By Ma Youzhi, Epoch Times and Katy Mantyk
Paul Mooney is one of those genuine journalists of the old-school—he focuses on people, the stories they need to know, and the stories they have to tell. After covering China for 18 years and having won multiple awards for his work, he has been refused a visa to return as a reporter for Reuters.
Sitting down with the Epoch Times in Berkeley, California, Mooney opened up on why the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Ministry of Foreign Affairs won’t let him into China. He also told some stories he reported on that will break your heart, the kind of stories the CCP doesn’t want people to hear. His gift for telling those stories is why he was not allowed back in the country.
“I focus a lot on human rights and social justice. I reported on Tibet, Xinjiang, and these are sensitive topics in China. I’m sure the government wasn’t happy with the reporting I did.”
He says it’s not so bad for him, though. The real heroes are the Chinese reporters. “I have a great amount of respect for the Chinese journalists trying to do those stories (blocked by the CCP). There’s a great risk for them, they’ll lose their jobs, and some have even gone to jail. I have no hope in the CCP, but I do in those reporters.”
Chinese Embassy Warns Him
The Chinese regime over the last year has tightened its already firm grip on media, and many foreign journalists like Mooney are getting squeezed out. The Reporters Without Borders’ latest analysis map of world freedom of the press has China labeled totally black.
During the eight-month wait to get his visa, Mooney was summoned to the Chinese Embassy in San Francisco for his interview. He was asked about his views on Tibet, the Dalai Lama, and high profile human rights lawyers. He answered frankly that he didn’t think they were a threat to China. His interviewer warned him that if he wanted the visa he would have to report more “objectively.” “It was obviously a threat,” Mooney said.
“As a journalist I was always objective, I never injected my own opinion in any of those stories. I reported the same way in China as I would have in the U.S. That’s something the Chinese government doesn’t understand. They say that the Western media has it in for China. But that’s not true.”
One issue Mooney has to face as a reporter on China is the accusations that he is anti-China. He hears the CCP say it, but also hears the notion coming from Westerners, too.
“I think they thought I was anti-China. But I am actually very pro-China. The people that I interviewed, they never once called me anti-China. If the communist party doesn’t like the truth, that’s their problem.
“I felt like I was giving a voice to the people who had none, and I’ve even stayed in touch with many of the people I reported on. I’ve helped people get medicine from the U.S., and people get doctors who need surgery. I stay in touch on Skype. These people know there’s no hope for them also, but the fact that somebody cares means a lot to them.”
A report in Business Insider pointed out that it was after the 2008 Beijing Olympics that the CCP quit being so accommodating to foreign journalists. With the pressure off to appease the rest of the world, Mooney said he’s never seen so many foreign reporters waiting for visas.
“If you look at the reporting from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, from Indonesia, Malaysia, from Latin America, they all report the same problems. The Chinese [propaganda] succeeds by saying America is out to stop China, but really the U.S. government and U.S. citizens do so much for Chinese people,” Mooney said.
“Countless NGO’s go into China. And for the Chinese students we have open schools and campuses in the U.S. If the U.S. really wanted to keep China down they wouldn’t do these things. But you don’t see those things reported in the People’s Daily or China Daily, we always hear that America’s out to stop them, that kind of slant.”
Mooney doesn’t think the situation for journalists will improve in China without reciprocal pressure from foreign countries. The United States should take the same restrictive approach to giving Chinese reporters visas.
“I’d like the American government to say, OK, if you’re not approving visas for American journalists, we are going to stop approving visas for Chinese journalists. China has more that 700 correspondents in the United States. We don’t delay their visas; we don’t refuse them in most cases. We don’t harass or follow them, or have the police intimidate them, and we don’t beat them up.”
“Chinese correspondents have free rein in the U.S., and some of them are even spies. I guarantee that if we start denying visas, within two weeks they’ll start granting visas for American journalists again, but right now there are no repercussions for them.”
Mooney explained that the rest of the world is afraid to put pressure on China in case they lose business and trade opportunities, but what they don’t realize is that China needs the rest of the world just as badly, and so pressure will work.
Reporting Injustice is Pro-China
“One story I wrote about was kidnapped rural children. Young boys kidnapped and forced to work in black kilns—illegal brick kilns where they were kept like slaves.
“A few years ago a lot of young teenagers started disappearing. They came from Henan [Province] to Zhengzhou [Henan’s capital] looking for work. So I went out with a group of about nine parents for about a week, and stayed with these families while they drove around these out-of-the-way places looking for their kids, and it was incredibly sad. They cried all the time.”
Mooney said some Chinese reporters did briefly cover these stories, but it didn’t last long.
“The people I helped put hope in me, but in my experience there is very little reaction from government,” Mooney said. “One father told me the police had done nothing to help find the children.”
Mooney recounted one story about a boy who escaped a kiln, and went to the Labor Bureau for help, only to be sold back to the kiln by one of the officials, then sold again by the same official to another kiln, for 600 yuan (US$98).
“I also did stories on cancer villages. I went to one village in Hunan Province with a battery factory. A lot of people started getting sick, so the government sent in doctors to test them, when they found out 1,000 people were poisoned with cadmium in their blood, they stopped all testing.
“The factory didn’t have any equipment to deal with the waste. The battery industry is a heavy metal polluter. They bribed local environmental officials to give them certificates; they were working with local government and local gangs. They pumped the waste water into the village river.”
The water, rice, and produce were all contaminated.
“One little girl died from cadmium poisoning. The eighty-year old grandma fell to her knees crying, and her mother bent down and was crying too, when they looked up and saw me crying they were shocked for a moment, then they just started howling even louder. It was heartbreaking.”
The father spent 90,000 yuan (US$14,770) to try to save her. Everyone else in the village was too scared to even talk to Mooney about the situation.
“I reported on this story because I hoped the government would compensate these people.”
