Trial of Young ‘Rumor’ Monger Tries to Chill Internet in China

16 April, 2014 at 09:33 | Posted in censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

The first public trial in China that would use a unique interpretation of the law to criminalize “rumors” began Friday in Beijing. Microblogger Qin Zhihui was accused of using the Internet to spread rumors, and was indicted by the state prosecutor for “defamation” and “harming society.”

The case of 30-year-old Qin, known by the online moniker “Qin Huohuo,” came to public attention last August when he was put in criminal detention by Beijing police for posting what the authorities said was “untruthful information” on social media.

Plain old truthfulness may not be the ultimate priority of Chinese communist authorities in the matter, though: Observers said that the trial is primarily another sign of the authorities’ determination to rid the Internet of speech about official corruption and other social ills.

Though the Communist Party is currently waging a high-profile campaign against corruption, the focus of propaganda is always on individual officials. Allowing ordinary citizens to freely voice their opinions about the corruption of the entire system could quickly become problematic and inconvenient for the authorities.

“The authorities are actually abusing their power to reach the goal of purging and rectifying the Internet,” said Wen Yunchao, a Chinese media researcher based in the United States, and formerly a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

‘Eradicating’ Rumors

The arrest of Qin last year took place as the regime announced plans to “fundamentally eradicate Internet rumors,” signaling a crackdown on social media and a tightening of the space online in which Chinese can speak freely about society.

A rule announced then said that someone who posts “fake information” that is viewed over 5,000 times or reposted over 500 times could face criminal charges, depending on the social impact.

The public prosecutor in Qin’s case said that Qin had posted more than 3,000 online rumors that had attracted a lot of attention and negative remarks against the government, “which seriously harmed society.”

An example given was Qin’s comments on the Ministry of Railways (which was later disbanded because of corruption) on the topic of compensation to victims of a severe rear-end train collision that took place on July 23, 2011.

Qin wrote that the Chinese regime gave a large compensation of 200 million yuan ($32 million) to foreign passengers in the accident, which the authorities said is not true. More than 12,000 netizens reposted this information within an hour, many tacking on a few words of their own resentment toward authorities.

A number of Qin’s other posts alleged corruption of well-known public figures. He charged, for example, that Yang Lan, a wealthy media entrepreneur, faked donations, and that Guo Meimei, a young lady who became famous for posting photographs as she posed alongside expensive sports cars, had used money embezzled from the Chinese Red Cross. Qin was in both cases said to have used “fake information” to damage the reputations of the two women.

But neither Yang Lan nor Guo Meimei joined a lawsuit against Qin. Instead, the procuratorate directly indicted him for “defamation” and “harming society.”

Whether what he wrote is true or false, the regime’s manner of handling it gave the unmistakable impression that a campaign to squelch free speech was afoot.

Harming Society?

Chinese law says that “harming society” must consist of acts that are directly, rather than indirectly damaging, and that victims of defamation can only be natural persons, not governments.

“If Qin Huohuo lived in a democratic country, it’s obvious that he might face civil lawsuits, at the most, to give compensations and apologize,” Wen said. “But it would be impossible for a state judicial organization to prosecute someone like him.”

Confession

As in previous cases of prosecuting Internet users, Qin confessed his guilt. His apparent remorse and guilt was made a central focus on China Central Television and Xinhua, the state mouthpiece.

“It’s all my fault that I’m standing here today,” he said. “I hope my case can give others a warning not to do such stupid things as I’ve done,” he said in his court statement.

Qin also gave profuse thanks to society, the court, the police, lawyers, the media, his parents, and more. The compliant demeanor will likely serve to reduce his punishment. The sentence has not been handed down yet.

“Qin had no choice but to confess under such high pressure,” said Wen Yunchao. “The authorities also need Qin to have an attitude like that, to show the achievements of their Internet purge.”

Double Standards

Observers found it difficult not to draw an unwelcome contrast between Qin’s prosecution and the demonstrably false statements regularly made by the Chinese authorities themselves, none of which have yet been punished.

Internet user Yuyue Yunqi wrote: “Who’s going to put the Lanzhou government on trial for making rumors?” A recent news report showed that 20 times the regulated limit of Benzene, which causes cancer, has been found in the water in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, after the local government announced that “the water meets state standards of safe drinking.”

Chinese authorities are known to conceal disease epidemics like bird flu, and play down the death tolls of natural or man-made disasters. No legal actions have been taken in those cases, netizens said.

Two widely forwarded complaints on the QQ microblog said: “The law only serves people with power,” and “The government can make rumors, but the people can’t.”

via Trial of Young ‘Rumor’ Monger Tries to Chill Internet in China

US State Department Joins Support for Detained Chinese Lawyers

7 April, 2014 at 16:50 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, persecution, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment

By Gisela Sommer
Epoch Times

The U.S. State Department joined international human rights groups in their support of four Chinese lawyers who are being held captive and tortured at a detention center in Heilongjiang Province for trying to represent a group of detained Falun Gong practitioners.

The lawyers, Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Wang Cheng, and Zhang Junjie were arrested on March 21 when trying to provide legal counsel to family members of Falun Gong practitioners who are held at the Qinglongshan Detention Center, officially titled the “Jiansanjiang Land Cultivation General Office Legal Education Base.”

The four lawyers were brutally beaten by police, according to Zhang Junjie, one of the lawyers who was released on March 27 and diagnosed with three fractures in his spine. The other three lawyers are still held at the Qixing Detention Center.

On March 25, another group of lawyers and citizens went to the detention center and held a hunger strike outside, demanding to meet with the detained lawyers. On the morning of March 29, the entire group of 17 people was arrested, many of them also subject to violence.

Three of the first group of detained Falun Gong practitioners are said to be in critical condition.

“This appears to be part of a disturbing pattern of arrests and detentions of public interest lawyers, Internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who peacefully challenge official Chinese policies and actions,” the U.S. State Department said in an April 3 email statement to the Epoch Times.

“We call on Chinese authorities to guarantee all Chinese citizens the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments, including the freedom of expression,” the statement continued.

Chinese Lawyers Demand Investigation

Earlier, the Chinese Bar Association had issued a directive, telling lawyers not to participate in protests at Jiansanjiang, and not to post any online comments.

“It’s not an authentic Bar Association,” Tang Jingling, a lawyer from Guangzhou, told New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television. “The Communist Party manipulates the organization, which is playing a very disgraceful role.”

Tang said lawyers have posted an open online letter, condemning the Lawyers Association and calling for an investigation of its head.

U.S.-based human rights lawyer Ye Ning told NTD, “Lawyers across the country should stand up for their persecuted colleagues.”

On the morning of April 2, lawyers Tsai Ying, Hu Guiyun, and Dong Qianyong delivered an appeals letter to the All China Lawyers Association in Beijing. They demanded that the Association defend the rights of lawyers to practice law and initiate an investigation team on the arrest, beating, and humiliation of the lawyers, NTD reported.

