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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Continues Hawkish Stance

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

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

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TORONTO—The documentary “The China Hustle,” which premiered recently at the Toronto International Film Festival, shows how hundreds of Chinese companies listed on North American stock exchanges can cause billions of losses to investors due to lack of proper oversight.

These Chinese firms enter the U.S. stock market through reverse takeovers with American companies and report revenues and assets that have no base in reality, thus inflating the companies’ stock value.

Making a story about complex financial transactions for the everyday viewer was one of the biggest challenges faced by Jed Rothstein, director of “The China Hustle.”

“Financial crimes are by their nature very complex; their complexity is what enables the fraud,” said Rothstein, the producer/director behind “Before the Spring After the Fall” and “Killing in the Name.”

“We tried to make it as easy to understand as possible while still making sure it’s accurate. … So that’s the challenge,” the filmmaker said in an interview.

Jed Rothstein, the director of “The China Hustle”, sits down for an interview with The Epoch Times on Sept. 9, 2017 during the Toronto International Film Festival. (Becky Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Among the market players featured in the documentary is Carson Block, founder of the investment research firm Muddy Waters, which was instrumental in the collapse of TSE-listed Sino-Forest, a forestry firm with claims of massive operations in China.

In July, the Ontario Securities Commission ruled that Sino-Forest and several of its executives defrauded investors and misled investigators.

Block and other researchers featured in the documentary used research teams to set up cameras and even conduct undercover visits to the operations facilities of the Chinese firms listed in the NYSE, often at great risk to the team members.

One of the researchers, Chinese-Canadian Kun Huang, was imprisoned for two years in China after the firm he worked for questioned the production claims of Silvercorp Metals Inc., a Vancouver-based company with operations in China. Huang has now launched a lawsuit against Silvercorp, alleging that it colluded with local authorities in China to have him arrested.

“I think that there are a lot of opportunities to invest and make money all over the world, but when the rules of the markets can’t be translated across the same borders that money can, it creates opportunity for fraud, like we saw in the ‘China Hustle’ film,” Rothstein said.

With reporting by Becky Zhou

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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In this file photo a Chinese ship makes its way toward the Lions Gate Bridge into the Port of Vancouver,  one of North America's most important gateways to Asia.(CP Photo/Chuck Stoody)In this file photo a Chinese ship makes its way toward the Lions Gate Bridge into the Port of Vancouver,  one of North America's most important gateways to Asia.(CP Photo/Chuck Stoody)

NEWS ANALYSIS

As NAFTA negotiations with the United States show slow progress, a new survey shows that more Canadians want to increase trade relationships beyond the United States, with Europe and the U.K.—jurisdictions with similar democratic institutions as Canada—taking the top spots.

China takes the fourth spot as the trade partner of choice, a finding similar to periodic surveys in recent years showing a decline in Canadians’ interest in free trade with China.

The federal government is pushing ahead with free trade talks with China, however, with a decision on the potential deal with the Asian giant expected this fall, according to The National Post.

The Epoch Times contacted Global Affairs Canada for an update on the Canada-China free trade talks, but answers to questions were not provided by press time. The government’s public consultation phase on the proposed deal closed in June.

As U.S. President Donald Trump plays hardball in NAFTA negotiations, Canada’s pursuit of a free trade deal with China has been cited by some as an attempt to send a signal to its southern neighbour that Canada isn’t limited in choice when it comes to trading partners.

But the Liberal government started negotiations on a potential free trade deal with China immediately after coming to power in the fall of 2015. That was long before Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, criticized NAFTA’s terms as being overly in Canada’s favour as president of the United States.

The Angus Reid poll published last week asked Canadians where their government should look to develop closer trade ties. Around 45 percent chose the EU, followed closely by the United States at around 40 percent. The third spot with 30 percent went to the U.K., which is in the midst of exiting the EU and will be on its own in any trade talks. China, with close to 25 percent, came in fourth.

Angus Reid notes that interest among Canadians for developing closer trade ties with China has been in decline since the research company first began its periodic polling on the subject in 2014.

Even among the Liberals’ own support base, i.e. those who voted Liberal in the 2015 federal election, support for a free trade deal is below two in five.

Rule of Law

The Liberals’ “human connection” initiatives and “people-to-people exchanges” between China and Canada over the last few years were cited as being intended to reverse the negative polling trends of Canadians’ views on China, but it seems they haven’t succeeded in making Canadians more receptive to closer trade ties.

