Friday, September 25, 2009

U.S. campaigners discuss Falun Gong and CDP

A providential coincidence in modern Chinese history:

Falun Gong and CDP

By Timothy Cooper, Executive Director, Worldrights

A providential coincidence of modern Chinese history may have aligned the strategic interests of two profoundly important but different groups of persecuted Chinese nationals who have suffered the same unhappy fate. Ten years of unrelenting state-sponsored repression against two sets of innocent nationals—one political, the other nonpolitical—may have, ironically, set the stage to potentially advance the well-being of both in the common cause of ending unchecked human rights oppression in China.

These two independent groups—linked only by national identity and vitality of purpose as well as their common faith in a more benign future for China—include courageous exiled leaders and mainland supporters of the China Democratic Party (CDP), together with the well-organized and intelligent members of the Falun Gong, which boasts more members worldwide than the entire Chinese Communist Party.

The near simultaneous emergence of the two on the Chinese landscape ten years ago, with CDP rising peaceably to register as an opposition party to advance prospects for political pluralism in China, and the gentle practitioners of the Falun Gong appearing silently and respectfully at Zhongnanhai headquarters in Beijing to protest the beatings of forty fellow members in Tianjin, generated lightening-like repression by former president Jiang Zemin, leaving a tsunami of human suffering in its shocking wake.

Despite international diplomatic interventions on behalf of both CDP and Falun Gong, the long season of oppression against them, as well as others, remains in full flower. In early September 2009, CDP dissident Xie Changfa was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “subverting state power.” He was convicted of attempting to organize a national meeting of the outlawed CDP in Hunan province—nothing more. On May 23, Falun Gong practitioner Li Min died at the age of 51 in Daqing Prison in Harbin. Reliable information suggests that he was denied proper medical attention after suffering a likely stroke. Evidently, he was also tortured. Tortured for practicing the art of qigong.

Astonishingly, even after all these years, Chinese leaders still fear Falun Gong practitioners’ benign language of tolerance and compassion; they persist on making enemies out of legions of otherwise kind and gentle citizens. And after sixty years of unbroken challenge to Communist Party monolithic rule, they go on recoiling at CDP’s not unreasonable call to advance the vital cause of political pluralism; they turn patriots into innocent prisoners, stifling the organic expansion of democracy while damaging the future political brain trust of the country.

While the economic landscape of China radically changes, China’s long era of brutality remains unchanged. Good people suffer. Illegitimate prisoners pack prisons. Citizens in custody die dreadful deaths. It is a government that is reliant on the brutal use of force to check the civil conduct of its citizenry, and is generally regarded as morally bankrupt, spiritually bereft, and lacking in political legitimacy, a government living on borrowed time. The only question is: How much time does it have left? It could be two years or twenty. However many years remain, if history has taught us anything, it’s that between now and then, the Government of the People’s Republic of China is perfectly willing and profoundly capable of destroying many more people’s lives in its desperate attempt at self-preservation.

Though a principal victim of Beijing’s offenses against humanity, the Falun Gong has exhibited a remarkable profile in courage by waging a pacific battle against a merciless empire that uses unbridled force to fight empty shadows. In doing so, it has been very careful to define itself as being one hundred percent non-political. That position is understandable in light of the fact that the practice of qigong—Falun Gong or otherwise—has been historically devoid of political affiliations, concentrating on a “mind-body cultivation practice” instead.

On the opposition end of the political spectrum is CDP. It is one hundred percent political. The guiding principles of CDP read in relevant part: “The CDP advocates fair competition in both the economic and political arena, opposes political monopoly and economic monopoly in any forms; the CDP is also committed to promote transparency in political life and administrative efficiency; the CDP calls for social and political institutional transformation in a peaceful and orderly manner, we oppose chaos, we oppose the removal of violence by using violence. We believe that we should achieve our goals through peaceful, rational and non-violent means. We support that political confrontation should be replaced by civilized dialogues...”

Such a keen emphasis on replacing confrontation with sophisticated dialogue is welcome and above all, necessary, if qualitative institutional change tilted toward democracy and a genuine respect for human rights is to arrive nonviolently in China at the earliest possible date. Chaos serves only the scavengers of history, not its most noble architects. However, a fundamental question about the development of CDP as a vehicle for positive political change remains. How is CDP to evolve into a mature instrument of power capable of asserting its political legitimacy worldwide and replacing the Communist Party when democracy finally takes hold?

