Thursday, September 24, 2009


Discussion Paper by Hon. Davıd Kılgour
23 September 2009
MWC: The publication this year of Prisoner Of State-The Secret Journal of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang contains important insights into modern China by a leader who for almost 15 years played a key role in the management of its economy. Tienanmen Square events in mid-1989 sidelined Zhao, but party-state governance has probably worsened since and his observations recorded before his death in 2005 are useful to any student of China.

From the time of Zhao's house arrest in 1989 until his death, he kept a secret audio journal at his home in Beijing-30 tapes of about one hour's length each-a copy of which was thereafter smuggled out of the country. They constitute an eloquent cri de coeur by an intelligent, reflective leader of integrity and candour, who sought always to do his best for the Chinese people.


Zhao's career as a Communist party administrator began in Henan province after the Japanese invaded it in 1937, causing him to leave high school. He made his reputation as a reformer in Guangdong province in the '50s and 60's, becoming at only 46 years of age party chief in Guangdong. He was purged in Mao's Cultural Revolution as a "revisionist", specifically for ending agricultural communes and leasing land to farmers in an attempt to recover from Mao's disastrous 'Great Leap Forward' in which millions starved to death.

By 1971, Zhao was reinstated by the party leadership and two years later rose to become a member of its Central Committee. His next advance was to join the Politburo; only a year after that, he joined its key Standing Committee and at Deng Xiaoping's request later took charge of China's national economy as premier of the State Council.

Zhao's patron Deng, by 1986 firmly established as paramount party leader despite being purged twice by Mao, also made him leader of a group invited to propose a political reform package. As acting General Secretary of the Party later, Zhao proposed to separate the party from the government. He told Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that the rule of law should replace the rule of party officials and that more transparency was needed. The economy, he argued, needed an independent judiciary.

Tienanmen Disaster

During 1989, Zhao's immediate hopes for a China with acceptable governance were dashed. In response to the student demonstrations in April against corruption and other issues, Zhao proposed a return to classes, dialogues and punishing only those who had committed crimes. Unfortunately, a few days later, Deng, then aged 85 and holding only the official position of chair of the Military Commission, condemned the protests to party insiders. When his remarks were circulated by hardliner Li Peng, events at Tienanmen escalated.

Zhao nonetheless called for the protesters to be dealt with "based on principles of democracy and law". A week later when Deng decided to impose martial law, Zhao showed enormous courage by telling his mentor that he'd find it difficult to carry out such an order. Two days later, he visited the square and pleaded with the demonstrators to leave, knowing that a brutal assault was imminent.

This was in fact his last public appearance as premier. Soon after the massacre of hundreds of students and others in and around Tienanmen Square, Zhao was stripped of all party offices and put under house arrest for 16 years until he died.

Three Key Insights

Deng Xiaping, the acknowledged paramount leader after Mao's death between 1981 and 1997, is presented as sympathetically as possible by Zhao as his longtime friend and favourite, but overall Deng emerges as deeply flawed. He made Zhao premier and responsible for the economy and was in the process of making him General Secretary of the CCP when Tienanmen events intervened. Deng did support economic liberalisation after the crippling central planning of Mao since 1949, including various initiatives by Zhao in the '70s and '80s, but he opposed the rule of law, multi-party democracy and virtually every principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He also unleashed the terrible violence of Tienanmen Square upon his own people and encouraged a small group of like-minded hardliners, Li Peng and Jiang Zemin in particular, in effect to swallow the Party. China and the world would be much better places if Deng had continued to support Zhao.


In large part because of Deng's choices during 1989, the party-state of China continues to govern in the mould of some of the most authoritarian regimes of the present and past centuries. The country's constitution remains an empty vessel. Not even the party charter was heeded in its treatment of Zhao. For example, Deng and a few cronies decided at a meeting a Deng's home to remove Zhao as General Secretary of the Party, but under the charter only the Standing Committee of the Politburo could do so. As Zhao notes, two of its five members (including Zhao) were not invited to attend. At a subsequent meeting of the Central Committee to censure Zhao, his statement of defence was not even shown to some of those present. He provides other examples of Cultural Revolution tactics used against the people of China since 1989.

