happy.

"I've been to many places in the past decade and witnessed the ample freedom enjoyed by individuals and religious organisations alike. Living Budhhas like myself are able to perform religious rituals under the wing of the Chinese constitution and other laws," he said, according to Xinhua.

The Panchen Lama is the second most senior post in Tibet's main Gelugpa Buddhist sect after the Dalai Lama.

Before the young boy was chosen, the Chinese government removed another Panchen Lama who was chosen with the approval of the Dalai Lama -- the exiled Tibet leader whom China calls a traitorous separatist.

Many of Tibet's people remain secretly loyal to the Dalai Lama's chosen Panchen Lama.

The young Panchen Lama's comments were rejected by the Dalai Lama and exiled supporters of Tibetan autonomy. Some say the teenager is a political prisoner.

"So, obviously the Panchen Lama has to speak what his superiors want," said the Dalai Lama. "It is very difficult."

DALAI LAMA PURSUES PEACEFUL PATH

Analysts say the fact the young Panchen Lama was moved from Beijing to a town in Tibet and was allowed to speak publicly was a sign Beijing wants him to be heard more by Tibetans, possibly as a counter to the Dalai Lama.

The 11th Panchen Lama has led a tightly controlled and largely reclusive life since the Chinese government confirmed him in that role in 1995.

The Dalai Lama, who has widespread support from world leaders to Hollywood stars, says he faces increasing criticism from his own people over his peaceful push for more autonomy instead of fighting China for full independence.

"Criticism about my approach, not seeking separation, is growing, increasing and my response to them is be patient. More patience, more patience," he said. "Otherwise, we have nothing to show them a positive result from our approach. So we find it more and more difficult to answer them."

Tibetan politicians and activists in exile say their youths are frustrated. Some want violence, remembering what they see as the glory of Tibet's guerrilla war against China four decades ago.

"Definitely we have a huge section of the Tibetan youth community which believes that our movement is like any other movement in this world," said Tibetan youth Congress president Kalsang Phuntsok Gordukpa, 42.

"You know, there is no reason for us to restrain ourselves just because we are Buddhist or just because we have a leader of His Holiness's (the Dalai Lama's) stature.

"For Tibetans as such, violence is something we cannot normally think of. But we have again a youth section which is not so much influenced by the Buddhist philosophy. They are very much attracted by the movements which are going on all over the world -- mostly violence-infested movements and people see they are achieving results.

"They look around everywhere, whether it's Israel or Palestine or the Middle East -- these give them every reason to believe in every (violent) movement that is being waged on this Earth."

Young Tibetans are also looking at the country's own warrior past, exiles say.

Thupten Phelgye, a 50-year-old monk who spent five years alone meditating on a mountain and who is now a member of the parliament in exile, is concerned.

"If, in the future, something goes wrong, then we are not responsible," he said. "We cannot guarantee this policy of the (peaceful) middle way will be here forever

Surmounting the Great Wall: Building Human Rights in China






Surmounting the Great Wall: Building Human Rights in China
by Hon. David Kilgour, M.P.
Vancouver SFU Harbour Centre



In Search for Justice Conference: 17 July 2005 - In 2003, the administration of President Hu Jintao took office in Beijing; for a brief period, there was real hope. New regulations were created to prevent torture in police custody. The government announced its intention of reforming the system of arbitrary detention, “re-education through labour.” A constitutional amendment even declared that the state “respects and protects human rights.” The domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic was addressed with a law to strengthen AIDS prevention and stop discrimination against those infected.

Without the institutional, rule of law and other reforms needed to ensure that legislative measures have substance in practice, however, nothing can really change in China or anywhere. Human rights abuses now continue unabated. Show trials, arbitrary detention, political crackdowns on specific groups, media and information controls, more death sentences than the rest of the world combined, even forcible evictions and destruction of housing in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing – all these continue to happen in China. International human rights NGOs face continued denial of access to the Middle Kingdom.

Technology

The use of imported technology for party control is also growing. The government understands very well the dual purpose possibilities of technology traded with the West; and western companies are often not so ignorant of this goal either. Microsoft’s Internet software sold to China, MSN Spaces, has censorship functions built into the program, which are justified by Microsoft as “satisfying the customer.” If someone in China types forbidden words, such as “freedom,” “democracy” or “human rights,” they are automatically deleted. Names of top government officials are also blocked, as are numerous websites, such as Amnesty International and other human rights and pro-democracy sites.