On this question, the separate paths of Falun Gong and CDP could merge. If for no other reason than to compound the visibility of their oppression at the hands of the Chinese government and to extend the reach of their campaigns to nonviolently progress historical change inside China. How? By exercising—even in exile—their fundamental right to vote as Chinese citizens.

An internationally recognized human right, the right to vote is enshrined in core UN human rights treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The act of voting is arguably one of the highest acts of citizenship—if not the highest. Its authority stems from the fact that voting for duly elected representatives is the most direct expression of the will of the people and represents the consent of the governed. It is a profoundly moral act because it allows citizens to take responsibility for and control over the policies and performance of their governments. There can be no steadfast protection of basic human rights in any society without the effective exercise of the right to vote. Arguably, it is first among equals in the universal pantheon of civil rights.

Which is why the CDP needs to engage in the democratic process—even in exile. In order to mature its leadership on behalf of the overseas Chinese community in preparation for the day when it can and will compete for political power in China, and demonstrate that it is fully capable of conducting itself as a credible organization, it needs to practice what it preaches—democracy—and on a grand scale.

That is to say, CDP will best serve the cause of human rights in China—and one of its main constituencies, the Falun Gong—by calling elections, fielding candidates, overseeing the voting in of elected officers, and starting to function on a daily basis as a legitimate political party. This will be the first step toward eventually accomplishing two other critical goals: 1) the establishment of a truly global Chinese World Congress, composed presumably of both CDP and non-CDP members; and 2) the creation of the official Chinese “shadow” government-in-exile, along the lines of a high profile, fully operating “China Interim Government,” responsible for the authoritative articulation of official overseas Chinese democrats consensus views in opposition to the CCP. Other prime examples of democratically-run political organizations-in-exile, formed to serve the interests of their constituencies, are the Government of Tibet in Exile, under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the World Uyghur Congress, led by Rebiya Kadeer.

The overseas CDP is fully capable of coordinated and qualified leadership. Such exiled leaders as Xu Wenli, Wang Youcai, Ni Yuxian, Wang Jun, Xie Wanjun, Tang Yuanjun, Wang Xizhe, and Wei Jingsheng, among many others, could choose to run for election to senior CDP leadership posts, drawing global attention to important Chinese issues, both in the mainstream Western press as well as the Chinese press. Candidates for office could take part in a myriad of vigorous public debates, before any number of interested constituencies, including the Falun Gong, in order to stump for votes. Their views and opinions would then be communicated to the entire world through newspapers, including the World Journal and the Epoch Times, for appraisal by potential voters. Indeed, those news sources could sponsor candidate debates and forums, as is done in the West in national elections. Television networks, like NTD, could broadcast those debates internationally, informing voters about the candidates on a grand scale. On Election Day, polling places would open in America, Canada, Europe and Australia, permitting the first-ever slate of CDP leaders to be elected by ballot box.

Such elections would immeasurably enhance the institutional and political legitimacy of the current Chinese human rights/pro-democracy movement, and significantly raise its political profile worldwide, especially if voters turned out at the polls in large numbers on three continents. Political leadership elected by such large numbers would start CDP down the path toward becoming a highly persuasive opposition voice for the Chinese people. Moreover, it would demonstrate that the Chinese rights movement had finally arrived and was capable of practicing the essential art of democracy, moving it down field toward establishing a Chinese World Congress and eventually a functioning “shadow” government, one day mounting a serious political challenge to Beijing.

How are Falun Gong’s nonpolitical interests served by CDP’s political empowerment?

Assuming that Falun Gong practitioners accept that a democratic China will best protect their right to practice qigong, it is clearly in their vested interests to perform one of the first duties of citizenship in a democracy: cast their vote for duly elected representatives, exercise their human right to enjoy representation in exile. It is the most meaningful way in which the Falun Gong, singularly and collectively, in Australia, Europe, America and Canada, can contribute to the advance of democracy in China that does not—and will not—violate its peaceful and nonpolitical nature.