Perhaps that’s because it is not the elected representatives of the Chinese people that oversee the affairs of their country, but a single non-elected entity that controls all branches of power, including the judiciary, in a one-party system.

The overt state control in China is something that worries Dean Allison, the Conservatives’ newly appointed international trade critic, should a Canada-China free trade agreement go ahead.

“We certainly don’t mind doing deals with the Chinese people. It’s when you have the state involved in such a large way that gives us some great concerns,” he said in an interview.

That’s the lesson Amy Chang hopes Canadians wanting to do business in China learn. Chang’s parents, John Chang and Allison Lu, Canadian citizens who own wineries in B.C. and Ontario, are currently being held by Chinese authorities in Shanghai over an alleged customs valuation dispute.

According to Chang, the Chinese authorities have criminalized a commercial dispute in her parents’ case.

“If this is an issue regarding undervaluation, then they can let me know and we can deal with this diplomatically. There’s no need to have Canadian citizens detained overseas and imprisoned,” Chang told The Canadian Press last spring when she visited Ottawa to plead with federal politicians for help in getting her parents released.

“[Beijing] really is a government that doesn’t play by the rules, it isn’t rule-based,” said Allison. “[In China] we have clear violations of the rule of law as it would exist here in Canada.”

That means that when it comes to a free trade deal with China, there is no guarantee of a level playing field, he said.

“If you and I are making decisions in Canada based on business and personal interest and how the market economy works, that’s one thing, but we are competing with a systematically organized and controlled state-run operation. I think that skews the level playing field,” Allison said.

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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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Tourists walk with their luggage at Beijing International Airport on November 24, 2016.
(Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)Tourists walk with their luggage at Beijing International Airport on November 24, 2016.
(Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

Having left her native China and entered the United States via a smuggling ring in 2014, Zheng Lili recalls the climax of her months-long journey, which took her around the world and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“I was scared to death, gasping for breath, I thought I would die there.” It was at that very moment, after she crossed the Rio Grande, that she heard police officers say, “Welcome to America!”

Her first stop was Moscow. From there she went to Cuba, where a visa is not required for Chinese nationals staying less than a month, before finally arriving in Mexico City and embarking on their trek journey north.

At Mexican customs, the leader of the group Zheng was in had told everyone to slip $200 into his or her passport. They were then led to a special entryway and got through without trouble. Joined by a dozen others from different countries, they set off at midnight on a journey to the Rio Grande Valley. For two days straight, they marched over the mosquito-infested land, constantly ready to throw themselves to the ground to evade helicopters or patrol vehicles.  

Zheng had become so exhausted that she had to be carried by her son and another immigrant. “We all looked forward to being arrested after crossing, because it speeds up the process,” she told The Epoch Times.

Her son was released on bail a month later, and was soon granted political asylum on account of the Christian faith he learned from his devout grandmother. Zheng was detained for two years.

Zheng Lili’s experience isn’t unique. Aug. 26 this year, twenty-three Chinese were arrested crossing San Diego’s Otay Mesa border, the largest bust of illegal entry by Chinese nationals via Mexico.

Along with seven Mexicans, the group was discovered while they were going through a cross-country tunnel from Mexico. All came from southeastern China—22 from the coastal province of Fujian and one from the neighboring province of Guangdong.

Zheng, also from Fujian, arrived in the United States in 2014 and spent two years in detention before she was reunited with her husband in 2016. Her husband, Chen Zhiqiang, was himself an illegal immigrant: he had gained entry over two decades earlier with a fake passport obtained in the Netherlands. Chen and Zheng were the last of 39 Chen-surnamed families in their town that left home for the United States.

Fujian has historically been one of the largest sources for Chinese immigrants. Changle District, which in the late 1970s became one of the first Chinese ports opened up for international trade, gained the nickname “Village of Smugglers.” From 1980 to 2005, over 200,000 people had been trafficked to overseas destinations, according to Sina, an online Chinese media group.

In Fuzhou, capital of Fujian, tens of thousands of “left-behind children” lived with their grandparents, according to Beijing News. The parents—unauthorized immigrants working in the United States—sent their toddlers back because they had no extra energy or time to take care of them after toiling for 13 hours a day or more. Changle District, which lies near Fuzhou and has around 712,500 residents, counted 5,000 U.S.-born children in 2012. Nearly every local household had someone living overseas.