Ethan Gutmann noted at a recent rally in Chicago that a senior engineer at Nortel had assured him “they had developed a 100% packet capture system, specifically designed ‘to catch Falun Gong.’” Cisco has built technology for the Public Security Bureau, providing remote connections to provincial security databases for cross-checking all background information, including everything from family history to emails to movement tracing. This illustrates the extent to which the Chinese government is now willing to go, and the distance to which some Western companies are complicit in information control, censorship and the round-up of Chinese citizens for doing what is perfectly legal in most countries.

This collusion between Western companies, knowingly or not, and the political aims of the Chinese government appears to lack any sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR). No company which pursues CSR seriously should engage in trade and development with the military, police or security of any government that suppresses and abuses its people in these ways.

Economy

Some observers insist that strengthening economic ties and increased trade will over time encourage the Chinese government to ensure respect for human rights. They point to China’s nine per cent economic growth rate, with part of its population already benefiting from this growth. But how can reasonable observers believe that the rest of the Chinese people will benefit from an economic and human rights trickle-down effect? The policy of enlarging economic ties with China, a policy of engagement, operates under the assumption that marketization and democracy go hand in hand. China engaging in free trade with the rest of the world by itself will not lead to a transition to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

If we look more closely at contemporary Chinese history, we see that exactly the opposite has been happening. Beijing has of late become increasingly repressive of its own population. The government still relies on prison labor, lacks independent trade unions, and suffers under the deeply engrained corruption of the non-elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in office since 1949. The gap between rich and poor in China has actually grown since the rural-led revolution which brought the CCP to power. Most of those outside coastal cities have seen very little of the economic growth benefits. About 900 million nationals in China are subsistence farmers, who now make about 63 cents per day; another 200 or so million are unemployed.

Spy Networks

In recent weeks, it has emerged yet again that there are Chinese spies active in Canada. A security official who defected from China, Guangsheng Han, said that Beijing cultivates informants across Canada to gather economic intelligence. In June, a former Chinese police officer, Hao Fengjun, defected in Australia with documents claiming that China has a network of more than 1,000 spies. These assertions have also emerged in the recent defection of yet another Chinese diplomat, Chen Yonglin, who was recently granted asylum in Australia, as well as from Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former chief of the CSIS Asia Pacific Desk of the Requirements, Analysis and Production Branch (RAP).

This news should surprise no one. “Operation Sidewinder”, a joint study by the RCMP and CSIS, concluded several years ago there were then about 3,500 Chinese agents operating across North America. There have been reports of Chinese tourists and business people spying on industrial sites and firms, for instance high-tech companies. An equally unacceptable development is the indicated interference by Chinese officials with the activities of the peaceful and perfectly legal Falun Gong members at various points across Canada.

Religion
The world can learn much from the 5,000 year-old Chinese civilization; in turn the benefits freedom of religion can bring for the long term social well-being of any nation is an area Chinese policy makers should study. For example, research indicates that Canadians who attend weekly religious services lead happier, less stressful lives than others. Many Chinese immigrants who arrive in Canada become active members of religious organizations soon after they arrive. For instance, a Chinese Baptist church in Scarborough (Toronto) has a membership of about 14,000 and an annual budget of $2.5 million. The numerous religious communities we have in this country contribute much to the well-being of Canadians generally. Allowing for freedom of religion and the expression of one’s beliefs peacefully encourages people to become active members of communities. This is especially important in the political and religious climate across the world at the beginning of the 21st century.

The government claims to ensure religious freedom and freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 36 of the PRC Constitution. Many faith communities in fact continue to suffer discrimination. The persecution of Muslims has been stepped up under the claim that the government is trying to keep Islamic fundamentalists from gaining a foothold in China. No one under 18 is allowed to practise any religion. Those who wish to attend Catholic churches must attend state-sanctioned churches, the bishop of which pledges loyalty to Beijing alone. The campaign against the Falun Gong has spilled over into persecution of unregistered Catholic churches, temples and mosques. In one southeastern province alone, in November of 2000, authorities confiscated or destroyed up to 3,000 unregistered church buildings and Buddhist shrines. Religious persecution is widespread. A Google search on persecution of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Uyghurs or the Falun Gong in China will turn up tens of thousands of links.