International Response

Amnesty International issued a public statement on March 28, expressing concern about “the safety of the three lawyers who remain in detention and that they too may have been tortured.”

Amnesty also expressed concern that the Chinese authorities are using other forms of arbitrary detention, such as the so called Legal Education Centers, to hold people previously detained in labor camps, which were shut down last year.

In Hong Kong, China Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, and the Justice Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese protested outside the Mainland Chinese Liaison Office on April 2. They called for closing the Jiansanjiang brainwashing center and for the immediate release of the three rights lawyers still in detention, the Minghui report said.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that became popular in China over the 1990s. By 1999, when former leader Jiang Zemin ordered the persecution, approximately 70 to 100 million Chinese were practicing Falun Gong, including many high-level Party members.

To date 3,750 Falun Gong deaths from torture and other abuse in detention have been documented, as well as over 63,000 accounts of torture. An estimate of the real figure puts the actual death toll in the tens of thousands, according to Minghui.

Two Trends

In a statement issued on April 3, the New York based Falun Dafa Information Center called for the release of all detained Falun Gong practitioners and their lawyers in China.

The statement said the detentions and subsequent mistreatment of the four lawyers illustrate two important trends: First, that many Chinese people are challenging the persecution of Falun Gong, by signing petitions, calling for the release of practitioners from labor camps, and more. Second, that the persecution continues despite the closure of the reeducation through forced labor camps, which had become a symbol internationally of the Party’s human rights abuses.

via US State Department Joins Support for Detained Chinese Lawyers – The Epoch Times

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The View From Inside China’s Brutal Prison System

3 April, 2014 at 07:36 | Posted in China, human rights, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment

George Karimi in Stockholm, Sweden, in October 2011. (Tobias Elvhage/Fenix Film)By George Karimi

By now many of us heard the Chinese Communist Party’s promises to close its system of forced labor camps. While I sincerely hope this comes to pass, the other forms of detention in China have not gone away—in particular, the regime’s notorious prison system remains as brutal and lawless as ever. I was an inmate of Chinese jails for seven years, and have seen and experienced what conditions there are like.

Abuses in countries outside China have been reported because inspectors are allowed there. But never since the Communist Party came to power in 1949 has it allowed unfettered, independent investigation of its vast detention system. When UN personnel visited in 2005, their movements were severely restricted.

I was detained in the Beijing Qichu Detention Center in 2005, where UN Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak was allowed to visit. But in the end the UN didn’t manage to get any interviews with Western or Chinese prisoners; they were only allowed to observe the conditions on the cells via monitors. Nowak reported that all efforts to interview former detainees, family members, lawyers, and human rights activists suffered government interference.

The conditions in Chinese prisons are horrible. I saw them. Cells were between 7 and 21 square meters, and between six and sixteen inmates were crammed inside. We slept, ate, and defecated in these tiny rooms. The food was appalling, and not one day passed when we were not physically and psychologically tortured by the guards or “hired” inmates.

Beatings, starvation, and forced labor are all parts of life for those stuck in Chinese prisons. Even minor complaints can result in punishment or even death for yourself or an inmate. Some prisoners I knew tried to commit suicide because the conditions were so abusive. Only some succeeded. Those who didn’t were punished severely.

Guards would sometimes extract confessions from prisoners for the crimes they were accused of: they would break fingers, apply electric shocks, or if they did not want the injuries to show, would simply expose prisoners to the freezing weather, or force them into stress positions for hours.

Embassies in Western countries heard about all this from me, but they did nothing to speak out about it—perhaps because they don’t want to jeopardize their country’s relations with China.

The time I was imprisoned, from 2003 to 2010, also saw China issue new laws and make a lot of promises about improving its human rights policies. Many in the West thought that helping to improve China’s economy, and giving China the Olympics in 2008, would somehow result in more respect for human rights, or even democracy. It was a fantasy. But this fiction, along with corporate greed, has simply helped the Chinese regime cover up the truth of its abuses, while everyone goes about business as usual.

The kowtowing of the West has, of course, also been used by the Communist Party’s propaganda machine to legitimize its rule. The domestic propaganda system, which creates fake films showing how mild prison life is in China, means that the Chinese public is kept in the dark. Foreign media have only shed some light on the conditions in these detention facilities, partly because in-depth investigation may result in their being thrown out of China.

That’s precisely what happened to Al Jazeera after it produced a documentary about the system of slave labor camps, which heavily featured interviews with former Falun Gong detainees.

Excuses about the lack of evidence of abuses also mean that Western countries have put minimal political and diplomatic pressure on the Chinese regime. The regime thus continues to carry out these abuses in the dark, with organ harvesting from living prisoners—some death row prisoners, but mostly Falun Gong prisoners of conscience—being the most appalling.

When I was in the Beijing prison, organ theft was a known and sad fact for all inmates on death row. I spoke to a policeman who admitted to this. “So what?” he said. “They’re going to die anyway, so let the hospitals do what they want with the organs.” I will never forget the time that an inmate recounted to me how he had just met a person from his hometown that was supposed to have already been executed and cremated. This person knew that because the family had received the ashes—two years before.

This made it clear to us all that many inmates were being kept alive simply so their organs could be matched with donors. Then the real execution—or, rather, tranquilization and organ extraction, which leads to death—would take place. A similar process has been used against prisoners of conscience, including some Uyghurs in the 1990s, and a large number of Falun Gong practitioners during the 2000s and up till today. Western countries have not shown an interest in looking closely at these modern horrors, happening right under their noses.

I hope that officials and politicians from democratic Western countries, including the United States, and Sweden where I am from, who interact with Chinese officials, will dare to tell them that they know full well what is happening inside China. I also hope that they will begin demanding that all prisoners of conscience be set free from these facilities.

George Karimi is a Swedish businessman of Armenian origin. He was sentenced to life in prison in China after one of his business associates was tortured and forced to accuse him of counterfeiting money. He spent seven years in Chinese jails until being transferred to Sweden in 2010; now, after a reduction of his sentence, he is due to be released in November 2015. Mr. Karimi recently completed a book about his experiences.

via The View From Inside China’s Brutal Prison System – The Epoch Times

China Dream Became ‘Nightmare’ for Rights in China, Report Says

8 March, 2014 at 07:53 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Carol Wickenkamp
Epoch Times

Last year was the worst for human rights since at least 2008, says an annual report from Chinese Human Rights Defenders. The signature “Chinese Dream” of the new leadership has instead become a “nightmare,” they say.

“The Chinese government’s assault on activists last year indicates just how far authorities under the rule of President Xi Jinping are willing to go to suppress an increasingly active and emboldened civil society,” said Renee Xia, the international director of CHRD.

Defining new developments in 2013, when Xi Jinping’s regime took office, as well as ongoing rights concerns, CHRD points to a major crackdown on civil and human rights across the board.