Mooney hoped his reporting could help Chinese people, and therefore sees himself as pro-China, but in the end, “It was writing about these things that got me into trouble.”
Mooney explained that there are about 400 cancer villages in southern China. The rivers are all polluted with heavy metals. He hasn’t seen the CCP do anything about it.
“They talk a lot, but no action. The government sides with the local business and local officials, so they’re making money. The Communist Party’s face is much more important than the well-being of the Chinese people. So in the end, it is the Chinese people who always pay the price.”
‘Mean and Ruthless’
Mooney started to get interested in China in the 70s. Like many Americans at the time, he was fascinated with Chinese communism. But all that changed. “As a human being, one cannot imagine or understand the behavior of the CCP.”
He realized that many Chinese might not like what he says. “I think a lot of people, Chinese and Western, are duped by the CCP propaganda news. A lot of it is so positive, you never get the real picture of China.”
Mooney points out that the communists are harming the Chinese far deeper than the Japanese ever did.
“360,000 kids got sick on melamine poisoned baby formula. The story was blocked because the communist party wouldn’t allow any negative news leading up to the Olympics to save face.”
Another example: “A Chinese reporter had her story about high-speed train safety blocked. A year later a big accident happened. This is a government that is willing to let the Chinese people get poisoned, injured, or killed rather than lose face.”
“There is going to be a huge problem with lung cancer due to all the severe pollution. So it looks like a modern society but it’s really just a façade.”
“The communist party is really mean and ruthless. Regarding all the problems in society, unless the CCP feels there is a serious threat to their authority, they won’t do anything. So I anticipate that things will get much, much worse before the government responds and takes any action on these issues. I feel no hope.”
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The widely respected Zhang Lifan one of those shut down
Recent news from China tells of a massive and an exemplary denial of freedom of speech on the Internet, with huge numbers having their accounts closed, including one widely respected commentator.
On Nov. 13, Beijing Youth Daily reported that more than 100,000 microblog accounts accused of violating “seven bottom lines” have been canceled by Sina Weibo.
The report also stated, “Sina Weibo [a popular microblog service similar to Twitter] will further improve the online reporting mechanism to curb Internet irregularities.”
Lu Wei, director of the China Internet Information Office, held a meeting on Aug. 10 with several network celebrities, including Jilian Hai, Xue Manzi, Chen Li, and Pan Shiyi (also known as Big Vs on Weibo). Lu claimed that a consensus on adhering to the “seven bottom lines” had been reached with the Big Vs—individuals who use their real names when they blog and attract millions of followers.
The “seven bottom lines” are meant to identify topics about which bloggers know the CCP will scrutinize what they write with special care: laws and regulations, the socialist system, national interests, legitimate interests of citizens, social public order, trends in morality, and the authenticity of information.
Revered Scholar Silenced
Coinciding with the Daily report, several of Zhang Lifan’s registered website accounts were closed.
The 63-year-old Zhang, a scholar of modern Chinese history and a newspaper columnist, is considered to be an Internet celebrity. He often published political articles on the Internet, urging the authorities to conduct political reform.
Zhang Lifan spoke with Voice of America about the Internet environment in China, freedom of speech, and the ruling that penalizes for spreading “rumors” a blogger whose comments are viewed or forwarded too many times.
“The Internet rules should not hinder freedom of speech,” Zhang said.
“The Internet should have rules, but they need to be reasonable and conform to the freedom of speech stipulated in the Constitution’s Article 35, rather than restricting it,” Zhang said.
He admits that there should be boundaries between freedom of speech and rumor or slander, but the boundaries are hard to define in China.
In Zhang’s view, the “two highs,” namely the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Supreme People’s Court in China, in setting forth Internet regulations, did not actually interpret the law, but took it upon themselves to make new law, overstepping the power of the National People’s Congress (NPC), and sparking controversy in legal circles.
Despite the contrived legal interpretation, Zhang and the other network celebrities were not deterred from talking.
He said: “In fact, we fear nothing. Now the netizens are mocking the interpretation. This has shown that the government’s laws and the ‘two highs’ are without any authority at all.”
Zhang’s main concern was who would become the first victim of the judicial interpretation, because when making the law, the CCP could have targeted some people. Therefore, once such a case occurs, it would typically be significant.
Zhang mentioned as an example the case of Li Zhuang, a lawyer in Chongqing who was prosecuted in 2011 on the suspicion of instigating men to fabricate testimony, because they were unwilling to cooperate with authorities in their “crackdown on gangs” campaign.
The ‘Two Highs’ Crack Down
In September, the “two highs” promulgated provisions to combat rumors spreading through the Internet, stipulating: “If the same defamatory information is clicked and viewed 5,000 times or more, or forwarded more than 500 times, it will be regarded as ‘serious’ and the rumormonger will be sentenced to three years imprisonment.”
Subsequently, in order to strengthen the Internet control, the CCP’s new leadership launched a campaign to occupy the new battlefield of public opinion, leading to the arrest of many Internet celebrities and opinion leaders.
Dong Liwen, who is a member/advisor of Taiwan Think Tank and familiar with China’s politics, told the media that after coming to power, Xi Jinping has shown no signs of loosening constraints on free speech. He believes the recent arrests demonstrate continued constraints in the Xi era, which are worse than under the previous leader.
Dong says Xi Jinping “stabilizes political power by all means.” But Dong cautions that Xi’s move toward further constraint doesn’t exclude the possibility of triggering a greater backlash against him by the people. Xi simply “walks on the cliff.”
Translation by Joseph Wu. Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Read the original Chinese article.
More in China Human Rights
The pastor of a state-sanctioned church in Hunan Province, China, was detained by officials on Nov. 16, along with church members.