There are credible reports that a campaign is currently underway of persecution of members of unregistered Christian house churches across China. The official suppression of religion makes use of welfare reduction, arbitrary fines and imprisonment, the latter of which can lead to intensive interrogation and physical abuse. Such methods are used against those who are found to be “believing in a religion,” “engaging in an illegal religious gathering,” or even “attending a religious black hole,” Try to purchase a Bible or Koran in any book store across China.

Why repression of religion? There is a felt need by the leadership in Beijing for loyalty to the party and state alone; religious activity is perceived as a threat to the power and authority of the CCP. This is especially true as a result of the relationship between pro-democracy movements and underground churches, as well as possible influences from elsewhere making their way into China through faith communities. Religions which are not state-sanctioned are often portrayed as part of separatist movements – such as Buddhists in Tibet, or Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. This is despite the fact that Buddhism and Islam are state-sanctioned religions in China.

The government has justified repression of the Uyghur community through the global ‘war on terror.’ No distinction is made by government authorities between passive resistance and acts of violence; this policy has resulted in counter-terrorist measures. Peaceful Uyghurs have been charged with ‘separatist’ or ‘terrorist’ offences. Some have been sentenced to death for their so-called crimes, mosques have been closed, traditional holidays can no longer be observed, and Uyghur education, language and freedom of expression are severely controlled.

Any group with the ability to mobilize large numbers of people, based on a decentralized network, especially if they are seen to have some sort of moral authority over the Chinese government, poses a threat to the CCP’s power, authority and legitimacy. The most visible of these communities is the Falun Gong.

Zhao Ziyang

Not all high-ranking officials in the CCP are fearful of pro-democracy movements. This past January, Zhao Ziyang, the much-admired former general secretary of the CCP, died. The official media across China reported only briefly on his death, and no mention was made of his titles. As you know, Zhao had criticized the party’s handling of the Tiananmen Square protests, which called for an end to corruption and a defense of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. His opposition to the decision of fellow party leaders to crush the demonstration brutally and declare martial law sealed his fate. He was stripped of all his positions. His name and image were banned
from state media. He was placed under house arrest until the end of his life. A voice of reason, compassion and peace had been silenced.

Falun Gong

Truthfulness, compassion and tolerance are three words that mean so much to so many, and so little to others. So little, in fact, that the CCP has banned followers of the group which practises the three as an “evil cult” threatening state security.

Falun Gong is a peaceful movement founded in China in the early 1990s in an attempt to introduce spirituality, meditation and exercise in a repressive political environment. The movement continued to grow; in 1999, ten thousand followers held a day-long vigil to appeal for the release of 45 Falun Gong members arbitrarily arrested in Tianjin. High-ranking officials in the CCP, as well as the police and military, joined the vigil.

The CCP, however, saw the Falun Gong as a major threat. Their numbers were expanding, they were organized, and they arguably threatened the authority of party members. In November of 1999, the government passed a law to suppress heterodox religion. This has reportedly led to somewhere between 200,000 and one million Falun Gong members being sent to labor camps and about 500 being imprisoned. Many who were detained received neither charges nor trials; they were assigned to “Re-education through Labor,” where risk of torture or physical abuse was high. According to overseas Falun Gong sources, since 1999 almost three thousand have died while in detention due to physical abuse and torture. It is also difficult to determine exact numbers because the deaths of Falun Gong members while in custody are labeled as suicides.

The widespread use of the death sentence by authorities is also very troubling. Amnesty International estimates that in 2004 alone, at least 3,400 people were executed, and at least 6,000 were sentenced to death. Although the government keeps official records of state executions secret, according to Amnesty International, one senior member of the National People’s Congress stated that China executes about 10,000 people a year. Executions are common even for non-violent crimes such as tax fraud, although the punishment thankfully does not yet appear to have been used against Falun Gong members.

Guo Guoting

The prominent Shanghai lawyer Guo Guoting’s detention for questioning and subsequent house arrest was in part a result of his involvement in a case concerning a Falun Gong practitioner. Aside from being detained, interrogated and placed under house arrest, he also lost his freedom to practise law defending justice and human rights. We are all delighted that he is now an immigrant in Canada and will today received the “Search For Justice” award at this conference.