Zhao notes that even during the height of the 'class struggles in 1962, Mao did not deprive Marshall Peng Dehuai of his personal freedom over his criticisms, sending him instead to do useful work. Jiang Zemin as General Secretary claimed the party would govern according to the rule of law, but much of what happened to Zhao during his eight years as boss was a violation of both the laws of China and the party charter.

Zhao's insights into the reasons for his country's breakneck economic growth after 1978 are also important. In his view, the key elements were allowing direct foreign investment, the creation of special economic zones on the coast, expanded autonomy for enterprises and allowing land to be leased.

Here, I offer some personal views, not Zhao's, including my essential concurrence with Peter Navarro, a professor at the University of California, who argues that consumer markets across the world have been “conquered” by China largely through cheating on trade practices. These include export subsidies, widespread counterfeiting and piracy of products, currency manipulation, and environmental, health and safety standards so weakly enforced that they have made China a very dangerous place to work.

Navarro says new trade legislation by all of China’s trade partners should achieve fair trade by the following:

  1. All must refrain from illegal export subsidies and currency manipulation and abide by the rules of the World Trade Organisation(WTO);
  2. For currency manipulation, he supports what the bi-partisan US-China Commission has recommended to the American Congress: define it as an illegal export subsidy and add it to other subsidies when calculating anti-dumping and countervail penalties;
  3. Every trade partner must respect intellectual property; adopt and enforce health, safety and environmental regulations consistent with international norms; provide decent wages and working conditions; and ban the use of forced labour;
  4. Adopt a 'zero-tolerance' policy for anyone who sells or distributes pirated or counterfeit goods;
  5. Defective and contaminated food and drugs must be blocked more effectively by measures which make it easier to hold importers liable for selling foreign products that do harm to people or pets;
  6. Despite growing criticism, China's party-state continues to trade its UN Security Council veto for energy, raw materials and access to markets from Angola to Burma to Zimbabwe. Increased monitoring and exposure of China's party-state activities everywhere is important;
  7. To reverse the 'race to the environmental bottom' in China, to require all to compete on a level playing field and to reduce acid rain and smog affecting populations abroad, all bilateral and multilateral trade agreements should henceforth include strong provisions for protection of the natural environment.

Many Canadians allow our respect for the people of China to mute criticism of their government. When apologists for its party-state insist that the situation for a growing part of the population is getting better, many of us appear willing to overlook bad governance, official violence, growing social inequalities, widespread corruption and chronic nepotism.

The Chinese people want the same things as Canadians, including, respect for all, education, to be safe and secure, good jobs, and a sustainable natural environment. Living standards have improved on the coast and in other urban areas in China, but there is a cost. Most Chinese continue to be exploited by the party-state and firms, often owned by or contracted for manufacturing to multinationals, which operate today across their country like 19th century robber barons. This explains partly why the prices of consumer products 'made in China' seem so low—the externalities are borne by workers, their families and the natural environment.

Labour Camps

In doing our final report on party-state organ pillaging from Falun Gong practitioners since 2001, David Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview adherents sent to China's forced labour camps since 1999, who managed later to leave the camps and the country itself. They told us of working in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay, little food, being cramped together on the floor for sleeping and being tortured. They made export products, ranging from garments to chopsticks to Christmas decorations as subcontractors to multinational companies. This, of course, constitutes both gross corporate irresponsibility and violations of WTO rules.

The labour camps are outside the legal system and allow the party-state to send anyone to them for up to four years with neither hearing nor appeal. There is a link between the involuntary labour done since 1999 by tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners in these camps and the resulting loss of manufacturing jobs in Canada and elsewhere. One estimate of the number of the camps across China as of 2005 was 340, having a capacity of about 300,000 inmates. In 2007, a US government report estimated that at least half of the inmates in the camps were Falun Gong.

Such grave abuses would not be occurring if the Chinese people enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the intrinsic importance of each one of them. It is the combination of totalitarian governance and 'anything is permitted' economics that allows such practices to persist. Canada and other countries should ban forced labour exports.

The attempted crushing of democracy movements, truthful journalists, Buddhist, Falun Gong, Christian, Muslim and other independent faith groups, human rights lawyers and other legitimate civil society communities in recent years indicates that China's party-state must still be engaged with caution.