Fujian has a long tradition of emigration, beginning in antiquity as Chinese merchants left the mainland and settled abroad, often in Southeast Asia. In the early 1960s, Fujianese sailors who took work in Hong Kong discovered that they could earn 15 times as much in the United States, sparking a first wave of emigration to the West.

Gradually an extensive network and an industry of smuggling developed. “When other people got out and we didn’t, it made us look bad,” unnamed immigrants told Sohu, another Chinese media site. Villagers in Changle would set off fireworks to celebrate whenever someone made it to the United States.

“There have been lots of historical cases of Chinese people being brought into the United States illegally on ships, in railroad coaches, hidden in cars, through tunnels, on airplanes – every imaginable way that humans can think of to cross the border,” Elliot Young, a history professor at Portland, Oregon’s Lewis and Clark College and author of the book “Alien Nation,” which documents China’s immigration history to the United States, told Voice of America.  

“The Chinese were among the first to invent these ways of evading border control,” Elliott Young said.

Zheng Qi (not related to Zheng Lili), chairman of the Fukien Benevolent Association of America, made his way into America with a Thailand tourist passport, according to U.S.-China Press. In his unsuccessful first attempt, the Hong Kong-based travel agency got him a travel visa to Canada, which got him to the Canadian border before he was discovered and repatriated.  

The Migration Policy Institute estimates about 268,000 illegal or undocumented immigrants from China, making them the fifth largest group among over 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States, and the largest of all non-Latin American nations. In a 2016 report, the MPI identified China as one of the world’s leading sources of immigrants.

Over a period of seven months from October 2016 to this May, the California border patrol apprehended 663 Chinese trying to illegally enter the United States, a huge jump from a mere 48 over the same period in 2016, and just 5 the year before, NBC 7 reported.

Smugglers see Chinese clients as more profitable than those from Latin America or Mexico, since gangs can demand higher fees due to the longer travel route. In the past few decades, the cost of smuggling an immigrant has more than doubled, rising from $30,000 to $50,000 to $70,000, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.   

Rarely are these fees paid upfront to smugglers, called shetou or “snakeheads” in Chinese, according to the professor Elliott Young.

Young observed that the immigrants would usually arrange with the smuggler on a certain amount of down payment—around a few thousand dollars—and “work off their debt in the United States by working in a business.” “They work in restaurants, garment factories and other, often Chinese-owned, businesses,” he said.

A sarcastic Chinese expression describes a typical illegal immigrant’s day-to-day life upon arriving the United States: “Daytime at the stove, nighttime on the pillow, and weekend at the lawyer’s.”

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A Chinese man stands inside a job center on September 18, 2015 in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, China in 2015. China’s slower economy has left many desperate for work, making them vulnerable to pyramid schemes that are evolving into criminal syndicates. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)A Chinese man stands inside a job center on September 18, 2015 in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, China in 2015. China’s slower economy has left many desperate for work, making them vulnerable to pyramid schemes that are evolving into criminal syndicates. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A young college graduate was found dead in the northern port city of Tianjin. Police suspect the death involved foul play by a pyramid scheme gang. Such gangs have been connected to a number of suspicious deaths across China.

On July 14, the body of Li Wenxing, 23, was found near a suburban highway in Tianjin, floating faceup in a small pond. Autopsy results showed that Li drowned with no apparent injuries.

Li, a native of Shandong Province, had come from a rural family and joined the wave of young people leaving small-town homes to find careers in big cities.

Li Wenxing, seen on the day of his college graduation ceremony, thought he was taking a programming job but ended up in a pyramid scheme run by violent con artists. (Handout via EMG)

Li Wenxing, seen on the day of his college graduation ceremony, thought he was taking a programming job but ended up in a pyramid scheme run by violent con artists. (Handout via EMG)

Chinese media reported that a Li’s body was found with a book of notes apparently taken at a class connected to the pyramid scheme known as Diebeilei. Chinese state media said five Diebeilei associates have been arrested for Li’s death and have confessed to luring him into the scheme and forcing him to stay at their dormitory.

Sixth Tone quotes a post from Li’s sister that has since been taken down, in which she claimed the autopsy of her brother revealed he had been starved.

Syndicate-like pyramid schemes are prolific in China and feed on vulnerable and often poorly educated victims who are lured in by overnight rags-to-riches stories.

