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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The Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA  in Los Angeles in this file photo. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)The Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA  in Los Angeles in this file photo. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The University of California, San Diego, has invited the Dalai Lama as its commencement speaker in June, and a group of Chinese students at the university is rallying to stop his speech. There may be more to the events than meets the eye, however, as a social media posting said to be from the student group states it has been given directions by the Chinese Consulate.

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet, and has been in exile since March, 1959, when he fled Tibet fearing the Chinese occupiers intended to abduct him. Tibet was invaded by the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army in Oct. 1950. The CCP pushes a line that it “liberated” Tibet, and heavily censors the topic, while calling the Dalai Lama a “separatist.”

The group trying to prevent the speech is a local branch of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA), a nationwide student organization known to receive funding and directives from the CCP through its consulates.

The CSSA has openly stated it is working under the guidance of the Chinese regime.

It published a statement on WeChat that states, translated from Chinese, that in regards to the Dalai Lama going to the university, “the Chinese Student and Scholar Association has asked the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles for instructions, and having received the instructions are going to implement them.”

It tells students to not act outside official guidance of the CCP, and says “specific measures to be taken will be elaborated on in future announcements.”

“Our association has been forced to take tough and unyielding measures,” it states.

The statement appears to have been taken offline, but a Web archive of the page is still available.

The “about us” page on the University of California, San Diego, CSSA website states, translated from Chinese, that it is a “public benefit organization” and is “affiliated to the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles.” It also says it works as a “Chinese embassy bridge.”

Overt Espionage

According to “China’s Espionage Dynasty: Economic Death by a Thousand Cuts,” published by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank, CSSAs are active in more than 150 U.S. universities.

Officially, it states, the CSSAs help native Chinese students by acting as a bridge between China and foreign institutions. On the other hand, “CSSAs may also be a pivotal overt espionage platform for the Chinese government.”

“The vast majority of CSSAs receive funding from the Chinese government or have an active liaison via the consulate back to the CCP,” it states.

It adds that CSSAs may work to “persuade students to act as temporary or prolonged intelligence assets,” and that “Through CSSAs, students can be manipulated into passing intellectual property or research back to their home state or planting malware on a university system.”

According to an FBI podcast on April 14, 2014, it’s not uncommon for foreign intelligence agencies to manipulate students to achieve their objectives—and the students are often unaware they are being used until they’re already in over their heads.

“To foster the relationship, foreign intelligence operatives will flatter and encourage students, show interest in their future success, and even promise to help them obtain a government-issued visa or work permit—but it’s all disingenuous and empty promises,” it states.

It adds, “The truth is, the operatives are just using the student as a pawn to achieve their own ends, without concern for the student’s welfare or future.”

Controlling the Narrative

Preventing a speech by the Dalai Lama may not seem like a big deal, but for the CCP, its use of censorship and controlled narratives are cornerstones of its hold on power. It simultaneously pushes its own narratives on issues, peppered with disinformation, while also using extreme censorship to stop the true narratives from being known.

The issue of Tibet—which includes the CCP’s suppression of Tibetan Buddhists—is one of the CCP’s five “no-go topics,” which also includes its persecution of Falun Gong, its persecution of Muslim Uyghurs, the issue of Taiwanese independence, and the issue of democracy in Hong Kong.

The CCP’s censorship apparatus stretches beyond its own borders, and looks to control similar narratives being raised by foreign governments and news outlets.

“In many cases, Chinese officials directly impede independent reporting by media based abroad,” states a 2013 report from the Center for International Media Assistance.

It adds, however, that “more prevalent–and often more effective–are methods of control that subtly induce self-censorship or inspire media owners, advertisers, and other international actors to take action on the CCP’s behalf.”

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A construction crew sets up barriers at the entrance of the Westin Hotel in Ottawa ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Canada on Sept. 19, 2016. 
(Epoch Times)A construction crew sets up barriers at the entrance of the Westin Hotel in Ottawa ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Canada on Sept. 19, 2016. 
(Epoch Times)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Canada, which will take place this week, has spurred efforts by pro-Beijing groups to ensure the high ranking Communist Party official gets a boisterous welcome in Ottawa and Montreal.

If the welcome follows the pattern established in previous visits, Chinese groups will be mobilized and financially supported by the Chinese Embassy in an effort to bolster the image of the Beijing regime and create the impression that Chinese Canadians generally support its policies and positions.

