The Tiananmen Mothers Campaign, aimed at achieving accountability for the Beijing Massacre of June 1989, issued a statement offering condolences to victims of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, DC. “This horrible attack touches every single person on earth as it cast a pall of death over the world. As the mothers and the wives of victims of violent atrocities 12 years ago, we strongly condemn such acts of international terrorists against the free and civilized world,” said Ding Zilin, spokesperson for the campaign. The group hopes that this “tragedy will also present an opportunity for all people and governments to advance civilization and freedom throughout the world.” (HRIC)
In the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States, the Chinese government expressed rhetorical support for the US fight against terrorism. More recently, Beijing has sought to link its suppression of dissent in Xinjiang to the anti-terror campaign, even calling for international support for its crackdown on domestic “terrorism.” Human rights groups are concerned that the Chinese authorities do no distinguish between peaceful expression of dissent and violent acts, that torture of suspects is routine and that many people have been executed following summary trials. “The Chinese authorities do not distinguish between ‘terrorism’ and ‘separatism’,” AI said in a statement. “Separatism in fact covers a broad range of activities most of which amount to no more than peaceful opposition or dissent. Preaching or teaching Islam outside government controls is also considered subversive.” (AI, NYT)
Four Chinese scholars were released under pressure from the United States, but others who had no US ties remain incarcerated, with no indication that they will receive similarly lenient treatment. Meanwhile, the Chinese government’s previously invisible campaign to pressure China-born academics now resident overseas into censoring themselves continues, with some scholars asserting that the use of intimidatory tactics has increased in recent years.
Li, detained in Shenzhen on February 25, 2001, was convicted of spying, but was not sentenced because he is a US citizen. Li, who teaches marketing at City University in Hong Kong, was expelled to the United States. After a short stay, he returned to Hong Kong with his family to resume teaching.
Gao, a sociologist at American University in Washington, DC, was detained on February 11, 2001, together with her husband, Xue Donghua, and son Andrew, an American citizen, at Beijing airport as they were about to return to the United States after a three-week vacation in China. Xue and Andrew were released and returned to the United States 26 days after being detained. Gao was held and interrogated until her trial in late July. She was convicted of spying and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Gao was released on medical parole and returned to the United States on July 26.
Qin, a US permanent resident and vice president of Chinese-American pharmaceutical company UMIC, was convicted on the same charge as Gao and given the same sentence. Qin was expelled from China and returned to the United States.
On July 13, the International Olympic Committeezs (IOC) decided Beijing would host the 2008 Games. Reactions around the world were mixed. Rights groups called upon the international community and the IOC to establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure that China complies with its international human rights obligations in its preparations for the Games. But in a visit to Beijing in late August, IOC President Jacques Rogge said, “It is not the task of the IOC to get involved in monitoring, or in lobbying or in policing” the human rights situation in China.
HRIC urged the Chinese government to release all prisoners of conscience as a goodwill gesture, and to permit open access over the next seven years and during the Games themselves. HRIC has asked the IOC to ensure that Beijing does not use the notorious “Custody and Repatriation” system to “clean up” people it does not want in the city prior to the Games.
Sonam Wangdu, chairman of the US Tibet Committee said the IOC’s decision “really sends the wrong message and is not going to prompt the Chinese government to make changes.” In its final appeal to the IOC before the vote, Paris-based press watchdog Reporters Sans Fronti?es issued posters that read “The Olympics in Beijing? China, Gold Medal for Human Rights Violations.” (HRIC, NYT, AFP)
Yan Peng and Mu Chuanheng, two veteran democracy activists from Qingdao, Shandong Province, were formally charged with “incitement to subvert state power” on August 28. Yan was detained on July 11 on charges of attempting to cross China’s borders illegally. After Mu and 13 other activists from Shandong Province issued an open letter to the NPC demanding Yan’s immediate release, he was himself detained on August 13.
Yan and Mu were both members of the Qingdao-based New Culture group that also included fellow activists Mu Xiaobai and Xin Dakun. The group advocated cooperation with the CCP as well as setting up “unauthorized” organizations to promote social and political change. Chinese authorities shut down the group in August 2000. (HRIC, AFP)
He Qinglian, the author of China’s Pitfall, a scathing report on the social consequences of China’s policy of pursuing market reforms without political liberalization, fled to the United States fearing that she was about to be arrested in the recent crackdown on dissidents and scholars with foreign contacts. He’s research reveals a pessimistic picture of corruption in China’s economic and political system. She was already planning to leave China for a year as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, but left prematurely after Chinese authorities broke into her apartment in Shenzhen and seized documents and other personal belongings. Security agents also shadowed He in recent years after she was dismissed from her post as a writer for the Shenzhen Daily. (NYT)
The trial of Huang Qi, a Chinese webmaster accused of “inciting subversion of state power,” resumed in August, after being adjourned in February when Huang fainted in the Chengdu courtroom. His family was barred from attending. No verdict was announced.
Huang was detained over a year ago, and is accused of using his Web site to promote pro-democracy causes. Originally a location for seeking missing persons, Huang’s site gradually became a discussion forum for human rights issues. On the eve of the 11th Anniversary of the Beijing Massacre, users posted critical messages about the use of violence against the demonstrators. That evening, Huang and his wife, Zeng Li, were detained by police. (WP, HRW)
Earlier this year, the central leadership explicitly sanctioned the use of physical violence to break the will of Falungong members in the ongoing campaign against the meditation group, official sources told the WP. Systematic torture was one element of a three-pronged attack on the group that also included an intensive propaganda effort focusing on the self-immolations of Falungong members and forcing all known practitioners to attend “reeducation” sessions aimed at getting them to renounce the organization. The anti-Falungong campaign is coordinated by a specialized interagency task force, the 610 Office.