If its government stops abuses of human rights and takes steps to indicate that it wishes to treat its trade partners in a mutually-beneficial way, the new century will bring harmony for China, its trading partners and neighbours. The Chinese people have the numbers, perseverance, self-discipline, entrepreneurship, intelligence, culture and pride to make this new century better and more peaceful for the entire human family.


To return to Zhao's important book in closing, the people of China and the entire world can only regret that Deng did not allow his protege to continue leading the party and the government towards the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Imagine how much different China itself and so many countries from Sudan to Burma to Iran might be be if the leader who was so much in tune with the values emerging in numerous authoritarian countries in the '80s and '90s had succeeded. The world must hope that the next Zhao in China will be allowed to succeed.


OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

FORUM ON CHINA: Vancouver, Sept. 27, 2009

60 Years of Communist Dictatorship

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China, the Simon Fraser University China Research Society invites everyone to participate in a Forum on China. With China well on the way to becoming a major world power, experts and scholars will come together to analyze China’s current situation and review the Party’s 60-year reign.

Will China’s version of Communism survive unbridled capitalism? Will the Party itself survive? If the regime continues to allow rampant pollution of China’s air, land, and water, what does the future hold for the Chinese people? And what about China's egregious human rights record, including religious repression and persecution?

Find out more by joining in the discussion on Sunday, September 27 at 1: 30 pm at SFU Downtown Campus. Admission is free.


China Expert Clive Ansley

Clive Ansley has practiced law in Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. He now heads up Ansley and Company, based in Courtney, British Columbia.

Author Sheng Xue

Sheng Xue grew up in Beijing. Since coming to Canada in 1989 she has worked for a number of Chinese media, winning many awards for her investigative journalism.

Lawyer Guo Guoting

Guo Guoting is a human rights lawyer from China who defended prisoners of conscience. He came to Canada in 2005.

Venue: Room 1700, Labatt Hall, SFU Downtown Campus
515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

China Suspends Plans to Install Internet Filtering on PCs

September 16, 2009 - HRW: China has indefinitely suspended its plans to install internet filtering software on all new personal computers. The “Green Dam Youth Escort” filtering software attracted ire due to assessments by Human Rights Watch and others that the program, pitched as a tool to block pornographic content from personal computers, represented a much more sinister threat to privacy and choice. Human Rights Watch testified on these types of threats to free speech in front of the US Senate subcommittee on human rights and the law and wrote letters to computer manufacturers urging them not to become complicit in China’s infringement of freedoms. We helped rally public outrage at China’s attempts to curtail free expression, intrude on user privacy, and undermine user choice. Millions of Chinese internet users offered up scathing criticism as well, and our advocacy contributed to unprecedented opposition by foreign computer manufacturers and international business associations, and a threat from both the US trade representative and US secretary of commerce that Green Dam might prompt a challenge from the World Trade Organization.
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

China Detains 15 Over Lead Protest

WSJ: Associated Press

BEIJING -- Police in central China detained 15 parents for blocking roads and damaging government offices in a protest over factory pollution that left hundreds of local children with lead poisoning, villagers said Wednesday.

In a bizarre twist, police in Hunan province's Wenping township accused the parents involved in the Aug. 8 unrest of being either members of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, or influenced by such members.

Villagers mocked the accusation, saying authorities were using the charge as revenge against parents for rioting over the lead poisoning of more than 1,300 children caused by a manganese processing plant. Falun Gong practitioners are relentlessly persecuted by Chinese authorities.

Anger is growing in China over public safety scandals in which children have been the main victims. The ruling Communist Party is worried mass protests will threaten the country's social stability and challenge its grip on power.

The Wugang city public security bureau, which oversees Wenping, issued a notice Tuesday saying "cult members with ulterior motives" led a few villagers to block roads, attack government offices and damage public property, 40-year-old resident Dai Zuoyi said.

Police said 15 people were being held and urged the "Falun Gong practitioners to turn themselves in as soon as possible," said Dai, who read the announcement to the Associated Press over the phone.

"When I saw this notice, I laughed till my stomach hurt," Dai said. "There have never been any Falun Gong followers in Wenping. This is clearly a reprisal attack against villagers."

A notice posted on the Web site of the Wugang city government last week said Chinese and foreign Falun Gong members were spreading false rumors and "instigating the public to cause trouble" in response to the lead poisoning incident. It did not mention detentions.