The Chinese pro-democracy movement has been steadfastly supportive of the Falun Gong. It has stood by them for over ten years. It is time for Falun Gong to reciprocate by helping them, by supporting their right to do what democrats do the world over—run for election.

In this way, with the simple exercise of the power of one person-one vote, a ten-year-old coincidence of oppression, initiated by a paranoid Chinese government against the Falun Gong and CDP, can be turned into an historic providential coincidence of another kind—one that advances rather than retards democracy and human rights in what may one day become the New Republic of China, or in CDP’s own visionary language of China’s future, the “Third Republic of China.”

Chinese dissidents should heed Tim Cooper's advice

- More ideas on unity for Chinese dissidents -

By John Kusumi, Director emeritus, the China Support Network

In a recent article, friend of freedom Timothy Cooper (Executive Director of World Rights, also experienced with the Free China Movement and the China Democracy Party), advocates that Falun Gong and the China Democracy Party (CDP) should move closer together, with CDP to hold an election and Falun Gong practitioners to vote for its leadership.

It is well known that Falun Gong urges everyone to move away from the Chinese Communist Party -- so it seems natural as they move away from the old arrangements, that they should move towards new arrangements for Chinese society.

The CDP is indeed working on new arrangements for Chinese society. They have a project of enormous proportions to change the sweep of history. In June 2007 in the U.S. state of Rhode Island, a First Party Congress of the CDP was held under the auspices of Xu Wenli. That Congress adopted a Declaration of "China's Third Republic," an expression of intent to build a third republic while respecting the work, effort, and legacy of two earlier attempts (1911 and 1946) to make a democratic Chinese republic.

For many years, Chinese dissidents have focused on the party system. One could argue that too many dissidents have made too many political parties, but from a review of all of the efforts, higher name recognition and hence greater strength is present for the China Democracy Party. The effort of CDP is "out in front," ahead of the pack of additional dissidents who work on more alternative parties.

Dissident Xu Wenli had ambitions to make a political party -- and that Declaration of the Third Republic of China -- but, was not ambitious to make a government-in-exile.

A saying says that "nature abhors a vacuum," and late in 2007, other dissidents announced plans for the China Interim Government (CIG), which went into operation at the start of 2008. The CIG has a very hardline flavor to its politics, while at the CDP, Xu Wenli is known to be more moderate. Xu might be willing to talk to Maoists; while CIG would be more inclined to jail Maoists, bringing them to justice for their crimes against the Chinese nation.

The free Chinese movement includes towering intellects such as Yang Jianli, who has been able to formulate a proposed Constitution for a future democratic China.

All of the mentioned efforts are strong steps in the right direction -- I believe that China needs these things, and that the mentioned efforts should be welcomed. And for my part, I came up with a proposed flag for a future democratic China.

Timothy Cooper and this author are known friends of the cause for a better China. For both the CDP and the Falun Gong, we are observers and often guest speakers in their activities. I can't speak for the origins of Tim Cooper, but when June 4 happened (the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989), I was a 22 year old American student -- an undergraduate of Arizona State University.

I thought that American students should help the Chinese students. I started the China Support Network. Hence, mine is authentically a "grass roots" group, which takes no money from government. We do not have CIA involvement, nor even that of the NED (National Endowment for Democracy).

As a result, for free Chinese we have advice that is sincere and not sold out. I believe that this one thought in particular underpins the article of Tim Cooper: Chinese dissidents are like a school of fish, and they would be more graceful if they all swam in the same direction. Added power would flow from the added grace.

Mentioned above are four things that nations need:
- a political party;
- a government;
- a Constitution;
- a flag

These are four separate efforts coming from four separate camps in the democracy movement. My article title is "Thoughts About Unity for Chinese Dissidents," and I am arriving at the bottom line. Let's imagine that all four efforts can be united with the common theme and branding, that these are for the Third Republic of China.

"Third Republic of China" is the project declared by CDP, yet the project is larger than CDP itself. Theirs is good leadership, because they have provided a theme into which all of the other efforts fit.

