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 in Beijing, China (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 in Beijing, China (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. As a result, 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. Last year, 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, however, 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,” he said.

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.”

Last year, 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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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/irene-luo/" rel="author">Irene Luo</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

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, however, 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.

First, 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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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/larry-ong/" rel="author">Larry Ong</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

The U.S. carrier group headed by carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Matt Brown/US Navy)The U.S. carrier group headed by carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Matt Brown/US Navy)

Responding to North Korea’s recent missile test, U.S. 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.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping recently met in Florida, between April 6 and 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. In 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.

In July 2016, Vietnam police issued internal circulars regarding Chinese kidnappers harvesting the vital organs of vulnerable people in a border province, according to 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, in fact, 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, kidney, heart, 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.

The 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. Later, 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 instance, 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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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/larry-ong/" rel="author">Larry Ong</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

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 percent 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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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/larry-ong/" rel="author">Larry Ong</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

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 to 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 years.

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, he said: “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,” he said.

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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, about 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. The 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, however, 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, and, 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.

In China, such large-scale character formations were common in China before July 1999, before the persecution started. Since then, 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. Last year, 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 years.

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,” he said.

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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, according to 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, Oct. 20, 2016. (Wu Hong-Pool/Getty Images)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing during a four-day visit to China, Oct. 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, China

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,” he said.

South China Sea

The stakes are high in the South China Sea. In a landmark decision in July, an 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,” he said. “Even if we express anger, it will just amount to nothing. We can’t back it up.”

Military Might

Historically, the United States and the Philippines have strong economic and military ties. According to InsideGov, the U.S. 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,” he said.

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, he said.

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

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Falun Gong practitioners in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. Practitioners are protesting against the communist regime’s killing of potentially hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens and pillaging their organs for profit. (Jern/NTD Television)Falun Gong practitioners in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. Practitioners are protesting against the communist regime’s killing of potentially hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens and pillaging their organs for profit. (Jern/NTD Television)

BRISBANE, Australia—Certain days and events stay in our memories for many reasons, some joyful, others sad, but for Chinese families gathered in Brisbane Square on a rainy July 16, the memories of certain events in their homeland are shocking. They have come to mark the seventeenth anniversary of the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in mainland China. 

The persecution was launched on July 20, 1999, when, behind the scenes, former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin gave orders to eradicate the peaceful spiritual discipline. Millions of Chinese overnight lost their freedom to gather openly for meditation and exercises in parks, and to follow a peaceful cultivation practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. Many thousands have since been detained and tortured, many losing their lives

A number of Falun Gong practitioners at the Brisbane event experienced the ongoing persecution in China first hand, their lives changed forever and, forced to flee, now unable to return to their native country.

Emma Ma, in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

Emma Ma, in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

Emma Ma was just 14 years old when Falun Gong was first banned in China. She recalled how the practice had made her whole family harmonious and then, in 1999 when her parents were illegally taken and their possessions confiscated, she was forced to live with relatives. That was difficult as the relatives believed the propaganda, broadcast in all the media at the time, which spread lies about Falun Gong around the whole country. She also witnessed the brutality of the crackdown and described her school where “teachers and students, even during the class, the police officers would forcibly take them away.”

Now she lives in Australia and practises Falun Gong freely, with her husband who also fled China as a result of persecution.

David Yu and his wife and daughter in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

David Yu and his wife and daughter in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

David Yu, a PhD student at the University of Queensland, also in Brisbane Square with his family, remembers that 17 years ago he was “PhD student at the Tsing Hua University in China.” He said “I benefited much from practising Falun Gong—my moral standard, health, all improved a lot.”

On hearing about the ban, he thought he needed to let the government know how good Falun Gong was. “I think the government shouldn’t ban Falun Gong, so I went to the petition department of the government together with other practitioners,” he said. His message was “that all the Falun Dafa practitioners are good” people. For this he lost his freedom for six years. The persecution extended to his other family members, who were also practitioners. In his family, a total of 23 years have since been lost in prisons or labour camps because of the persecution.

