The photo shows rights activists performing the roles of Chinese police and North Korean refugees outside the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Feb. 21, 2012 during a rally demanding that Beijing scrap plans to repatriate arrested refugees from North Korea. The Chinese regime has intensified its crackdown on North Koreans who attempt to escape the Kim regime through China. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)The photo shows rights activists performing the roles of Chinese police and North Korean refugees outside the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Feb. 21, 2012 during a rally demanding that Beijing scrap plans to repatriate arrested refugees from North Korea. The Chinese regime has intensified its crackdown on North Koreans who attempt to escape the Kim regime through China. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

North Koreans who attempt to escape the brutal Kim regime through China are increasingly being apprehended by the Chinese regime and deported back, according to reports. Those who were forcefully returned face certain imprisonment, torture, and even execution.

Human Rights Watch estimated that in July and August alone China apprehended 41 North Koreans attempting to flee their home country by crossing over into and through China, a steep increase from the 51 who are known to have been caught the entire previous year, fra juli 2016 to June 2017. North Korean escapees were caught in various locations inside China from the North Korea-China border all the way to Lao-China border in Yunnan Province.

The fact that North Koreans were being caught as far away as Yunnan means that some of them traveled thousands of miles inside China and were a short distance away from freedom before the Chinese regime’s security apparatus sealed their fate.

The intensified crackdown on North Korean escapees likely started in July, as China arrested a number of local guides that help North Koreans pass through China. As news of the crackdown spread, guides and activists within the existing “rescue network” became more reluctant to take the risk of transporting unfamiliar escapees as they were fearful of being betrayed to the Chinese authorities.

A North Korean soldier stands guard on a boat with locals on the Yalu River near the town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese border town of Dandong on Feb. 9, 2016. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

A North Korean soldier stands guard on a boat with locals on the Yalu River near the town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese border town of Dandong on Feb. 9, 2016. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Among the 92 North Korean escapees that were caught since June 2016, bare 46 are still in Chinese custody and the rest have been deported back to North Korea, according to Human Rights Watch. The North Korean regime imposes severe punishment on those attempting to escape the country. Most would be imprisoned in concentration camps and face torture and abuse, and some of them would be executed, according to Human Rights Watch.

The deportation of North Korean refugees back to North Korea has been identified as a violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its accompanying 1967 Protocol. China is a signatory country for both. Article 33 of the Convention, also known as the principle of non-refoulement, prohibits countries from expelling or returning a refugee where “his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

The Chinese regime considers North Korean refugees only as “illegal economic migrants” rather than refugees or asylum seekers, despite the fact that these North Koreans are internationally recognized as refugees who would face severe persecution upon return.

North Korea has also stepped up its own efforts to crackdown on defections. In a recent report, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said that 780 North Koreans eventually reached safety in the South between January and August, a significant decline from the same period one year previously, de Telegraph reported.

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Xue holds a notebook declaring that she withdraws from the Chinese Communist Party on Sept. 8, 2017. (RFA)Xue holds a notebook declaring that she withdraws from the Chinese Communist Party on Sept. 8, 2017. (RFA)

The career of an Olympic doctor—who had blazed a trail to success at an early age—came to a screeching halt when she refused to inject the top Chinese gymnasts with steroids. After almost two decades of mistreatment, she is seeking asylum in Germany and has severed all ties with the Chinese Communist Party.

Xue Yinxian, 79, was born in a revolutionary family, and her early life as a privileged “second generation red”—child of veteran officials—went just as expected.

In her 20s, she entered the General Administration of Sport of China, the country’s top sports bureau. She later became the personal doctor for Olympians such as Li Ning, known in China as “Prince of Gymnastics,” and Lou Yun, a two-time gold medalist at the Olympic Games in 1984 og 1988. She was also the chief doctor overseeing the 11 national teams.

Everything changed in the late 1970s when a wave of state-sponsored doping hit China’s sports scene. Sports doctor Chen Zhanghao had been sent to study the advantages of stimulants and returned to China proclaiming their power to combat fatigue.

Shortly afterwards, Xue said all athletes were required to take the drugs.

The state sports bureau later established a research team on doping, which Chen led.

Xue said athletes were often not told what they were injected with—steroids and growth hormones were referred to as “special nutritional medicine” and promoted across the country as a part of “scientific training.”

“The campaign ruined our nation’s athletes for life,” Xue said.

As a physician, Xue saw the danger of stimulants more clearly than most of her contemporaries. She said the side effects included severe liver damage and brittle bones, as well as liver and brain cancer. But the teenage girl athletes paid the steepest price.

“The ‘powerful energizer’ did get them through the door to the professional team.” Xue said. “I saw some like that—she broke the provincial records…but now she is penniless and has mental problems.”

What bothered Xue most was the lack of drug regulations. “At least on the national team there were medical doctors watching them taking doses and taking responsibility for it, but who cared about the regional teams?"

Li Ning during the XXIII Olympic Summer Games at the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California, on 4th August 1984. (Trevor Jones/Getty Images)

Li Ning during the XXIII Olympic Summer Games at the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California, on 4th August 1984. (Trevor Jones/Getty Images)

I juli 1988, two months before the Seoul Olympic Games, Xue was asked to inject gymnast Li Ning with performance-enhancing drugs.

She declined and retaliation followed swiftly.

While cooperative doctors enjoyed lucrative rewards and promotion, Xue was removed from her post. Her email and phone were monitored. A police car was permanently parked outside of her home.

“Li Ning is a celebrity,” she had told officials.” If this should be found out, it’s not only you, me, and Li Ning who would lose face, our national image would be gone as well.”

“What the sports committee wanted were champions, not athletes,” Li Ning told Southern Weekly i 2012.

Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she got a visit from the vice director of the state sports bureau, who warned her not to “say anything unfavorable against the nation,” according to Yang Weidong, Xue’s son and a contemporary artist.

Xue’s husband, who had just had brain surgery, got into a physical confrontation with the official, during which he fell to the ground and again wounded his head. He died three months later.

I 2012, Xue gave an interview to Australia’s Fairfax Media in which she blew the whistle on China’s state-enforced doping, the first time the regime had been directly implicated in the practice.

Seeking Asylum

Xue has suffered two strokes, and once lost her ability to speak. When she sought treatment at Beijing Hospital and China-Japan Friendship Hospital, two of the major state-run hospitals in Beijing, she received nothing more than examinations.

“For two years they wouldn’t treat my mom,” said Yang Weidong, Xue’s son and a contemporary artist. “The hospitals didn’t specify the reasons, but whenever we arrived at the hospital, the police would also be there.”

Before Xue was allowed to leave the country to seek medical help, her home was searched as the police attempted to find the 68 work journals that Xue wrote as a medical doctor—journals that help document her allegations of state-sponsored doping.

The police were a step too late: months earlier Xue’s family had transported the journals overseas.

Xue escaped to Germany in June with her her son and daughter-in-law, and applied for asylum. All three were transferred to a refugee camp in Mannheim on Aug. 29.

Xue Yinxian in 1988. (File photo)

Xue Yinxian in 1988. (File photo)

Xue told Radio Free Asia that she had stopped paying Party membership dues after her husband’s death. på september. 8, 2017, she had a picture taken of her holding a notebook on which she had written, "Xue Yinxian declares: [I] withdraw from the Chinese Communist Party. Dated 9.8.2017.”