Dai said his brother-in-law Li Changye was among the parents detained this week. Li, 40, was among hundreds of residents who blocked roads leading to the Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant, Dai said.

Both Dai's and Li's sons, aged 5 months and 6 years, have excessive levels of lead in their blood, Dai said. Lead poisoning can damage the nervous and reproductive systems and cause high blood pressure and memory loss.

The Wugang government's spokesman, who would give only his surname, Xia, denied that any Wenping residents had been detained.

"We have not taken any measures against the parents. But if anybody has broken the law, their cases will be investigated by the police," Xia said by phone.

He said city government officials have recently received phone calls from out of town by people who personally attacked the officials. Based on "previous experience," the police think they might be Falun Gong members, Xia said, without going into details.

The Wenping incident was one of three cases of lead poisoning involving large numbers of children last month. The first case involved more than 600 children living near a lead smelter in northwestern Shaanxi province, while the latest one occurred in Yunnan in the southwest, with about 200 children sickened.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

‘Sandstorm’—A Story of Reckoning, Repentance, and Redemption

Film drama based on the persecution of Falun Gong in China
By Masha Savitz
Epoch Times Staff
Sep 1, 2009

PERSECUTION: The Falun Gong practitioner, played by Lili Li, forbears through the torture. (NTD Films/Requisite Films)

For over ten years, the general public has known relatively little about the realities of torture committed against Falun Gong practitioners in Chinese prisons. The Chinese communist regime has worked overtime to ensure it stays that way, implementing a rigorous propaganda campaign to malign the practice and suppress the truth inside and outside China.

With the arrival of Sandstorm in New York and Los Angeles, these harsh realities can be experienced in a compelling and ultimately uplifting film.

Michael Mahonen’s fact-based drama accurately and sensitively portrays this dire situation in post 1999 mainland China, following the order from former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to systematically wipe out the popular practice.

Based on actual survivor accounts, Mahonen tells the story of a man, (played convincingly by newcomer, Rong Tian), who has been trapped with his wife for twelve days in a massive sandstorm without electricity or provisions. We learn that he is a police officer, instructed by his superiors from the Gestapo-like 610 Office, to “reeducate” the Falun Gong adherents “at any cost.”

Days pass, rations diminish, and the officer watches his wife wither away as we witness, in a series of flashbacks, the actions which have led to these circumstances.

Most heartrending in this tale, is the detained Falun Gong practitioner, (Lili Li) who demonstrates remarkable courage, conviction, and forbearance during severe torture to break her faith. Despite the officers’ inhumane brutality, she actually remains concerned for her torturers’ well being. She warns them of the consequences they will have to face for the actions of killing and harming innocent people.

Sandstorm is Mahonen’s first project as writer and director. His earlier work found him on the other side of the camera as and award winning actor starring in films and TV.

Initially learning of the persecution in China in 1999, Mahonen started to practice the meditation discipline Falun Gong in 2001 after finding an informational flier outside his apartment door. After he began to understand the effect of the Chinese regime’s propaganda-machine, he was moved to expose their atrocities and communicate the truth about these kind hearted people who were being victimized.

STORY TO TELL: "Sandstorm" writer, director, and producer Michael Mahonen. (NTD Films/Requisite Films)

“I had been interested in writing and directing for a number of years,” Mahonen explains in a phone interview from Toronto. “After I started practicing Falun Gong, I read the teachings and realized the extent to which the propaganda and misinformation put out by the Chinese regime had been deceiving people, both inside and outside China.”

His target audience, he explained, were the police in China. He wanted to present them with a third person perspective of themselves in order to help them see their actions more clearly.

In 2003, without experience or financial resources, Mahonen set out with only an earnest dedication and righteous purpose to make Sandstorm. The cast and crew all volunteered their time and talent with many working on a film for the first time.

His background as an actor was a particular asset. “With a character driven film you need strong performances. My acting experience allowed me to help the actors feel relaxed and confident and to make the roles their own.”

What he learned from this remarkable endeavor is “If the intention is good, a lot can be achieved.”

Since then, the film has been screened around the world, translated into approximately 15 languages, and lauded with 29 festival awards, including best feature film, best dramatic film, best director, best actress, and best screenplay.