Yu wants more kind people to speak out to stop the ongoing persecution and the horrendous crime of organ harvesting from detained Falun Gong practitioners in China.

At Brisbane Square on July 16, 2016. Jiang Zemin  adopted the policy of

On Brisbane Square, July 16, 2016. (Jern/NTD Television)

Justice Sought

Xie Weiguo, now a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, recalls being one of the thousands of people arrested, in 1999, while appealing for Falun Gong at the central state offices. Now he and his family live in Australia and are unable to return to China still: “I cannot go back to China because I was blacklisted,” he said. 

His father warned him it was not safe for him to return even for a funeral. “I was very sad when my mother died, in 2003, because I cannot go back to China,” Xie explained. He hopes that the former leader Jiang Zemin, who illegally banned Falun Gong, is brought to justice soon.

John Meng at the protest in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

John Meng at the protest in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

John Meng, a software developer working in Brisbane now, remembers he was travelling in China when the news of a ban on Falun Gong was broadcast in 1999. “Suddenly the media of the whole nation, was pointing their fingers at Falun Gong and tried their best to stigmatise or demonise Falun Gong and I was very shocked,” Meng said.

“My life was totally changed after that day. My parents and my relatives, they listened to the media in China, and they opposed me practising Falun Gong,” he said. In 1999 at his workplace, the Tsing Hua University, they first suspended him from teaching duties and then when he tried telling the truth about Falun Gong to others he said “I was taken to jail. I was put behind bars for quite a long time.”

Meng wants the present Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to bring the former leader, Jiang Zemin, to trial for the deaths of thousands of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners and his crimes against humanity exposed and stopped.

Steven Zhang, in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

Steven Zhang, in Brisbane Square, on July 16, 2016. (Emily Wang)

Steven Zhang recalls his sister being persecuted in 1999 and suffering greatly, but he knows good will triumph over evil. Zhang collects signatures everyday from kind people to help stop the persecution of Falun Gong.

In China, over 209,000 Falun Gong practitioners and Chinese citizens have lodged complaints against Jiang with the regime’s highest legal authorities, according to incomplete data compiled by Minghui, a website that reports on Falun Gong and the persecution in China.

With reporting by Iesha Smythe and Heeyo Ge

 

 

 

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A Vietnamese coast guard officer photographs a Chinese coast guard vessel in disputed waters in the South China Sea on May 14, 2014. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)A Vietnamese coast guard officer photographs a Chinese coast guard vessel in disputed waters in the South China Sea on May 14, 2014. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

China continues to exercise its historical claim to the the disputed South China Sea by preventing Filipino fishermen from entering the region, though the Permanent Court of Arbitration has announced it invalid.

The fishermen, accompanied by reporters, were fishing along Scarborough Reef in the South China Sea on July 14 when they found themselves blocked by four Chinese coastguard ships who ordered them to “leave the area immediately,” according to CNN Philippines.

China claims to have territorial sovereignty over a major part of the South China Sea, including its land masses, for being the first country to discover and name the region in as early as the Han Dynasty.

The Hague ruling on the South China Sea dispute favoring the Philippines on July 12, 2016 has provoked a strong reaction from China. Lu Kang, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared on July 14 that anyone who intends to use the arbitration decision to make “provocations” regarding the South China Sea would meet with a “decisive response.” Lu also reaffirmed China’s stance, calling the ruling ineffective.

Pressure on the South China Sea dispute would make this maritime territory, which is rich in natural resources, a “cradle of war,” the Chinese regime says.

The U.S. has been engaged in quiet diplomacy to tone down the dispute, U.S. administration officials said on July 13. “What we want is to quiet things down so these issues can be addressed rationally instead of emotionally,” said one official, who wished to remain anonymous, according to Reuters.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, while calling China to respect the ruling of the international court, said that he will send his predecessor Fidel Ramos for talks with China, a move that Beijing has welcomed.