With that gesture, Xue cut her last ties to the Chinese regime. To date, rundt 280 million Chinese have chosen to repudiate their connections with the Party and its affiliated organizations.

aug. 28, the abuse Xue has fought against was again in the news. The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed that two Chinese weightlifters were guilty of doping and stripped them of the gold medals they had won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The finding against the two weightlifters is the latest instance of the doping scandal that has shaken Olympic sports. Retesting of samples from the 2008 og 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London found about 50 doping cases and at least 25 medals were voided—most cases were involved athletes from the former Soviet Union, ifølge Associated Press.

Kina, one of the top countries in weightlifting, won seven medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, including five gold.

Additional reporting by Chang Chun and Zhang Ting.

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United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Monday that China’s manipulative trade practices and economic model represent an “unprecedented threat’. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Monday that China’s manipulative trade practices and economic model represent an “unprecedented threat’. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

China’s manipulative trade practices and economic model represent an “unprecedented threat” to the world’s market-based economy and U.S. interests, said the incumbent United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a speech on Monday.

It was the first major public speech given by Lighthizer, a long term critic of China’s trade practices against the United States. Lighthizer told a crowd of over a hundred at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that China represents the one challenge facing the administration that is “substantially more difficult than those faced in the past.”

“The sheer scale of their coordinated efforts to develop their economy, to subsidize, to create ‘National Champions,’ to force technology transfers, and to destroy market, in China and throughout the world, is a threat to world trading system that is unprecedented,” said Lighthizer.

Lighthizer was referring to the hundreds if not thousands of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOE) that are institutionally protected and promoted by the Chinese regime, hence known as the “national champions” of the Chinese economy.

Not only do Chinese state-owned enterprises receive extensive protection from the Chinese regime against foreign competition, they are also often the culprits in stealing technology and other intellectual properties from foreign companies. Large number of American companies have fallen victim to such abusive tactics by the Chinese, which has resulted in massive job losses on the part of American workers, according to Lighthizer and many other critics of China’s trade practices.

“Unfortunately the World Trade Organization is not equipped to deal with this problem,” Lighthizer said, “WTO and its predecessors, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), were not designed to successfully manage mercantilism on this scale.”

“We must find other ways to defend our companies, workers, farmers, and indeed, our economic system,” said Lighthizer, “We must find ways to ensure our market-based economy prevails.”

Cargo ships berth at a port in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province on June 8, 2016. (Bilder STR / AFP / Getty)

Abusive trade practices by the Chinese state-owned enterprises have inflicted significant harm on American companies and will be dealt with by the Trump administration, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Photo showing cargo ships berthed at a port in Qingdao, Kina. (Bilder STR / AFP / Getty)

Lighthizer did not reveal specifics of the ongoing investigation regarding China’s alleged theft of intellectual property, a process that was started by President Trump on Aug. 14. He revealed, derimot, that the investigators receive “an awful lot of complaints” from executives of American companies that were hurt by the abusive practices of the Chinese, with many complaining that they were forced to give up their technology and corporate secrets to their Chinese competitors.

Trump Continues Hawkish Stance

Lighthizer’s comment on Monday represents the latest signal that Trump’s campaign pledge of a hardline trade policy against China remains steadfast, despite the departure on Aug. 19 of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who was widely thought to be the administration’s primary advocate of a hawkish stance against China.

Lighthizer is not the only “trade hawk” inside Trump’s administration. Peter Navarro, an economist who is also known for outspoken criticism of the Chinese regime and of China’s trade practices against the United States, was selected by President Donald Trump to head the newly created National Trade Council and is believed to be playing a key role in forming the Trump administration’s trade policies.

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Three legislators of Taiwan, Hsu Yung-ming, Yu Wan-ju, and Chang Hung-lu led the march to United Nations Headquarters during the Sept. 16 ‘Keep Taiwan Free’ march. Hundreds of activists held a rally in New York City on Saturday afternoon to protest Taiwan’s exclusion from the United Nations. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)Three legislators of Taiwan, Hsu Yung-ming, Yu Wan-ju, and Chang Hung-lu led the march to United Nations Headquarters during the Sept. 16 ‘Keep Taiwan Free’ march. Hundreds of activists held a rally in New York City on Saturday afternoon to protest Taiwan’s exclusion from the United Nations. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

Hundreds of activists held a rally in New York City on Saturday afternoon to protest Taiwan’s exclusion from the United Nations and other international organizations. Taiwanese Americans, Chinese dissidents, and international supporters of Taiwan joined force with activists and politicians from Taiwan to push for Taiwan’s international participation as U.N. General Assembly started its new session.

China’s role in excluding Taiwan from the international community of nations was highlighted as activists kicked off their march to the UN Headquarters from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Hell’s Kitchen. In support of the rally prominent Chinese dissidents Yang Jianli and Teng Biao gave speeches in front of the consulate.

“China’s relentless and increasingly oppressive tactics to exclude Taiwan from the global community have only harmful consequences for mankind,” said Yang Jianli, who was jailed by the Chinese government from 2002 til 2006 for his pro-democracy activism. “Surely Taiwan has much to contribute to the world, and the UN should open its doors to the vibrant democracy of 23 million people.”

Chinese dissident Yang Jianli gives a speech on Sept. 16 in front of China's Consulate General Office in New York City to protest China's blocking of Taiwan from the United Nations and other international organization. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

Chinese dissident Yang Jianli gives a speech on Sept. 16 in front of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York City to protest China’s blocking of Taiwan from the United Nations and other international organizations. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

The “Keep Taiwan Free” rally was organized by the New York-based Committee for Admission of Taiwan to the UN and was held to coincide with the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly, hvilken convened on Sept. 12 and runs through Sept. 25. Among those attending was a delegation from the Taiwan United Nations Alliance (TAIUNA)—a Taiwanese NGO that for 14 years has organized an annual trip to the United States to work for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN.

A crowd of 600 participated in the event, according to organizers. Starting at 4 pm, the marchers walked across Manhattan and eventually reached the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in front of the UN Headquarters at around 5pm. The march was peaceful and caught the attention of many New Yorkers who were strolling through midtown on Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of activists held a march on Saturday afternoon from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Hell's Kitchen to the UN Headquarters on the other side of the Manhattan, to protest Taiwan's exclusion from the United Nations and other international organizations. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

Hundreds of activists held a march on Saturday afternoon from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Hell’s Kitchen to the UN Headquarters on the other side of the Manhattan, to protest Taiwan’s exclusion from the United Nations and other international organizations. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

Ting, a Taiwanese student studying in America, said that she participated in the rally because she wants her country to be recognized by other people, and she feels strongly about Taiwan having such an identity. An estimated 57,000 Taiwanese students are studying internationally around the world, most of them are in countries that don’t recognize Taiwan’s statehood diplomatically, including the United States, where 21,000 Taiwanese students are believed to be studying.

TAIUNA President Michael Tsai, who is also a former Minister of Defense of Taiwan, said that no one should be barred from participation in the UN. Tsai argued that even Palestine, held to be a “non-state entity” by many, was able to join the U.N. as an observer two years ago. Så, “why can’t Taiwan?"