Pastor Zhang Xiaojie was apparently tricked by Nanle County Public Security Chief into meeting at the church, when about a dozen police officers then entered the building and detained Zhang, reported ChinaAid, a Washington D. C. based church advocacy organization.
Church members said that the local officials “tied up” Zhang, but did not show any arrest documents. The officials took Zhang to an undisclosed location, but family members have received no notification of a formal arrest.
When Zhang’s family and church members went to the police department to protest his detainment, police held Zhang’s two sisters and denied the church members entry into the station.
Members told China Aid that officials warned them not to attend church activities or petition higher authorities about the detainments and, additionally, called church members to a government building that night, where the officials “lectured them, threatened them and instilled fear in them.”
Sunday morning at least 20 church members were detained as they came to attend church, and police stationed at the church gates beat some members, according to China Aid.
Zhang’s daughter and son-in-law took their child and fled town. She told China Aid that she had been receiving phone calls since Sunday, threatening to “wipe out her entire family” if she continued to contact overseas news outlets about the incident.
The pastor’s son-in-law says “the church respects the authority of the Chinese government.” The church, however, has been involved in a dispute with local authorities over a land matter.
Zhang is the president of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Christian Church in Nanle County, a Communist Party-registered church. The church’s funds have been frozen since he was detained.
Church members told China Aid that officials have published bogus comments attributed to Zhang on the Internet, to calm the public.
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This song wins 2013 “Best Song for Indie/Documentary Film” at Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
The permanent committee of the Council’s parliamentary assembly met in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Friday to discuss measures against the illegal trade of human organs, Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Saturday.
Under the convention, proposed by the leading multi-national organization for human rights on Europe, there would be punishments for those who pay people for their body parts or force them to part with their organs.
The agreement could come into force by next year after European countries individually adopt the rules of the convention.
By Joshua Philipp
While inspecting shipments from China, Russian customs agents found something odd. Inside several of the kettles and irons they found WiFi chips and microprocessors. If the devices were plugged in, the chips would search for unsecured WiFi networks up to 650 feet away, then “call home” to grant access to cybercriminals.
While the unusual form of cybercrime took researchers by surprise, it was only the latest in an emerging threat of hacked electronics coming straight from the Chinese factories.
There is a long list of devices riddled with backdoors, infected with malware, or fitted with spying devices before leaving Chinese factories. These range from kettles to laptops, from USB keys to cameras, and from consumer software right up to military components.
In June 2011, Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily uncovered recording devices installed in all dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles. They were labeled as “inspection and quarantine cards,” and were installed free of charge by China’s Shenzhen Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.
In June 2010, an auto-run virus in China-made memory cards in Olympus Stylus Tough cameras was infecting computers in Japan. The virus was uncovered just a week after an identical virus was in the memory cards of Samsung smartphones. Prior to that were viruses in devices including China-made TomTom GPS systems, and Insignia digital picture frames sold at major outlets, including Best Buy, Target, and Sam’s Club.
While the recently discovered chips in kettles and irons were among the more bizarre cases, they were also among the least sophisticated. They only targeted WiFi networks not protected with passwords. In Russia, where the devices were found, this would have been a threat. In the United States, where most networks are protected, it wouldn’t be much of a threat.
Yet, the concern is less about the chips themselves, and instead what they could mean for the future of cyberthreats.
“This is a generation beyond what we’ve seen before,” said Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor at cybersecurity company Sophos, regarding the spy kettles and irons.
Wisniewski said the chips were not very concerning, yet with a bit of work they could be. They could easily be programmed to bypass password protected networks, and being both small and inexpensive, the recent discovery could very well be only the tip of the iceberg.
“Who’s to say these things couldn’t be put into any device on anybody’s home network,” he said. “They could be in anything you plug in. Anything that gets power, this kind of thing can be hidden inside it.”
A Hidden Threat
Greg Schaffer stood before congress on July 8, 2011. At the time, Schaffer worked in the cybersecurity office of the Department of Homeland Security. He was asked whether there are risks of having electronics built overseas.
Schaffer tried avoiding the question. Yet when he was pressed to give a clear answer, Schaffer gave a short, yet grim response.
Schaffer said he knew of cases where foreign-made devices had been pre-installed with infected software or hardware, noting “We believe there is significant risk in the area of supply chain.”
“This is one of the most complicated and difficult challenges that we have,” he said.
Schaffer’s on-record admission to the problem was one of few. Yet, the problem of spying electronics coming out of China, in particular, is frequent and ongoing.
Some of the most common vulnerabilities are “backdoors” left in products. These can resemble programming errors left by the creators—the nature of which makes it difficult to prove whether the backdoors are intentional or unintentional.
Backdoors in Chinese routers are frequently exposed by security researcher and former NSA employee Craig Heffner. Within the last month, Heffner uncovered several backdoors in routers from Chinese manufacturer Tenda, which sells Medialink routers, as well routers from D-Link. D-Link is headquartered in Taiwan, but its routers are manufactured in Mainland China.
Heffner told We Live Security, the blog of cybersecurity company ESET, that a Nov. 10 backdoor in D-Link routers appears to have been left deliberately.
“You can access the Web interface without any authentication and view/change the device settings,” Heffner said, noting that the access code for the backdoor was found on a Russian cybercrime forum.
The most controversial routers come from Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei. The House Intelligence Committee released a report in October 2012 warning American businesses to avoid the two companies due to security risks. Similar warnings against Huawei, in particular, have been upheld by governments around the world, including in Taiwan and Australia.
“China is known to be the major perpetrator of cyber espionage, and Huawei and ZTE failed to alleviate serious concerns throughout this important investigation,” said Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in a press release. “American businesses should use other vendors.”
Huawei has launched a public relations campaign to fire back, yet independent research has only justified concerns. Just prior to the report from the House Intelligence Committee, in July 2012, security researchers at hacker conference Defcon uncovered critical, and extremely basic, vulnerabilities in Huawei routers.