Suppose that China Interim Government changed its name to be the Interim Government of the Third Republic of China. With one move, the CIG could increase its relevance and legitimacy, and by moving closer to the moderate wing of the democracy movement, it would become more central and more attractive to "centrist" Chinese dissidents.

Suppose that Yang Jianli renamed his Constitution to be a proposed Constitution for the Third Republic of China. Simply by renaming it, he would express that his is part of the larger, integrated effort to establish the Third Republic.

Suppose that CDP took up a slogan of being "the majority party of the Third Republic of China," and suppose that Falun Gong practitioners chose to be citizens of the Third Republic of China. They can be a large part of the constituency that is represented, even while the Third Republic lives overseas in exile.

The Interim Government could be more democratic by holding elections like those proposed by Tim Cooper, and Falun Gong practitioners could vote.

And for my part, I will rename my flag proposal as a proposed flag for the Third Republic of China. (Note that the word "proposed" indicates that the Constitution and the flag are not even provisional; they are merely suggestions on the same plane with all proposals. It is for others to take up, adopt, approve, or ratify the proposals, or to reject them, or to accept alternatives.)

We have already reached the bottom line of my article. And now, here is the proposed flag for the Third Republic of China:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Upcoming protests for Hu this week, Oct. 1 next week

Upcoming protests as China's President Hu visits New York this week; then next week, the PRC anniversary

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday protests planned by SFT

This week, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is all about protesting the arrival of China's President Hu Jintao in New York City. Their schedule of protests is as follows:

Monday, September 21st
PROTEST: Hu Jintao's arrival in NYC
When: 5-8pm
Where: Waldorf Astoria Hotel where Hu Jintao will be staying (50th St & Park Ave)
Tuesday, September 22nd
When: 9am-4pm
Where: Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, United Nations (47th Street and 1st Ave)
Why: Hu Jintao to attend UN Climate Summit with President Obama and other world leaders
Note: At 5pm the protest will continue at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (50th St & Park Ave)
Wednesday, September 23rd
When: 10am-2pm
Where: Protest at United Nations - Dag Hammerskold Plaza (47th Street and 1st Ave)
Why: Hu Jintao will be addressing the UN General Assembly
At 2pm we have been invited to join the Iranians/Burmese and other groups for a Human Rights Protest (same location)
On September 23rd from 8-10am there will also be a protest at the Waldorf
Astoria Hotel.
At it's website, SFT also credits the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Regional Tibetan Women's Association, US Tibet Committee, and Tibetan Community of NY/NJ.

One week later, the China Support Network will co-sponsor protests in New York and at the Chinese embassy in Washington. Those protests on September 30 are timed to coincide with the October 1 anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Wednesday, September 30th
When: 2-4pm
Where: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, 3505 International Place, NW
Co-sponsors: R.E.A.L. (Responsible for Equality And Liberty) and the China Support Network

Note to other human rights groups: More co-sponsors are welcome. A permit exists
from noon-6pm, which allows creativity in expanding the program.

Details about the September 30 New York event will follow in a later post.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

News conference scolds China and Hong Kong

Has the principle of “one country, two systems”
been forgotten, or abandoned?

September 20, 2009 (CSN) – A coalition co-founded by the China Support Network held a New York City news conference on Friday (September 18, 2009) to highlight the case of political prisoner Zhou Yongjun, who is a prominent figure from China’s Tiananmen Square pro-democracy uprising of 20 years ago. Zhou was the first elected president of the Autonomous Students Federation of Beijing Universities, the force which occupied Tiananmen Square during the run up to the infamous massacre of June 4, 1989. In that occasion of mass murder on global television, the Chinese Communist Party used its army and live ammunition to clear Tiananmen Square, killing about 3,000 unarmed protestors on the way in.

Zhou was captured and jailed from 1989-1991. International pressure led to his release, after which he emigrated to the United States. In the U.S., he obtained legal permanent residency, and became the father of two children who are U.S. citizens. In 1998 he attempted a return to China, and was captured and sentenced to three years in a labor camp. He was released somewhat early in 2001 because the Chinese government was bidding for Beijing to win host city status for the 2008 Olympics. His early release was a token gesture to display human rights improvement for the benefit of the International Olympic Committee.