Michael Tsai (middle), Taiwan's former Minister of Defense and president of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance, said that no one should be barred from participation in the UN. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

Michael Tsai (middle), Taiwan’s former Minister of Defense and president of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance, said that no one should be barred from participation in the UN. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

Hsu Yung-ming, a Taiwanese legislator from the New Power Party flew from Taiwan and joined the rally. “Many people say the push for UN membership is impossible for Taiwan, but they fail to see what’s at stake here,” said Hsu. “Taiwan needs to make its voice heard by the international community. We need to make this an issue, and for the world to see there are 23 million people currently being excluded from the UN.”

Chang Hung-lu and Yu Wan-ju, two other legislators from the Democratic Progressive Party—the current ruling party of Taiwan—also joined the rally. “The fact that China has the power to exclude others from the United Nations is a violation of its founding philosophy, which is supposed to include everyone,” said Yu.

June Lin, one of the young Taiwanese Americans during the Sept. 16 'Keep Taiwan Free' march, gave a speech at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza next to the UN Headquarters. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

June Lin, one of the young Taiwanese-Americans during the Sept. 16 ‘Keep Taiwan Free’ march, gave a speech at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza next to the UN Headquarters. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

At Dag Hammarskjold Plaza next to the UN Headquarters, activist students took turns giving speeches supporting Taiwan’s return to the UN. June Lin, one of the young Taiwanese-Americans, said that the recent trial of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese citizen imprisoned by China, is the latest example why Taiwan needs to make its voice heard on the international stage.

Taiwan under the name “Republic of China” was kicked out of the UN by the 1971 General Assembly Resolution 2758 to make way for the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan has tried without success to reenter the U.N. since 1993.

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In a video released by the Chinese court, a visibly shaken Lee Ching-yu can be seen reading out a statement in court that admits his guilt for “subverting” the Chinse government. Lee’s wife can be seen sitting in the last row of the court room. (Weibo Screenshot/Yueyang Intermediate People's Court)In a video released by the Chinese court, a visibly shaken Lee Ching-yu can be seen reading out a statement in court that admits his guilt for “subverting” the Chinse government. Lee’s wife can be seen sitting in the last row of the court room. (Weibo Screenshot/Yueyang Intermediate People's Court)

The Chinese regime held a show trial to convict Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese human rights activist who has been imprisoned in China since March of this year under charges of “subversion.”

Lee is the first Taiwanese citizen ever to become a political prisoner in China, and the case has attracted considerable international attention. Human rights groups and Lee’s wife blasted the Chinese regime’s treatment of Lee and have criticized the trial as a mockery of justice.

Lee Ming-che disappeared in late March 2017 when he attempted to enter China via Zhuhai, Guangdong, from Macau. The Chinese regime later confirmed that Lee was detained and charged with “subversion.” Lee’s alleged crimes consisted of sending books and materials to friends in China who are interested in human rights, and engaging in online chat group discussions with other Chinese human rights advocates.

Etter 170 days in jail, the 42-year-old Lee went on trial in Yueyang Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan on Sept. 11. The hearing was broadcast live on the court’s Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter), supposedly to demonstrate that the trial was fair and open. Lee was tried along with his co-defendant Peng Yuhua who allegedly also participated in the “subversive” online chat group.

In the video, a visibly shaken Lee pleaded guilty to charges of “subverting state power,” and can be seen reading out a statement in court that blamed “false portrayals of China in Taiwanese media” for his action. He also expressed his “gratitude” to the Chinese authorities and said he saw how “fair and civilized” China’s justice system is.

As is typical with China’s judicial system, nowhere in the recorded video of the proceeding did Lee’s court-assigned “attorney” speak in Lee’s defense, nor make any statement contradicting the prosecutors’ charges. The trial ended with both Lee and Peng’s “confessions,” and the court announced that a hearing on sentencing will be held in future date.

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Lee’s wife Lee Ching-yu who was allowed to travel to China and attend the court on Monday, released a statement asking the Taiwanese people to forgive her husband for the “embarrassing confession” he made in court under duress. Chinese authorities only allowed Lee to enter court in the middle of the proceedings, and she was seen sitting in the last row of the court room.

The court’s Weibo published several photos of the trial, including one that shows Lee Ching-yu reunited with her husband and holding his hands.

Since his arrest in March, Lee Ming-che was not allowed any communication with the outside world—not even his wife and family. Lee’s wife later posted on Facebook that she felt Lee was afraid of saying anything in front of her, and all that the couple could do was to hold hands and look at each other.

“I am proud of you, Lee Ming-che!” Lee’s wife Lee Ching-yu posted a photo on Facebook showing support for her husband prior to Monday’s court trial. (Lee Ching-yu’s Facebook)

Lee Ching-yu has launched a relentless and high profile public campaign to seek her husband’s release. Previously, Lee attempted to travel to China in April but was rejected from boarding at the Taoyuan airport as her travel permit to mainland China was cancelled by the Chinese regime. She later traveled to the United States in May and testified at a U.S. Congressional hearing. She also met with various human rights NGOs and Trump administration officials.

The Taiwanese public has reacted to the trial with anger. Many Taiwanese netizens have been using the hashtag “We are all Lee Ming-che” on Facebook and other social media to express their solidarity with Lee.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which serves as the country’s official agency dealing with the mainland Chinese regime, dispatched a team of advisors and assistants to accompany Lee Ching-yu to China. Tt also released a statement after Monday’s trial that says that it is “disappointed” that the Chinese government did not observe due process in the trial.

Despite this, many inside Taiwan still perceive the government’s response to the case as too weak and insufficient to demonstrate Taiwan’s resolve.

Previously, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen administration had sought to minimize confrontation with the hostile Chinese regime on the other side of the strait. After reports surfaced that there was some friction between Lee Ching-yu’s high profile campaign and the Taiwanese government’s low profile approach to the case, the Tsai administration publicly pledged to ramp up efforts to rescue Lee Ming-che,

Lee is notable for being the first ever Taiwanese citizen to be recorded as a political prisoner in China by the political prisoner database maintained by U.S. Congressional Executive Commission On China (CECC).

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Dan Blumenthal (center), Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, speaks at a discussion on U.S-Korea relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on Sept. 5, 2017, in Washington. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)Dan Blumenthal (center), Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, speaks at a discussion on U.S-Korea relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on Sept. 5, 2017, in Washington. (Paul Huang/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON – In the aftermath of last week’s nuclear test by North Korea that allegedly detonated a hydrogen bomb, experts suggest that the time is now for the United States to apply overwhelming pressures on China so as to force it into giving up the rough Kim regime and put an end to its seemly-endless provocations and aggressions.

Dan Blumenthal, Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said on Tuesday that it is possible for the United States and China to reach an agreement over the future of the Korean Peninsula, provided that United States “makes China feel so much pain over its relationship with North Korea” so that China would eventually give up its support for the totalitarian Kim Jong-un regime.

Among a panel of experts that participated in the discussion on U.S.-South Korea strategy hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Sept. 5, all agreed that a unification of the Korean Peninsula under the democratic rule of the South Korea should be desired “end goal” for both the United States and South Korea. derimot, Dan Blumenthal was the most vocal when it came to advocating a hardline policy against China over its support for North Korea.

“What we need to do, and what we have done effectively, is to scare China,” said Dan Blumenthal, "[The United States should] make China very scared, and on its heels about what we are going to do, and what we are capable of doing.”

