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 and 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)

In July 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 in 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.

In 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. On Sept. 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, around 280 million Chinese have chosen to repudiate their connections with the Party and its affiliated organizations.

On 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 and 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, according to the Associated Press.

China, 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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WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China, now warns users that it actively stores a whole range of private data and will readily share them with the Chinese authorities if needed. (Matthew Robertson/Epoch Times)WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China, now warns users that it actively stores a whole range of private data and will readily share them with the Chinese authorities if needed. (Matthew Robertson/Epoch Times)

China’s most popular messaging app WeChat now warns users in a privacy statement about how much of their private data the company shares with the Chinese regime. To no one’s surprise, it’s just about everything users type into the app.

Developed by the Chinese internet company Tencent, WeChat is China’s equivalent of WhatsApp and is used by 662 million mobile users, which makes it the dominant messaging app in China and one of the largest in the world.

WeChat users who updated to the latest patch are greeted with a new prompt that requires them to accept the privacy policy in order to continue using the app. Upon careful reading, the new privacy policy acknowledges that WeChat collects a whole range of data from its users, and to comply with “applicable laws or regulations” would readily share them with the Chinese regime.

Private log data from users such as “information about what you have searched for and looked at while using WeChat,” and “people you’ve communicated with and the time, data and duration of your communications” are among the things that WeChat freely stores and uses to customize advertisement and direct marketing.

WeChat users who updated to the latest patch are greeted with a new prompt that requires them to accept the privacy policy in order to continue using the app. (Screenshot captured by Twitter user @lotus_ruan)

WeChat users who updated to the latest patch are greeted with a new prompt that requires them to accept the privacy policy in order to continue using the app. (Screenshot captured by Twitter user @lotus_ruan)

WeChat also admits that it would “retain, preserve or disclose” users’ data to “comply with applicable laws or regulations.” Because China’s law enforcement agencies and security apparatus do not need a search warrant to seize a citizen’s property or private data, the Chinese regime would essentially have access to just about everything WeChat users send through the app.

Users who refuse to accept the latest privacy policy would be unable to access WeChat with their accounts, until they change their mind and click the “accept” button. However, because users can resume using the app anytime with their pre-existing data intact, WeChat likely plans to store all the data for a prolonged period, even when a user explicitly refuses to let WeChat manage his or her own data anymore.

The new privacy policy contains few surprises for those that have long been criticizing WeChat for lacking privacy and security protections for its users. After all, observers have attributed the dominance of WeChat in China to the company’s close collaboration with the Chinese regime in implementing self-censorship and surveillance mechanisms in the app.

WeChat certainly got an assist from the Chinse regime when it started a partial blocking of WhatsApp in July. The blocking of WhatsApp eliminated one of the few remaining messaging apps available for users in China that was not controlled by the authoritarian regime.

The Chinese regime also recently announced on Sept. 7 a new regulation mandating that the participants of WeChat message groups be responsible for managing the information posted in their respective groups. Essentially, this means that a user in a message group could be held liable and even persecuted for information that others post in the group.

It has long been noted that WeChat is among the most heavily censored messaging apps. A 2016 survey done by Amnesty International that ranks the world’s most popular messaging apps in terms of privacy protection for users gave WeChat a score of 0 out of 100, meaning that users of WeChat receive little or no encryption protection for their communications and the app is completely exposed to censorship and surveillance by the Chinese regime.

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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.

After 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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Pro-democracy protesters carry a photo of detained Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-Che (L) and other activists during a demonstration in Hong Kong, China on Sept. 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)Pro-democracy protesters carry a photo of detained Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-Che (L) and other activists during a demonstration in Hong Kong, China on Sept. 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

BEIJING—A Taiwanese activist on trial in China confessed on Monday to attempting to subvert the Beijing government, according to videos of his hearing released by Chinese authorities, although his wife refused to recognize the court’s authority.

Lee Ming-che, a community college teacher known for his pro-democracy and rights activism, went missing on a trip to mainland China in March. China’s authorities later confirmed that he was being investigated on suspicion of damaging national security.

Lee said he accepted the charge of subversion and expressed regret in videos of his comments released on social media by the Yueyang City Intermediate People’s Court in central Hunan province.

“I spread some attacks, theories that maliciously attacked and defamed China’s government, the Chinese Communist Party and China’s current political system, and I incited the subversion of state power,” Lee said, referring to comments written in an instant messaging group.

Taiwan’s presidential office said in a news briefing on Monday afternoon that the government is engaged in an “all-out effort to assist Mr. Lee Ming-che’s family.”

“His relief is our top priority. The position of this government has been very clear. Mr. Lee is one of our citizens,” an office spokesman said, adding: “We’ll do everything in our power to ensure his safe return.”

Pro-democracy protesters carry a photo of detained Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-Che during a demonstration in Hong Kong, China on Sept. 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

Pro-democracy protesters carry a photo of detained Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-Che during a demonstration in Hong Kong, China on Sept. 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

Lee stood trial alongside Chinese national Peng Yuhua, 37, who confessed to creating instant messaging groups and founding an organization that sought to promote political change in China. Lee had been involved in both, Peng said in testimony released on video by the court.

Taiwanese rights activist Xiao Yiming traveled to the mainland for the trial, but said he was barred from entering the courtroom.

Xiao suspected Peng was being used by authorities to help strengthen the state’s case against Lee, as he was unaware of any previous connection between the two men.

“Taiwan has democratic freedoms and Lee has the right to share his ideas,” Xiao told Reuters by phone, describing Lee as a “prisoner of conscience”.

Lee Ching-yu, Lee’s wife, attended the hearing. Before leaving for China she had asked that Lee’s supporters to forgive him for anything he might say that disappoints them during the hearing.

Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che, who has been detained in China, speaks to the media a day before departing for her husband's trial, in Taipei, Taiwan on Sept. 9, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che, who has been detained in China, speaks to the media a day before departing for her husband’s trial, in Taipei, Taiwan on Sept. 9, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

She wrote a letter to her husband on Monday morning before the trial began, photographs of which were seen by Reuters.

“I do not recognize this court. I also did not hire any lawyers,” she wrote.

After the hearing, she tearfully repeated her request for forgiveness and unveiled what appeared to be two new tattoos on the underside of each of her forearms that read, “Lee Ming-che” and “I am proud of you”, videos sent to Reuters showed.