Not only are Falun Gong practitioners denied the freedom of expression, a right of all Chinese citizens according to the PRC Constitution; they are denied due process and adequate legal representation, rights guaranteed in any jurisdiction enjoying the rule of law.

Such is the government’s fear and loathing of Falun Gong that they will even harass its practitioners in other countries, including Canada! There have been numerous complaints that Chinese diplomats are harassing, intimidating and spying on Falun Gong members in Canada. Members of Falun Gong in Canada have claimed that Chinese diplomats here have been actively monitoring their activities. The documents revealed by Hao Fengjun confirm this behavior. The PRC embassy and consulates in Canada have reportedly also been involved in the distribution of anti-Falun Gong propaganda, something that might well contravene the hate provisions of our Criminal Code.

What to Do?

Undoubtedly China is assuming a position of prominence in the world and this will continue. As its influence grows, China must be cognizant of the responsibility that comes with leadership. Why not demonstrate leadership in the areas of governance and human rights to be a respected member of the global community? As China’s markets and regions open, following its accession to the WTO, it will face new pressures. Taken in the context of “Jie Gui,” – making connections - these pressures will have a less destabilizing effect if China were to connect better to internationally accepted values and norms.

What can Canada do? Such abuses cannot be accepted by the international community. China is a member of the WTO; it continues to hold a veto in the United Nations Security Council. It enjoys
healthy trade surpluses with all Western countries. China’s trade surplus with Canada alone last year was more than $17 billion.

Can it really be said that we Canadians have human rights concerns in our foreign policy objectives in the case of China? At the very least, we must cease the hollow rhetoric that China is presently moving forward in the protection and promotion of human rights. An Amnesty International Canada spokesperson has said just the opposite. We must also be honest, and admit that engaging in business relations with China will not necessarily be a catalyst for human rights. But isolationism is not an answer either. We cannot let our foreign policy with China be based on commercial interests alone. Although our capacity for bringing about greater respect for human rights in China is limited, our national governments of any party stripe must at least indicate that the export of rights violations to Canada will not be tolerated, whether in the form of intimidation, threats, espionage or attempted censorship.

Conclusion

Let me close on a hopeful note: it has been my pleasure to know many men and women of origin in China from China itself to Gabon, West Africa, and mostly of course across Canada itself. They are among the hardest working, best educated and most family-oriented ethno cultural communities on earth. Human dignity is as important to them, whether in China, Gabon or Canada, as to any other community in East Asia or anywhere else in the world.

The continued rise of one of the oldest civilizations, the most populous nation (closely followed by India), certainly the most dynamic economy, and probably sometime in this century the most important country, cannot succeed without respect for the rule of law, government of, by and for the people, human rights, freedom of speech and religion. All of us who are friends of the Chinese people and China hope that the present and next generation of leadership there will accept these concepts.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Future of Communism in China


Future of Communism in China
UofT Conference
Stockwell Day, MP





Epoch Times: 25 May 2005 - In my office, we have learned to look forward to the weekly copy of The Epoch Times. It is a helpful source of information and commentary on areas that are of interest to me, but which, sad to say, often get overlooked or minimized in news sources across Canada.

The editors of the Epoch Times are concerned for the progress of democracy everywhere in the world, and alert to human suffering everywhere. Recent issues have spotlighted oppressive behaviour of the regimes of Burma (Myanmar), Nepal, Sudan, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and many others. This coverage has proved valuable to me as I have urged the government of Canada to take a more forward part in the advancing of human rights throughout the world.

In our major newspapers, the section on international affairs is shrinking and is retreating further and further back into the pages. Editorials often express authentic humane concern for the suffering of the particular people who have the attention of the major news wires (that would be Darfur, this week) but in the main news section of the same papers we find little evidence that the newspaper is interested in hearing more bad news than it can comfortably contain within the limits of our major domestic pre-occupation with issues of health and prosperity. Rarely do they demonstrate the investigative spirit which marks the Epoch Times.

Too many people do not seem to appreciate that our indifference to the circumstances under which most of the world live their daily lives is serving the propaganda purposes of the unappeasable enemies of our way of life.

I recommend regular reading of The Epoch Times as an antidote for self-preoccupation.

