Former China Intelligence Officer Tells His Story On Capitol Hill
WASHINTGTON, D.C.—Chinese Intelligence Officer of the Ministry of State Security, Fengzhi Li, kept a low profile when he defected to the United States in 2004.
He was primarily concerned about the safety of his family, who were still on the Mainland. At the time, he needed to put some distance between himself and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Then the human rights situation in China got “worse and worse,” he said. With access to the truth on how the Party suppresses the Chinese people, Li said he had to speak out to stop the killing and bring an end to a “brutal dictatorship.”
The solitude that Mr. Li enjoyed for five years ended abruptly. Last week on March 11, Mr. Li became the first person who had worked in China’s espionage system to publicly renounce his membership in the Chinese Communist Party. On March 15, Li was the focus of two rallies in the nation’s capital, celebrating the withdrawal of 51 million Chinese from the CCP or its affiliated organizations.
Then four days later, on March 19, Li followed up his public statements with an appearance on Capitol Hill to issue a new statement, which is even more vitriolic and accusatory of his former employer. He answered questions from the press, and received greetings and high praise from one of Congress’ leading human rights voices, Representative Dana Rohrabacher.
“In today’s China, political, economic and social power is highly monopolized. Except for the Communist Party, no other individuals or groups have any freedom or power, said Li.
He continued: “In order to control its monopoly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed a political system that reaches every corner of the society and uses all kinds of bloody means to suppress Chinese people and other political groups.”
The picture that Li gives of China’s security system is one that doesn’t trust the people and thoroughly Orwellian.
“Employees of the national security system are supposed to protect the country and serve the country. But the CCP expends huge amounts of funds to suppress ordinary citizens and even extends the reach of their black hands overseas. In the past few years, to deal with the citizens who appeal for their rights, political dissidents, and spiritual groups, the CCP has increased its use of the state security systems to collect intelligence, carry out the monitoring, and so forth, even directly participating in arresting and persecuting those people.”
Li said that he and many of his colleagues at the Ministry of State Security, were “furious” at the CCP’s abuse of the country's resources to deal with decent Chinese folks. They ceased to trust and have confidence in the CCP.
Happiness is Not Only Economic Well-Being
One obstacle facing anyone who raises the issue of human rights atrocities in China is the common perception in the West that China has made tremendous progress economically, and that democracy and freedom are increasing with the economic expansion. This perception of China’ progress needs to be corrected, according to Li.
Fengzhi Li, 41, was raised in a materialistic, atheistic environment, where the education system instilled communist values to children. Due to the one child policy, Li had no brothers or sisters, and he said to this reporter that the way it is enforced is heartless.
Based on what Mr. Li said about the “pursuit of happiness,” a phrase out of the U.S. Declaration of Independence,” opposing the materialistic CCP has led Mr. Li to dwell on the “pursuit” of other values. He said that economic improvement is only one facet of “the pursuit of happiness.” Li says Chinese people should have the right to pursue their lives with dignity, pursue social justice, and pursue a spiritual life, like the free nations do in the West. He said that economic well-being cannot alone bring about true happiness.
“Today, when people around the world talk about China's economic growth, they should pay attention to the fact that China's economic growth has not brought about the social and political progress that it should have, and it has not brought ordinary Chinese people more freedom and political rights. The huge cost of the economic growth is worrisome, and it will eventually be paid by the Chinese people,” said Li.
When human rights are respected, China will have “genuine progress,” and it will benefit not only the Chinese people, but the world.
China’s Spies Can Lead To Its Own Undoing
China scholar and NTD-TV commentator, Dr. Tianliang Zhang said he was reminded by the account given by Mr. Li of a popular German film, The Life of Others, that portrayed the inner life of a spy and won the Academy Awards for the best Foreign Language Film in 2007. It’s about an agent working for the Stasi, the East German state police a few years before the fall of communism in the GDR. The agent, Captain Wiesler, is ordered to conduct surveillance on a dissident, who is suspected of pro-Western sympathies. But through getting to know him, the agent becomes sympathetic, and decides to distort and cover up for him in his reports to his superiors.
“An interesting aspect of this agent is that he is a faithful socialist,” says Dr. Zhang. He joined the Stasi because he felt that he was protecting the country from any potential enemies. In the end, he discovered the corruption of the communist leaders and understood humanity through listening in on the dissident writer.
“Today when we know Mr. Li Fengzhi's story, we can see that what is depicted in the movie came true [for Li Fengzhi],” said Dr. Zhang.
Mr. Li’s story demonstrates “a simple fact that if a person truly cares for the country and people, they know that the Communist Party is actually damaging the country and persecuting the people,” said Dr. Zhang. And there is also the potential that when the state police monitor the people, they are positioned well to know the truth because they have access to the censored news denied to the people, and they may witness firsthand the sufferings of the regime’s victims—people like the peaceful Falun Gong practitioners or a Christian like Attorney Gao Zhisheng.
Indeed, Mr. Li, as a former Intelligence agent, evolved in the same way as the fictional Stasi agent. Based on what he knows and on his understanding of what a free society should be like, Mr. Li says he is compelled to tell the West to awaken to the totalitarian nation that China has truly become. He tells us living in the West not to be fooled by the CCP and China’s great economic progress. He implores us to realize that the human rights abuses are only getting worse.“When the international community engages with China, if we only focus on temporary economic … benefits, but keep silent on human rights issues, it is the same as supporting the CCP. ... From this perspective, keeping silent equals being accomplices to the CCP’s tyranny.”