Blumenthal also said that Trump’s approach to North Korea is more or less on the right trajectory: “The policy adopted by the Trump administration right now is to tie North Korea as a liability for China, to make China feel so much pain for its relations with North Korea,” said Blumenthal, “at some point China would say, enough is enough.”

“China will help get rid of Kim regime, and give him a nice villa in Shenyang, with Dennis Rodman as his companion,” said Blumenthal.

After North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sunday, President Trump vowed that the United States will stop all trade with any country doing business with North Korea. China is currently North Korea’s biggest trading partner. Previously Trump has said many times that he was “disappointed” in China for not helping stop North Korea’s nuclear aggressions.

A B-1B long range strategic bomber in a file photo. In July this year the U.S. flew two of the bombers over the North Korean penninsula in a demonstration of force. Michael Green, the senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS, said that China needs to be compelled to change through a forcible approach, such as building the fear of a U.S. attack on North Korea in the minds of the Chinese regime rulers. (Courtesy USAF/Getty Images)

A B-1B long range strategic bomber in a file photo. In July this year the U.S. flew two of the bombers over the North Korean penninsula in a demonstration of force. Michael Green, the senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS, said that China needs to be compelled to change through a forcible approach, such as building the fear of a U.S. attack on North Korea in the minds of the Chinese regime rulers. (Courtesy USAF/Getty Images)

Michael Green, the senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS, said that he would substitute the word “incentivize” for the word “scare.” However, Green also acknowledged that China needs to be compelled to change through a forcible approach, such as building the fear of a U.S. attack [on North Korea] in the minds of the Chinese regime rulers.

Other experts expressed more doubt over the possibility that the Chinese regime’s behavior could be changed. Laura Rosenberger, Director of Alliance for Securing Democracy said, “I am more pessimistic on it. We forget that [the Chinese regime] has a communist party leadership. That’s an existential issue.”

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Panama's Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chat during a ceremony on establishing diplomatic relations on June 13, 2017 i Beijing, Kina (Greg Baker - Pool/Getty Images)Panama's Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chat during a ceremony on establishing diplomatic relations on June 13, 2017 i Beijing, Kina (Greg Baker - Pool/Getty Images)

After Panama cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and switched recognition to the Beijing regime in China, Taiwan’s government and public vowed to defy China’s latest encroachment. Experts say that the development is likely to fuel Taiwan’s resilience and determination to resist the coercive Beijing regime.

On June 12, President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela declared in a televised address that Panama is cutting its long-standing relations with the Republic of China in Taiwan and is establishing relationships with the People’s Republic of China.

Despite not being formally recognized by the majority of countries in the world and being excluded from the United Nations, Taiwan maintains official diplomatic relations with a limited number of countries that recognize Taiwan instead of China. With the departure of Panama, now only 20 countries remain on the list.

China’s communist party regime considers Taiwan a part of its territory and insists on a “one-China policy” that precludes any international space for Taiwan. It has been constantly putting pressure on Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies. Just last year, the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe also cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and switched recognition to China.

Taiwan’s predicament is exacerbated by the fact that its archaic constitutional framework also upholds its own version of the “one-China policy,” which insists the Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of China. Som et resultat, all other nations are forced to choose between recognizing Taiwan’s “Republic of China” or the bigger, more powerful People’s Republic of China. So far no nation has ever formally recognized Taiwan and China simultaneously.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen only just paid a visit to Panama in June on her first overseas trip since coming into office last year. Up until recently, Panamanian officials have repeatedly reassured Taiwanese diplomats that the country is committed to its relationship with Taiwan and will not kowtow to Beijing.

While it is not publicly known what Beijing offered Panama to finally lure it away from Taiwan, Chinese companies have been investing heavily in Panama’s canal projects.

Russell Hsiao, Executive Director of the Washington D.C. based think tank Global Taiwan Institute, said that Panama’s switching diplomatic relations is yet another proof that Beijing is escalating its coercive campaign against the democratic island nation.

“It was only a matter of time before Beijing pulled the trigger, despite the Tsai administration’s pledge to maintain the ‘status quo’ in cross-Strait relations,” said Russell Hsiao.

According to Russell Hsiao, Beijing’s actions will likely be counter-productive and fuel greater public angst and animosity towards the PRC.

The news of Panama’s break away has indeed provoked outrage in Taiwan, with many politicians and commentators expressing anger and resentment toward China. Taiwan’s President Tsai also issued a statement condemning China’s maneuver and vows that Taiwan will not succumb to “threats and intimidation.”

"[Taiwan’s] sovereignty cannot be challenged nor traded. China has continued to manipulate the “one China” principle and pressure Taiwan’s international space, threatening the rights of the Taiwanese people.” President Tsai’s statement said.

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A World Health Organization (WHO) logo at their office in Beijing on April 19, 2013. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)A World Health Organization (WHO) logo at their office in Beijing on April 19, 2013. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

The World Health Assembly (WHA), a meeting of the member states of the World Health Organization (WHO), is set to convene this week in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss global health policies.

But one country has notably not received an invitation: Taiwan.

The island nation has been isolated internationally as a result of pressure from Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory.

For the past eight years, Taiwan has received an invitation to attend the WHA as an observer under the official name “Chinese Taipei” as a compromise with Beijing. I fjor, the WHA invitation notably mentioned the one-China principle, part of the 1992 consensus which claims there is only one “China,” encompassing both mainland China and Taiwan.

This year, derimot, Taiwan did not receive an invitation at all.

“This exclusion of Taiwan from attending the WHA ignores the health rights of 23 million people in Taiwan,” says Joe Wang, a diplomat at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, in an interview.

Furthermore, Wang notes that “it will cause a severe breach in the world health system” if Taiwan is excluded from the process. “Disease stops at no borders," han sa.

Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare, Chen Shih-Chung, said at a meeting on May 3 that Taiwan will send a delegation to Geneva for the WHA even if it is not invited. The deadline for online registration passed two weeks ago.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen took to social media to garner international support for Taiwan’s bid for WHA admission, highlighting the nation’s contribution to health and medicine globally.

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This video, tweeted by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, depicts a young girl who was given a second chance to life after receiving a liver transplant by Taiwanese surgeons.

This incident is just one among a larger struggle by Beijing to exclude Taiwan from all international meetings and organizations.

Back in early May, at an international conference on conflict diamonds hosted in Australia, the Chinese delegation violated all rules of courtesy, loudly interrupting Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop’s remarks at the welcome ceremony. They demanded Taiwan first be ousted from the conference. Eventually left with no other choice, the Australian hosts had to eject the Taiwanese delegation.

A high-level Australian attendee told the Sydney Morning Herald their actions were “disgusting” and “inappropriate.”

I fjor, Taiwan was denied an invitation to participate in the assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization of the United Nations. And Taiwan was also barred from participating in the general assembly of Interpol, the international organization to fight crime.

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Shen Yun dancers perform a classical Chinese dance number. (Courtesy of Shen Yun Performing Arts)Shen Yun dancers perform a classical Chinese dance number. (Courtesy of Shen Yun Performing Arts)

Shen Yun Performing Arts, the premier classical Chinese dance company, was set for its Thailand debut in January. The theater was booked months in advance. Tickets were selling at a brisk pace.

But in the days leading up to the opening night on January 11, Bangkok’s Aksra Theatre suddenly declined to host the New York-based Shen Yun. The promoters couldn’t secure another first rate venue on short notice, and Shen Yun was forced to skip Thailand for its 2017 season.