No one answered the court phone when called by Reuters on Monday.

Releasing videos and transcripts of court hearings has become increasingly common in China as part of a push for greater judicial transparency and oversight.

But rights activists say that in sensitive cases holding “open” trials allows authorities to demonstrate state power and deter others, with statements and verdicts usually agreed in advance.

Ties between Beijing and Taipei have been strained since President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, took office last year.

Tsai’s refusal to state that Taiwan and China are part of one country has angered Beijing, as have her comments about human rights on the mainland.

Beijing maintains that the island of Taiwan is part of China and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control, while proudly democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being governed by the Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

By Christian Shepherd

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Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—A rally was held outside the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on the morning of Sept. 8 to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature.

The rally was sparked by a letter sent from the Consulate to all members of the California Senate that warned that support of SJR 10—a resolution sponsored by Senator Joel Anderson that condemns the Chinese Communist Party for its ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners—would harm relations between the two governments.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient Chinese spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition.  It consists of living according the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and performing gentle, meditative exercises.

In 1999 there were 70 million people practicing Falun Gong in China, according to a survey done by the Chinese state, or 100 million, according to Falun Gong practitioners.  In July 1999, however, then-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin banned the peaceful practice and enlisted the nation’s entire security apparatus, media, and judiciary to participate in a massive persecution campaign that continues to this day.

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners in front of the San Francisco Chinese consulate during a rally to protest the Chinese regime's interference in California's legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners in front of the San Francisco Chinese consulate during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Organ Harvesting

The most disturbing element in this brutal campaign is the compelling evidence that shows Falun Data prisoners of conscience are murdered to supply organs for transplantation in China.

The China Organ Harvesting Research Center reports, “China now performs more organ transplants than any other country in the world, despite having few donations.” The Center asks where all of these organs come from.

In 2016 former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia/Pacific) David Kilgour, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, and international human rights lawyer David Matas released “Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update,” which offers “a meticulous examination of the transplant programs of hundreds of hospitals in China, drawing on media reports, official propaganda, medical journals, hospital websites and a vast amount of deleted websites found in archive”, according to the report’s website.

The report shows that the Chinese regime is performing 60,000 to 100,000 transplants per year as opposed to 10,000 per year (the Chinese claim). The Chinese regime has engaged “in the mass killings of innocents, primarily practitioners of the spiritually‑based set of exercises, Falun Gong, but also Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians, in order to obtain organs for transplants.”

Also in 2016 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 343, “Expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”

Pulling the Resolution

SJR 10 takes note of H. Res. 343 and condemns the Chinese Government “for any government-sanctioned persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the People’s Republic of China.” With both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, it was unanimously approved last week by the Judiciary Committee. The next step should have been a vote on the Senate Floor.

Unexpectedly, the Senate voted to refer SJR 10 back to the Rules Committee-essentially blocking it from coming to a vote in the Senate.

Speaking at the rally, Senator Anderson blamed the shelving of his bill on a “a vicious letter sent by the Chinese Consulate to discredit Falun Gong Practitioners.” The letter threatened that SJR 10 “may deeply damage the cooperative relations between the State of California and China.”

Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime's interference in California's legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Dated Sept. 1, the letter was sent to all California Senators the day after 200 human rights activists gathered at the State Capitol to support the unanimous approval of SJR 10 by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The same day this letter was received, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon moved to pull the resolution from the floor.

Phone calls and emails from the Epoch Times to Jonathan Underland, press secretary to Senator De Leon, asking for the Senator’s comments about this issue were not returned.

Outraged that his bill was not allowed even to be heard, at the rally on Friday Senator Anderson decried this “alarming interference with our legislative process by a foreign power has silenced the voice of human rights.”

Other states—Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania—have each passed resolutions similar to SJR 10 within the past few years.

Against Genocide

Senator Anderson said, “We should stand together against genocide. This is not a party issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

Speaking on the Senate floor every day the week of Sept. 4-8, he attempted to attach SJR 10 to other measures, including a similar bill that condemns the Chechnya government’s persecution of the LGBT community. He was not alone in this attempt. Noting California’s long history of showing support for human rights resolutions, Senator Stone, a Republican from Temecula, urged his colleagues to let SJR 10 be heard.

“We commonly do resolutions in support of human rights.  I think that this is a missed opportunity—one that makes us look hypocritical—that murder in one sense is justified as opposed to murder in another,” Stone said on the Senate floor.

Their pleas fell on deaf ears.  SJR 10 remained shelved.

To explain the apparent hypocrisy of the California Senate’s condemning persecution of citizens in Checnya, but not in China, Anderson believes one has to follow the timeline:

  1. With bi-partisan support, SJR 10 passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously.
  2. A threatening letter was received from the Chinese Consulate.
  3. The resolution is shelved without ever being heard on the Senate floor.

Chinese Regime Threats

Threats and intimidation from the Chinese regime to American politicians are not new.

The U.S. Congress passed two resolutions—H Con ResR 188 in 2002 and H Con ResR 304 in 2004—that called for the Attorney General to investigate reports of Chinese Consular officials illegal acts of attempting to intimidate elected officials who showed support for Falun Gong practitioners. The resolutions also urged local governments to report to Congress, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State any incidents of pressure or harassment by Chinese agents.

Activities coordinator, Alan Huang speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime's interference in California's legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Activities coordinator, Alan Huang speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Outraged that the Chinese Government’s power to suppress free speech extends beyond its own borders to California’s Senate Leadership, Senator Anderson has vowed to continue pleading for his bill until it is allowed to be heard.

In an appeal to his colleagues’ consciences, he said: “We should be standing strong against genocide anywhere in the world. There were those who denied the Holocaust. There is no excuse with what we know today to deny the holocaust that is going on in China against Falun Gong practitioners. We need to stand up and say that nobody’s body parts should be harvested for their religious beliefs.”

He addressed directly the citizens of California, asking those who believe the Senate should be on record voting against genocide to call their legislators and tell them they want to see a vote on SJR 10.

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Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che, also known as Li Ming-Che, who has been detained in China, departs for her husband's trial from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan on September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che, also known as Li Ming-Che, who has been detained in China, departs for her husband's trial from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan on September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

TAIPEI—The wife and mother of detained Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-che were due to arrive in China on Sunday to attend his subversion trial on Monday, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, calling for Lee’s safe return home.