“This stuff is distrusting,” Dan Kaminsky, a well-known security researcher, told International Data Group News Service. “If I were to teach someone from scratch how to write binary exploits, these routers would be what I’d demonstrate on.”
They also noted that, going with Huawei’s infamous lack of transparency, it had no security contact for reporting vulnerabilities.
According to Wisniewski, however, the nature of the threats—and of cybersecurity, in general—makes it difficult to prove guilt.
“The problem is there’s a scarcity of truth, and there is unlimited room for speculation,” Wisniewski said. “Only the person who wrote the code knows.”
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Petition to the UN Human Rights High Commissioner .
Calling for an Immediate End of Forced Organ.
Harvesting From Falun Gong Practitioners.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) performs the second-highest number of organ transplants per country per year, yet there exist no sufficient public organ donation program or organ distribution system in China, and the Chinese population has a cultural aversion to donation.
It is understood that medical professionals in the People’s Republic of China began conducting organ transplants with the use of organs that were harvested from executed prisoners in the 1980s. In June 2001, Chinese Dr. Wang Guoqi testified before the House International Affairs Subcommittee that hospitals worked in collusion with state security agencies to extract organs from executed prisoners without written consent of the donors. These transplants became a lucrative source of income for Chinese hospitals.
The practice of sourcing organs from nonconsenting prisoners is a violation of medical ethics and has been condemned by international medical organizations, such as the WMA, TTS and the transplant community.
In order to protect their families and associates, while in detention, many Falun Gong prisoners refuse to provide their real names or other identifying information. This makes them more of a target for transplant abuse.
In 2006, Canadian researchers human-rights attorney David Matas and former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour conducted an investigation into allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners. Based on extensive circumstantial evidence, their report concluded that the allegations were true, and that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners may have been killed for their organs.
In their book Bloody Harvest, Messrs. Matas and Kilgour quote a 2006 phone recording of a doctor from a Chinese hospital:
Caller: I want to know how long [the patients] have to wait [for a liver transplant].
Dr. Dai: The supply of organs we have, we have every day. We do them every day.
Caller: We want fresh, live ones.
Dr. Dai: They are all live, all live…
Caller: I heard some come from those who practice Falun Gong, those who are very healthy.
Dr. Dai: Yes, we have. I can’t talk openly to you over the phone.
Caller: If you can find me this type, I am coming very soon.
Dr. Dai: It’s OK. Please come.
After 1999, an exponential increase of transplantations in China coincided with the onset of the unlawful and brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. In the absence of a public organ-donation program and a decrease in the number of executions, detained Falun Gong practitioners became part of a living pool of donors, ready to be organ harvested on demand. They have been contributing to the more than 10,000 transplants per year in China.
Falun Gong practitioners are subject to medical examinations while in detention, such as blood tests, urine tests, X‑rays, and physical exams. These examinations are unlikely to be motivated by health care concerns since detained Falun Gong practitioners are subject to persecution and torture. It is implausible that the detention centers would go to the extra expense for the exams unless there were financial returns.
There is a significant discrepancy between the number of organ transplants performed in China and the number of identifiable sources of organs, including death row prisoners. The PRC government has failed to adequately account for the sources of these organs.
Senior Chinese Communist Party officials are complicit in the forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. In 2012, David Matas said at the annual conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars in San Francisco:
“On Nov. 30, 1999, the ‘610 Office’ [in China] called more than 3,000 officials to the Great Hall of the People in the capital to discuss the campaign against Falun Gong, which was then not going well. Demonstrations were continuing to occur at Tiananmen Square. The head of the ‘610 Office’, Li Lanqing, announced the government’s new policy on the movement:‘Defame their reputations, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically.’
A call to destroy Falun Gong physically is a call to genocide. It is not admittedly a call to genocide through sourcing their organs. Nonetheless, when that sourcing occurs, in the context of a call for physical destruction, the two should be linked. Organ sourcing is the means. Physical destruction is the intent.”
Under the format of “executing prisoners”, killing people to harvest their organs for transplantation is a crime against humanity and a breach of medical ethics. The demand for transplant organs must not justify the means.
Falun Gong practitioners, the largest group of prisoners of conscience in China, are the main targets of this crime against humanity.
By Steven Jiang, CNN
CNN — Tree leaves were turning yellow and red in Damascus, Oregon, in late October. Competing with fall foliage for attention were Halloween decorations, which adorned almost every house in this sleepy middle-class suburb of Portland on America\’s Pacific West Coast.
A few pumpkins sat on the steps leading to Julie Keith’s house, while three fake tombstones greeted visitors in the front porch — as they did last year.
“I feel obligated to use them every year now because I feel they need to have some worth,” said Keith, 43, who lives here with her husband and their two young children. “I am sad for the people who have to endure torture to make these silly decorations.”
The decorations came in a $29 “Totally Ghoul” toy set that Keith purchased in a local Kmart store in 2011. When she opened the package before Halloween last year, a letter fell out.
In broken English mixed with Chinese, the author cried for help: “If you occasionally (sic) buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here… will thank and remember you forever.”
Long hours, abuse
The letter went on to detail grueling hours, verbal and physical abuses as well as torture that inmates making the products had to endure — all in a place called Masanjia Labor Camp in China.
“It was surprising at first and I didn’t know if it was a hoax,” recalled Keith, a program manager at a company that runs a chain of thrift stores and donation centers. “Once I read the letter and researched on the Internet, I realized that this may be the real deal.
“I knew there are labor camps in China, but this slammed me in the face. I had no idea if this person was still alive or dead or in the camp — it’s extraordinary that it was able to come all the way from China.”
Keith heeded the writer’s call by reaching out to human rights groups but received no response. She then posted the letter on Facebook, which prompted the local Oregonian newspaper to run a front-page article.