In 2002 he returned to the United States and settled in California. Almost one year ago, in September 2008, he again attempted to return to China, out of concern for the declining health of his aging parents and the effects in his hometown of the Sichuan earthquake, which ravaged that area early in 2008.

Using a false Malaysian passport that Zhou purchased from an immigration company, Zhou went to Macao and tried to enter Hong Kong. At that point, Hong Kong police questioned him about an allegedly fraudulent letter that was written to Hang Seng bank by a person named Wang Xingxiang, which happens to be the name on the false passport that Zhou presented.

Zhou has made it clear that he did not author the letter in question. The bank had declined to transfer money in reply to the letter, because it had discerned that the signature did not match its records. After questioning, Hong Kong police concluded that Zhou was not the man in whom they were interested.

Zhou was then notified that immigration still needed to verify his identity, and that he was not allowed to enter Hong Kong, nor return to Macao nor the US. HK immigration authorities held him at the border for 48 hours, from September 28-30, 2008. In the words of Zhou, “Later they said ‘sorry’ to me that they misidentified me and turned me back over to immigration.”

Hong Kong immigration authorities experienced some mercurial lark and turned Zhou over to authorities of Mainland China. This was arbitrary arrest, not supported by any provocation, nor legal basis, nor any shred of due process of law. With no proceedings, no official decision, no chance for review, hearing, representation, or appeal, Zhou found himself moved to “a small hotel in Shenzhen.” What Zhou experienced may accurately be called an extrajudicial kidnapping.

The story inside China proceeds as we have seen in the world news. On May 13, 2009, Western news wires reported the formal arrest of Zhou, based on an arrest warrant dated May 8, 2009 citing suspected fraud. His detention was kept secret by the Chinese government for more than seven months prior to mid-May, 2009. The China Support Network scooped the news wires by writing about this case a month earlier, in mid-April, 2009. On Sept. 4, 2009, Radio Free Asia reported that Zhou will soon go on trial for the trumped up charge of attempted financial fraud stemming from the Wang Xingxiang letter.

At this point, it is observable that absurd and ridiculous (arbitrary) actions have and continue to occur in Mainland China. However, we must not lose sight of the point that absurd and ridiculous (arbitrary) actions occurred on the part of Hong Kong immigration authorities in September, 2008. If the present story were a movie, it would be a double feature, with two examples of script writing that should be denounced for barely plausible story lines.

The coalition formed by CSN, called RAZY (Rescue Alliance for Zhou Yongjun), held a news conference in New York City on September 18, 2009. Two Chinese dissident attorneys spoke about the two sides of this “double feature” human rights abuse case.

Attorney Li Jinjin spoke about the fact that Mainland Chinese authorities have no jurisdiction over this case – even if we suppose (for the sake of argument) the allegations were true. (Any attempted fraud on a Hong Kong bank is in the jurisdiction of Hong Kong authorities to prosecute. Because Zhou had not yet set foot on Chinese soil, he cannot have committed any crime in Mainland China.)

Attorney Ye Ning spoke about the ominous and precedent-setting violations by Hong Kong authorities. Such treatment is a new experience for Chinese dissidents. The case report notes, "Normally a non-HK resident refused entry to Hong Kong would be sent back to his place of origin, i.e. the place from which he travelled to Hong Kong."

In recent memory this has happened to other Chinese dissidents -- Wuer Kaixi and Yang Jianli have attempted to enter Hong Kong, and they have been put onto planes that returned them to Taiwan.

Also at the press conference, John Kusumi for the China Support Network and Yuewei Zhang for the families of Zhou Yongjun denounced and decried the whole double feature atrocity.

Back up materials released at the newser included a case report and copies of China’s arrest warrant for Zhou, its indictment of Zhou, an interview with Zhou, an opinion from the attorneys at Beijing's Mo Shaoping law firm, and an open letter to Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Also within the materials was a family impact statement from Yuewei Zhang, the fiance of Zhou Yongjun and mother of his daughter Fiona.

The actual news in the news conference may be the formation of the Alliance and the fact that it is submitting all of the above materials to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The Alliance happens to feel that it is a slam-dunk case and hence that we can anticipate a U.N. determination of arbitrary detention.