Lee, a community college teacher and pro-democracy and human rights activist, went missing during a March visit to China. Authorities later confirmed he had been detained, straining already-tense ties between the mainland and the self-ruling island.

Authorities at the Intermediate People’s Court of Yueyang city, in the central province of Hunan, said Monday’s trial on suspicion of subversion of state power would be an open hearing.

Chinese courts have video-streamed or live-blogged increasing numbers of proceedings in recent years as part of a push towards judicial transparency

However, rights activists say that in sensitive cases, holding “open” hearings is a tool for authorities to demonstrate state power and that usually the defendant has agreed to an outcome.

On Saturday, Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu, asked during a news conference that supporters forgive her husband if he says something in court which disappoints them, as he might be required to give testimony against his own free will.

On Sunday she declined to comment to a large media contingent as she checked into her flight at Taipei Songshan Airport, where she was to fly to Changsha, in Hunan province, via Shanghai.

Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che, also known as Li Ming-Che, who has been detained in China, departs for her husband's trial from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan on Sept. 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwan human rights advocate Lee Ming-che, also known as Li Ming-Che, who has been detained in China, departs for her husband’s trial from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan on Sept. 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it would do everything in its power to facilitate Lee’s safe return.

“Our government’s approach to this case has been predicated on preserving our country’s dignity while ensuring Lee Ming-che’s safety,” it said.

Lee’s case has strained relations between Taipei and Beijing, which have been particularly tense since President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, took office last year.

Beijing regards the island as a breakaway province and it has never renounced the use of force to bring it back under mainland control.

By Faith Hung

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Geng He, wife of missing Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, participates in a press conference held by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to discuss Chinese human rights records on the eve of Chinese President Hu's White House arrival on Jan. 18, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AFP/Getty Images)Geng He, wife of missing Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, participates in a press conference held by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to discuss Chinese human rights records on the eve of Chinese President Hu's White House arrival on Jan. 18, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AFP/Getty Images)

Renowned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been taken to Beijing, his brother learned, after a stressful three weeks of not knowing where his brother had gone.

Gao disappeared from his native home in Shaanxi province on Aug. 13 and there had been no news about his whereabouts for over three weeks. Several of Gao’s family members, including his elder brother, Gao Zhiyi, were summoned by the police during this period.

On Sept. 6, Gao Zhiyi learned that Gao is in Beijing.

“I have news now. [Gao Zhisheng] was taken to Beijing. So he is definitely in [the Chinese regime’s] hands. We don’t know about the rest. That’s all we know,” Gao Zhiyi told Gao’s wife, Geng He, who currently lives in California.

Geng He confirmed the news with NTD TV on Sept. 6.

“[Gao Zhiyi] said Gao is in Beijing and was taken to Beijing,” she said. “He said he learned the news through inquiry.”

She also put the message out on Twitter:

Gao’s arrest comes ahead of the 19th Communist Party Congress in October, which is always an extra sensitive time for the ruling Communist Party in China. Spikes in arrests are common in China preceding events or anniversaries deemed sensitive by the communist regime.

Gao was once lauded by the Chinese Ministry of Justice as one of China’s top 10 lawyers. Gao, a Christian, ran afoul of the communist regime when he began providing legal aid to practitioners of Falun Gong—the largest spiritual community being persecuted in China.

Chinese security forces first stepped up their surveillance of Gao after he penned open letters to the top Chinese leadership to condemn the persecution. He was formally arrested in 2006.

Gao spent the next eight years in and out of prison, where he was tortured in the same manner as Falun Gong practitioners—including sleep deprivation, brutal beatings, physical abuse with electric batons, and having his genitalia pierced with toothpicks.

In 2014, Gao was released from prison, but was placed under house arrest in his native Shaanxi Province.

Gao’s teeth became loose due to the many years of torture, but has been forbidden by the Chinese regime to seek medical treatment to ease the pain in the last 3 years.

Upon learning of Gao’s detention, friend and Beijing human rights activist Hu Jia expressed concerns for Gao’s condition and health.

“The Chinese regime must ensure that Gao is in good health. During the period Lawyer Gao is missing, we demand [the CCP] to allow Gao to have good health, including teeth treatment and a health checkup.” Hu Jia told NTD TV.

Hu Jia also spread the news of Gao’s whereabouts via Twitter:

Advocacy group Friends Concerned for Gao Zhisheng expressed similar concerns for Gao’s health and safety.

“Peng Ming died in prison and his organs were extracted,” the Sept. 3 tweet said. “Liu Xiaobo, Huang Qi and Yang Tianshui were terminally ill in prison but were not allowed to seek medical treatment. We have reason to be concerned for Gao’s safety and the possibility of similar things happening to Gao. We call on human rights organizations to continuously pay attention to Lawyer Gao Zhisheng, and urge the Chinese Communist regime to kindly treat Lawyer Gao and his supporters in China.”

Chang Chun contributed to this report.

From NTD.tv

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Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, ‘Split by the State’. (Alexander Nilsen)Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, ‘Split by the State’. (Alexander Nilsen)

“Split by the State”

 

As millions of Australian families prepare to celebrate Father’s Day to honour their paternal bonds, for Sydney refugee Eric Jia, his version of Father’s Day is a lonely affair.

The last time he saw his father Ye Jia was 15 years-ago when he was 3-years-old. This father and son were forcefully split by China’s one-party state, simply because Ye Jia wanted to meditate and follow his beliefs.

Eric and his dad in Shaanxi province China during happier times.  (Alexander Nilsen)

Eric and his dad in Shaanxi Province China during happier times. (Alexander Nilsen)

 

He practices Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese meditation and spiritual practice based on the principles of ‘Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance’. It rose to popularity in China in the 1990’s, with over 100 million people experiencing its health benefits.

: Eric doing the Falun Gong meditation exercise at home in Sydney, Australia. China is the only country in the world that doesn't allow Falun Gong practitioners to meditate freely.  (Alexander Nilsen)

Eric doing the Falun Gong meditation exercise at home in Sydney, Australia. China is the only country in the world that doesn’t allow Falun Gong practitioners to meditate freely. (Alexander Nilsen)

 

These numbers proved too overwhelming for the Chinese regime, which with around 60 million communist members at the time, saw the practice as a threat. Former dictator Jiang Zemin initiated a country-wide crackdown and persecution against the peaceful movement, that hasn’t waned since it began on July 20, 1999.