Public outcry over Li’s death has been directed at both pyramid scams—which are known to use aggressive recruiting practices, deception, and even violence—as well as at “Boss Zhipin,” a popular Chinese job hunting website that failed to screen employers posting ads on its site.

The job site has issued an apology for that failure and has promised changes will be made.

Li was a recent graduate who thought he was going to work as a programmer at a company he found on Boss Zhipin. He had to travel to Tianjin for the job, not discovering until later that it was posted by a member of Diebeilei posing as a software company.

A police statement revealed that shortly after Li arrived in Tianjin on May 20, he was taken to facilities controlled by members of the scheme, tricked into signing up as a recruit, and began borrowing money from friends.

Reports said Li’s family and friends had problems reaching him and he wouldn’t give clear explanations for why he needed the money.

What happened later is not yet entirely clear, but in what seems to have been Li’s last phone call to his family on July 8, he said, “No matter who calls for money, don’t give it to them.”

Li’s death is not an isolated case.

Earlier this year, a 24-year-old man named Qu Pengxu was found dead in a village fish pond in Tianjin.

Qu had also been a Diebeilei recruit.

Another recruit named Zhang Chao was found dead on July 13.

Zhang’s body had been abandoned by three men on the roadside in the middle of the night. Zhang died from a “heat stroke” under suspicious circumstances. And there have been other similar cases around China.

Another college student, Lin Huarong, 20, from Hunan Province, was found drowned in a river in Hubei Province on Aug. 4.

Lin got sucked into a pyramid scam by a classmate when she was searching for a part-time job in July.

Lin’s father said he lost contact with his daughter that same month.

Chinese media reported that Lin was forced to receive brainwashing lectures and her cellphone was confiscated.

Four recent victims who died after coming into contact with pyramid schemes in China. Large photo is Qu pengxu. Top right and down are Li Wenxing, Zhang Chao, and Lin Huarong. Behind them is a picture of the pond where Li's body was found. (Composite photo via EMG)

Four recent victims who died after coming into contact with pyramid schemes in China. (L) Qu Pengxu. (From Top R and down) Li Wenxing, Zhang Chao, and Lin Huarong. Behind them is a picture of the pond where Li’s body was found. (Composite photo via EMG)

Such cases reflect the severity of the problem, says China analyst Jason Ma.

Pyramid schemes are an ever changing menace, he said.

“In the beginning, it was called ‘direct marketing.’ Since direct marketing was introduced to China thirty years ago, it has transformed into something completely unrecognizable today.”

Ma said that in China today, these pyramid schemes have become “a dangerous business.”

“A great many people have become victims of such scams again and again. Today in China, the so-called pyramid scheme has turned into something extremely complex and it is constantly evolving …”

Ma notes that there are an estimated 600-700 types of pyramid or similar scams now being used in China by more than 1,000 organizations.

“‘Pyramid scheme’ is an umbrella term that covers a lot of ground. In the case of Li Wenxing, he had lost his personal freedom and likely died from abuse. This is really not a pyramid scheme in the conventional sense, it is a gang-style kidnapping,” he said.

Public outrage is also being aimed at the police over why, after so many tragedies, authorities have failed to stamp out pyramid schemes.

Crackdowns on such groups flare up from time to time, with one currently underway, but the groups persist and evolve.

Some allege that authorities in China can’t stop such groups because they are sanctioned by corrupt officials within the regime.

“This is an extreme case of preying upon others. It is a form of corruption that stems all the way from the top of CCP leadership,” said China news analyst Heng He.

“The authorities are unable to touch the largest pyramid scheme organizations because the government has got their backs. CCTV even helps promotes some of them,” said He, pointing to the pyramid scheme known as ‘Shanxinhui’ as an example.

The group claims to be a women’s foundation and is affiliated with the CCP’s All-China Women’s Affiliation.

“These organizations get public financing but the money they get will not be repaid, or paid out to investors at the bottom. Those at the top are the ones that get the money,” said He.

He compares that scenario to the endemic corruption in China that sees Party officials profit at public expense.

It’s routine in China for the children of highly place Communist Party cadre’s to be placed at the helms of state-owned enterprises that dominate China’s economy, and for officials to manipulate land sales and other business dealings to line their own pockets.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has earned political capital by carrying out a massive anti-corruption campaign that aims to stifle such practices but there are questions over whether that is possible without regime change and real rule-of-law.