The assault on the New Citizens Movement and asset disclosure advocates targeted peaceful assemblies; new laws concerning “rumors” targeted bloggers and signaled increased criminalization of speech in the media and online; the widespread physical violence against human rights lawyers served to deny legal counsel to rights advocates, the report charges.

Dozens of human rights activists interviewed for the report pointed out that 2013 was the worst year for human rights since the crackdowns around the Olympics in 2008. Specifically, the report states:
The number of activists detained last year was greater than any since crackdowns in 1999; the number of criminal detentions of human rights defenders trebled that of 2012; over 220 activists were detained, with dozens formally arrested and tried or awaiting trial; there were over three times more enforced “disappearances” than in 2012.

Despite the highly publicized abolishment of Re-education Through Labor, CHRD identifies notes that other extrajudicial detention methods have sprung up, including increased use of “black jails.”

Although Xi Jinping, the Party leader, pledged to purge corruption from the Communist Party at all levels, activists who requested that high-ranking officials declare their personal wealth were hastily detained. Activists considered to be leaders of the asset disclosure movement were charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place” and other terms that disguise the political nature of the arrests.

Rights defenders involved in the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose-knit group seeking political, legal, and social reforms, were detained, tried and issued harsh sentences. Most notably, the respected law professor Xu Zhiyong was tried on those charges and sentenced to four years of imprisonment.

The regime made it clear in a 2013 internal memo, Document No. 9, that discussion of “Western ideals,” including universal values, democracy, and human rights would not be tolerated. An assault was launched on activists advocating rule of law, constitutional democracy, and freedom of the press.

Political persecution and suppression in ethnic minority regions increased, as did harsher security measures and intensified violence in Tibet and Xinjiang, the report said.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders also pointed out that the leadership failed to ratify the international standard for human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), despite repeated promises to do so. The group urged the Chinese regime to honor its promise to the international community to “promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

via China Dream Became ‘Nightmare’ for Rights in China, Report Says » The Epoch Times

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Zlatan’s Volvo Ad: It Looks Like a Swedish Dream, but It’s Really a Chinese Nightmare (Video)

1 March, 2014 at 10:36 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Gidon Belmaker
Epoch Times

Volvo’s new ad featuring soccer superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović looks like a dream. It features Sweden’s great outdoors in all its glory. But Volvo is only Swedish in appearance. It was bought by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Swedish organization Supporting Human Rights in China made a spoof  of the original ad showing where Volvo’s money ends up.

“Doing business with this regime of terror is to support the abuse, torture, and persecution. It is shameful wanting to associate your brand with the Chinese regime. It was shameful of Volvo to sell out a Swedish brand to them, and it is even more shameful to now give the appearance of Swedishness and Swedish values,” the group wrote in a description of its video.

Here is the original ad:

via Zlatan’s Volvo Ad: It Looks Like a Swedish Dream, but It’s Really a Chinese Nightmare Video » The Epoch Times

Crop Scientist Likens China’s Smog to Nuclear Winter

27 February, 2014 at 10:56 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, health, Science, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment

By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times

New research shows that the extreme air pollution in China could severely impact agriculture and food supplies, because it is blocking out the light plants need for photosynthesis.

He Dongxian at China Agricultural University found that chilli and tomato seeds grown in Beijing took over two months to sprout due to pollutants reducing light levels in the greenhouse by about 50 percent. In comparison, seeds grown in the lab under artificial light took around 20 days to germinate.

If the smog continues, He told the Guardian her findings suggest Chinese agriculture will suffer conditions “somewhat similar to a nuclear winter.”

Describing the greenhouse plants, He said, “They will be lucky to live at all. Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic,” according to the South China Morning Post.

“A large number of representatives of agricultural companies have suddenly showed up at academic meetings on photosynthesis in recent months and sought desperately for solutions,” she added. “Our overseas colleagues were shocked by the phenomenon because in their countries nothing like this had ever happened.”

This past week, nearly one-quarter of China has been enveloped by a thick haze, including Beijing, which is on an unprecedented orange alert, with red being the most dangerous to health.

The Yanzhao Evening News reported that a man in Hebei Province is suing local authorities for failing to deal with the smog, and also seeking compensation.

His lawyer refused to comment, because this is the first such case of a citizen suing the regime over air pollution, making it a sensitive issue.

via Crop Scientist Likens China’s Smog to Nuclear Winter » The Epoch Times

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A New Facility Replaces Labor Camps in China

21 February, 2014 at 11:30 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

Although the notorious labor camp system in China has effectively been shut down in most parts of the country, the extralegal detention and torture of large numbers of Chinese citizens has not ended.

One of the new, legally dubious, facilities that has cropped up for those deemed by the Chinese Communist Party to be anti-social elements—such as elderly people who petition the government after their houses are demolished—are called “disciplinary centers.”

The full name of one of the facilities exposed on the Internet recently was “The Education and Discipline Center for Abnormal Petitioning.” It was located in Wolong District, Nanyang City, in Henan Province, central China.

Petitioning refers to seeking out higher-level authorities to resolve injustices perpetrated by officials at lower levels, which the judicial system has been unable or unwilling to correct.

“It’s a new style of labor camp,” said Yang Jinfen, an Internet user who posted a photograph of the facility in Nanyang. “It illegally detains petitioners. My mom Zhang Fengmei who’s nearly 70 years old, has been detained there since Feb. 4 without any legal procedure …”

The picture and message was first put onto Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and then deleted.

Yang said her mother was first locked away there for 10 days in January.

“They detained my mom in a very small room without a bed,” she said to Epoch Times in a telephone interview. “They just gave her a blanket and let her sleep on the floor. They detain you as long as they want. It’s the same with the labor camp and black jail. The local government officials are just like rogues.”

Local Communist Party cadres respond to the incentives and disincentives set by those higher up in the system.

“The local government is afraid that if my mom goes to Beijing to petition, it will reflect badly on their political achievements,” Yang said. “So they just detain her.”

Zhang Fengmei, the mother, is calling for justice for her son, who was tortured into disability during a prison sentence. The son, Yang Jinde, was an entrepreneur who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2010 for six crimes including “leading a criminal syndicate” and “disturbing social order.” The criminal justice system in China is often prone to corruption and, many Chinese complain of unfair judgments.

Rather than investigate the torture of her son, authorities in Henan simply locked up the mother.

Inside the disciplinary centers, petitioners are said to be under “24-hour nonstop discipline, warnings, and educative persuasion,” according to a local government website.

But according to Xinhua, the state mouthpiece, an official at the State Bureau of Letters and Calls in Henan, the agency that is responsible for petitioners, admitted that the disciplinary centers “do not meet legal requirements.” The official did not disclose his name.

Yang Jinfen, whose mother is locked up, said, “My mom just wants her son healthy.”

via A New Facility Replaces Labor Camps in China

Fast-Spreading Bird Flu Causes Panic in China

13 February, 2014 at 09:45 | Posted in Body & Mind, censorship, China, health, Society | Leave a comment

By Li Xia and John Wang
Epoch Times

Several influenza viruses, including bird flu and swine flu, that have rapidly spread to eight Chinese provinces, including the two municipalities Beijing and Shanghai, are steadily gaining pace from day to day and causing national panic. At least 181 human cases of influenza viruses with 38 fatalities have been confirmed since January, according to data compiled from reports by local authorities.