The decision to persecute Falun Gong was made by former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin alone. Other members of the leadership favoured a more conciliatory approach, recognising that Falun Gong was peaceful. (NTD Television)

The decision to persecute Falun Gong was made by former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin alone. Other members of the leadership favoured a more conciliatory approach, recognising that Falun Gong was peaceful. (NTD Television)

 

As days and months turned into years, the state-sanctioned persecution has taken a heavy toll on fathers, sons and families alike, who have suffered severely and have too often been torn apart.

In modern China torture is a routine component of law-enforcement and punishment. Jiang Zemin issued his famous edict, “It is not a crime to beat a Falun Gong practitioner to death.” (en.minghui.org/)

 

Eric and his father’s story is the subject of a new short film, “Split by the State”, its release comes on Father’s Day.

The film’s director Gina Shakespeare said: “this film is dedicated to prisoners of conscience, like Ye Jia, who today number in their millions. It’s also an exposé of the Chinese regime’s relentless use of physical and psychological torture against Falun Gong adherents and their families, told through a young man’s heart.”

Ms Shakespeare recalled being deeply touched as she read Eric Jia’s original letter he wrote to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, pleading to save his dad from a Chinese prison.

 

“I knew Eric’s story needed to be told and that the letter he wrote was actually the beginning of a powerful script, one that would also move others” she said.

“Hearing that his dad was spending eight years in a Chinese prison, had been tortured, starved and subjected to filthy and inhumane living conditions, I could never fathom this type of ill-treatment, this just doesn’t happen in Australia” said Ms Shakespeare.

“Eric possesses an incredible resilience and determination. His desire for justice and to be reunited with his father, after all this time has never diminished. I really hope the Prime Minister can pressure China to release Eric’s dad urgently.”

Australia's Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull. (Alexander Nilsen)

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. (Alexander Nilsen)

 

Eric spends a good deal of time assisting other Falun Gong families still imprisoned in China by speaking out at rallies, collecting signatures for petitions and even calling prisons in mainland China. Surely something his father would be proud of. 

You can also help Eric and his family by sharing the film and by visiting this website and signing the petition.

www.splitbythestate.org

 

 

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Wang Quanzhang (L), his wife, and 2-year-old son. (Photo provided)Wang Quanzhang (L), his wife, and 2-year-old son. (Photo provided)

Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is one of 10 nominees for the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip award this year.

Wang has defended spiritual groups persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party, such as Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, and has worked with self-taught paralegals, or “barefoot lawyers,” and human rights activists to defend the disenfranchised in China.

The annual Tulip Award is given to individuals or organizations around the world that promote human rights in an innovative way.

“Wang Quanzhang has pioneered the use of social media in his approach to human rights defense using public advocacy in tandem with legal representation,” his profile page on the Tulip award website says. “He promotes the idea that in China reliance on the law itself is insufficient to protect basic human rights.”

Wang was arrested in a nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists in China two years ago, and hasn’t been heard from or seen since. 

His family says he was detained on charges of being a “threat to national security” for his legal work to defend persecuted groups in China.

The crackdown has come to be known as the 709 Crackdown, and some groups estimate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rounded up some 300 human rights lawyers and activists in it.

“Wang Quanzhang deserves this award,” Beijing rights lawyer Yu Wensheng told NTD TV’s Chinese edition. “[His winning] would be an encouragement to human rights lawyers in China.”

 

 

Hunan Province rights lawyer Wen Donghai said Wang’s detention is an example of how corrupt the legal system in China is, and that how he is being treated makes the rule of law look like a farce in China.

“Even if he is guilty, he should not be detained for so long and should not be forbidden to meet with his lawyer,” Wen told NTD TV. “This is abnormal. It is totally ignoring criminal lawsuit procedure.”

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NGO group Justice and Peace selected 10 candidates based on nominations from the public. The public now chooses three of the candidates through online voting. Of those three, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs will choose the winner.

Voting, which is open to anyone regardless of their nationality, opened on Aug. 28 and will close on Sept. 6.

The award will be presented on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

Most of those detained during the 709 Crackdown have been sentenced or released. Only two, Wang and activist Wu Gan, have yet to be tried.

Of those sentenced, lawyer Zhou Shifeng was sentenced to seven years, and democracy activist Hu Shigen to seven-and-a-half years. Another is awaiting sentencing.

According to Amnesty International, the ones who have been released still face close monitoring and separation from loved ones. Lawyers who have tried to represent them in court face threats and harassment, the human rights organization says.

Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, and the family of other persecuted human rights lawyers and activists released a joint statement on Aug.19 calling for justice for those imprisoned in the crackdown, and demanded the release of the detained ones.

NTD China News reporter Li Yun contributed to this article. 

From NTD.tv

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Chinese doctors carry fresh organs for transplant in 2012. (Screenshot/Sohu.com)Chinese doctors carry fresh organs for transplant in 2012. (Screenshot/Sohu.com)

China recently claimed to have nearly 300,000 registered donors and boasted it would surpass the United States in organ transplants by 2020, during a major organ transplant conference in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming on August 3 to 5.

China’s claims of an explosive rise in organ donations and transplants are cause for alarm, according to Dr. Torsten Trey, the executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting.

Dr. Trey spoke with The Epoch Times in a recent interview, laying out his concerns over the transparency of China’s organ transplant system, and pointing to the possibility of ongoing abuses.

The Epoch Times: China has stated that they have almost 300,000 registered organ donors and claimed that it has successfully reformed its organ donation system. Do you find the claims credible?

Dr. Torsten Trey: In the United States, it took approximately 20 years to create a donation system. In China, the environment is even more conservative in terms of donations than the U.S. Traditionally, Chinese people are against organ donations. And in the particular case of China, there is even a regulation that if only one family member rejects the organ donation from a deceased relative, the organ cannot be procured. Thus, even if people register as organ donors, there are still obstacles ahead that don’t exist in the U.S. Also, once a person is registered, the person usually does not pass away within 2-3 years after registration.

To develop a voluntary, free organ donation system requires time. A fast development is rather a sign that the system is not growing voluntarily. And then there is again the question: where do the organs come from?

The Epoch Times: What are the standards for determining if an organ a transplant system is transparent and credible? How is China’s system different from that of the U.S. and other developed countries?