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Boxers Wen Yinhang, from Hubei, and Uyghur Tangtilahan compete at the 13th National Game in Tianjin, China, on Aug. 13. China has ordered the dissolution of the current National boxing team amidst complaints that the competition was rigged. (Sohu)Boxers Wen Yinhang, from Hubei, and Uyghur Tangtilahan compete at the 13th National Game in Tianjin, China, on Aug. 13. China has ordered the dissolution of the current National boxing team amidst complaints that the competition was rigged. (Sohu)

China has dissolved its national boxing team amidst complaints about rigged boxing matches in the recent China’s premier National Games, the country’s top sports’ governing body announced on Sept. 7.

The qualifications of certain judges who were allegedly involved will be terminated.

The boxing competition that took place in Tianjin between Aug. 3 and 13 ended in an uproar as several boxing athletes, indignant of the ruling that they deemed unfair, refused to leave the site in protest. Subsequent matches were delayed as a result.

The two boxers under spotlight are Wen Yinhang from Hubei Province in central China and his opponent, Tangtilahan, an ethnic Uyghur from Xinjiang, who competed in the men’s 75-kilogram final on Aug. 13. Wen was given a score of 5 to 0 despite many onlookers being certain of his defeat, leading to broad speculation that the match was rigged in Wen’s favor.

Wen Yinhang and Tangtilahan at the boxing match on Aug. 13. (WeChat)

Wen Yinhang and Tangtilahan at the boxing match on Aug. 13. (WeChat)

Wen, an athlete in the national boxing team, was set to compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

In an online recording of the live broadcast on state-run Central China Television, the narrator can be heard jeering at Wen, who wears a red outfit, as Tangtilahan punches him in the face. “Such an overwhelming victory,” he says.

But hearing the announcement of Wen’s victory, the narrator appears baffled, saying it “made no sense.”

The Chinese Boxing Federation rules deny athletes the chance to appeal for a review of the results if the score is 0:5 or 1:4.  

Similar questions were raised on Aug. 4, when Sichuan athlete Wang Gang defeated Yilanbieke, also a Uyghur, during the 64-kilogram match.

“An investigation has been launched and umpires who are found to have seriously violated discipline will be banned,” the Boxing and Taekwondo Center of the State General Administration of Sport said in a statement, according to the English Xinhua.

“The incidents exposed the loopholes of the boxing and taekwondo center in selecting, managing, and employing referees,” the administration said in the statement. “The boxing and taekwondo center must take responsibility for it.”

In an earlier notice, the sports administration criticized the boxing and taekwondo center for not handling the issue in a sufficient and timely manner, and ordered an investigation.  

Meanwhile, Chinese have taken to the internet to express their amusement or discontent.

“Wen Yinhang was punched four or five times every round, but he still got crowned with a score of 5 to 0,” one spectator wrote on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media site.

Another commented: “I can’t claim myself a veteran boxing fan, but I have watched some matches. This National tournament is simply ridiculous… My wife, who has never watched boxing match, joined me today and she asked, ‘how can this [Wen] win? What exactly is the standard for the competition?’ I had no good answer for her.”  

Others directed their comments towards the apparently rigged results. “Such insufficient work. At least you should inform the host or narrator, this is way too awkward.”

Professional sports in China have long been plagued with corruption, doping, and fixed results. Wang Jing, the former champion in female 100 meter in the 2013 National Games, got a lifetime ban from running events for alleged doping. In 2009, acclaimed diving coach Ma Yanping quit months before a scheduled competition, stating that the champions had been pre-arranged behind closed doors.

A notice issued by the State General Administration of Sports on Sept. 7, 2017 states that the national boxing team will be disbanded.

A notice issued by the State General Administration of Sports on Sept. 7, 2017. 
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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/eva-fu/" rel="author">Eva Fu</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

Top graft buster Wang Qishan attends opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on March 3, 2016 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)Top graft buster Wang Qishan attends opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on March 3, 2016 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Wang Qishan, China’s most powerful official after Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, has made a series of public appearances recently, after having disappeared from public view for months. Wang’s absence from the media led to speculation about his political future, to which he retorted with three appearances in the space of a week. Such appearances are bellwethers of political vitality in China’s opaque political system.

Footage from state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) showed Wang, who heads the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency, attending a national disciplinary inspection assembly on Sep. 8.

At the meeting, Wang stressed the importance of reflecting on the results of anti-corruption work carried out since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, and expressed resolve to continue with “unremitting efforts.”

“Party Central fully affirms the disciplinary inspection work,” Wang said.  