The theater’s withdrawal, it appears, was very likely the result of pressure from the Chinese regime. The Epoch Times recently obtained a letter by the Chinese Embassy in Thailand to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, copied to the police and the Ministry of Culture, that calls on the Thailand to ban Shen Yun or risk rocky diplomatic ties with the Chinese regime.

“In order to avoid affecting the well-developed relationship between China and Thailand, the Ministry is kindly requested to pay close attention to the issue and timely coordinate with relevant authorities to ban” Shen Yun and “Falun Gong,” read the letter, which is affixed with an official-looking red seal and dated Dec. 23, 2016. Shen Yun was scheduled to perform in Thailand from January 11 to January 15.

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Epoch Times received a version of the letter that had the Chinese regime’s slander of Falun Gong redacted; local promoters of Shen Yun in Thailand appear to have obtained the original letter from their contacts in the government.

Ms. Li, the spokesperson for the promotion company hosting Shen Yun’s in Thailand, who spoke anonymously out of considerations for personal safety, said: “Many tickets were sold barely a week into promotion, and we also received inquiries from citizens of neighboring countries. The ticketing company was shocked that a performing arts company that had never been in Thailand was so popular, and we had plans to add more shows.”

“But the Chinese communist regime exerted immense pressure on the Thai government. The Chinese Embassy interfered unreasonably, and this behavior should be condemned by the international community,” she said.

The Chinese regime has sought to sabotage Shen Yun since the company’s inception in 2006, according to a running list of anti-Shen Yun activities engaged in by individuals suspected of association with the Chinese authorities, as documented by Leeshai Lemish, an emcee with Shen Yun. These activities include threatening calls to theaters, the slashing of Shen Yun tour bus tires, letters from Chinese diplomatic officials to local politicians warning about Shen Yun, and more.

Western media have also been roped into doing the Chinese regime’s anti-Shen Yun work. This January, several Western publications carried a paid advertisement by the state-run China Daily that featured slanderous propaganda about Shen Yun.

Few of the regime’s tactics of subversion appear to bear fruit. In past cases, local politicians, wondering what the fuss is about and sometimes indignant at being told what to do by a foreign government, ended up attending and appreciating Shen Yun shows. Concertgoers around the world, many accomplished producers, musicians, and dancers themselves, often praise the company after seeing it.

Some theaters and governments, derimot, eventually cave in under the intense Chinese pressure. The most recent high-profile rejection incident was in South Korea, where a district court ruled in May 2016 that Shen Yun couldn’t perform in the state-owned KBS Hall.

The regime’s motivations for subversion appear to be two-fold.

Først, Shen Yun seeks to revive China’s five millennial-old, divinely inspired culture through music and dance, according to its official website. The Chinese regime, despite being responsible for destroying much of Chinese culture, considers itself the sole custodian to all things Chinese.

Second, Shen Yun was founded by practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that has been brutally suppressed by the Chinese regime since 1999. Shen Yun shows feature vignettes that depict the regime’s persecution of practitioners.

Ms. Li, the spokesperson for the promoters in Thailand, said: “Thailand is a sovereign and free country. We urge the Thai government and officials to not yield to the Chinese regime, and welcome Shen Yun like many countries worldwide.”

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den US-. carrier group headed by carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Matt Brown/US Navy)den US-. carrier group headed by carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Matt Brown/US Navy)

Responding to North Korea’s recent missile test, OSS. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the United States was willing to act to contain the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions with or without Chinese aid. He may have spoken too soon. According to South Korea’s Chosun.com, 150,000 medical and support personnel of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army have been mobilized along the Yalu River that separates North Korea from China.

The reported deployment shortly after an American carrier group headed by the USS Carl Vinson started towards the Korean Peninsula on April 8, changing course from an original destination in Australia.

OSS. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping recently met in Florida, between April 6 og 8. Both leaders came away from the summit apparently satisfied, and pledged to bring the North Korean nuclear crisis to a peaceful conclusion.

And on April 6, Trump ordered a massive cruise missile strike against a Syrian airbase after reports that government forces had used chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war. This has fueled speculation about things to come in Korea.

Pyongyang has expressed confidence in its “tremendous military muscle with a nuclear force” to defend itself should the U.S. decide on a military solution.

North Korea, a communist dictatorship and one of the most repressive regimes in the world, has taken a menacing stance against its neighbors for decades. I 2006, it exploded a primitive nuclear weapon and has conducted nuclear and rocket tests of increasing sophistication in the years since.

North Korea “is a rogue regime that is now a nuclear capable regime,” said national security adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster on Fox News Sunday. “And President Xi and President Trump agreed that that is unacceptable, that what must happen is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

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The border between China (L) and Vietnam (R) in the northern Vietnamese city of Lao Cai on May 9, 2014. Recent reports from Vietnam claim kidnapping and murder for organs to supply China’s transplant industry, raising questions about reform in China. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)The border between China (L) and Vietnam (R) in the northern Vietnamese city of Lao Cai on May 9, 2014. Recent reports from Vietnam claim kidnapping and murder for organs to supply China’s transplant industry, raising questions about reform in China. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

During a recent international summit on organ trafficking at the Vatican, top Chinese surgeons were given a prominent opportunity to explain how they had reformed unethical practices in their country. They told the attendees, over 100 experts in the ethics of organ transplantation, that prisoners are definitely no longer used as an organ source in China—except for sometimes, when they are.

“There is zero tolerance,” said Dr. Huang Jiefu, China’s official spokesperson on the issue. “However, China is a big country with a 1.3 billion population so I am sure, definitely, there is some violation of the law.”

Such “violations of the law” may come in the form of abducting innocent individuals and murdering them to sell their organs, according to revelations from Vietnam last year that have not previously been documented in English.

I juli 2016, Vietnam police issued internal circulars regarding Chinese kidnappers harvesting the vital organs of vulnerable people in a border province, i følge documents obtained by Epoch Times. In October, state television aired investigative reports on China’s underground organ procurement operations, partly targeting Vietnamese.

Observers of China’s transplantation system are divided on a basic question: Are these terrible new revelations of organ transplant abuse a mere deviation from an otherwise respectable and ethical system—or, faktisk, do they represent the norm?

Border Abductions

On July 27, 2016, a local police station in the northern Vietnamese province of Lao Cai, on the border with China, alerted the community about a spate of kidnappings that ended macabrely.

“Sixteen victims have been kidnapped and harvested for organs (liver, nyre, hjerte, eyes…) at Ha Giang Province near the border of Vietnam and China,” according to a document sent to Si Mai Ca District police station. “After investigation, the kidnappers were identified as Chinese.”

The kidnappers operated in groups of three to five, and drove cars with illegal license plates, the document read. They targeted “families with more elderly people, children, or students of schools that hold extra-curricular activities” such as unsupervised cattle feeding or farming.

There was briefly some confusion as to whether the Vietnam police document was genuine—Vietnamese police retracted it on Aug. 18 after it went viral on social media.

But on Aug. 10, one week prior, Hoang Tien Binh, the chief of Si Mai Ca Police Station, told the Vietnamese edition of Epoch Times that the police document was authentic. “The purpose of the announcement is to spread serious awareness to the community,” Hoang said.

National broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV), who was first to break the story, also said it received confirmation of the document’s authenticity from a police station.