As of Feb. 9, 179 cases of H7N9 bird flu have been reported with 37 fatalities, alongside one fatal case of H1N1 swine flu and one case of H10N8 bird flu. The 179 recorded cases in first 40 days of this year has surpassed China’s official total number of 146 cases of H7N9 in 2013, which included 45 fatalities.

H7N9 Spread

The first recognized case of H7N9 human infection emerged in east China last March. The virus re-emerged in October and has rapidly spread since January, primarily in southeast China. According to China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), on average, five to seven cases of H7N9 are reported daily, with numbers increasing.

Zhejiang Province has reported the most cases–77 cases with 12 deaths have been confirmed. Li Lanjuan, professor and chief physician at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine predicts a large rise in infections this winter.

“The H7N9 flu virus is known to be more active in the winter. There will be an increasing number of cases in the coming months in Zhejiang, even bigger than the cases being reported,” Li was quoted by Zhejiang News Online.

According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), as of Jan. 28, the case fatality rate of all confirmed cases in 13 provinces and municipalities in east China, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), and Taipei CDC is 22 percent, but many cases are still hospitalized.

Panic

As the H7N9 death toll rises, there has been growing panic among the public.

“Everyone is now panicking over the bird flu,” said Shen Jianmin, a resident in Zhejiang. “Worried about a deadly influenza pandemic, people wear masks and don’t eat poultry or meat.”

Among the 37 confirmed fatalities is a 31-year-old surgeon from the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Hospital. His death from the bird flu was identified on Jan. 18, with the source of infection unknown.

Shanghai resident Ms. Li told Epoch Times: “Even the doctor as a patient couldn’t be treated successfully, to say nothing of ordinary people.”

Ms. Li was also doubtful about the accuracy of reported fatalities. “The government has definitely not reported the real death toll,” Li said. “Now all the major hospitals in Shanghai are full of patients with flu-like symptoms. We’re really scared of the spread of bird flu, even not daring to go to a hospital for treatment of minor illnesses,” she added.

A female doctor at the hospital where the surgeon died, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Because the H7N9 virus is more transmissible and harder to detect than H5N1 bird flu, we doctors even fear the prospect of human-to-human transmission of this virus.”

Mr. Ye, a resident from Guangdong, the province with the second most cases–60 with 13 deaths have been recorded since August of last year, told Epoch Times: “Increased cases of the bird flu raise concerns about the potential of more widespread infections and transmission to humans. So live chicken sales are banned here and even restaurants have removed chicken dishes from their menus.”

Beijing resident Mr. Yuan told Epoch Times that people are scared at the mere mention of the bird flu. They don’t even dare to eat chicken and eggs, and try to stay home for fear of getting bird flu, he said.

Multiple cases of family cluster infections have also been reported, indicating human-to-human transmission. If the virus mutates into a form that can directly pass between humans, it could result in the disease spreading rapidly, causing global epidemics, according to Chen Taoan, former director of the Information Division of Shanxi’s CDC.

Virus Types

According to the U.S. CDC, there are three types of influenza viruses, classified A, B and C. Only influenza type A and B viruses that routinely spread in people are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

Type A influenza viruses are further divided into subtypes on the basis of two proteins on the surface of the virus, the hemaglutinin or “H” protein and the neuraminidase or “N” protein. There are 18 known H subtypes (H1 to H18) and 11 known N subtypes (N1 to N11), possibly generating 198 different combinations of these proteins such as H1N1 and H7N2.

According to the WHO and CDC, wild aquatic birds, in particular certain wild ducks, geese, and swans are the natural hosts for all known influenza A viruses. Type A influenza viruses infect a range of avian species and mammals like pigs and horses, whereas type B and C infections are largely restricted to humans.

They indicate that the majority of the currently identified subtypes of influenza A viruses are maintained in wild avian populations. Humans are generally infected by virus of the subtypes H1, H2 or H3, and N1 or N2. However, humans can also be infected with influenza viruses that are routinely circulating in animals, such as avian influenza virus subtypes H5N1 and H9N2 and swine influenza virus subtypes H1N1 and H3N2.

“Usually these human infections of zoonotic influenza are acquired through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, and do not spread very far among humans. If such a virus acquired the capacity to spread easily among people either through adaptation or acquisition of certain genes from human viruses, it could start an epidemic or a pandemic,” the WHO said.

Unknown Source

H7N9 has been identified as one of the most lethal influenza viruses. “When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said last April.

One of the biggest problems with H7N9 is that the source of human infections has not been identified yet. In their paper published on May 2013 in The Lancet, Chinese researchers revealed that the H7N9 virus, based on past experience and epidemiological investigation, might be carried by infected poultry, but about 40 percent of the patients have not been in contact with poultry. The finding implies that it’s harder to prevent further spreading of the infection.

Because the H7N9 virus does not appear to cause clinical symptoms in infected poultry, clear links between infections in poultry and human cases have been difficult to establish, according to the WHO.

The absence of illness symptoms in birds carrying the H7N9 virus also makes it impossible to detect whether birds are infected, showing experts few signs as to where the flu might spread, and making the virus extremely difficult to detect, according to a research paper published on January 2014 in Chinese Medical Journal cmj.org.

“It could be that the infected animals might not shed the virus for more than a few days, so it is a matter of chance if you test and find it. It might be that they are not sampling enough animal species, and they may have to take a look at the less common species of birds being sold in Chinese markets,” the paper quoted Ho Pak-leung, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.

Deliberate Downplay

Many people have speculated about the official number of H7N9 cases reported by Chinese authorities.

According to the female doctor in Shanghai who spoke to Epoch Times on condition of anonymity, Chinese official data are used for maintaining social stability and to prevent panic among the public. Therefore, authorities will often withhold the true number of infected people from the public.

“The Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau has instructed us to ‘report what you ought, and do not report what you ought not,’ for this is a big thing, creating an international impact,” the doctor added.

Zhu Xinxin, a former editor at Hebei People’s Radio Station, told Epoch Times about the official Chinese media reports of the epidemic situation.

“Sporadic cases are currently being reported by different provinces and municipalities, without the total number of cases published by the state. This is a measure commonly employed by the Chinese communist regime. They tend to see the Chinese New Year as a big sales occasion that helps boost the gross domestic product (GDP).

“If they report the true scale of the epidemic, they fear this will cause widespread public alarm. Consequently, the national industrial production chains would be hard hit and domestic market sales would then slide downward to a large extent, causing weak economies being devastated. Then a major economic panic may sweep the nation with declining GDP.”

A female employee who answered the phone at China CDC said that since the second half of last year, the authorities have adopted a degrading tactic to tackle H7N9 in China; they use a monthly reporting system in line with state guidelines, instead of daily incident reports.