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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/eva-fu/" rel="author">Eva Fu</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

HONG KONG—In what is being referred to by some as a “flat-swap gate,” Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee reportedly swapped flats with Chan Ung-lok, the sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, to evade taxes.
The flat swap was made when Fung was still the director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). This month, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially launched an investigation on this flat swap deal, which made Fung the most senior serving officer to have been investigated by the ICAC so far.
This is only the latest controversy for the LCSD, which has come under fire for scandals ranging from corruption to political censorship of theatrical performances. Recently, more details have unfolded regarding the political censorship employed by the LCSD to block international performing groups and hinder the exchange of art and culture in Hong Kong.
All of these scandals rang alarm bells for the Hong Kong people again, as Hong Kong public servants’ tradition of integrity and neutrality has been increasingly eroded by communist ideology. The flat-swap gate serves as another warning for Hong Kong officials who sell out ethics to flatter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On April 1, HK01 weekly magazine revealed that Fung had reached an agreement in 2013 with a company owned by Chan, the sister of Stanley Ho’s third wife. This agreement was allegedly used to evade taxes by swapping Fung’s flat in Robinson Place in Mid-Levels plus HK$6.5 million for Chan’s two adjoining flats in Happy Valley.
According to information provided by Fung, on exchange of the deeds HK$585,000 was paid in taxes. However, if the sale and purchase had been made the normal way, the buyer and seller would have shouldered the burden of stamp duty up to HK$5.84 million.
After Fung denied knowing Chan was the owner of the Happy Valley flats, media revealed that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the executive director of business development of the Airport Authority, had transactions with Chan 10 years ago when he, as a government officer, was handling the traffic rights and heliport application that was submitted by Chan’s company. This event is allegedly a collusion and transfer of benefits between businessmen and government officers.
Earlier this month, Wilson Fung issued a statement on Facebook to announce that he did not tell his wife about his contact with Chan.
After the public’s ongoing questioning of Betty Fung’s integrity came the announcement that the ICAC had launched an investigation this month on the suspected transfer of benefits in her property transaction.
Before Betty Fung was promoted to Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, she assumed the post of LCSD Director for the Home Affairs Bureau from August 2009 to August 2014. From 1994 to 1996, she was the Press Secretary for former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and former Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, who later became Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Some local media have described Betty Fung as Tsang’s favourite person, as Tsang also served as the witness for Fung’s marriage. The Fung’s have been experiencing a meteoric rise so far.
“National” furore
Before the exposure of Betty Fung’s flat-swap gate, local media revealed that the LCSD had prohibited the troupe “Nonsensemakers” from using the Chinese character “national” in “Taipei National University of the Arts,” which was to be printed in their programme book.
Subsequent reports disclosed that the LCSD has long been requiring Taiwanese performance groups or performers to delete the Chinese character “national.” Such an “unspoken rule” is just the tip of iceberg of the political reviews conducted by the LCSD.
The “national” incident outraged Hong Kong arts circles and the public. People from all walks of life condemned the LCSD for throttling Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and creation as well as seriously obstructing the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Shen Yun
It has been a long time since the LCSD began to cooperate with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. During Betty Fung’s tenure as the LCSD director, Tsang’s government obstructed Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top international arts group based in the United States, from performing in Hong Kong.
In 2009, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, as the host for Shen Yun’s performance in Hong Kong, organized seven shows in the Hong Kong Academy in January 2010. However, because the Hong Kong Immigration Department refused to grant entry visas to six key technicians, the performance had to be cancelled.
In April 2010, the host filed a judicial review to charge the Hong Kong Immigration Department with illegally disapproving the visa application. On March 9, 2011, the High Court ruled in favour of the host.
Since 2011, the Shen Yun organizer has continued to apply to the LCSD for hiring government venues, including Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Sha Tin Town Hall and Tuen Mun Town Hall. More than 100 applications were submitted, and they were all rejected.
Many politicians believe it is evident that the Hong Kong government cooperates with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. This has turned the Hong Kong government into an international laughingstock, since the LCSD, though it is in charge of multiple performance venues, cannot approve an application for hiring one of its venues for a first-class international arts troupe.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts mainly features classical Chinese dance. Last year, Shen Yun’s four performing groups toured the world, performing more than 400 shows in top theatres including the Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, and the London Coliseum.
In many of these notable venues, Shen Yun miraculously broke the box office records. However, because the content of the show is entirely beyond the control of the Chinese communist regime, Shen Yun Performing Arts has so far been unable to set foot in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Dance competition
In August 2012, the television network New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) from the United States held a preliminary round of its International Classical Chinese Dance Competition in Hong Kong for