In October, VTV aired two investigative reports about the issue of human trafficking that dealt with organ harvesting in China. VTV reporters posed as interested organ buyers, and secretly recorded their clandestine efforts to procure organs from Chinese or Vietnamese middlemen.

In the first report, a Chinese organ broker told reporters that Vietnamese women trafficked to China are pushed into prostitution and later sold as wives. Vietnamese infants and men are sold instead to “organ concentration camps.” The VTV report did not comment on how long such activities may have been going on.

De second report follows journalists seeking a kidney in Guangdong, a southern province of China that is “considered the capital of the organ trading market,” according to VTV.

An organ trafficker walked the reporters through the procedure for securing “good and healthy” organs, quoted a price for a kidney, then showed them a video of the organ harvesting process. Seinere, the trafficker identified the Chinese surgeon who would be doing the transplant from portraits of staff on the wall of a large hospital in Foshan, a city in Guangdong.

Defining the Norm

Dr. Nancy Ascher, president of The Transplantation Society, a global transplantation body, said in an email that organ trafficking between Vietnam and China is criminal activity that must be investigated.

“Perpetrators need to be brought to trial,” she wrote in an email, in response to a summary of the allegations. “To the extent that medical personnel are involved in such nefarious acts, these individuals need to be brought to justice as well.”

Ascher stated that the “criminals are likely acting outside the regulatory systems that have now been established in China,” referring to official Chinese claims that it has stopped using prisoner organs since January 2015.

For the last several years, Chinese authorities say that they have been constructing a system of voluntary organ donation resembling that found in the West, but these claims have been cast into doubt by researchers, who note that there has in fact been no change in law.

Most of the controversy surrounding organ transplantation in China relates not to executed prisoners, but to reports that Chinese authorities have systematically harvested organs from prisoners of conscience, primarily practitioners of Falun Gong, a persecuted spiritual practice. Organ transplant volume in China began growing exponentially six months after the persecution of the practice began.

For eksempel, Huang’s close colleague, the prominent liver surgeon Zheng Shusen, is the head of an anti-Falun Gong task force in his province of Zhejiang, a title he wears in public. Zheng ranks just behind Huang in repute and power in China’s organ transplant system. The extraordinary overlap in two otherwise unrelated fields has never been explained by Chinese officials.

Some researchers believe the rampant abuse of organ transplantation in China has now metastasized.

“Generally, human rights violations spread, unless stopped,” wrote David Matas, a Canadian lawyer who has investigated transplant abuse in China for over a decade, in an email. “The killing of Falun Gong for their organs led to the construction of a national Chinese machinery of death which, to all appearances, is now being used internationally against Vietnamese.”

For Matas, the question of whether the abuses identified by Vietnamese television and police are in fact the norm in China, or a local deviation that will be swiftly punished, is exasperatingly obvious.

“How much evidence of how many people from how many countries being organ harvested in China do we have to have,” he asked, “before organ transplant abuse in China gets the global attention it deserves?"

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A North Korean military officer (R) and a North Korea man (L) standing behind a pile of coal along the banks of the Yalu River in the northeast of the North Korean border town of Siniuju, on December 14, 2012. On Feb. 18, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced a suspension of all North Korean coal imports. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)A North Korean military officer (R) and a North Korea man (L) standing behind a pile of coal along the banks of the Yalu River in the northeast of the North Korean border town of Siniuju, on December 14, 2012. On Feb. 18, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced a suspension of all North Korean coal imports. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

The Chinese regime recently said that it would suspend all coal imports from North Korea for a year. The move, according to analysts, could be motivated by a host of issues, including U.S.-China or China-North Korean relations, and the extension of an ongoing factional struggle in the Chinese regime.

On Feb. 18, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced in a short statement that the Chinese regime would stop importing all North Korean coal until the end of 2017, effective from Feb. 19. The coal import suspension was made in accordance with a UN National Security Council resolution that targets North Korea’s commercial trade to curb the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.

The Chinese regime’s move is preceded by a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile test on Feb. 12, and the alleged assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in an airport in Malaysia on Feb. 13.

North Korea is expected to be substantially impacted by the coal ban, at least at a glance. According to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency, coal makes up to 40 prosent of North Korea’s exports to China.

But on closer examination, the Chinese regime’s move may not be as significant as it first appears. Stephan Haggard, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., wrote in a blog post that the UN regulation cited by the regime in fact imposes a “complex cap” on coal trade with North Korea that “would have allowed China to continue to conduct coal trade with the country” rather than being a complete “coal ban.”

Because the objective of the “coal ban” is “clearly not to bring down the North Korean regime,” Haggard believes that the Chinese regime’s sanctions is really aimed at pushing Washington to negotiate with North Korea on cutting its nuclear program directly or multilaterally.

President Donald Trump told Fox News in January that the Chinese regime has “total control” over North Korea, and that the regime should rein in its communist neighbor lest the U.S. “make trade very difficult for China.” The Trump administration has yet to respond to the Chinese regime’s suspension of North Korean coal imports.

Chen Pokong, a Chinese current affairs analyst and author of books on Chinese political culture, believes that the Chinese regime’s move was more in response to the recent alleged assassination of Kim Jong-nam than with an eye to U.S.-China relations.

“Beijing is annoyed and embarrassed by [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un’s assassination of his brother,” Chen wrote in an email.

Li Tianxiao, a senior political commentator with New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD)—a sister media with Epoch Times—believes that the suspension of North Korean coal imports allows Chinese leader Xi Jinping to build better relations with the Trump administration before the leaders of both countries meet in person. Xi and Trump spoke over the telephone on Feb. 10, and are planning to “hold a meeting at an early date,” according to Chinese state mouthpiece Xinhua.

Li also believes that the coal suspension is a form of retaliation against North Korea for both the Feb. 12 ballistic missile test and the alleged assassination of Kim Jong-nam. The assassination in particular represents a direct challenge to Xi Jinping, Li says.

“Kim Jong-nam was given security protection by the Chinese regime,” Li said, adding that the regime’s security apparatus has for decades been “in the hands of the Jiang Zemin faction.”

There are notable and well-documented ties between North Korean leaders and key Jiang lieutenants: Disgraced Chinese security czar Zhou Yongkang paid a visit to the hermit kingdom in 2010. Liu Yunshan, a member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee and another Jiang ally, visited Pyongyang in 2015.

Speculation that the Chinese security detail was withdrawn from Kim in the period leading up to the murder would also suggest foul play is afoot, Li offered, though there are conflicting accounts regarding this.

If indeed there is a long-standing web of ties between Jiang’s officials and the North Korean leadership, the killing off of the brother would have been a clear way of undercutting Xi Jinping and limiting his foreign policy options in dealing with North Korea, Li Tianxiao said.

Kim Jong-nam, the brother, is understood to have been a potential pro-Chinese replacement leader should the North Korean regime collapse; by removing him from the picture, Xi Jinping’s bargaining power with the regime may be reduced.

The murder also comes amidst a highly sensitive investigation into Xiao Jianhua, a billionaire money launderer for top communist officials, most prominently those associated with Jiang Zemin.

As Li Tianxiao sees it: “The Chinese regime’s suspension of North Korean coal imports is linked with the elite political contest between the camp of Xi Jinping and the faction of Jiang Zemin.”