The other actual news from the news conference is the open letter to Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is supposed to exist with administrative and judicial independence from China’s central government, under the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’ Hong Kong has no legal basis to perform a secret rendition of a Chinese dissident to Mainland China.

Of course, the geopolitical climate in today’s world may have been tipped to favor secret renditions, due to the bad example and precedent set by the administration of a leading global superpower, which will remain nameless. (Perhaps the nation with the bad example should be called the Republic of Balagua. Thereby, the name is changed to protect the guilty superpower.) Bad example notwithstanding, the practice remains gangsterism without a legal leg to stand on – and, it is a challenge to the fundamental freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.

An ominous bad precedent has been set in Hong Kong’s handling of this case, and the open letter to Donald Tsang notes that it assists human rights abuse in China; forfeits Hong Kong’s administrative and judicial independence through “indecent and disgraceful” police cooperation with Mainland China; is a violation of all well recognized international protocols; and is a disgraceful betrayal. The signers call upon Hong Kong for self-restraint and remedy; calls for the international community to launch an investigation of this “serious development”; and calls upon Hong Kong people to stand up and speak out for the administrative and judicial independence of Hong Kong.

All presenters at this news conference became signatories to the open letter for Hong Kong’s chief executive Donald Tsang.

Related posts:
Prepared remarks for 9/18 news conference

Zhou Yongjun's Case Report, by attorney Li Jinjin

Zhou Yongjun's Arrest Warrant (English translation)

Zhou Yongjun's Indictment (English translation)

Zhou Yongjun's Jailhouse Interview (English translation)

Zhou Yongjun's Defense Attorney's Memo (English translation)

Zhou Yongjun's Family Impact Statement

Hong Kong Chief Executive Scolded in Open Letter

# # #

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Week at the China Support Network...

This Week at the China Support Network
CSN to host RAZY press conference;
Obama praised for tariff on Chinese tires;
Friedman blasted for ignorance about China;
Chinese dissidents host art exhibit

September 13, 2009 (CSN)

CSN to host RAZY press conference

In responding to the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the China Support Network and the Chinese dissident community are rightly outraged by the capture, mistreatment, arrest, and upcoming trial for Zhou Yongjun, who in 1989 was the first Tiananmen Square student leader elected to chair the Autonomous Students Federation of Beijing Universities. The Federation was the occupying force in Tiananmen Square.

The Chinese government plans to hold a trial for Zhou, who lives in the United States where he has two U.S. citizen children, and who attempted a return to China in September, 2008. As he attempted to cross from Macao into Hong Kong with someone else's passport, Hong Kong immigration authorities decided that he should go to Mainland China in the custody of authorities. They transferred him to Mainland authorities who held him in Shenzhen before moving him to his home province of Sichuan and arresting him with trumped up charges.

There is absolutely no merit to the trumped up case against Zhou, and CSN has already described this case as Tiananmen Square persecution carried forward into the present day. On Friday, September 18, 2009, CSN will host a Manhattan press conference with Chinese legal experts to detail the case and to announce next steps which are being undertaken by RAZY. RAZY is an acronym for the ad-hoc Rescue Alliance for Zhou Yongjun.

The press conference will run from 12:00 to 2:00pm on Friday the 18th, at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003. Presenters will include attorney Li Jinjin, who is also well known from the Tiananmen Square student leadership; attorney Ning Ye; John Kusumi for the China Support Network; and Yuewei Zhang for the family members of Zhou Yongjun.

Obama praised for tariff on Chinese tires

The China Support Network extends its applause for the recent decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to raise import tariffs on Made-In-China vehicle tires. CSN's director emeritus, John Kusumi, said, "This is a first baby step towards closing the barn door and retrieving the U.S. economy from Communist China. However, it is very welcome news in that this step is in the right direction. Kudos must go to Barack Obama and to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

"We used to think that a currency manipulation tariff would be the first Obama tariff against economic dirty pool by the Chinese regime. It turns out that a tire tariff appeared first. We are happy to take progress where we can get it -- so today, the China Support Network offers a round of applause to President Obama."

The China Support Network also calls upon Beijing to abolish Laogai and Laojiao systems in China. Because those systems promote slave labor, they too are economic dirty pool and serve to unbalance trade, tilting the playing field. As internationally-recognized human rights abuses, Laogai and Laojiao could easily become the basis of future tariffs from an enlightened U.S. presidential administration.