Read the full article here
  • Tags:, , , , , ,
  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/lin-yi/" rel="author">Lin Yi</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/stone-poon/" rel="author">Stone Poon</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

HONG KONG—In what is being referred to by some as a “flat-swap gate,” Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee reportedly swapped flats with Chan Ung-lok, the sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, to evade taxes.
The flat swap was made when Fung was still the director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). This month, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially launched an investigation on this flat swap deal, which made Fung the most senior serving officer to have been investigated by the ICAC so far.
This is only the latest controversy for the LCSD, which has come under fire for scandals ranging from corruption to political censorship of theatrical performances. Recently, more details have unfolded regarding the political censorship employed by the LCSD to block international performing groups and hinder the exchange of art and culture in Hong Kong.
All of these scandals rang alarm bells for the Hong Kong people again, as Hong Kong public servants’ tradition of integrity and neutrality has been increasingly eroded by communist ideology. The flat-swap gate serves as another warning for Hong Kong officials who sell out ethics to flatter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On April 1, HK01 weekly magazine revealed that Fung had reached an agreement in 2013 with a company owned by Chan, the sister of Stanley Ho’s third wife. This agreement was allegedly used to evade taxes by swapping Fung’s flat in Robinson Place in Mid-Levels plus HK$6.5 million for Chan’s two adjoining flats in Happy Valley.
According to information provided by Fung, on exchange of the deeds HK$585,000 was paid in taxes. However, if the sale and purchase had been made the normal way, the buyer and seller would have shouldered the burden of stamp duty up to HK$5.84 million.
After Fung denied knowing Chan was the owner of the Happy Valley flats, media revealed that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the executive director of business development of the Airport Authority, had transactions with Chan 10 years ago when he, as a government officer, was handling the traffic rights and heliport application that was submitted by Chan’s company. This event is allegedly a collusion and transfer of benefits between businessmen and government officers.
Earlier this month, Wilson Fung issued a statement on Facebook to announce that he did not tell his wife about his contact with Chan.
After the public’s ongoing questioning of Betty Fung’s integrity came the announcement that the ICAC had launched an investigation this month on the suspected transfer of benefits in her property transaction.
Before Betty Fung was promoted to Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, she assumed the post of LCSD Director for the Home Affairs Bureau from August 2009 to August 2014. From 1994 to 1996, she was the Press Secretary for former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and former Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, who later became Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Some local media have described Betty Fung as Tsang’s favourite person, as Tsang also served as the witness for Fung’s marriage. The Fung’s have been experiencing a meteoric rise so far.
“National” furore
Before the exposure of Betty Fung’s flat-swap gate, local media revealed that the LCSD had prohibited the troupe “Nonsensemakers” from using the Chinese character “national” in “Taipei National University of the Arts,” which was to be printed in their programme book.
Subsequent reports disclosed that the LCSD has long been requiring Taiwanese performance groups or performers to delete the Chinese character “national.” Such an “unspoken rule” is just the tip of iceberg of the political reviews conducted by the LCSD.
The “national” incident outraged Hong Kong arts circles and the public. People from all walks of life condemned the LCSD for throttling Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and creation as well as seriously obstructing the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Shen Yun
It has been a long time since the LCSD began to cooperate with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. During Betty Fung’s tenure as the LCSD director, Tsang’s government obstructed Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top international arts group based in the United States, from performing in Hong Kong.
In 2009, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, as the host for Shen Yun’s performance in Hong Kong, organized seven shows in the Hong Kong Academy in January 2010. However, because the Hong Kong Immigration Department refused to grant entry visas to six key technicians, the performance had to be cancelled.
In April 2010, the host filed a judicial review to charge the Hong Kong Immigration Department with illegally disapproving the visa application. On March 9, 2011, the High Court ruled in favour of the host.
Since 2011, the Shen Yun organizer has continued to apply to the LCSD for hiring government venues, including Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Sha Tin Town Hall and Tuen Mun Town Hall. More than 100 applications were submitted, and they were all rejected.
Many politicians believe it is evident that the Hong Kong government cooperates with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. This has turned the Hong Kong government into an international laughingstock, since the LCSD, though it is in charge of multiple performance venues, cannot approve an application for hiring one of its venues for a first-class international arts troupe.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts mainly features classical Chinese dance. Last year, Shen Yun’s four performing groups toured the world, performing more than 400 shows in top theatres including the Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, and the London Coliseum.
In many of these notable venues, Shen Yun miraculously broke the box office records. However, because the content of the show is entirely beyond the control of the Chinese communist regime, Shen Yun Performing Arts has so far been unable to set foot in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Dance competition
In August 2012, the television network New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) from the United States held a preliminary round of its International Classical Chinese Dance Competition in Hong Kong for