As word of Keith’s unusual Halloween discovery spread, her story turned into international news, throwing a spotlight on one of China’s most notorious labor camps — and the controversial system behind them.
Population control measures, including a possible loosening of the despised one-child policy, were a major topic at the third plenary meeting of the Party’s 18th Central Committee this week.
Any liberalization of the policy would be minor. The new policy being considered would allow any family, where one parent was a single child, to have a second baby. The current policy allows a second baby only in cases when both parents were only children.
Any changes to the one-child policy would endeavor to sustain the nation’s low birth rate while allowing greater freedom for some families to have a second child, National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman Mao Qunan told state media.
Mao attributed China’s economic growth in the past three decades to the one-child policy, saying it had prevented the births of 400 million people, resulting in greater prosperity.
However, Wang Feng, a public policy professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, disagrees. In a Nov. 12 article in Caixin magazine Wang was quoted saying he believes the policy’s contribution is exaggerated by family planning officials and that the greatest decline in China’s birth rate occurred in the ten years prior to the 1980 introduction of the policy. The birth rate plunged because of the promotion of birth control information during the 1970s, he said, adding that when the economy took off in 1987, the birth rate fell again.
“The improvement of living standards and changes in people’s views about the family and giving birth are the key forces driving the decline,” Wang said.
Critics of China’s one-child policy point to serious abuses, including forced abortions, selective abortions of female fetuses, and invasive forced birth control practices as further reason to eliminate the policy. Though Chinese authorities have denied the use of forced abortions, such cases have been documented by activists like Chen Guangcheng.
“Women are forced to abort babies up to the ninth month of pregnancy, and sometimes these forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die along with their full-term babies,” Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition that opposes forced abortion said on the organization’s website.
“The one-child policy causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth, than any other official policy in the history of the world,” Littlejohn said.
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By Matthew Robertson
From the frigid northern plains of Heilongjiang, to the far-flung west of Tibet, and all across China’s heartland, the Chinese Communist Party is reinvigorating a campaign to forcibly transform the thoughts of millions of practitioners of a traditional spiritual discipline.
Every corner of society is to be folded into the movement, according to dozens of Party directives posted on government and Party websites. Even places of education and healing, like the Jiangmen Middle School and the Beijing Friendship Hospital, are expected to take part.
“Enter villages. Enter households. Enter schools. Enter government organs. Enter businesses. Enter the Party cells in the migrant population,” says one notice on the website of a township in the city of Chongqing. “Carrying out the ‘2013 to 2015 Final Battle on Education and Transformation’ is the scientific decision made by the Party Central based on the current struggle,” explains another notice.
Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), the Chinese spiritual practice being targeted, has been persecuted in China since 1999. Jiang Zemin, the Party leader at the time, launched the campaign, and until late 2012 he or his protégés ensured its continuation. Now, this “Final Battle” from 2013 to 2015, is the first time that a nationwide mobilization against Falun Gong has been launched under the rule of Party chief Xi Jinping.
Key members of the security services, who had served the political wishes of former Party leader Jiang Zemin, have been removed this year. Given that the persecution of Falun Gong was personally pushed forward and led by Jiang, it was thought that after his protégés no longer held power, the persecution would by-and-by subside.
Incomplete statistics produced by Minghui.org, a Falun Gong website, do indicate a diminishment in instances of arrests, imprisonment, and torture. And the labor camp system, which had for over a decade handled large numbers of Falun Gong detainees, has in some areas of China quietly been retired this year.
But the new campaign indicates that short of an explicit decision to stop the persecution by the Politburo Standing Committee, the Party’s top leadership organ, it will simply continue being given energy, according to Yiyang Xia, the senior director of Research and Policy on China, with the Human Rights Law Foundation based in Washington, D.C.
“Apart from the Cultural Revolution, which almost destroyed the Party, basically no political movement like this has been overturned,” he said.
The Communist Party’s budget for domestic security was over $120 billion this year, according to official figures.
The officials carrying out the campaign against Falun Gong tap into this budget. “There are several hundred thousand security officials whose livelihoods and benefits come from this persecution, so they are eager to have new campaigns,” said Yiyang Xia.
He added that with 14 years having passed since the beginning of the persecution, a large group of beneficiaries in the Party has formed, which actively push it forward, because they gain power and wealth by doing so.
Liang Xiaojun, a human rights lawyer in China who has taken Falun Gong cases, said there are three reasons the campaign is continuing: The first is momentum: “There has been an ongoing persecution, and no one said anything to stop it. Second, as a totalitarian state, the Party needs to create enemies. The third is profit: People who work on persecuting Falun Gong gain financial profit from it.”
Falun Gong is a spiritual practiced based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It has five slow-motion exercises. At its peak in the late 1990s, there were, according to official figures, over 70 million people practicing it, more than were members of the Communist Party. Practitioners say more than 100 million had taken up the practice.
The chief method that Chinese police and security forces will use to carry out the campaign is called “legal education,” or in the vernacular, brainwashing.
It involves detaining and isolating Falun Gong adherents, and then forcing them to read or watch Communist Party propaganda against the practice. This supplements sleep deprivation and physical torture, sometimes of an extreme kind—shocks with electric batons, stress positions, and burning are often reported.
Corinna-Barbara Francis, a China researcher at Amnesty International, noted that labor camps were the chief instruments for carrying out the last transformation campaign against Falun Gong, running from 2010 to 2012. With the decommissioning of some labor camps, “my assumption is that they’re going to send them to these study classes,” she said, referring to the brainwashing facilities set up on a largely ad hoc basis by local Party authorities.
Duihua, a human rights group based in San Francisco that researches China, said that these facilities are even less legally codified than labor camps, and operate outside any set of official laws.