Kusumi commented, "When they want the jobs back in America, Laogai and Laojiao are ready reasons for tariffs. They are low hanging fruit -- easy to criticize and easy to tariff, in the same spirit of social and economic justice as that of the Emancipation Proclamation." In line with that, rhetorical questions came from Kusumi: "Should labor be worth nothing? Or, should labor be worth something? And, how noxiously objectionable is this Chinese practice of employing slave labor?"

Friedman blasted for ignorance about China

The New York Times published an abomination on September 8, 2009 -- a rambling, incoherent, disjointed editorial from columnist Tom Friedman, which has been roundly criticized and lampooned on the internet.

Tom Friedman wrote, “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.”

The entire Chinese pro-democracy movement will take a dim view of such dim witted statements. At CSN, John Kusumi said, "Friday's upcoming press conference, where my group will detail human rights abuse in China, serves to put the lie to Tom Friedman's romanticized notions of one-party autocracy.

"The New York Times has become an open sewer emitting the propaganda of Tom Friedman. His statements should be noxiously objectionable to all peoples of the free world. Someone else described Friedman as ‘your classic power slut.’ In the current case, he is brown nosing Chinese Communists, and the shoe seems to fit.

“At Friday’s CSN event, I will speak and may have more choice words either for Friedman specifically, or for the New York Times in general. If the Times fires Friedman before Friday, then I will applaud the Times for doing the right thing; but certainly not in the alternative case."

Chinese dissidents host art exhibit

The upcoming press conference of Friday will be hosted within an art exhibit that is already in town from the Tear Down This Wall Foundation. “Tear Down This Wall” reminds of the fall of Soviet Communism in Germany, but at this commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the event, the Foundation is actually run by a series of Chinese dissidents.

The Foundation has been co-sponsored by numerous well known Chinese dissidents, including Fang Lizhi, Liu Gang, Wang Dan, Wang Juntao, Wei Jingsheng, Xiong Yan, and Xu Wenli.

Their point is to say that The Wall is still there for those under Communism in China. We still need to tear down this wall. About the art exhibit, see also an earlier announcement from the Foundation, at:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Zhou Yongjun's case reviewed by John Kusumi

Tiananmen Square Persecution
Continues, Over 20 Years Later

A public statement by John Kusumi, China Support Network director emeritus

We have at hand an issue -- inattention to which demonstrates how the international community has sunk to lows of being inattentive to China's human rights crisis and the plight of China's pro-democracy movement, which garnered so much sympathy in the wake of 1989's Tiananmen Square massacre. Indeed, for the first decade after Tiananmen, Western news organizations constantly featured Chinese dissidents, abuses committed by the regime there, and high profile cases of prisoners of conscience. Then, for the second decade after Tiananmen, Western news largely did a 180-degree turn, and while prisoners of conscience continued to suffer, newscasters themselves seemed to have no conscience.

The Tiananmen crackdown is not over. The case of Zhou Yongjun is particularly galling because it can represent the entire Tiananmen Square student movement. Why? Because as the first student leader actually elected to lead the Autonomous Students' Federation of Beijing Universities, Mr. Zhou already once did represent the entire Tiananmen Square student movement.

What happened, and continues to happen, to Zhou is emblematic of China's handling of political dissidents from 1989 all the way up to the present day. Zhou is now in his third stint as a political prisoner in Mainland China. Twice before, he was arrested and imprisoned.

He was first arrested by Chinese authorities soon after the massacre of June 4, 1989. The international community raised pressure for his release, which happened in 1991 after about 1.5 years' imprisonment. In 1992 he made his way to Hong Kong and in 1993 he resettled in the United States. He became a legal permanent resident and also applied for citizenship. He now has two children who are U.S. citizens.

In 1998, he attempted a return visit to China, was arrested in Guangzhou, and became a political prisoner for the second time. He was sentenced to three years in a laogai ("reform through labor") camp. He was released about six months early in 2001, because the Chinese government was bidding for the Olympics to be awarded to Beijing. By making a token release of political prisoners, Beijing was able to display a fakey, staged impression of "human rights improvement." Zhou then returned to the United States in 2002.