*** The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party

Our theme today is current disillusionment with Communism in the People’s Republic of China. While this is the question closest to the heart of the editors of The Epoch Times and to most of its readers, it is not a parochial or an ethnic preoccupation. The Epoch Times sees the China issue in the context of the global struggle for democracy and human rights.

Most of you know the background of this story

The Epoch Times published, first in the Chinese language (in November, 2004) and thereafter in many translated versions, a document called NINE COMMENTARIES ON THE COMMUNIST PARTY which subsequently became available on the internet. This document reviewed the history of the Communist Party of China, exposing the distortions which the Communist Government of the People’s Republic of China still propagates and defends – distortions which (sadly) have been parroted by students of China’s recent history in our own learned communities, in editorial commentary and in policy-making circles. The effect of this publication of the Nine Commentaries has been electric. By May 10, 2005 , 1.3 million persons had publicly registered their resignations from the Chinese Communist Party. Every day, another 10,000 resignations are posted on this internet site. Banners and posters have begun to appear throughout China with news of these resignations, and discussions are taking place everywhere. A high price has been paid by many of the signatories – in whose ranks are many teachers, public officials professional people of many sorts.

These shocking events have caused the Central Chinese Communist Party School to rush cadres to each of the 58 Provinces of China to organize study groups and to secure re-commitments to the CCP. It appears that this campaign in reaction to the Nine Commentaries may have boomeranged, as it has brought greater publicity to their existence and given greater currency to the words of the commentaries.

Not the least astonishing feature of this story – and certainly the most disappointing to me -- is the almost total neglect of it by our media.

Do our journalists and editors and publishers not regard this as a significant story? What on earth could be more significant? Or do they suspect the truth of it? Perhaps they have been inoculated by propaganda which the PRC generously provides regarding the economic miracle and the steady strides towards prosperity of the Chinese people? It is worth recalling, in this context, the nearly-total failure of our journalists, and for that matter our academics and professional commentators, to accept the auguries of imminent collapse of the Communist Empire of Europe as late as 1989– their underestimation of the demand for democracy, the role of the dissidents and the refusniks; even as Soviet Communism was cracking up, our own commentators were denying the vitality of powerful regional forces, based on traditional memories of ethnic solidarity and dismissing the force of religious allegiance after sixty years and more of officially declared atheism.

In general, journalists need a longer historical perspective. With reference to our interest here: they need to consult the history of the longing for democracy in China and the vital record of democratic accomplishments of the past.

*** Chinese people and the challenge of democracy

This renunciation of CCP membership does not come out of nowhere.

We have heard for decades much learned talk about the absence of democracy from the history of the Chinese people. Some have been so bold as to talk about a hereditary instinct against democracy in the Chinese gene pool. How else, they say, do we explain the fact that the vast majority of Chinese in the world today - those who live under the rule of People's Republic of China - have been ruled for so long by anti-democratic, one-party, authoritarian rule?

Does this fact speak to an incapacity for democracy?

Well, the short answer to that question is the recent History of Taiwan.

But I want to direct our thoughts in the direction of the longer answer – which we find in the history of the Chinese people’s pursuit of democratic practice over the last century.

This history, as I read it, is characterized by courageous efforts to incorporate democratic and liberal practice. Only a century ago, Chinese people were apparently locked for eternity into a legacy of oppression by hereditary emperors, abetted by a totally submissive intelligentsia, fortified by an official ideology which nourished elitism – and all propped up by cohorts of illiterate peasant-soldiers. At the beginning of the twentieth century, intellectuals (both those in China and those abroad) who wished to be taken seriously insisted that Chinese people had lived so long under that despotism, that the will to be free simply could not take hold. But then out of nowhere (so it seemed) there appeared certain bright spirits – the most notable being Sun Yat-sen -- who defied this autocracy in the name of democracy.

The collapse of the autocracy in 1911 was so sudden and so dramatic, that the historians are still struggling to explain the dynamics of it. It has been a story of two steps forward, one backward – again and again. There has been much disappointment (to put it mildly), but when you reflect that a century is not a long time as historians reckon time, and that China, at the opening of the twentieth century had still not yet begun the transition from feudalism, the truly remarkable aspect of this story is how much was accomplished.