Asked about the actual fatality rate, the woman said: “January data will be released on Feb. 10. The true tally in January is much greater than that in those provinces. I can’t answer that, though.”

According to another employee at China CDC, there have been more human cases of H7N9 in Beijing, but the true number is not clear.

via Fast-Spreading Bird Flu Causes Panic in China » The Epoch Times

Most Vitamins Are From China. This is Why You Should Care

10 February, 2014 at 15:29 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Food, health | Leave a comment

By Michelle Yu
Epoch Times

If you are taking vitamins, there is a good chance that they were imported from China.

An aging population and growing focus on health in the United States has fueled the growth of a $28 billion vitamin and nutritional supplement market, and it is expected to continue to grow at about 3 percent a year.

Over half of American adults are popping vitamins and supplements. They may not be aware they are eating products made in China, or made using raw materials from China.

China has captured over 90 percent of the Vitamin C market in the United States, according to the Seattle Times. Think about how many labels advertise added Vitamin C. Vitamin C goes into many food and drink products—almost all processed food for humans as well as pets contains Vitamin C.

The consumer has no way of knowing the added vitamin C comes from China, because there is no rule requiring labeling the country of origin for ingredients.

This may raise quite a few eyebrows as Chinese food safety scandals make headlines every day.

Here are five facts any consumer of vitamins should know.

1. Only 2 percent of all imported vitamins and other supplements are inspected. Why? Vitamins and supplements are classified as “food” by law and therefore not subject to the tough regulatory scrutiny of prescription drugs.

2. China’s top vitamin and supplement production areas are among the most polluted in the country (and thus in the world).

Vitamins and nutritional supplements usually use agricultural products as key raw materials. The top vitamin exporting province, Zhejiang, has an alarming level of soil pollution from heavy metal. As matter of fact, one-sixth of China’s farmlands are heavily polluted.

For example, rice planted in several key agricultural provinces was reported to contain excessive Cadmium, a metal commonly found in batteries, coloring, and the industrial waste from making plastic. It may cause serious kidney disease.

Irrigation water is a nightmare: Half of the country’s major water bodies are polluted, as are 86 percent of city water bodies. Pollution is largely caused by the country’s numerous factories, which rarely have equipment for treating pollution. Seventy to 80 percent of the country’s industrial waste is directly emitted into rivers.

3. Even those labeled as “organic” are not safe, since USDA organic standards place no limit on levels of heavy metal contamination for certified organic foods.

4. Approximately 6,300 Americans nationwide complained about adverse reactions to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2012, according to FDA statistics. But the actual number may be more than eight times higher, some experts say, because most people don’t believe health products can make them sick. While not all such problems would be caused by pollution in China, that pollution may have played a role.

5. Worst of all, China-made vitamins are everywhere, and even those who do not consume vitamins and supplements can hardly escape. Many vitamins end up as ingredients in items like soft drinks, food, animal feed, and even cosmetics.

via Most Vitamins Are From China. This is Why You Should Care

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Outburst of Persecution Strikes Christians Across China

29 January, 2014 at 15:41 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Carol Wickenkamp
Epoch Times

Late in November of 2013, following a high Chinese Communist Party official’s address asserting the CCP’s tolerance for religions, the regime clamped down even harder on Tibetans, Uyghurs, and practitioners of Falun Gong. Now Christian churches—even state-registered ones—are being tormented across China.

State Bureau of Religious Affairs director Wang Zuoan’s speech, printed in People’s Daily, acknowledged the value of religious people to Chinese society and asked for their support in achieving the Chinese Dream, the current leadership’s goal of a revitalized China. While Wang’s remarks suggested even something more than toleration for religion, the reality has proven different.

A popular Tibetan religious teacher was beaten to death while in custody in Lhasa and others monks detained less than three weeks after Wang’s address. Concurrently, 14 Uyghurs were killed in an incident in Xinjiang, triggered by a policeman lifting a woman’s veil.

As of Jan. 21, Minghui (a site run by Falun Gong that serves as a clearinghouse for reports on the persecution of the spiritual practice) has received reports of 228 January arrests, 33 “trials” resulting in 16 illegal prison sentences, 16 detentions at brainwashing centers, and three death cases reported in January so far.

In mid-November, Zhang Shaojie, the popular pastor of a state-sanctioned Christian church in Hunan Province was detained by officials along with church members, but no charges were announced.

In December a group of Chinese rights lawyers and a British news crew attempting to meet with Zhang were assaulted by a crowd of unidentified people, said to be hired by local officials.

The pastor, who defended his church’s land rights, will be put on trial on Jan. 28 for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and “fraud” charges, his lawyer told China Aid. Parishioners say that the local officials want the church’s land for development.

Christmas and the New Year

In Sichuan Province, an employee of an unregistered house church was detained on Dec. 24 for organizing a Christmas gathering for church members, though he had informed the Domestic Security Protection Squad prior to the celebration. His request for reconsideration of the detention has been denied several times, said China Aid.

China Aid has received reports of persecution from local churches across China. Local police raided a house church in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Jan. 1, while believers were celebrating the New Year, detaining nine members. Authorities are evicting a small house church in Xincheng, Shandong Province. A Christmas celebration in Anhui Province was disrupted by police and some members were put under administrative detention, a church member reported.

In Beijing a house church member was taken from his home and placed under house arrest in a different location. When friends attempted to take food and medicine to him on Friday, fifteen of them were detained.

A house church in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province reported to China Aid that police have disrupted their church gathering twice a week since the beginning of January, while Christians in central Henan Province say they are afraid to attend their church meetings because several local government departments have been harassing them.

“The director of the Religion Affairs Bureau is “running” the Church ever more ostentatiously, not even taking care to save the appearances. The only purpose of their work seems to be ‘enslaving’ our Church (unfortunately with much success) by forcing our bishops and priests to betray their conscience, their faith,” said Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, voicing his concern at the situation of the Catholic faithful in China to AsiaNews, a Vatican publication.

via Outburst of Persecution Strikes Christians Across China – The Epoch Times

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China’s Rent-a-Girlfriend Trend Spikes During Holidays

29 January, 2014 at 07:03 | Posted in China, Funny things :-), Society | Leave a comment

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

With the Chinese New Year quickly approaching—a time of family reunions, where people who live in the big cities travel back home—single 20- and 30-somethings across the country are cooking up ways to explain to their parents why they aren’t yet married.

But not the young 25-year-old who offered 1 million yuan for a girlfriend for a week. In an advertisement posted to the Chinese Internet app iweju (“mini-gathering” in English), he said he would pay just over $165,000 for a young Chinese woman who would accompany him for seven days over the Chinese New Year holiday; and he’d pick up the tab for the charter flight.

The phenomenon of renting a boyfriend or girlfriend is not entirely new to China. The griping of an older generation set upon matchmaking and ensuring that their children are married is a common complaint among young Chinese adults. A cottage industry in acquiring boyfriends and girlfriends to rent, to head off the parents nagging, thus sprang up.