Now, he is in his third stint as a prisoner of the Chinese government. Homesickness and his ailing father led Zhou to attempt another return to China in September, 2008. He was detained by Hong Kong immigration authorities as he attempted to enter Hong Kong from Macao. At that point, he could have been turned away just like other dissidents. (Yang Jianli and Wuer Kaixi have also tried to re-enter China recently, and they were put onto airplanes that returned them to Taiwan.) Instead -- and unlike their handling of other dissident cases -- the Hong Kong immigration authorities turned him over to Mainland police.

To enter China, Zhou had obtained a Malaysian passport which bore the name Wang Xingxiang. Authorities in China have charged him with "financial fraud," solely on the basis of a letter that is alleged to be from Wang Xingxiang to Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong requesting to withdraw money. Zhou has made it clear that he did not author that letter, but it is the basis for the Chinese regime to continue to hold him now.

In this case, several objections are immediately obvious.

1.) Even if some crime were committed against Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong, that would be for Hong Kong authorities to prosecute. At the time he was detained, Zhou had not even set foot in Mainland China, so absolutely no crime could have been committed within their jurisdiction.

2.) The Hong Kong authorities are not prosecuting the case. No government outside of China is charging him with a crime. Just as no crime was committed inside of China, neither did Zhou commit any crime outside of China.

3.) Zhou Yongjun is not Wang Xingxiang. Even if the Wang letter was real and not manufactured by Chinese authorities, the matter pertains to someone else, not Zhou. China's authorities are using slimmer-than-slim evidence to press trumped-up charges against Zhou in the absence of legal jurisdiction over the allegation that they complain about.

4.) Zhou was held incommunicado, with no legal representation and no notification to his family, for the first seven months of his current incarceration. This violated a Chinese law that a prisoner's family must be notified within 24 hours that a prisoner is held.

5.) Zhou suffered mistreatment in prison and his family was subject to harrassment, threats, and intimidation.

6.) The family hired famous attorney Mo Shaoping who is known for defending Chinese dissidents. Then, the authorities threw Mo off the case, depriving Zhou of legal representation and due process of law.

7.) I also object to how the U.S. State Department and the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama handled this case. The case is so thin as to be transparent. Instead of demanding Zhou's immediate release, the State Department made a mild bleating noise. They may have muttered something about how they hope Chinese authorities will handle this case fairly in accord with due process of law and international human rights norms -- but, the spokesman might as well have said "Baaa" or "Moo." Hillary Clinton herself, and Barack Obama likewise, said even less than that. We have at hand a case that shows the ineffectiveness of the U.S. State Department in defending human rights, and that displays how the U.S. executive branch is little more than a shoe shine boy for the Chinese regime.

8.) I object to how U.S. newscasts have shown no interest in this case, which is in fact Tiananmen Square persecution carried forward into the present day.

Under the Criminal Procedure Law of China, Zhou should have been given a trial by August 27, 2009. There is no word of any such proceeding having occurred in recent days; hence, the regime in China is once again violating its own laws in the handling of this case.

This case displays flagrant and egregious abuse by the Chinese government of Zhou's human rights. It falls into a pattern of crimes against humanity by the Chinese government. Not only political prisoners, but religious prisoners and other prisoners of conscience are swept up by the Chinese government. And clearly, the pushing and shoving in the matter of 1989's student uprising and June 4 massacre continues.

The China Support Network demands the immediate release of Zhou Yongjun. We also insist that it is time for the Chinese government to say "uncle" to the pro-democracy movement, and to implement the reform suggestions that have appeared in Charter 08 (a tract published in 2008, attributed to Liu Xiaobo, another detainee whose release we also demand) and the writings of Xu Wenli (co-founder of the Chinese Democratic Party) and other top Chinese dissidents. Xu Wenli called for a "Future of China" conference to be held this fall in Beijing; the China Support Network echoes that call and encourages the Chinese leadership to enable and implement that conference. To enable the conference, dissidents abroad must be permitted to go home from exile. We also urge that step to be undertaken.

/s./ John P. Kusumi, September 1, 2009