Observers of Chinese politics closely watch signs of Wang’s presence (or absence) in the media for hints on whether he will continue to serve in the Politburo Standing Committee after the leadership reshuffling at the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress. The Standing Committee is the Party’s executive leadership and is composed of seven cadres, including Wang and Xi, who heads the body.  

According to an unofficial convention of the regime, members of the Standing Committee who reach the age of 68 at the time of the Party Congress are expected to retire; officials aged 67 or younger may stay for the next five-year term. Wang Qishan, who is a key ally for Xi Jinping in his anti-corruption campaign, turned 69 this July.

Two days before Wang appeared on television, he attended a political seminar honoring his late father-in-law, the former vice premier Yao Yilin. Wang was accompanied by his wife and eldest grandson.

Besides the presence of four Politburo members, the Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily took special notice of two officials—Xi Yuanping, younger brother of Chinese president Xi Jinping, and Li Zhanshu, Xi’s right-hand man. “Xi Jinping sent two representatives to the meeting, one official and one personal…to show his respect,” the report says.

Wang was also addressed, apparently for the first time by Chinese state media, as the leader of the “Central Leading Group for Inspection Work.”

From Sept. 3 to 5, Wang also paid a three-day visit to the central Chinese province of Hunan where he held a discipline inspection symposium, as reported both on CCTV and the official website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that Wang heads.

Given Wang’s tendency to keep a low profile, the prominent media exposure is highly unusual, and has been seen as a pointed rebuttal of rumors that he has been diagnosed of late stage liver cancer. Independent political commentator Zhou Xiaohui says the media reports should also be read as a hint that Wang remains in Xi Jinping’s favor.

Since May, Guo Wengui, a fugitive Chinese billionaire who resides in an $67 million luxury apartment in Manhattan overlooking Central Park, has made various unproven corruption charges against Wang and his family members using social media. Guo has been linked with the political network grouped around former Party leader Jiang Zemin; the anti-corruption campaign under Xi and Wang has targeted hundreds of cadres aligned with Jiang. Guo faces a number of lawsuits from Chinese officials, actresses, and businesses for unpaid debts and defamation.  

Xin Ziling, a retired official at the National Defense University, believes that Wang’s political position is protected on account of the indispensable role he plays in Xi’s administration.

“Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Wang Qishan are going to be the core in the 19th National Congress,” Xin told The Epoch Times. Li Keqiang is the premier. “If they take down Wang Qishan, it’s effectively saying that Xi’s anti-corruption effort was wrong.”

“Once you shoot the arrow, there’s no getting it back,” Zhou Xiaohui said. “The tone coming from state media has been that anti-corruption is going to continue, and Xi would be handicapping himself if he loses Wang Qishan.”

Wang’s absence has typically been associated with the purge of “big tigers”—the Chinese term for high-ranking corrupt officials. The last time Wang returned to public view after 40 days of silence, the authorities announced the investigation of prominent Chongqing Party secretary Sun Zhengcai, extinguishing the hopes in some quarters that he would be a candidate for succeeding Xi Jinping in the leadership.

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

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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This photo taken on August 23, 2017 shows people at the Cambridge University Press stand at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing.  ( GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)This photo taken on August 23, 2017 shows people at the Cambridge University Press stand at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing.  ( GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON/BEIJING—Britain’s Cambridge University Press has rejected a request from its Chinese state-owned importer to block online access in China to scholarly articles from the American Political Science Review.

“A request was indeed made by the Chinese importer, but was not acted upon by Cambridge University Press, so no content was blocked,” a spokeswoman for CUP said in an emailed statement.

CUP later clarified that the request had been made early last month.

This photo taken on August 23, 2017 shows a woman reading a book at the Cambridge University Press stand at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing. (GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo taken on August 23, 2017 shows a woman reading a book at the Cambridge University Press stand at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing. (GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s State Council Information Office told Reuters on Friday that importers of foreign publications must verify that the products are legal.

In August, CUP, the publishing arm of the elite Cambridge University, reversed a decision to block online access in China to several hundred articles and book reviews in the China Quarterly, a leading academic journal on Chinese affairs that has been published since the 1960s.

It said it had blocked the articles, which covered sensitive topics including the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution and Tibet, in order to keep its other academic and educational materials available in China.

Academics called the decision an affront to academic freedom.

By Fanny Potkin and Michael Martina

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