But the offers were usually not as high-profile as this one. This Jan. 17 Internet post, which subsequently went viral, offered a huge reward, along with a series of strict and peculiar requirements: “The girl needs to be younger than 25, taller than 5’6”, weigh less than 110 pounds, look sweet, and have a Bachelor’s degree or a higher level of education. A PhD or a virgin will get an extra 10 percent reward!” the note said.

A fifth of the lump sum would be advanced on the first day, and the rest at the end, the note said. “Sign up and send me your contact information. Once you are approved, we’ll arrange an interview!”

The post was accompanied by pictures of a young Chinese man, with short hair, sitting at a desk over a large pile of 100-yuan bills. Photographs of the inside of a jet were also provided.

The ostentatiousness of the offer attracted 5,300 applications within days, but also a bout of unwanted media attention for the young man. The local newspaper Zhengzhou Evening News put the young man’s picture, with the pile of money, on its front page on Jan. 20.

That caused him to cancel the proposal because “too much pressure and trouble came to my life,” he wrote in an update to his post on iweju, the mobile application he originally used.

The renting of boyfriends or girlfriends became a theme in Chinese popular culture in the early 2000s, a product of the pressures parents put on the generation born in the 1980s—after the one-child policy came into effect.

These single children, having always been the focus of the family, have become the center of attention for the parents. Also, it was common for members of their parents’ generation to be married in their early 20s, or even late teens, but social mores have also changed.

“I am a single daughter. My dad and mom started looking for a boyfriend for me last year,” a 27-year-old female calling herself Luly told Guangdong News. “They forced me to go home and have blind dates with the boys they found. Otherwise, I’d need to find a boy by myself and show them over the New Year. They give me headache.”

The desire for grandchildren is another reason parents put their children under pressure. “She must get married and then have a child sooner or later. Why wait for so long?” Mrs. Wu said to China.com, an official news service. “The older you are, the harder to find a partner, and also harder to have a child.”

With the pressures from an older generation not looking to subside anytime soon, young adult Chinese Internet users have taken to openly posting Available or For Hire ads, so they can make a few dollars on the side.

via China’s Rent-a-Girlfriend Trend Spikes During Holidays

Book Review: ‘Tiger Woman on Wall Street’

28 January, 2014 at 07:00 | Posted in books, China, Culture, Economy, Society | Leave a comment
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Junheng Li writes about her journey from China to America, shattering conventional wisdom along the way

By Valentin Schmid
Epoch Times

For a China skeptic, reading this book is like listening to a sermon. For a China bull, it will start ringing the alarm bells. For anyone interested in how the world’s second-largest economy works, this book provides a great overview, neatly packaged within the life story of a remarkable and interesting woman.

“My father’s quintessential tiger parenting ultimately resulted in an American success story built with Chinese strengths,” Junheng Li tells us about her upbringing in the suburbs of Shanghai in the 1980s, her American college experience in Vermont in the 1990s, and her successful Wall Street career in the 2000s.

Having lived in both cultures and having experienced both education systems, Li offers her insights on the differences between China and America. She builds a compelling case for why the mainstream perception that “China will rule the world” won’t come to fruition in the near future, and why America, despite its problems, is better equipped for a long-term contest.

“Until the software—the quality of its citizenry and society—matches the government-led hardware of infrastructure buildup, China is far from constituting a credible threat to America,” she writes.

Drawing on her experience as a Chinese citizen and an American businesswoman—Li now runs a boutique investment research firm specializing in Chinese companies—she sheds light on deep issues such as declining moral values in a communist state, and more practical matters like the risks hidden in the Chinese banking system.

Although the subtitle, “Winning Business Strategies from Shanghai to New York and Back,” over-promises a little, specific investment and real-life examples, as well as many Wall Street anecdotes, illustrate her main points.

As a result, the narrative never gets too dull or technical, so the book remains accessible to the average reader. In addition, most investors, whether professional or not, can learn a few things from Li’s contrarian methods.

Drilled for Success

For Li, education is the determining factor in her personal life, and in how China and America compete. In what she refers to as “tiger parenting,” Li’s father drilled her to be successful from a very young age.

She had to complete arithmetic exercises while kneeling on a rugged washboard with sharp edges. Her dad threw her in a swimming pool as a toddler with a small flotation device so she would learn how to swim.

“It was the only way his daughter would gain an edge in China’s highly competitive education system,” Li writes, adding she knew he was doing it for her, so she could be successful later in life.

She writes that the basic rigor of learning mathematics and grammar as a child is an asset she would use for the rest of her life. However, the Chinese system is based mostly on memorization, whether it is mathematics or Communist Party propaganda. Independent thinking and innovation are not taught.

“The [regime], represented by the Ministry of Education, still holds onto Marxist and Maoist teachings because it is afraid to part with the bygone era—parting with it would mean reform, and the party inherently fears reform,” Li writes.

This is a major flaw, which constrains the full potential of the country’s citizenry, according to Li. Rampant cheating in high schools and universities explains why Chinese companies have been successful mostly by working hard and copying others, fielding few innovations of their own.

Thanks to her father, who never believed communist propaganda and was an avid Voice of America listener, Li got inspired by the American classic movie “Gone With the Wind,” and set her sights to move to the United States.

After another round of hard work and memorization, Li aced her Chinese university and the TOEFL English exams, and got a scholarship for Middlebury College in Vermont.

In America, it wasn’t the academics of her economics course material, but rather the way education was approached in the United States that baffled Li.

“The hardest changes lay in the social and ethical rules that governed the campus.” She writes about the relaxed supervision, yet strict code of ethics at her college. Students were expected to complete their work independently and honestly, something she had never heard of in China.

According to Li, this approach of accountability, as well as risk taking and independent thinking in class and group work is a cornerstone of American innovation—a big advantage it has over China.

“China’s education system has failed to produce either an honorable or an innovative society,” is Li’s shattering verdict.

An Honor Code

Ultimately, the differences in the two countries’ education systems reflect a different moral code, which also translates into business practices.

“It [seems] counterintuitive. China had delivered impressive economic growth since I was a child. One would think that as a country gets richer, its people would no longer need to fight for their livelihoods. Shouldn’t they therefore hold themselves to higher moral standards, like the honor code we had at Middlebury?” Li asks.

Apparently not. Li then astutely analyzes this moral dilemma: Having robbed the Chinese nation of its spiritual beliefs by persecuting religious believers and indoctrinating the masses with atheist communist ideology, the Chinese Communist Party replaced a noble code of ethics with money worship and belief in the Party itself, which cares for nothing but power.

According to Li, solely caring about profit and outdoing others are the direct reasons for China’s creativity-stifling education system, slew of corporate scandals, widespread official corruption, and destruction of the environment, all of which Li documents with numerous examples.