One highlight of the multiple festivals Mahonen attended has been the question and answer sessions following the screenings. “During the screenings it was common to hear people crying. At the Q&A’s people often expressed their anger toward the persecution and a desire to help in some way.”

Sandstorm will run in a special limited engagement in New York at the Village East Cinema at 2nd Ave and 12th street, playing from September 4-10 with multiple screenings everyday. There is a special "Meet the Director" reception on Friday, September 4, after the 7:30pm show, with a Q&A to follow in the lobby of the Village East Cinema.

Sandstorm will then screen for a limited engagement in Los Angeles, running from September 11–17 at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills. Director Michael Mahonen will be attend a reception on Friday, September 11, after the 7:15pm show with a Q&A to follow at the Writers Guild Theatre.

Fore more information, visit .

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Web tools help protect human rights activists

BOSTON (Reuters) - Chinese human rights activist Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005 after authorities tracked him down using data provided by Yahoo.

The Internet service supplied information that it garnered about his location when he accessed his Yahoo e-mail account. That was enough to find him and put him in jail.

Now, human rights activists are looking to a new generation of Internet privacy tools to keep companies from gathering such data, hoping that it will protect dissidents like Shi.

One, called Tor, scrambles information, then sends it over the Web. It hides the user's location and gets past firewalls. Those features make it popular with activists in countries like China and Iran.

"Tor is a tunnel. What you send into it comes out the other end, untouched," said Andrew Lewman, executive director of the Tor Foundation, which is funded by the U.S. government.

It lets surfers get around Internet censorship software - whether installed by governments or companies seeking to keep workers from using social networking sites like Facebook.

Tor also can protect against identity theft and monitoring by parents, suspicious spouses and bosses. It may even be able to evade the warrantless wiretapping program started in the United States following the September 11 attacks.

When a user shuts down a browser running on Tor, all information exchanged during the Web session is deleted.

The U.S. government is one of Tor's biggest financial backers. It contributed $250,000 of the $343,000 in income the nonprofit reported in 2007, the most-recent year for which financial data is available.

"We are trying to encourage a certain freedom of the Internet," said Ken Berman, director of information technology at the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America.


Tor use has risen in China as authorities block access to sites that the government has banned for political reasons. They include Google's e-mail service, Lewman said.

"People who were never were never concerned about censorship suddenly had it thrown in their face when they couldn't get to Gmail anymore," Lewman said. "Average people said 'How do I get around this?'"

In May, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the Chinese government also blocked access to Twitter and Microsoft Corp's Hotmail.

Connections to Tor from Iran surged five-fold in June as protest organizers used social network services Facebook and Twitter to coordinate demonstrations in the wake of the country's disputed presidential election.

"These are great features. These are exactly the kinds of things Iranians need," said Sam Sedaei, an independent economic researcher who studies human rights in Iran.

The nonprofit group Human Rights in China plans to test a newer version of Tor to secure its communications. It is also developing tools to fight surveillance.

"As activists, we want anonymity and security. The challenge is to keep up with the new technology," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom.

Tor runs on a free software package available on the group's website, . It includes a customized version of the Firefox browser and other programs.

The service connects a user to a second PC that links to a third computer, which does not know the location of the first machine. When the data stream hits the Internet, it is impossible to trace the identity of person accessing the Web.

One drawback that has hurt adoption is speed. Not all users volunteer to let traffic flow through their computers, which makes the service far slower than regular Web browsing.

It has another. Tor's features can help criminals evade detection as they use the Web for activities ranging such as spam, identity theft or pedophilia.

At the same time, police can use it to cloak their identities when they go undercover to conduct online stings.

Tor competes with several other technologies, including one known as Freegate, which China's banned Falun Gong movement developed to allow its members to communicate in secrecy.

Freegate runs on a dedicated network paid for by a U.S.-based company that owns the product, Dynamic Internet Technology, which is run by members of Falun Gong.

DIT also sells an e-mail service that evades spam-filters installed to weed out correspondence related to human rights and other sensitive topics. Customers include the Voice of America and Human Rights in China.

It distributes about 250,000 e-mails with Human Rights in China's electronic newsletter, about 80 percent of which make it past the censorship filters, according to Hom.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008