Read the full article here
  • Tags:, , , , , ,
  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/lin-yi/" rel="author">Lin Yi</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/stone-poon/" rel="author">Stone Poon</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

HONG KONG—In what is being referred to by some as a “flat-swap gate,” Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee reportedly swapped flats with Chan Ung-lok, the sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, to evade taxes.
The flat swap was made when Fung was still the director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). This month, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) officially launched an investigation on this flat swap deal, which made Fung the most senior serving officer to have been investigated by the ICAC so far.
This is only the latest controversy for the LCSD, which has come under fire for scandals ranging from corruption to political censorship of theatrical performances. Recently, more details have unfolded regarding the political censorship employed by the LCSD to block international performing groups and hinder the exchange of art and culture in Hong Kong.
All of these scandals rang alarm bells for the Hong Kong people again, as Hong Kong public servants’ tradition of integrity and neutrality has been increasingly eroded by communist ideology. The flat-swap gate serves as another warning for Hong Kong officials who sell out ethics to flatter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On April 1, HK01 weekly magazine revealed that Fung had reached an agreement in 2013 with a company owned by Chan, the sister of Stanley Ho’s third wife. This agreement was allegedly used to evade taxes by swapping Fung’s flat in Robinson Place in Mid-Levels plus HK$6.5 million for Chan’s two adjoining flats in Happy Valley.
According to information provided by Fung, on exchange of the deeds HK$585,000 was paid in taxes. However, if the sale and purchase had been made the normal way, the buyer and seller would have shouldered the burden of stamp duty up to HK$5.84 million.
After Fung denied knowing Chan was the owner of the Happy Valley flats, media revealed that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the executive director of business development of the Airport Authority, had transactions with Chan 10 years ago when he, as a government officer, was handling the traffic rights and heliport application that was submitted by Chan’s company. This event is allegedly a collusion and transfer of benefits between businessmen and government officers.
Earlier this month, Wilson Fung issued a statement on Facebook to announce that he did not tell his wife about his contact with Chan.
After the public’s ongoing questioning of Betty Fung’s integrity came the announcement that the ICAC had launched an investigation this month on the suspected transfer of benefits in her property transaction.
Before Betty Fung was promoted to Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, she assumed the post of LCSD Director for the Home Affairs Bureau from August 2009 to August 2014. From 1994 to 1996, she was the Press Secretary for former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and former Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, who later became Hong Kong Chief Executive.
Some local media have described Betty Fung as Tsang’s favourite person, as Tsang also served as the witness for Fung’s marriage. The Fung’s have been experiencing a meteoric rise so far.
“National” furore
Before the exposure of Betty Fung’s flat-swap gate, local media revealed that the LCSD had prohibited the troupe “Nonsensemakers” from using the Chinese character “national” in “Taipei National University of the Arts,” which was to be printed in their programme book.
Subsequent reports disclosed that the LCSD has long been requiring Taiwanese performance groups or performers to delete the Chinese character “national.” Such an “unspoken rule” is just the tip of iceberg of the political reviews conducted by the LCSD.
The “national” incident outraged Hong Kong arts circles and the public. People from all walks of life condemned the LCSD for throttling Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech and creation as well as seriously obstructing the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong.
Shen Yun
It has been a long time since the LCSD began to cooperate with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. During Betty Fung’s tenure as the LCSD director, Tsang’s government obstructed Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top international arts group based in the United States, from performing in Hong Kong.
In 2009, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, as the host for Shen Yun’s performance in Hong Kong, organized seven shows in the Hong Kong Academy in January 2010. However, because the Hong Kong Immigration Department refused to grant entry visas to six key technicians, the performance had to be cancelled.
In April 2010, the host filed a judicial review to charge the Hong Kong Immigration Department with illegally disapproving the visa application. On March 9, 2011, the High Court ruled in favour of the host.
Since 2011, the Shen Yun organizer has continued to apply to the LCSD for hiring government venues, including Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Sha Tin Town Hall and Tuen Mun Town Hall. More than 100 applications were submitted, and they were all rejected.
Many politicians believe it is evident that the Hong Kong government cooperates with the CCP to conduct political censorship of performing arts groups. This has turned the Hong Kong government into an international laughingstock, since the LCSD, though it is in charge of multiple performance venues, cannot approve an application for hiring one of its venues for a first-class international arts troupe.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts mainly features classical Chinese dance. Last year, Shen Yun’s four performing groups toured the world, performing more than 400 shows in top theatres including the Lincoln Centre in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, and the London Coliseum.
In many of these notable venues, Shen Yun miraculously broke the box office records. However, because the content of the show is entirely beyond the control of the Chinese communist regime, Shen Yun Performing Arts has so far been unable to set foot in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Dance competition
In August 2012, the television network New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) from the United States held a preliminary round of its International Classical Chinese Dance Competition in Hong Kong for