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On November 21, hundreds of Australian Falun Gong practitioners rallied in front of Capital Hill in Canberra to raise awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses perpetrated against their fellow practitioners in China since 1999. The rally put focus on murder for organs in China, and called for Australian politicians to support bringing an end to forced live organ harvesting and the persecution of Falun Gong by Chinese Communist Regime.

Banners calling for support from the Australian public and displaying the principles of the practice, Truth, Compassion and Tolerance, lined both sides of Commonwealth Avenue through the city centre and around Capital Hill.

Speakers at the rally included Fan Huiqiang from Australian Falun Dafa Association, MP Craig Kelly, former Canadian cabinet minister David Kilgour and Winnipeg international human rights lawyer David Matas. The two co-authored a new report which documents the killing of Falun Gong practitioners to supply China’s lucrative organ trade.

The report concludes that as many as 60,000 til 100,000 transplants have been taking place in China from the year 2000 to the present with the source being non-consenting prisoners of conscience; primarily Falun Gong. This puts the likely death toll of Falun Gong practitioners from forced organ harvesting in the region of 1.5 million over the past 15 år.

The emcee of the rally, Mr John Deller said: “What Falun Gong practitioners are doing is not protesting; they are only trying to tell the truth.”

Forced organ harvesting goes against everything we in believe in.

— Craig Kelly, member of parliament.

MP Craig Kelly spoke at the rally, sharing about a business trip he took to China a decade ago. He explained how most of the tourist brochures in his hotel contained a leaflet inside defaming Falun Gong in poor English. It took him 10 years to work out why the Chinese communist Government did this. Once he understood the truth of Falun Gong, han sa: “I’ve always stood with you since then. That’s why I have been proud to be co-chairmen of the Parliamentary group against forced organ harvesting … doing something to stop it.”

Mr Kelly told Epoch Times that David Kilgour had held a briefing inside parliament house, introducing new evidence and explaining some of the latest findings on this human rights abuse. “We want people to donate their organs freely. But having a system where people are forced to have their organs harvested without consent … truthfully, this goes against everything we believe in. It is something we need to speak out against in our free and democratic parliament.”

Kelly said the introduction of a motion to the House of Representatives is underway. “We will make sure that it will go to parliament, and we will make sure it is bipartisan.”

Kelly said the motion condemning forced organ harvesting will be introduced early in the New Year.

David Kilgour also spoke at the rally outside parliament, “David and I have met with Falun Gong practitioners in over 50 countries; we have a great respect for you, what you believe, and what you do. There is never been an act of violence committed by any Falun Gong practitioner anywhere in China or anywhere else, you should be really, really proud of that. "

He also mentioned that he had a good hearing with parliamentarians that morning, but he said there are a lot of members of parliament who have yet to learn the truth of the matter before the Australian government will place a ban on Australians going to China for organs.

“What happened to the Jewish community is different from what’s happening to Falun Gong community. Not even Adolf Hitler would murder people and sell the organs to wealthy residents from Germany or China.” He said.

“A lot of people know what’s happening now, it’s better to stop it. Australia, Canada and all who believe in human dignity have to get this stopped. Please continue what you’re doing.”

Renowned international human rights lawyer David Matas also addressed the crowd, highlighting the total lack of transparency, accountability and traceability from China’s organ transplant industry.

“The Chinese communist regime cannot explain the organ source," han sa.

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Over 6,300 Falun Gong practitioners form an emblem of Falun Gong and the Chinese characters, truthfulness, compassion and forbearance at the Liberty Square in Taipei on Nov. 26, 2016. (Chen Po-chou/Epoch Times)Over 6,300 Falun Gong practitioners form an emblem of Falun Gong and the Chinese characters, truthfulness, compassion and forbearance at the Liberty Square in Taipei on Nov. 26, 2016. (Chen Po-chou/Epoch Times)

TAIPEI, Taiwan—After two days of intensive labor and preparation, a huge symbol appeared center stage at Taiwan’s Liberty Square, named for its role in the island’s transition from one-party rule to democracy.

On Nov. 26, wearing yellow, blue, red, and black clothing, handle om 6,300 practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong formed a large emblem along with the three Chinese characters for truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, the core teaching of Falun Gong. De symbol, called “falun” in Chinese and meaning “law wheel,” includes the traditional Buddhist “srivatsa” and Taoist “taiji.” It is the emblem of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (Great Way of the Law Wheel).

The participants, mostly Falun Dafa practitioners living in Taiwan, included practitioners from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia. The character formation has become an annual tradition, held in November, to commemorate the month back in 1997 when Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, visited the island for the first time.

“The world needs truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” said Huang Chun-mei, organizer of the activity and deputy chairman of Taiwan Falun Dafa Association. “If everyone in society follows these principles, our society will be better.”

The character formation, derimot, bears a much deeper meaning. Huang Chun-mei explained that the character formation would put a check on the continued violent persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, og, contrary to propaganda by the Chinese regime, show that the Buddhist discipline thrives around the world, with people practicing Falun Gong in over 100 countries.

From Design to Formation

The planning and design actually began over two months ago, said Wu Ching-hsiang, a retired architect, who has been responsible for drawing the blueprints for Taiwan’s character formations since 2009. He has also provided drawings for similar activities held in Washington D.C and New York.

Wu explained in a phone interview why getting the blueprint right was such a lengthy process: “Once, after I finished a drawing and was suddenly told that there would be 1,000 additional participants, I had to quickly redraw the blueprint.”

Wu added that the history of character formation actually originated in China. But unlike those held in China and elsewhere in the world, the formation in Taiwan often involves more complex images.

“Geometric shapes involving straight lines or 90-degree angles are not difficult,” said Wu. “It is images with curved lines that are more challenging.” To provide an example, Wu added that participants form the more complicated, but beautiful Chinese characters in clerical script, a form of Chinese calligraphy nowadays, as opposed to the more simple writing style in the past.

I Kina, such large-scale character formations were common in China before July 1999, before the persecution started. Siden da, practitioners in Taiwan, the United States, and many other countries have tried to keep the tradition alive.

Wu said that in the formation this year, besides the emblem and the Chinese characters, there are also rays of light depicted in yellow. These rays, according to Wu, represent Buddha’s grace illuminating the world.

Preparation

Two days before the formation of the characters, preparation at the Liberty Square begins. Hundreds of practitioners, mostly from Taipei, turn out to manually place colored round plastic sheets and tape them to their designated spots.

Wang Chung-tung, 66, a retired ocean freight captain and former assistant professor at Taipei College of Maritime Technology, said over the years he had previously battled through adverse weather, red ants, and even snakes during the preparation, as the formations were sometimes held on grass instead of concrete.

A sense of gratitude to Falun Gong has led Wang to be diligent over the years in helping out with preparations for the character formation. Wang took up the practice in 2002 after his 20-year-long career working at sea, where “there was a thin line between life and death.” With Falun Gong, he said he has found the meaning of life that he had longed for during his years on ships.

Similarly, Chuang Mao-chin, 56, a retired government official from the National Bureau of Foreign Trade, said he had been taking part in the preparations since 2011. I fjor, Mao recalled how he still decided to help out with the preparation even though he was under the weather, because of the gratitude he feels for the good quality of sleep he has enjoyed since he started practicing Falun Gong in 2010.