A recording of a Chinese diplomat obtained by Epoch Times in 2010 when  then-Chinese leader Hu Jintao visited Canada revealed Chinese Embassy officials funding and organizing demonstrations meant to welcome the Chinese leader.

Read more: Tape Reveals Embassy Footing Bill for Hu Jintao’s Welcome Rally

The notice given to the groups involved in the current welcome effort mimic patterns established in other visits where consulates mobilized welcome groups. According to a note posted on a Chinese-language Canadian website ahead of Li’s visit, “the Chinese community,” among them the Toronto-based Beijing Association of Canada, were organizing groups to welcome “the delegation from the motherland.”

The notice suggests knowledge of a detailed itinerary. No such itinerary has been made public by the Canadian government.

Another note posted on Chinese social media WeChat by a Montreal Chinese group organizer said: “This is our townsmen association’s notice: To guarantee Premier Li Keqiang’s friendly visit to Canada is a complete success, the Chinese Consulate has assigned the task to our townsmen association … to rally on Sept 23 at the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal to prevent a small number of illegal elements from getting near the hotel where the premier will stay.”

The time indicated in the note includes a day shift from 8:30-3:00 p.m. and a night shift from 10:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the next morning. The note said everyone participating would be given a T-shirt and lunch.

The “illegal elements” likely refers to protesters from groups repressed in China, including democracy advocates, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Falun Gong practitioners.

In Ottawa, the activity scheduled on the Chinese website includes welcoming the visiting officials at the Westin Hotel, Parliament Hill, and the Canadian Museum of History.

Construction is already underway at the Westin Hotel to erect barriers in front of the entrance. When Chinese leader Hu was staying at the Westin in 2010, a similar wooden barrier was built to block the entrance from view. Windows were covered as well.

‘A very high requirement’

Li’s visit was officially announced in mid-September, but a July 3 article by the Chinese-language publication Ming Pao indicates that Toronto Chinese Consulate officials have been hinting to Chinese groups to be prepared for Li’s visit in September.

The report cites an unnamed Chinese community leader saying that whenever Chinese officials visit Canada, Chinese groups usually organize big tour buses to bring people from different cities to join forces with others in Ottawa to welcome the officials at Parliament Hill.  

Before Hu’s 2010 visit, Epoch Times obtained a recording of a speech given by Liu Shaohua, the first secretary of the education section at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, to a crowd of 40-50 Chinese students receiving Chinese state scholarships to study in Canada. Those students, Liu emphasized, had to attend the welcome events for Hu.

Liu said that the Chinese Embassy was covering the costs of hotels, food, travel, and clothing for all the people coming to welcome Hu, bringing the cost to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This sum, according to Liu, was “little money” in light of the  “political struggle” waged by the Chinese regime to overshadow human-rights advocates who planned to protest during Hu’s visit.

“Originally, we did not expect the situation to be so complex,” Liu told the crowd. However, he continued, “Falun Gong, Tibetan separatists, Uyghur separatists, democracy people have already moved on to Parliament Hill. …This is a battle that relates to defending the reputation of our motherland. The Embassy and authorities inside China have a very high requirement.”

According to Liu, the previous time Hu visited Canada in 2005 and was met with protestors, officials in China were furious. Liu complained that during that visit, Canadian authorities did not cooperate with Chinese demands regarding the protesters, but this time he said there were some limited guarantees, although “some parts cannot be guaranteed because this country is particular about so-called freedom.”

The Beijing Association of Canada, one of the groups organizing the current welcome effort, has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, according to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior manager with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

In an address to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in 2014 when the board was considering whether to sever ties with the Beijing-backed Confucius Institute after a public outcry against an official partnership, Juneau-Katsuya presented an internal email leaked from the Beijing Association which stated they were in urgent need of people to go to the TDSB and rally in support of the Confucius Institute. The association offered to pay a subsidy for transportation and parking for those who attended.

Numerous attempts to contact the Beijing Association for an interview for this article were unsuccessful.

Li Keqiang will begin his Canadian visit on Sept. 21 in Ottawa, where he will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He will then visit Montreal, where he will meet with members of the business community as well as the Chinese-Canadian community.

He will travel to Cuba after concluding his Canada trip on Sept. 24.

Additional reporting by Limin Zhou in Ottawa

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