Dr. Trey: Transparency and traceability of organ donors are criteria among the WHO Guiding Principles for transplantation. Without transparency, transplant medicine is walking a very narrow path where abuse can unhinge the very principles of the medical practice: medicine is supposed to save lives, and do no harm, yet in transplant medicine one depends on an organ from another person to provide cure for the patient. If that transplant organ is procured in an unethical way, in a way where the life of the donor is jeopardized or even killed, then this would violate the mission of medicine. Transparency and traceability are the minimum requirements to prevent such abuse.

In order to assess whether a transplant and organ donation system is meeting these WHO guidelines, an independent examiner needs to be able to ask—at any time and for any organ—where the organ comes for, who the relatives are, who the donor is, what the cause of death was, and whether there was voluntary, free and informed consent. This is common practice in all western countries.

In China, we see the opposite: there is no access for independent examiners—except maybe for biased examiners—or to examiners who are not aware of the findings of independent investigators.

The Epoch Times: How has China managed to escape independent scrutiny then? And what would it entail?

Dr. Trey: Scrutiny requires access on the ground. China keeps control over it; they decide who can enter or not. The best comparison is made with the business world. If a company wants to produce inside China, they have to collaborate with a Chinese company, and they have to reveal their technology. This is unheard of in other countries, I believe. On the surface it is just an IT privacy issue, but on a deeper level it is censorship of who can enter the country. Same in the transplant field: those organizations and doctors who were invited and granted access to “inspect” transplant centers are only those doctors who have proven over the years that they only write in a pro-China style. It is censorship in transplant scrutiny—like in business—which guarantees there won’t be inconvenient questions or investigations. Companies and doctors alike who abide by Chinese censorship are granted access to the country.

In other words, by selecting who can access the country, truly independent scrutiny is systematically prevented. If China would be really open for transparency they would allow the true critics, who ask real scrutinizing questions, to enter the country. The intention of this strategy is to fool the international community with pseudo-independent inspections.

The Epoch Times: How did Huang Jiefu, China’s organ transplant spokesperson, respond to international allegations that many of China’s organs have been sourced from prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners? Why did he say the claims were “nonsense”?

Dr. Trey: In February 2017, during his visit to the Vatican in Rome, Huang Jiefu simply replied that allegations of the number of Falun Gong victims were “nonsense.” Other than saying that this is nonsense, there has been basically no statement deflecting the findings from investigators or providing data that would say otherwise.

Given that there has been international criticism for more than 11 years, it would be fairly easy for China to let investigators enter China and investigate. It is surprising that China endures the criticism, instead of dispelling these allegations by allowing international inspections.

There are books filled with evidence, hundreds of pages of evidence, with countless testimonies by Falun Gong practitioners, etc. Thus rejecting all this with just one word—”nonsense”—is absolutely inadequate. But to a certain degree, it also proves that the allegations and the evidence are true, at least in part, as Huang Jiefu is not able to provide any response to counter the allegations.

The Epoch Times: 30 leaders of foreign organ transplant societies and associations attended the recent transplant conference in Kunming. And Chinese media reports cited international transplant experts lauding reforms in China’s organ transplant system. What would you like to say to them?

Dr. Trey: It is commendable, if China, or any other country, makes genuine reforms to meet ethical standards. But it would be a fatal mistake to applaud such reforms if they are only covering up more severe crimes against humanity. In that case, the alleged reforms cannot be considered reforms, but a scheme to deceive Western doctors and to cover up ongoing forced organ harvesting. If reforms are praised while the hidden forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience continues, then we find this devastating situation where applause resounds while innocent people are slaughtered for their organs.

As a representative of international medical organizations, one has the responsibility to consider the victims first: reforms are good, but the well-being of potential victims to forced organ harvesting is the first thing to guarantee. Can you guarantee that no prisoner of conscience is being killed for their organs? If you can guarantee it, then feel free to applaud. But if you cannot guarantee that not a single Falun Gong practitioner is being forcibly organ harvested somewhere in China, then hold your applause and keep scrutinizing. Anything different would be irresponsible and premature.

The Epoch Times: In an interview with Global Times, a subsidiary of a mouthpiece paper of the Chinese Communist Party, Huang Jiefu claimed that China was not the first to use prisoners as a source for organs.

Dr. Trey: Huang Jiefu suggested the U.S. invented this practice of using executed prisoners as a source of organs. In that interview, he also suggested the U.S. is the “the most rampant organ trafficking country in the world.” This is of course false. And it is a shame because many of the doctors who support him the most come from the U.S. Interestingly, this was only an interview in a Chinese newspaper, and it is probably little known in the West how Huang Jiefu talks about his Western colleagues.

Aside from the historic question—who was firstthere is absolutely no doubt that in terms of numbers and systematic approach, China is the worst offender. Over the past 20 years, they have killed at least hundreds of thousands of people for their organs.

With reporting by Li Chen.

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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>
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Dr. Torsten Trey, the spokesperson for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (Chen Baizhou/The Epoch Times)Dr. Torsten Trey, the spokesperson for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (Chen Baizhou/The Epoch Times)

China’s media eagerly touted reforms in the nation’s organ transplant system following a major transplant conference in the city of Kunming in southwest China from Aug. 3 to 5. Chinese officials claimed China’s organ transplant system now sources only from voluntary donations, rather than from prisoners who have been executed.

But experts have pointed out glaring statistical discrepancies that suggest the claims may not be all they seem.

The supposed reforms equate to “attempts by a mass murderer to cover its tracks,” said Dr. Torsten Trey, the executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), in an email interview.

Since China’s transplant system began its period of rapid growth in the year 2000, researchers believe that the main source of organs used to supply the industry have been practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that has been brutally persecuted by the Chinese regime since 1999. Criminal prisoners who have been executed have always been used.

Dr. Trey said there is no evidence that these practices have ceased. “It is commendable, if China, or any other country, makes genuine reforms to meet ethical standards. But it would be a fatal mistake to applaud such reforms if they are only covering up more severe crimes against humanity.”

Holes in the Data

For many years the Chinese authorities denied that it harvested organs from executed prisoners. In 2005, Huang Jiefu, then deputy health minister, disclosed to the international community that prisoners were indeed used, as a matter of policy in China since 1984. He was referring to prisoners who have been sentenced to death after being convicted of crimes.