For many volunteers turning out for the character formation was an opportunity to tell passerby, especially mainland Chinese tourists—Liberty Square is a popular tourist attraction site in Taiwan—about the injustices still suffered by Falun Gong practitioners in China.

“Tourists easily find the character formation very interesting, not just on the day of the actual formation, but days before when the preparation is underway,” said Dr. Huang Hui-chun, 37, a cardiologist working at National Taiwan University Hospital, and a practitioner since 2006.

Huang Chung-peng, 56, owner of a mechanical hardware company in New Taipei City, said he once had to explain how Taiwan is different from China when a Chinese tourist was stunned to find that the Taiwanese government had granted permission to Falun Gong practitioners to hold such a large public activity.

“When mainland Chinese, after using anti-censorship software, see pictures of the character formation, they will realize how Falun Gong is openly practiced in Taiwan,” said Huang Chung-peng.

Opportunity Only in Taiwan

For many practitioners in other Asian countries, to take part in the character formation in Taiwan was an opportunity not to be missed.

“Falun Gong is welcomed everywhere in the world except China,” said Sato Kunio, 53, a hotel owner in the Japanese city of Chiba, who was born in Harbin, China before moving to Japan in 1980. He started practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and has participated in Taiwan’s character formation several times.

For Rosy Ngygen, 34, senior account manager from Vietnam who started practicing Falun Gong in 2012, the opportunity was precious, given that it was impossible to hold a large-scale activity like this in her own country due to political pressure from China.

Ngyugen explained, “The Vietnamese government does not oppose Falun Gong, but it does not want to make the Chinese government upset either.”

Kim Jung Soo, a retired government official in the education department in Busan, South Korea, took part even though he had only been practicing for three days. He thanked his wife for introducing him to Falun Gong. He said she had shown “peace and serenity” as a practitioner for the last 14 år.

While participants were seated for photographing and filming, many tourists paused for selfies with the rare and colorful backdrop.

“Beautiful. I don’t know the history of this, but to my eyes, it’s very beautiful,” said Mrs. Sangsajja, a housewife from Thailand.

Jose Collazo, a business analyst from Puerto Rico, said he had heard about the persecution of the group in China. He enjoyed the character formation.

“It is very colorful. I wish I could see it from up top," han sa.

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Controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for his violent campaign against crime, but it is the former mayor’s foreign policy overhaul that is shifting tides in the South China Sea.

On Thursday, Duterte made explicit a threat he has been brandishing for months: that he would break a historical alliance with the United States and align his country with China and Russia.

Ties with the United States became strained after Duterte unleashed a bloodbath in the Philippines by encouraging police to kill drug dealers. The campaign drew criticism from the Western world—which Duterte met with defiance and a pledge to turn towards Russia and China.

During his first 100 days in office, Duterte halted joint U.S.–Philippines patrols, demanded that U.S. Special Forces leave the region, and threatened to end a decades-old alliance with the United States.

He has also dared the United States and the European Union to stop providing aid and said he would go to Russia and China for arms and development funds. Duterte surprised observers Wednesday by pleading for aid in a rash of interviews with Chinese state-owned media during his trip.

Speaking in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, Duterte made his position official.

“I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte told an audience of Chinese and Philippine business people that included Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world—China, Philippines, and Russia. It’s the only way,” Duterte said, ifølge Reuters.

The announcement was a culmination of a trip to China that saw the hosts giving a warm welcome, while Duterte made a concerted plea for support. China had previously voiced support for Duterte’s war on drugs.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing during a four-day visit to China, oktober. 20, 2016. (Wu Hong-Pool/Getty Images)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing during a four-day visit to China, oktober. 20, 2016. (Wu Hong-Pool/Getty Images)

Since Duterte’s election in May, over 3,000 alleged drug dealers have been killed with over 1,500 of them dying in guns battles with police, according to Time. Duterte has encouraged a shoot-to-kill policy and said he would be happy if police killed as many as three million drug addicts, likening his campaign to the Holocaust.

The extrajudicial killings have been condemned by international rights groups and Western countries, including the United States. Duterte, dubbed “the Punisher,” responded by using profane language when referring to U.S. President Barack Obama and saying Obama could “go to hell.”

Closer Ties with Russia, Kina

The United States has been a key supplier of aid and arms to Philippines for decades but Duterte has said he can get weapons elsewhere.

“I sent the generals to Russia and Russia said ‘do not worry, we have everything you need, we’ll give it to you,’” he said on October 5.

“And as for China, they said ‘just come over and sign and everything will be delivered.’”

While the bluster and cowboy swagger may have populist appeal domestically, analysts say Duterte is in way in over his head in dealing with China.

“It’s very clear that the Chinese are going to exploit this to the hilt,” said Dr. Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). “They will play him like a violin.”

“They will get all they can from him and that could completely undermine Western strategic posture and policy in regards to the South China Sea," han sa.

Sør-Kinahavet

The stakes are high in the South China Sea. In a landmark decision in July, en international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines and against Beijing in a territorial dispute over the West Philippines Sea region of the South China Sea. Chinese officials have refused to acknowledge the decision and continue to prevent Filipino fishermen from accessing Scarborough Shoal, an area in Philippine territory.

Duterte told media he would not be raising the tribunal ruling during his current trip and has been deferential while in China, saying he would not even raise fisherman access unless Chinese leader raised it first.

“I have to be courteous, I have to wait for your president to mention it in passing for me to respond,” he told reporters there on Wednesday.

(screenshot/Google maps)

(screenshot/Google maps)

On Thursday, he said the two countries would work together to resolve the issues.

Depending on how that is done, Duterte could run afoul of his country’s highest court. On the eve of his trip, a Filipino Supreme Court judge warned Duterte that he could be impeached if he ceded any Filipino territory in his meetings with Chinese authorities.

“He is correct. I would be impeached,” Duterte told reporters at the Davao international airport on Oct. 16.

But Duterte told local Filipino officials on Oct. 10 that he can do little to defend Philippine territory against China.

“Let’s not dwell on Scarborough Shoal because we don’t have the capabilities," han sa. “Even if we express anger, it will just amount to nothing. We can’t back it up.”

Military Might

historisk, the United States and the Philippines have strong economic and military ties. I følge InsideGov, den US-. gave just shy of $200 million in 2012 with the largest amount, $31 million, going to military assistance.

The Philippines is also party to a Mutual Defense Treaty through which its armed forces get equipment and intelligence from the United States.

Since Duterte seems to have passed the point of no return in his pivot away from the United States and towards Russia and China—as said in September he would do—this history will be abruptly irrelevant.

“If that relationship goes then the military is cut adrift. All that goes out the window,” Davis said.

Adapting to Chinese or Russian weaponry will be unappealing for the Philippine military and Duterte plays a dangerous game if he rattles them too much. The Philippines has a long history of military coups, though the previous government of former president Corazon Aquino created relative stability.

Strategic Nightmare

Davis believes Duterte’s kowtow to China is like “a bad poker player with a bad hand…He is going to lose.”

While there may be arms deals, it is unlikely China will be interested in contributing any more than it has to help to with any insurgent movements in the south, Davis said.

“I don’t think the Chinese want to bear any costs to claim the prize, they just want to claim the prize," han sa.

With the Chinese so focused on gaining strategic control in the South China Sea and driving a wedge between the United States and its allies, Duterte is playing right into their hands, han sa.

“They are taking him for everything he’s got.”

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