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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/lin-yi/" rel="author">Lin Yi</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/stone-poon/" rel="author">Stone Poon</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

HONG KONG—Hong Kong has long been known as an international money-laundering hub, especially for mainland China.
According to the Panama Papers, Hong Kong has 2,212 intermediaries (including banks, law firms, and accountants), surpassing the United Kingdom and Switzerland as the region with the most offshore companies. Hong Kong is also the region with the most active clients—37,675 in total—in terms of the number of offshore company incorporations.
The Associated Press reported last month that China has become an international money-laundering hub, and most of the money first came to Hong Kong.
According to the FBI, the fraud has cost thousands of companies, many of which are U.S. companies, US$1.8 billion in just over two years through China and Hong Kong.
Liu Jianchao, deputy director of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention, said during China’s annual political meetings, the “Two Sessions,” that corrupt mainland officials are using Hong Kong as a channel to launder money. According to an internal source in the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), 90 percent of the money is laundered in Hong Kong.
How money is channelled in and out of Hong Kong will be one of the focuses of the investigation.
After the Panama Papers came to light, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission Guo Boxiong was reported to have pleaded guilty and been handed over to prosecutors. Guo was found to have taken bribes worth US$12.3 million (approx. HK$95.4 million) and been involved in money laundering.
A woman born in the 1990s was reported to have laundered billions of dollars for the faction of former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin and former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Caihou’s family through various banks in Hong Kong.
The Panama Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) date back to a year ago, when an anonymous informant released the information to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The latter coordinated with the ICIJ to work with more than 400 reporters from 100 media organizations across 80 countries to analyse the 11.5 million files.
As more data is revealed, more companies and people in Hong Kong will be implicated.
Translated by Su Lin. Edited by Sally Appert.

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