The Final Battle is an official campaign ordered by the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party, likely based on a document prepared by the 610 Office, an extralegal Party organ tasked with stamping out Falun Gong, according to Yiyang Xia, who has studied the operations of the Party’s security campaigns.
But despite it being an official campaign, the entire operation is in fact illegal according to Chinese law, say lawyers.
“Such a document is evidence of suppressing human rights,” said Liang Xiaojun, the lawyer. “Government officials who have learnt a little law should know that it’s illegal to give such orders. People have freedom of religion and freedom of speech” according to the constitution, he said.
Tang Jitian, a rights lawyer, said, “There is absolutely no question that this has no legal basis.” Properly understood, the activities of the security forces should be classed as “forced disappearances, kidnapping,” Tang said.
Analysts familiar with the operations of the Communist Party say that the directives found all over the Internet on local government websites should not have been there in the first place.
“I’m not involved in the operations. I just take care of Web information,” said a website administrator in Jinhe Town, Shaanxi Province, reached by telephone. “The document is ordered level after level from the central authorities. The State Council promotes open information, so, any government information that’s not marked secret is all published on the website.”
Yiyang Xia notes that no provincial level governments put the information on their websites—only very low-level government offices, who don’t understand the rules properly, do so, he said.
Nevertheless, those implementing the campaign are told they have to do a good job. “There are strict evaluations of the … [anti-Falun Gong] campaign every year,” says a notice in Yunyang County, Chongqing. “If any community doesn’t actively organize … [anti-Falun Gong] activities and can’t finish the education and transformation of students, the authorities will seriously seek out the persons in charge.”
Tao Decai, the leader of the anti-Falun Gong activities at the Zhongshan Middle School, in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, was reached by telephone and asked how the campaign was going.
“We’ve sent out surveys to students to take home,” he said, meaning that students had to check whether anyone in their families practiced Falun Gong. Tao was not willing to answer further questions, and ended the call.
Like any nationwide mobilization embarked upon by a communist government, this one has a lot of quotas.
A notice from the Dunren Street neighborhood Communist Party office, in Chongqing, says: “Every year, over 20 percent of the stubborn targets must undergo education-study classes one time. Their recidivism rate must be less than 3 percent.”
Yunyang County said that over 90 percent of the neighborhoods there must have a 90 percent conversion rate.
Xintunzi Town in Jilin Province, in China’s north, sets a far more ambitious goal. “To convert all the unconverted Falun Gong adherents by the end of 2015. Continue propaganda that exposes and criticizes Falun Gong.”
The earnestness of the Party’s attempt to psychologically transform a large group of peaceful individuals, coupled with the ongoing failure of the campaign to actually achieve its objective, has been a subject of puzzlement and sometimes amusement by observers.
Liang Xiaojun, the Chinese lawyer, said he thought the campaign was “very ridiculous.” “It’s impossible for the Party to achieve its goal to transform all Falun Gong practitioners,” he said.
“They’ve been trying so hard to make this group disappear, but after so much effort, the effect isn’t what they wanted, and now it’s become an international issue,” said Tang Jitian, another rights lawyer in China. “They tried it and failed, and now they have a sense of crisis.”
He added: “Their requirements are high, and they want the work to be done enthusiastically and energetically, so there are some comical aspects to it. But using violence to change people’s thoughts and ideas, in reality it doesn’t really work.”
Lu Chen contributed reporting. Ariel Tian and Frank Fang contributed research.
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By Carol Wickenkamp
A state approved Chinese political theory journal rejects Western political ideas that are taking hold in China, saying they would “confuse the people’s minds”.
A recent article in the journal Qiushi Theory was critical of Western ideological trends that would “confuse the people’s minds” and “crumble the common ideological basis of the Party” while promoting “wrong ideas” such as “universal values,” and “constitutional democracy,” said the Washington DC based media research organization Chinascope, who translated parts of the article.
The article, “Consolidate the Common Ideological Basis That the Party and the People Share in Their Concerted Struggle” says that these ideas are meant to deceive and confuse the masses, while strongly affirming the primacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The political reforms that were hinted at by Xi Jinping’s new regime do not include a Western style constitutional democracy or multi-party system, Qiushi said.
Uncompromisingly supporting a strongly worded Party document that was leaked this summer, the October 16 Qiushi Theory journal article officially denounces any of the changes hoped for by the “New Citizen’s Movement,” a pro-reform, pro-democracy movement which has arisen in China.
Characterizing Western style political reform as a “democracy trap” designed to weaken and eliminate the CCP, the Qiushi article attacks Western political ideas as dangerous.
Advocates of Westernization, it said, were plotting to “mess with the minds of the people,” quoted Reuters. “This is so they can pressure us to put in place the ‘political reforms’ they so earnestly hope for, the real goal of which is to eliminate Communist Party leaders and change our socialist system.”
The reiteration of the regime’s strong anti-reform stance publicly revealed this summer has been accompanied by a continuing crackdown against free assembly, association, and speech.
Advocates for a constitution-based government, disclosure of officials’ assets, and the elimination of government corruption have been targeted in a concentrated effort to derail the trends by detaining key individuals.
Since March , dozens of activists, lawyers, and other citizens have been detained in the crackdown, meant to suppress peaceful assembly, association, and expression, says Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a human rights and advocacy network.
As of Oct. 21, 2013, CHRD has accounted for over 60 individuals accused of activism who have been criminally detained or disappeared in China. Many remain in detention without charges, while 34 have been formally arrested.
By Joshua Philipp
On the Chinese hacker black market, you can buy your way into a compromised computer in South Korea or Japan for 16 cents each. If you want to watch someone through their webcam, access to computers with cameras connected come in packages of $16.27 for 500.
Cybersecurity company TrendMicro took a tour through China’s online, underground market for everything from automated hacking tools to stolen credentials in America and Europe. Researchers detailed their findings on Oct. 29 in a new report, “Beyond Online Gaming Cybercrime: Revisiting the Chinese Underground Market.”
