Chinese democracy

By ADAM MATTHEWS  |  August 8, 2008

In the run-up to the Olympics, however, the harassment has continued. Amnesty International’s Web site (which one cannot access in China) features a photo of a Tiananmen Square cop restraining an already prone Falun Gong protestor by standing on his head. David Kilgour, a former Canadian politician, has even published a report charging Beijing with executing thousands of Falun Gong followers and, in some cases, harvesting their organs for profits. Kilgour’s report also offers an interview with the ex-wife of a Chinese surgeon who performed involuntary cornea removals. (Given the myriad pictures of dead Falun Gong followers, the document seems pretty convincing.)

Facts.org.cn claims the report is inaccurate. The site claims Falun Gong’s “true intention is to overturn Chinese Government.” This alleged coup, though, will have to be staged from the revolutionary hotbed of New York City. That’s where Falun Gong founder Li has lived since 1998.

Journalists
The official Chinese news service, Xinhua, provides the last word in Chinese media. And both Western and Chinese journalists are routinely detained for attempting to independently report the news, which is often characterized as furthering the ends of the CCP’s enemies.

The most famous recent case involves Hong Kong–based journalist (and British citizen) Ching Cheong. Once considered loyal to Beijing, Ching even wrote a book encouraging Taiwan to rejoin the Mainland. In 2005, however, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was accused of spying for the Taiwanese while working for a Singaporean newspaper. Chinese authorities were so sure of their case that they refused to hear his lawyer’s defense arguments. The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly characterized the allegations as completely groundless.

Ching has company. Zhào Yán was a New York Times researcher who, in 2004, predicted that former president and CCP chief Jiang Zemin would step down. While Jiang did in fact retire shortly after the article ran, Zhào was charged with divulging state secrets and sentenced to three years for fraud. Both reporters were eventually released — Zhào in 2007; Ching this past February — but Human Rights Watch isn’t taking any chances. It has issued guidelines for foreign journalists during the Olympics, including special emphasis on protecting Chinese assistants, who often bear the brunt of the repression.

The Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have announced they will be reading the e-mails of hotel guests, many of whom are foreign journalists. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the Great Firewall of China, which blocks access to banned Web sites and newspapers.

New York–based journalist Adam Matthews has reported from China and Hong Kong on counterfeiting, domestic abuse, and internal migration. He can be reached atadam@byadammatthews.com.

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