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), known as the Father of the Chinese Revolution, sought to combine the people’s memories of recurring resistance to oppression with a carefully-defined and, as he saw it, scientific theory about self-government which drew on Western models. An educated man (a medical doctor) widely traveled, a Christian with many admirers among leaders and laity of the Church throughout the world, he developed three Principles of the People (1905) in which he combined nationalism and democracy with some features of current socialism. When revolution broke out against the last of the Emperors, (the boy-king whom we in the West call Henry Pu-yi), Sun’s ideology quickly permeated through the ranks of all classes who expected a sudden reversal of all of the effects of centuries of autocratic government. But things quickly went wrong: most of the powerful figures who had benefited from the old arrangements re-asserted their interests by brutal force, and within a very few years many were saying that things were worse than before.

Sun's brief but inspiring regime still commands our respect and deserves renewed study. To this day, Chinese everywhere, on the mainland, and on Taiwan and throughout the Chinese-Diaspora, look to Sun Yat-sen who inspired the hope for democracy. The essential virtues of his teaching must not be forgotten - it is true that his successors in the Kuomintang slipped much too early into the temptation of compromising democratic principles and the worthy ideal of transparent governance, bringing discredit upon these principles. What is worse is that the Communist Party of China fouled the reputation of Sun's democratic principles by making them go under the yoke of Marxist-Leninist theory.

As Sun worked to make autocratic China over into a democratic and liberal nation, he encountered vast obstacles. Some may be defined as "natural" obstacles: among the most conspicuous of these is the enormous population and geographic extent of China as well as the complex ethnic and regional differences. Also, there was in those days (the 1910s and 1920s) the awesome legacy of centuries-old suppression of the individual spirit: the legacy of feudalism, illiteracy, the brutal rule of warlords and the absence of what we would regard as the rule of law. But what really mattered – as we can see today – is that the promise of democracy really did enter into the soul of the Chinese people: the connection between democracy and freedom was clearly perceived and almost universally accepted.

After a few years, the autocratic interests had re-established themselves, under new names: there were warlord regimes in various provinces and many political parties all pretending democratic principles but all incapable of providing vision for the whole nation. The disappointments which befell Sun Yat-sen caused him to revise his expectations for China . He abandoned his plan for immediate realization of democracy in order to promote “guided democracy” – a one-party system, with the top level of government controlled by the party and not subject to democratic review. Sun was led in this direction by advisors from the Soviet Union , then new in the world, and promoted by many in the West as a vanguard of people’s democracy. Sun’s Kuomintang party now entered into partnership with the Chinese Communist Party, guided by the Soviet Union . This was a grave error.

Predictably, the alliance broke down by the mid-1920s. Sun’s successor, Chiang Kai-shek soon discovered that the ideals of the communists were incompatible with Sun’s legacy; and so he pursued a model of “guided democracy” – guided, that is, by him. Eventually, he promised, his guiding hand would be graciously lifted, and real democracy would be installed. That moment never came in his lifetime, nor in the lifetime of this son and successor. It has, however, been realized in our own time, following several revisions of Chiang Kai-shek’ s constitution, and authentic democracy has developed on the island of Taiwan.

As you all know, there began in the late 1920s a violent civil war between populations aligned with the Kuomintang and populations aligned with the communists under Mao Dze-dong – a civil war which was still going on when Japan attacked China and which was only partially recessed during that Japanese war (which ended in August, 1945.)

It is no concidence that when the regime of Mao Dze-dong took hold in 1949, its first item of business was twofold - the extirpation of free speech (without which democracy cannot exist) and the extirpation of the Churches. When Mao set out upon his campaign to destroy Christianity in China , he covered his totalitarian intent with slogans about foreign influences, American corruption, and so on. This line suited his internal propaganda purposes, and it also struck a responsive chord among elites in the West who tend to despise the presence of religion in their own midst, and are glad to be persuaded that Christianity is just one face of Eurocentrtic imperialism. Decades later, when the PRC felt compelled by what had befallen Communist regimes elsewhere to moderate its policy of persecution of the churches and began, simultaneously, to admit a place for free enterprise and private ownership in Chinese life, we in the West were permitted a belated look into the life of the Chinese of mainland China. What became immediately evident was that the desire for democracy had never been destroyed, nor had the desire for freedom of expression and, above all, the desire for freedom of religious expression.