“The Chinese underground market is hidden to the public but is not very difficult to find,” the report states. To access the Chinese hacker black market, researchers went to China’s two main methods for online communication: Baidu Web forums and QQ chat groups.
It states that cybercriminals frequent both Baidu and QQ, noting that each Chinese cybercrime group has a unique ID. “Would-be customers can simply search for a certain group of interest in QQ to gain access to its service and product offerings.”
After gaining access, researchers were greeted with an underground market that is “a lot like any Chinese market.” Users on the Chinese-language market can haggle for goods, and sellers use attractive advertisements to entice buyers.
“Everything you can possibly need is readily available,” the report states.
Under the services section researchers found groups of Chinese mercenary hackers ready to launch attacks for the right price. They can be hired for simple jobs, like launching Distributed Denial of Service attacks to overload websites and take them offline, to more complex jobs like testing a piece of malware against antivirus software.
For cybercriminals interested in working for themselves, there are also plenty of automated hacking tools available. These include phishing kits that can help hackers trick unsuspecting foreigners into granting access to their computers. Or they can grab a remote access tool (RAT) that allows them to control a victim’s computer remotely.
Since their last visit to China’s underground hacker black market, researchers at TrendMicro noted, “It now offers a wider variety of services and products that any cybercriminal would love to get his hands on.”
They also gave a word of warning: “Because cybercriminals find a great deal of value from stealing and buying stolen personal credentials, users should make sure they practice safe computing habits.”
Confucius Institutes censor political discussions and restrain the free exchange of ideas. Why, then, do American universities sponsor them?
We were sitting in his office, Ted Foss and I, on the third floor of Judd Hall at the University of Chicago. Foss is the associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies, a classic area studies program that gathers under its roof specialists in various disciplines who work on China, Korea and Japan. Above us, on the fourth floor, were the offices and seminar room of the university’s Confucius Institute, which opened its doors in 2010. A Confucius Institute is an academic unit that provides accredited instruction in Chinese language and culture and sponsors a variety of extracurricular activities, including art exhibitions, lectures, conferences, film screenings and celebrations of Chinese festivals; at Chicago and a number of other schools, it also funds the research projects of local faculty members on Chinese subjects. I asked Foss if Chicago’s CI had ever organized lectures or conferences on issues controversial in China, such as Tibetan independence or the political status of Taiwan. Gesturing to a far wall, he said, “I can put up a picture of the Dalai Lama in this office. But on the fourth floor, we wouldn’t do that.”
The reason is that the Confucius Institutes at the University of Chicago and elsewhere are subsidized and supervised by the government of the People’s Republic of China. The CI program was launched by the PRC in 2004, and there are now some 400 institutes worldwide as well as an outreach program consisting of nearly 600 “Confucius classrooms” in secondary and elementary schools. In some respects, such a government-funded educational and cultural initiative is nothing new. For more than sixty years, Germany has relied on the Goethe-Institut to foster the teaching of German around the globe. But whereas the Goethe-Institut, like the British Council and the Alliance Française, is a stand-alone institution situated outside university precincts, a Confucius Institute exists as a virtually autonomous unit within the regular curriculum of the host school—for example, providing accredited courses in Chinese language in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.
There’s another big difference: CIs are managed by a foreign government, and accordingly are responsive to its politics.
Read more: China U. | The Nation
By Lu Chen
Before the communists’ revolutionary forces had even taken over China, the Communist Party, in its mountain base of Yan’an, had seen to it that some people were more equal than others: senior officials were given better food, uniforms, and living quarters than regular Party members, and they had special access to the young women there.
The idealistic Party member Wang Shiwei saw all this and wrote a furious essay on the matter called “Wild Lilies.” He was decapitated.
Such inequalities have persisted throughout Party rule, and most recently have been laid bare in articles in the Chinese and Hong Kong press, portraying a system of enormous privilege for retired Party leaders.
“Every retired Chinese Communist Party Standing Committee member enjoys privileged treatment, including six security guards, two drivers, two personal staff, two secretaries, one cook, one doctor, and one nurse,” says a document from the Bureau of Retired Veteran Cadres, cited by the Hong Kong political magazine Mingjing, in recent reports.
The Standing Committee is the highest level of leadership and power in the regime. A few levels lower than that elite committee, retired members are still treated well upon retirement. Members of the Central Committee, the vice chairmen of the National People’s Congress, State Councilors, and members of the Central Military Commission also receive a staff, though not quite as expansive: they get two security guards, one driver, two cars, two personal staff, along with a cook and a doctor.
If they ever need to fly, retired leaders have the use of a special plane from Air China, or a military plain, or one of three trains that are reserved for their use, Mingjing says in its Sept. 29 article.
Should these men ever get sick, their medical coverage is always paid for. Medication and medical devices used on them are imported, while three hospitals, in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, have six teams of medical experts on call for retired leaders.
The Trend, another political magazine based in Hong Kong, says that expenses for retired Politburo members, from which the Standing Committee is drawn, can run from $100,000 to $4.5 million per year.
Housing for these old cadres is also well provided. Former Party leader Jiang Zemin had a palatial villa constructed for his personal use in Shanghai, according to former member of the CCP Central Committee, Li Rui. Li made the accusation in the pro-reform intellectual journal Yanhuang Chunqiu, which means “Annals of the Yellow Emperor” in English. The magazine has elite supporters in the Party. That article was deleted, since the topic is still extremely sensitive in the Party, but Li Rui affirmed what he wrote in Yanhuang Chunqiu on Mingjing’s website.