“Social values remain weak because the system does not encourage citizens to believe in a power higher than the state—and given the personal tragedies and inequalities that many Chinese have witnessed in the last 30 years, the state is hard to believe in,” she writes.

Poised for a Crash

All of these factors have played a role in creating a lopsided behemoth economy that is ripe for a huge adjustment.

“Many people living in China, from the top leadership in Beijing to corporate executives to average citizens, believe the country is nearing an inflection point that will force it to reflect and reform.”

For Li, the command nature of the economy, the lack of morality, and the problems in the education system have left the Chinese economy with a one-size-fits-all solution of exploiting cheap labor and massive debt expansion, mostly for infrastructure investment and real estate.

She argues that while the export model of manufacturing cheap goods was successful in lifting 500 million people out of poverty during the past 30 years, it has now hit its limits as wage growth has surpassed the level of productivity growth.

Advancements in productivity are limited by an education system that fails to promote innovation, and therefore prohibits the progression toward more value-added products and services.

According to Li, the second wooden leg of the Chinese growth miracle is its massive debt expansion and investment in unproductive projects. Because the Chinese regime is obsessed with growth, when growth threatened to slow as part of a normal economic adjustment, it always forced banks to expand lending.

This prevented the occurrence of smaller cleansing cycles and created one massive debt super cycle, which has to come to an end sooner or later. More money funneled into unproductive investments by state decree will not result in more value creation. Instead, it looks like the whole economic system is poised for a crash—sooner, rather than later.

“The country’s trajectory seems similar to that of an athlete on steroids. As with most athletes on steroids whose temporary outperformance is inevitably followed by a long period of underperformance, the truth will eventually find its way out,” she writes.

The astute analysis found in “Tiger Woman on Wall Street” goes far deeper than the hyped-up numbers of Chinese GDP growth, currency reserves, or self-made millionaires. Li’s accurate and vivid description of China’s cultural fabric and its economy makes this a must read for anyone interested in the country’s economy and its people.

“Tiger Woman on Wall Street” is available from the McGraw-Hill Companies in print and in Amazon Kindle format.

via Book Review: ‘Tiger Woman on Wall Street’: photo 2

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Trial of Chinese Citizen Xu Zhiyong Ends in Silence

26 January, 2014 at 12:24 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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By Carol Wickenkamp
Epoch Times

Prominent human rights scholar and activist Xu Zhiyong’s trial began and concluded on Wednesday, with both Xu and his lawyer remaining silent in protest of what they said were the illegal procedures taken by the court during the trial.

Both refused to talk during the trial proceedings to demonstrate their objection to the court’s refusal to allow any of Xu’s 68 witnesses to appear, lawyer Zhang Qingfang told Epoch Times. He said that other defendants arrested in the same case were also prevented from appearing during the trial.

“Because Xu Zhiyong was silent, the judge decided to adjourn the court for five minutes specifically to persuade Xu to talk, but it didn’t work,” Zhang said. “And then because the lawyers [Zhang and another lawyer] were silent, the court stopped again to persuade us,” he continued.

But, they refused to speak too, because the court was so seriously violating the laws covering court procedures, Zhang said. They couldn’t consent to taking part in such a trial, he told Epoch Times.

He said that Xu had prepared a 50 minute statement titled “For Freedom, Public Welfare, and Love,” which would act as his defense, but the court didn’t allow him to finish presenting it, interrupting him after 10 minutes.

“But just because we maintained our silence in court, it doesn’t mean we’ll be quiet outside the courtroom. We’ll be publicizing our defense opinions soon,” he went on.

Xu’s counsel tried to arrange time during the break for Xu to meet with his wife, who gave birth to a baby daughter last week, but the court would not permit it. Only two family members, his wife and his sister, were permitted in the courtroom.

Zhang believes Xu’s sentence will be a heavy one, more than three years and possibly the maximum of five years.

Supporters Detained

Outside the courthouse, supporters and media were restrained at a distance and the streets around the courthouse barricaded.

Petitioners and rights defenders shouted “Down with dictatorship,” “Establish a democratic regime,” and other slogans, while police attempted to contain them, reported Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

A crowd of over 300 supporters, including high profile human rights lawyers and activists, showed up to demonstrate their support for Xu, holding banners and placards, mingling with foreign reporters and plainclothes police.

Ni Yulan, who was tortured in prison for her human rights legal work, was brought in her wheelchair to the courthouse. Rights lawyers Cheng Hai and Liang Xiaojun, and women’s rights defender Mao Hengfeng came to show their solidarity, said Chinese media Boxun.

Over 100 lawyers and activists, among them activist Chen Yunfei and lawyer Liang Xiaojun, were hauled away to the black jail at Jiujingzhuang in a continuous stream of commercial vans, according to CHRD. Police would have arrested more supporters but for the presence of the well-known foreign media correspondents on the scene, said CHRD.

Xu’s closing statement directly addresses the issues that directly brought and affected his trial, and will continue to afflict the Chinese system in his eyes. In part, he closed his statement saying:

“For ten years, I’ve witnessed too much injustice and too much misfortune and suffering, because I choose to stand on the side of people who are powerless. But we still have the heart and vitality to promote our country’s development wisely…

“Unfortunately, you see civil groups as heresy, and you are afraid of us. You say that we have a political purpose. You are right, our political purpose is very clear, which is to build a wonderful China that has democracy, rule of law, freedom, justice, and love…

“This is our new civil spirit: freedom, justice, love. It must become the Chinese nation’s essential value, and it needs our generation to fight and sacrifice for it.”

It was signed “Citizen Xu Zhiyong.”

Reporting by Lu Chen.

via Trial of Chinese Citizen Xu Zhiyong Ends in Silence

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Confession of Xu Zhiyong’s Supporter Rattles Chinese Dissidents

25 January, 2014 at 17:20 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

While the well-known Chinese dissident Xu Zhiyong is facing five years in prison for his political activism, an associate of his — the wealthy Chinese businessman Wang Gongquan — who was accused of the same crimes was allowed out on bail because he confessed.

The difference in how the two individuals were treated, and handled their treatment, sparked some dispute and discussion among the dissident community. The Chinese Communist Party, whose security organs are prosecuting and punishing the two men, also seemed to muddy the waters with propaganda reports involving Wang. Many immediately cast doubt on the veracity of what Chinese state media claimed Wang said.

“Wang Gongquan admitted his criminal activities of planning and instigating crowds to disturb public order with Xu Zhiyong,” the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court posted on its official Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China, on the evening of Jan. 22, “He engaged in deep soul-searching over his actions. The court has altered its forceful measures against Wang according to the law, and allowed him to be released on bail.”

Meanwhile, the state media Beijing Television also aired news saying that Wang had violated the law by supporting Xu Zhiyong financially and promoting related information on his Weibo account. The report says Wang felt “very regretful and sorry to his children and family,” and that he promised to “never get in touch with Xu Zhiyong from now on.” It also claims that Wang said “I don’t understand why Xu Zhiyong, as a PhD in law, doesn’t confess his crime.”