In 2006, allegations arose that the human rights abuses involved in organ transplantation were far more egregious than previously imagined: the Chinese regime was harvesting organs from living prisoners of conscience—people imprisoned for their beliefs rather than for actual crimes. An independent investigation by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and Canada’s former Secretary of State (Asia Pacific) David Kilgour found the allegations to be true.  

The Chinese regime never admitted to these crimes, but following intense international pressure, it announced a ban on organ transplants from executed prisoners starting on Jan. 1, 2015. But the 1984 regulations were not abolished.

China now claims to have built a voluntary transplantation system operating just like that in the United States or other advanced countries. They claim an exponential increase in voluntary organ donations, despite the country being still highly culturally averse to organ donation (because it violates a Confucian tradition of keeping the body whole after death).

There were only 130 voluntary organ donations as of August 2009, according to Professor Chen Zhonghua of the Institute of Organ Transplantation in Tongji Hospital, in an interview with state-run media.

Yet Chinese officials claim that they had procured organs from over 4,000 organ donors in 2016 alone. In contrast, the UK, where 21 million people have registered to be donors, only had 1,364 people be the source after their deaths for organs in 2016. The United States, which has 140 million registered donors, had only 15,951 individuals provide organs after their deaths. Registered donors, also known as designated donors, are the number of people who, while alive, have expressed their willingness to donate their organs upon death (assuming they die in a manner that makes them eligible to donate.)

China claims to have signed up 300,000 registered donors. Based on Dr. Trey’s estimates, if only the registered donors are supplying organs, China should only have 20 to 40 people a year donating, a far cry from the claimed figure of over 4,000 in 2016.

Using a death rate of 7 out of every 1,000 people, Dr. Trey estimated about 2,100 of China’s 300,000 registered donors pass away every year. And only 1 to 2 percent of them have organs suitable for transplantation, as is observed in the United States and the UK. The vast majority do not qualify because of the illnesses the donors died from, their unhealthy lifestyles, their age, or the time gap between death and organ retrieval.

And China does not need to only procure organs from registered donors; Chinese medical officials must also gain permission from the family. In China, a single family member can overrule the decision of the donor to donate, adding another obstacle to the process.

The additional difficulty of getting permission on each occasion, especially when any family member can derail the consent to donate, raises questions about how genuine China’s official numbers are, Dr. Trey said.

In February, the medical journal Liver International retracted a scientific paper from Chinese researchers who were unable to prove they had ethically procured the organs used in their research. The paper referred to 564 liver transplants at The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University between April 2010 and October 2014. But Huang Jiefu, China’s organ transplantation spokesperson, stated that the First Affiliated Hospital received 166 liver donations between 2011 and 2014, leaving 398 livers of unknown origins.

DAFOH, which kept tabs on the number of organ donor registrations, found that at the end of both 2015 and 2016, there was a sudden spike in the number of registered donors. At the very end of December 2015, the numbers increased by exactly 25,000 people in one day.

The same phenomenon occurred again in December 2016, with an increase of over 86,000 donors in one week, ostensibly because they had combined two organ donation systems.

“China knows that its figures of registered donors are too small to yield more than 4,000 organ donors per year, thus it was necessary to increase the numbers. According to China’s official numbers, about 50% of all registered donors signed up in 7 days alone—within four years. That is inconceivable and unprecedented, ” Dr. Trey said.

China’s ‘Chameleon-Like’ Organ Transplant Chief

The face of China’s organ transplant reforms is Dr. Huang Jiefu, China’s organ transplant spokesperson. He is the chairman of China’s National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and head of the China Organ Transplant Development Foundation.

Although Huang was formerly the deputy minister of China’s Ministry of Health, he does not currently hold any official government position. Yet he has become the de facto spokesperson for China’s organ transplant system.

“What he says has no binding power on the Chinese government,” said Dr. Trey.

Dr. Trey pointed out that the organ transplant foundation Huang heads is private, like the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in the United States. “But the difference is, in the U.S., UNOS is not involved in making announcements on behalf of the government.”

Although Huang ostensibly speaks for the Chinese regime and is now touting reform in China’s organ transplant system, his words have no legal authority. And he has rapidly shifted his position based on the situation.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2013, he was asked about the practice of harvesting organs from executed prisoners, to which he replied, “Why do you object?” But following widespread criticism, he said at a conference soon afterwards that the practice was unethical.

In 2015, Huang said in several newspaper interviews that death row prisoners would be treated as citizens with the “right” to donate organs.

But after a firestorm of criticism that prisoners who were killed for their organs would simply be reclassified as voluntary organ donations, Huang told The New York Times his statement was only from a “philosophical level.”

Huang’s statements are “chameleon-like,” Dr. Trey said. “He seems to say whatever is needed to either obey pressure at home or to please the requests for ethical standards from the international community.”

Dr. Trey said his statements about reform of China’s organ transplant system similarly cannot be trusted.

“If reforms are praised while the hidden forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners and prisoners of conscience continues, then we find this devastating situation where this applause resounds while innocent people are slaughtered for their organs,” said Dr. Trey.

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Human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong on trial at Changsha Intermediate People’s Court on Aug. 22, 2017. (Screenshot via Youtube/China Hot Video)Human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong on trial at Changsha Intermediate People’s Court on Aug. 22, 2017. (Screenshot via Youtube/China Hot Video)

Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong was put on trial Tuesday, Aug. 22 for “subversion of state power.”

Jiang Tianyong’s wife told the Chinese language version of NTD TV that she thought it was a show trial and that Jiang had been tortured into pleading guilty.

Jiang disappeared last November after visiting another human rights lawyer, Xie Yang, who had been detained in what has come to be called the 709 Crackdown, so-named because the roundup of lawyers began two years ago on July 9.

Six months after his disappearance, Jiang’s father received a letter from the Changsha Municipal Public Security Bureau that his son had been charged with “subversion of state power.”

Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong and his wife Jin Ling Ling, at time before he was arrested by the Chinese regime.  (NTD.tv)

Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong and his wife Jin Ling Ling, at time before he was arrested by the Chinese regime. (NTD.tv)

Jiang had a history of defending persecuted groups such as underground Christians, Tibetans, and Falun Gong practitioners, and had taken on high-profile cases such as that of the Nobel Peace Prize nominated rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, and blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

Before Jiang’s trial, his parents were taken into custody, a common tactic in China used to pressure those who refuse to toe the Party line.

Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, decried Chinese authorities for not telling her if her husband was assigned defense lawyer or not, and if so, what his or her name might be.

The trial was held at Changsha Intermediate People’s Court. Videos posted by Chinese netizens show the wife of human rights lawyer Li Heping and the wife of human rights activist Zhai Yanmin being taken away by security for attempting to attend the trial.

Reuters reported an anonymous Western diplomat saying that a handful of diplomats who also tried to attend the trial were told that the room was full and were turned away.

The court released a video of the trial on Chinese social media Weibo.

In the video, Jiang can be seen reading parts of a written statement in which he admits to using social media to criticize the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and seeking to “overthrow the socialist system” after going abroad and attending legal training sessions.

Jin Bianling, who fled with her daughter to the United States in 2013, told NTD Television that Jiang must have endured unbearable torture to have pleaded guilty.

“You can see at the beginning of the trial, when Jiang Tianyong was brought into the court, his face was red the whole time,” she said. “Either he was tortured or he was force-fed drugs.”

If true, this wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Other human rights lawyers and activists who were arrested during the 709 Crackdown have told the media that they were tortured during detention, and some were injected with nerve-damaging drugs.

Jin demanded that the court acquit her husband and refused to recognize any verdict that declared him guilty.

Joint Statement

On Aug. 19, Jiang’s wife and family members of two other persecuted activists, released a joint statement saying that the CCP’s attempts to intimidate them into pressuring their loved ones were “laughable.”

“You are using harassment, deception, and violence on those who show support for their loved ones, then you will definitely receive harassment, deception, and violence as retribution in the future,” the statement reads.

“Regardless of what tricks you use, we will firmly adhere to one principle: If all of our 709 family members don’t come home, we will never give up.”

The eight family members were calling attention to Jiang, human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, and the father of human rights activist Wu Gan who was abducted by police shortly before Wu Gan was to go to trial.

Wang was arrested in the 709 Crackdown, and has been held in detention on charges of being a “threat to national security.”

Wang Quanzhang, with his wife Li Wenzu and son. Wang was detained in August 2015, and hasn't been seen since. (Courtesy of Wang Quanzhang's family)

Wang Quanzhang, with his wife Li Wenzu and son. Wang was detained in August 2015, and hasn’t been seen since. (Courtesy of Wang Quanzhang’s family)

Despite the Chinese regime’s distaste for his activities, Wang was recently nominated for the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip award for his advocacy work.

He has defended persecuted groups such as underground Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, and has worked with self-taught paralegals, or “barefoot lawyers,” and human rights activists to defend the disenfranchised.

His wife has tried to sue Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court for not following legal procedures in his case. She says the court had six months to try him or ask for a postponement, and has done neither.

But after 14 tries to enter China’s Supreme Court, she hasn’t been successful in filing the lawsuit.

A day before releasing the joint statement, she posted a video on Twitter of herself trying to get past a Supreme Court bailiff. In the video, the bailiff blocks her way, denying her access to the building.

Wang Quanzhang’s lawyer, Yu Wensheng, said attempts to meet with officials from the Tianjin court have also been unsuccessful, and said he wasn’t even able able to finish filing his defense papers at the court.

“They are not being reasonable at all,” he said.

In their joint statement, the families called for justice for all the lawyers and activists who were rounded up in the 709 Crackdown, and demanded their release.

NTD China News reporters Yi Ru, Li Yun, and Li Peiling contributed to this article.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson introduces the 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 15, 2017. (Paul Huang/Epoch Times)U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson introduces the 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 15, 2017. (Paul Huang/Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released the 2016 International Religious Freedom Report on Aug. 15 at the State Department. Tillerson used his remarks “to call out a few of the more egregious and troubling examples,” which included actions by the ISIS terrorist group, China, and Iran, among others.

Tillerson blasted ISIS for “genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled.” He said that the extremist group continues to target religious and ethnic groups for “rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and even death.”

In China, the regime has tortured and detained thousands who practice their religious beliefs, according to Tillerson, who pointed out that “dozens of Falun Gong members have died in detention” since last year. These are the latest deaths in 18 years of persecution. In 1999, then-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin, fearing the popularity of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, launched a campaign to eradicate it.

“[China’s] policies that restrict Uyghurs, Muslims, and Tibetan Buddhists religious practices and expressions have also increased,” said Tillerson.

The report’s section on China documents numerous abuses of religious freedom in China. It calls attention to the situation of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who defended religious groups including Christians and Falun Gong practitioners. Following six years of harassment, Gao was imprisoned for five years and subjected to extensive torture. Since Gao’s release in 2014, the Chinese regime has continued to subject him to intrusive surveillance and house arrest. Gao disappeared from his home on Aug. 13, according to family members.

In Iran, Tillerson said 20 individuals were executed “on charges that included ‘waging war against God,’” adding that “Baha’is, Christians, and other minorities are persecuted for their faith.”

The U.S. State Department began releasing the annual report in 1998 in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act—legislation, Tillerson said, “that upholds religious freedom as a core American value under the Constitution’s First Amendment, as well as a universal human right.”

The report this year identified 10 “countries of particular concern”: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, all of which were also listed in last year’s report, following the recommendations by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Tillerson said that the administration is looking forward to working with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who has recently been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. If confirmed, Brownback will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to ever head the commission, said Tillerson.

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Geng He, the wife of abused Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, speaks to the press on Capitol Hill on Jan. 18, 2011 (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)Geng He, the wife of abused Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, speaks to the press on Capitol Hill on Jan. 18, 2011 (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Renowned Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been under house arrest for the last three years, suddenly disappeared from his home on Aug. 13.

As of Aug. 15, there has been no update on his whereabouts.

Gao’s wife Geng He, who lives in the United States, confirmed Gao’s disappearance with New Tang Dynasty Television.

Geng said she tried to call her husband on Aug. 13, but could not reach him. She finally got in touch with his older brother Gao Zhiyi, who informed her that Gao disappeared that morning.

“Gao’s brother went to Gao’s home at around 8 a.m. to call on Gao to have breakfast. He called Gao a few times, but Gao did not come out of the room. Gao’s brother went into his room and saw that nobody was there. He reported to the police at 9 a.m. Local police went to the [nearby] mountain and searched for Gao everywhere,” Geng told an NTD reporter.