During a forum discussing political reform hosted by Yanhuang Chunqiu last year, Li Rui proposed abolish the system of special treatments for retired leaders, bringing up Jiang’s mansion as an example. “Jiang Zemin went to his teacher and told him that since Deng Xiaoping has a villa in Shanghai, he wants to build one too,” Li said. “His teacher criticized him, but he still built a villa. I heard it’s very luxurious.”
The Communist Party’s own guidelines offer evidence that the system for looking after retired cadres is well established. A 1982 decision, published on the website of the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Party, says that: “After veteran cadres retire, their basic political treatment will not change, and their lifestyles should receive preferential treatment… This is a policy principle from which the Party and the country should never swerve.”
Internet users compared the system to vampirism. Duxing1968 wrote on Sina Weibo: “I’ve been annoyed by retired cadres’ special treatment for a long time. Before their retirement, they abused their power for personal gain; after their retirement, they are still supported by the people’s money, sucking people’s blood until they die. What kind of system is that? Don’t talk about serving the people. That’s nonsense. The big and small officials are all vampires!”
He added, in seriousness: “I have to say, the special treatment (especially the ones not published) for all levels of officials and retired officials are the biggest obstacle to China’s reform!”
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Zhou Yexian didn’t want to talk about how she got her fake diploma from the University of Sunderland, nor how much she paid for it. “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong person,” she said, after confirming her identity in a telephone call one morning from a reporter who had obtained her curriculum vitae, fake university diploma, fake academic transcript, and a notary’s certificate saying that they were in fact all real.
The number of people like Zhou (not her real name), who have deployed fabricated educational qualifications to boost their careers, is impossible to know. Websites in Chinese, however, offer an array of options for those with the money to spend: without leaving the computer, one could order a fake diploma and an academic transcript from New York University, Purdue University, or institutions of higher educations in Australia, Canada, China, and Japan.
In the case of Zhou Yexian, whose name Epoch Times has altered to guard her privacy, counterfeiters probably took a more customized approach. Epoch Times learned of and obtained Zhou’s problematic credentials from a peer in Singapore, who obtained them from an intermediary when they were both there studying.
Zhou’s peers, after discovering the fabrication—and finding that she had scored a “fancy job” in Beijing—were incensed at what they thought was the unfairness of the situation. They began enquiring discretely about how the process works, and, after noting an Epoch Times article about bogus universities in China, contacted the paper.
Stacy B, one of the individuals, wrote in an email to Epoch Times: “Based on our conversations with people using fraudulent diplomas, we found a structured supply chain for counterfeiters to produce fraudulent diplomas, and also for protecting the people using them to avoid any investigation.”
Counterfeiters approach clients—mostly international students—in Singapore, take their money, print a fake diploma in another country, then ship the papers back to Singapore, Stacy B (not her real name) said. These items closely mimic the diplomas granted by the actual universities, and come along with detailed academic transcripts.
In Zhou’s case, her fabricated transcript shows three years of study at the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom, for which she earned second-class honors in a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in business management. Her highest fake score was 83 percent for a course on organizational behavior.
With diploma and transcript in hand, counterfeiters then walk into any number of law offices in Singapore and obtain genuine notarial certificates that say the diplomas are real.
Making It Real
Sally Choo, an assistant at the Lim Hin Chye & Co. legal firm in Singapore, run by Mr. Lim, a notary public, confirmed that the notarial certificate for Zhou’s fake diploma was real.
Along with the notarial certificate was another certificate from the chief financial officer of the Singapore Academy of Law, showing that the notary, Lim Hin Chye, is real. This certificate was also confirmed to be real by Low Hui Min, the chief financial officer, in an email.
The fakery began when the counterfeiter walked into Mr. Lim’s notary office. Sally Choo, the receptionist and an assistant there, did not remember having that particular diploma notarized; she said via telephone that they have no way of confirming the veracity of the documents that they notarize.
“It can be anybody” that walks in, she said. “The degrees look real. You can’t even tell if they’re real or fake.” When a reporter explained that there are websites that sell degrees of this kind, she said “You can buy the degree online? Oh my goodness.” Choo said that in the cases where they have suspected a degree to be fake, the schools have taken months or more than a year to respond.
So what is the point of the notary? “The notary public is to check the originals and photocopies. If you give the original, we’ll stamp it,” she said. The notaries also receive $75 Singapore dollars (US$60).
“If we don’t do it, they will go to another notary public,” Choo said.
If you don’t have a real diploma, or a fake diploma, then the opportunities might slip right by! – Jingying Wenping Wang, a website that supplies fake diplomas.
Three staff from the University of Sunderland said that they had no record of Zhou’s attendance at their university.
In a follow up email two weeks after being contacted by Epoch Times, Steve Heywood, the head of communications at Sunderland, wrote to say that it takes fake certificates extremely seriously. The university does everything in its power to combat fake degrees, he said.
“Although we only deal with a few cases per year, we were recently notified of a potentially fake certificate in circulation,” the email said. “We have taken all necessary steps to assist in its removal, notifying several relevant bodies in the country concerned, as well as informing our governing body.”
Asked whether this was a reference to Zhou’s case, Heywood said “Don’t particularly want to be drawn into talking about specifics, but I guess you could put two and two together. “
Purdue University said in an email that they report all earned degrees with the National Student Clearinghouse, which prospective employers can consult for a charge.
Stacy B said that when she and her friends contacted Zhou’s current employer, attaching an email from the University of Sunderland demonstrating that her credentials were not real, the employer took no action.
A search of the Chinese Internet shows that there are at least dozens of websites selling fake degrees—Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, and even doctorates in subjects from animal science to interdisciplinary oncology.
One of the websites selling fake degrees, in its frequently asked questions section, presents its case this way: “Is it useful to have a fake degree?” The answer given is: “Of course it is. … In society nowadays, all big companies and work units pay close attention to having a diploma. If you don’t have a real diploma, or a fake diploma, then the opportunities might slip right by!”
Additional reporting by Lu Chen
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