This January, the 610 Office ordered all neighborhood committees, government institutions and companies to begin sending all Falungong members to reeducationsessions, while the most active members were to go directly to RTL camps. A government advisor said that the use of violence in these sessions had been authorized because it had been impossible to force members to renounce the group without beatings and other physical pressure.
The impact of this policy is apparent in the rapid rise in the number of deaths in custody reported by the Falungong organization. By October 2001, the group had documented 297 such deaths, with half occurring in the last six months. Fatalities were almost equally divided between men and women, with 69 percent being of people aged 20 to 49. Shandong Province had the highest number of deaths documented, but there were substantial numbers in the northeastern provinces, the home base of Falungong founder Li Hongzhi. (WP, FDIC)
In early August, a court sentenced two policemen to suspended prison terms for torturing Du Peiwu, 33, a former officer accused of murder, to obtain a conviction that nearly led to Du’s execution. Du was detained in April 1998, and charged in August of the same year with the murder of his wife and her lover on April 4, 1998. In February 1999, a Kunming court sentenced Du to death, but following his appeal, a higher court suspended his execution for two years citing questions about the police evidence. But Du was only released after members of a gang, arrested in June 2000 for a string of offenses, confessed that they had committed the murders.
Du said he had confessed to the crimes only after being tortured by fellow officers for 21 days. “I was tortured until my body and soul could bear it no longer… I did not want to live anymore and decided to die as soon as possible. To achieve this, I admitted my guilt and cooked up a story of how I committed the murder.” Despite the severity of the torture — it appears Du suffered permanent brain damage — the two officers responsible received only suspended prison sentences. (SCMP)
In the first press conference given by a top official on the subject, Deputy Health Minister Yin Dakui finally acknowledged in August that China is facing an epidemic of HIV-AIDS and that the government had not acted effectively against the spread of the disease. Yin stated that reported new infections rose 67.4 percent in the first half of 2001 compared with the same period in 2000. This new candor followed a week after Yin visited AIDS sufferers in Wenlou Village, Henan Province, where a high proportion of the population has been infected with HIV through blood selling, and many have already died of AIDS. Yin announced that the government would spend $12 million on AIDS prevention and control, and $117 million on improving the safety of the blood supply. (NYT)
However, the nationwide HIV-AIDS prevention and control plan announced a week before Yin’s announcement virtually ignored a key population at risk from the disease—the gay community. Surveys of gay men conducted since 1998 have found an HIV infection rate of around five percent, a dangerous level, according to Dr. Zhang Baichuan of Qingdao Medical College. (SCMP)
In late July, more than 450 police clashed with up to 1,000 farmers during a protest against corruption in Xihai village in Shunde, Guangdong Province. The protesters were angry that officials were gambling away money raised by public land sales and rentals in the city in Macau casinos. The farmers blocked a highway and paralyzed traffic until police were dispatched to disperse them. Demonstrations over corruption involving rural residents are becoming increasingly common. Local officials often extort high taxes and fees from farmers. (AFP)
On July 31 and August 1, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviewed the PRC’s implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva. HRIC was one of a number of NGOs that prepared a “shadow report” on the subject to assist in CERD’s assessment of China’s record. While CERD welcomed the PRC’s “efforts.... to promote economic and social development in economically backward regions inhabited largely by minority populations,” it said the government had failed to incorporate the Convention’s broad definition of racial discrimination into domestic law, pointed out that “economic development in ethnic minority regions does not ipso facto entail the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights” and expressed concern about discrimination in education. On the latter issue, CERD recommended that the PRC “urgently ensure that children in all minority areas have the right to develop knowledge about their own language and culture... and that they are guaranteed equal opportunities.” (HRIC).
In early July, efforts to muzzle China’s boldest newspaper, Southern Weekend (Nanfang Zhoumo), intensified, in what some commentators called a “death sentence” for the paper. Based in Guangzhou, the newspaper is being overhauled through a series of personnel changes at the top level, disciplinary actions and new editorial polices, a source at the newspaper said. The move by Chinese authorities is reportedly a warning to other publications. The CCP Propaganda Department of the Communist Party shunted aside Jiang Yiping, one of the founders of the newspaper, and also forced the replacement of Qian Gang, the deputy news editor, and Chang Ping, the front-page news editor. “These are key moves that will kill the spirit of the paper,” a staff member said. (SCMP)
A spokesman for the Hong Kong government called the allegations “groundless,” and insisted that press freedom is still strong in the territory. (DPA, SCMP)
Two disasters at mines in July highlighted the terrible state of safety in the industry. One miner reportedly dies every hour in the PRC—the highest death rate in mining in the world, accounting for two-thirds of the global total of such fatalities. While accidents in the manufacturing industry are not at such an extreme level, it is clear that conditions are extremely poor. In some recent incidents, child workers have been among the victims.
AFP - Agence France Presse
AI - Amnesty International
AP - Associated Press
CCP - Chinese Communist Party
CDP - China Democracy Party
CPJ - Committee to Protect Journalists
DPA - Deutsche Presse Agentur
FDIC - Falun Dafa Information Center
HRIC - Human Rights in China
HRW - Human Rights Watch
ICHRD - Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy
NPC - National People’s Congress
NYT - New York Times
RTL - Reeducation Through Labor
SCMP - South China Morning Post
WP - Washington Post
Compiled by Joseph Chaney