The news of Wang’s alleged confession and harsh words against Xu were widely reported in China’s state media.

A large number of Chinese observers simply didn’t believe the official reports, however. They doubted whether Wang had even confessed — or allowed that, if he did, it was probably because he was being forced to do so, possibly through violence.

“Wang has been arraigned 92 times by Nov. 29,” Wang’s lawyer Chen Youxi posted on Sina Weibo last December, showing the pressure Wang has been put under in custody.

Wang was formally arrested on Oct. 20 last year, which would mean he was interrogated several times a day. Chinese commenting online said it would have constituted a disguised method of torture.

Chinese rights activist Hu Jia also thinks that Wang’s confession was wrought only under enormous pressure. “I think Mr. Wang Gongquan must have suffered a lot of pressure. It’s like rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng who was threatened by the authorities to confess, otherwise they would have made his wife and children suffer,” Hu Jia said to Sound of Hope radio. “China’s judicial environment is like this. The CCP uses the dirty means of triads to force political prisoners to confess.”

Others remarked on the discrepancy in treatment between Wang and Xu, who were accused of the same crimes — organizing a crowd to disturbing public order — and said it was indicative of the politicized nature of China’s legal system.

“If you confess, you will be released, which is totally illegal. The CCP just wants to suppress him and make him show a gesture of surrender,” said human rights lawyer Tang Jingling in an interview with Sound of Hope.  

“The CCP arresting Wang Gongquan, Xu Zhiyong, and many other people this time is essentially a political persecution…” Tang said. “That’s why there’s such a strange confession.”

Chinese law professor and rights activists Zhang Xuezhong spoke up for Wang on Weibo, saying the official reports about Wang denouncing Xu are not true.

“I’ve carefully read Wang Gongquan’s confession. There’s surely some expressions of regret, but he didn’t betray or denounce anyone,” Zhang wrote. “Please don’t be misled by the authorities’ propaganda. Let’s respect and support those who are persistent, and let’s understand and tolerate those who’ve given in.”

Wang Gongquan and Xu Zhiyong are both key players in the New Citizens Movement in China, which promotes “freedom, justice, and love,” established in 2012. It involves a number of lawyers and activists who make efforts in promoting equal rights to education and legal access, while urging official transparency.

After Xu was detained for “assembling crowds to disturb public order” in July 2013, Wang and four other supporters established a petition and published an open letter to appeal to the authorities to release him. Wang was detained two months later.

At the time Wang was arrested, his lawyer Chen Youxi told Chinese media that Wang didn’t accept the accusations. Wang said he wasn’t guilty, had not disturbed public order, and had committed no crime.

Over 50 rights activists were put under detention and accused of “disturbing public order” and “inciting subversion” after they organized and called for increased human rights between February and October 2013, according to Human Rights Watch’s 2014 report on China.  

A number of those detained by the authorities — including, famously, Wang Gongquan — were forced to confess their misbehavior on China Central Television, the official state broadcaster. This called to mind the show trials of the Maoist era, 50 years ago.

“It makes me think of the Cultural Revolution when people had a big hat put on them and were denounced in public… There was Xue Manzi and Chen Yongzhou. Now it’s Wang Gongquan,” said Netizen Kai Wenzheng on Weibo. “Who’s next?”

via Confession of Xu Zhiyong’s Supporter Rattles Chinese Dissidents » The Epoch Times

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Chinese Commentator: Shen Yun ‘Makes a Chinese Person Feel Proud’

25 January, 2014 at 10:54 | Posted in China, Chinese culture, Shen Yun, Society | Leave a comment

By Epoch Times Staff

NEW YORK—Wang Beiji said Shen Yun Performing Arts has become part of his life.

Mr. Wang, a Chinese commentator, left China a little over two years ago. Since then, he has attended four Shen Yun performances.

“It’s is something to be waited earnestly for each year,” he said.

The performance at Lincoln Center on the evening of Jan. 17 was the second one he had attended this year.

True Culture

“It hasn’t been long since we left mainland China,” Mr. Wang said. “But I can already sense that a lot of [other] Chinese performing arts are mental garbage.”

Mr. Wang said that modern Chinese cultural performances lack depth, and that such performances are a hodgepodge of arbitrary things such as karaoke.

But, Shen Yun is different.

It was formed in 2006 by leading Chinese artists who founded the company in New York. Their mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture, something that is nearly lost in China today.

“Other Chinese performances contain too much of an aggressive feeling, that stuff has filled and numbed all of mainland Chinese people’s minds,” Mr. Wang said.

“After you leave China, come to the U.S, and watch Shen Yun, you become clear of what is garbage,” he said. “You discover the pure culture of the ethnic groups—which is pure as well as natural.”

Shen Yun performs ethnic and folk dances, celebrating China’s vast and varied ethnic groups such as the Manchurian, Mongolian, and Miao. The Miao women are known for their rich adornment of of silver headdresses, necklaces, and bracelets. Before the Qin Dynasty, the Miao lived near the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

The distinct lifestyles and subcultures of the ethnic groups are a result from their local topography, climate, and religious traditions.

Memories

Mr. Wang recalls the first time he saw a Shen Yun performance. It was January 2012. He had bought a ticket for a seat right in the center of the first row. He distinctly remembers the people next to him feeling the emotion of the performance and crying.

“The audience was very emotional and excited,” he recalled.

Each Shen Yun dance is accompanied by an orchestra that plays original composition.

The Shen Yun Orchestra consists of Eastern and Western instruments, blending instruments such as the violin with the stirring tones of the erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin). A strong brass section captures the grandeur of a western symphonic orchestra, as Chinese instruments such as the pipa (Chinese lute) play distinctly Chinese melodies.

The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra began touring on its own in 2012, and last year, Mr. Wang attended the concert at Carnegie Hall.

Sharing the Culture

In Shen Yun, classical Chinese dancers share a stage with an advanced, interactive digital backdrop that transports the audience from places such as the snowy cusps of Tibetan mountains to the golden pavilions of the Tang Dynasty.

Mr. Wang noted the benefits of merging Eastern and Western performing arts techniques.

“Sitting here today, the people sitting next to my wife and I, was a white person and an African-American person,” he said. “They were very into the show.”

“Westerners like to hear symphonic concerts, watch ballet,” he said. “Shen Yun will become something that connects Westerners and Chinese.”

“The Chinese people will also one day develop the tradition of seeing Shen Yun,” Mr. Wang said. “Shen Yun is something that Westerners and the Chinese can have in common in spirit.”

“It makes a Chinese person feel proud.”

With reporting by NTD and Amelia Pang

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.

via Chinese Commentator: Shen Yun ‘Makes a Chinese Person Feel Proud’ » The Epoch Times

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Robert Mobley watched Shen Yun perform at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, on Jan. 17, 2014, in New York City. (Huiwen Ji/Epoch Times)
Actor’s Heart, Soul, and Eyes Opened to Beautiful Chinese Culture Through Shen Yun

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