Geng said there has been no news about Gao so far. She had been trying to call Gao’s brother since then, but could not reach him either.

“I felt very distressed since learning this news. I have lived in the United States for over eight years. Although I live in a free country, I don’t feel relaxed or free. Since Gao’s release to home from prison three years ago, the Chinese Communist Party refused to let him see a dentist to have his teeth fixed. Now his teeth have almost all fallen out. Whenever I see food, I think of his teeth. I don’t feel at ease at all,” she said.

Gao’s teeth became loose and painful after many years of torture.

gao-collage-2

Gao Zhisheng. L: Nov. 2, 2005 at his office in Beijing. (Verna Yu/AFP/Getty Images); R: Photo from 2017. (circulated from activists in China)

Geng said she vaguely remembered the last time she spoke to Gao was around Aug. 11.

Geng said the Chinese Communist Party has never stopped persecuting her family in China. The Chinese authorities have confiscated the IDs of her sister’s family. They were forbidden from leaving their hometown city. She is afraid to call her family because that might result in them being persecuted.

Gao’s disappearance comes one week after he gave a rare interview to NTD Television.

Human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng. (The Epoch Times)

File image, human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng. (The Epoch Times)

On Aug. 7, he told NTD Television via telephone that everyone in China has lost their freedom and are live like they are in prison.

“In China 1.3 billion people are under house arrest, not just me. To human nature, human rights, humanity, and heaven’s mandate, this is a prison. My greatest wish is to change this evil system so Chinese people can live a normal life and China can go back to being a normal civilization,” he said.

His disappearance comes ahead of the 19th Party Congress this fall, which is always an extra sensitive time for the Party.

From Praise to Torture

Gao was once lauded by the Chinese Ministry of Justice as one of China’s top 10 lawyers. Gao, a Christian, ran afoul of the communist regime when he started providing legal aid to practitioners of Falun Gong—one of the largest spiritual communities being persecuted in China.

Chinese security forces first stepped up their surveillance of Gao after he penned open letters to the top Chinese leadership condemning the persecution. He was formally arrested in 2006.

Gao spent the next eight years in and out of prison, where he was tortured in the same manner as Falun Gong practitioners—including sleep deprivation, brutal beatings, and shocks with electric batons.  

In 2014, Gao was released home from prison, but was placed under a form of house arrest in his native Shaanxi Province.

Due to constant harassment, Gao’s wife Geng He and their two children fled China in 2009, and have lived in the United States since then.

By Chang Chun

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Xu Chensheng before she was persecuted by the Chinese regime for practicing the spiritual discipline Falun Gong. (Minghui.org)Xu Chensheng before she was persecuted by the Chinese regime for practicing the spiritual discipline Falun Gong. (Minghui.org)

After receiving the first-of-its-kind monetary compensation through a trial in China, the family of a prisoner of conscience who was killed in police custody in 2012 said that justice has not yet been fully served.

The family of Xu Chensheng, who died under mysterious circumstances in police custody in 2012, said that the case was settled out of court for an amount one-third of that in similar lawsuits and that they had to agree not to take the complaint to higher authorities.

Xu died 12 hours after being arrested by police on May 16, 2012. Her family received $47,500 at the end of 2016, following years of seeking legal justice. In an interview on Aug. 9, New Tang Dynasty Television confirmed that the family had received the full amount.

That compensation is the first of its kind because Xu was arrested for distributing materials about Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, which has been brutally persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1999. The courts have refused to hear cases from Falun Gong practitioners for years, under the directive of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin.

More recently, some courts have accepted Falun Gong cases, but no family has ever been compensated until Xu’s case.

Falun Gong is a peaceful meditation practice, which includes slow-moving exercises and a way of life guided by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

In an exclusive interview with New Tang Dynasty Television Xu’s son, Yang Xujun, revealed additional details surrounding his mother’s death. Closed circuit television footage shows Xu handcuffed to a chair at the Beihu District Police Station without food, water, or the ability to use a bathroom for over 12 hours from 10 a.m. till 11 p.m. One of the officers threatened to “send her to heaven.”

At about 11 p.m. his mother can be seen walking to a police car unassisted, yet 15 minutes later she was sent to a hospital with no heartbeat, not breathing, and declared dead.

Body of Xu Chensheng. (Minghui.org)

Body of Xu Chensheng. (Minghui.org)

Although the case has come to an end, the cause of Xu’s death is still unknown. The police said Xu died of a “sudden illness.”

The police did not inform the family of the death until two days later.

“How did such a healthy person die suddenly?” Wang Fuhua, who had been helping Xu’s family to seek compensation, asked.

“We told them we refused to accept that. We would definitely demand compensation,” said Wang.

The process of seeking legal justice in China has not been easy. The family filed a lawsuit in three different courts, went to 11 coordination meetings with local police, and pitched the story to local media.

None of the courts replied and none of the media dared cover the story.

When the family finally reached a court mediation agreement, the language in the document steered the responsibility for Xu’s death away from the police by calling the payment to the family a “reimbursement” rather than “compensation.”

“They meant they were reimbursing me for humanitarian reasons, but they were not compensating me because they were responsible for my mother’s death,” Yang said.

Yang revealed that he was threatened by the court not to open a trial, but settle out of court.

According to Yang’s lawyer, the estimated amount for compensation would be about $165,000 if they took the case to court—around triple the amount of what they had received as reimbursement.

“They said they fought for the largest amount possible. If you did not accept this amount, then they will open a court trial,” Yang said.

“The deputy chief justice told me, that the court would most likely not hold the police station accountable. So we were half-threatened,” he said.

The compensation came with two additional conditions.

“The first condition is that Yang is responsible for cremation costs. He must cremate his mother’s body within five days. Another condition is that he cannot appeal this matter to any higher court or organizations,” Wang said.

Althought Xu’s family met with great tribulations during the legal battle, they were touched by the support of local residents in Chenzhou City.

“The citizens in Chenzhou City had overwhelming sympathy for the victim. When her photo was posted, many people saw it and offered many ideas,” Wang said.

“Many people posted the victim’s story on their Weibo accounts and QQ accounts. Many people were discussing this matter.”

NTD China News’ Chang Chun contributed to this article.

From NTD.tv

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