Because of the tight control of all aspects of information, and because the attention of western media had turned to other matters, we in this part of the world were not permitted to see more than a few random and apparently eccentric cases of democratic protest during the entire Maoist period. By the time that the Tiananmen demonstrations broke out in June of 1989, advances in communications technology had made it virtually impossible for even that iron-fisted regime to close off its daily life from view of the outside world. Live interviews with many of Tiananmen protestors certified worldwide the irrepressible desire of the Chinese people for democracy and provided encouragement on every continent for common people dedicated to the same end.

*** What we should do?

The Canadian government should be giving publicity to these events -- the posting of the Nine Commentaries and the subsequent resignations from the CCP. I have found almost nothing in Canadian papers on the Nine commentaries or on the subsequent resignations from the CCP. It is not a difficult story to understand. Canadians will recognize the meaning of this immediately, provided it appears on front pages.

The government cannot tell the free media to give publicity to anything – but our media would have to satisfy the public’s interest to know more if government would take the initiative in publicizing this dramatic exercise in free speech.

Publicity is the key to this. As many of you will know, there was a brazen effort of the Government of the PRC to keep reporters representing non-Communist voices out of the entourage of the Prime Minister in recent visit to China . Our government pretended that the PRC was merely exercising its right as host. This is a sheepish and unworthy line.

The Canadian government should be bringing publicity to the denial of human rights in China .

China is the number one offender against Human Rights. Yet China has never been the subject of a Resolution of criticism of her human rights record in the UN – not from the Human Rights Commission, not from any other of the commissions.

Now here is an incredible irony: China is still receiving $50 million annually from Canada in the form of development aid– amounting to a half a billion dollars over the last decade!

Governments of smaller and more vulnerable nations as well as governments which are, like China , determined to maintain their citadels against forces seeking to advance human rights go along comfortably with this conspiracy. There is no excuse for Canada ’s practice of averting its eyes from the human condition in China. The sad fact is that we are so keen on enlarging our share of what we imagine a vast and bottomless economic opportunities in China that we merely make ritual statements at opening of meetings – and then hold our tongues while we get down to real business.

I notice an item in The Epoch Times, March 25-321, 2005, entitled “Pettigrew Criticized for Silence on China at UN.” Speaking for a number of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Alex Neve, said: “The ongoing failure of the Commission on Human Rights to tackle the serious human rights violations in China is shameful. . . . Canada ’s unwillingness to support, let alone to spearhead, an attempt to bring a resolution before the Commission is a disappointment, which is compounded by the absence of any reference to China ’s dismal human rights record in Minister Pettigrew’s speech to the Commission on its opening day.”

Incidentally: while so many of our businessmen are wringing their hands at the thought that we could alienate the government of China by raising the matter of human rights and other matters that should concern us (the use of slave labor, for instance) -- that being “provocative” in this way would, somehow cause the PRC to take up its marbles and go home – the best informed economists are sketching an opposite scenario: namely, that we have offered far too many hostages to the rhetoric of the ever-booming economy. Chinese official statistics (there are no other kind) should not be trusted, anymore than the facts and figures offered by such earlier command economies (the Soviet Union, for example) ought to have been trusted. If, as the advocates of trade with China suggest, we cannot risk raising human rights issues for fear of seeing our share of this Cinderella economy diminish, then, maybe, as I see it, we are doing the business community a kindness by reminding them that in the long haul our efforts to provoke China in the direction of democracy and limited government and free enterprise and respect for human liberties will contribute to the soundness of the Chinese economy.

* * *

I am a firm believer in freedom of trade. I also believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to own property and the freedom to be enterprising.

When we stand up and speak up for human rights and individual freedoms we advance the hopes for a prosperous future of all people.

When we remain silent in the face of tyranny and repression we prolong poverty and human misery.

The courageous former leader of the Czech Republic , Vaclav Havel, said: “It is suicidal to draw on . . . the idea that evil must be appeased and that the best way to achieve peace is through indifference to the freedom of others. Just the opposite is true.”

Ladies and gentlemen, you have my pledge that I will never be indifferent to the freedom of others, whether in China, or anywhere.

I will work with you in advancing the great cause of freedom and democracy everywhere.