Category Archives: NEWS

40,000 Civil Servants Rally in Hong Kong Ahead of Citywide Strike

Demonstrators gather and illuminated smartphone flashlights during a rally organised by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug. 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)



August 2, 2019 Updated: August 2, 2019

Chater Garden in the heart of Hong Kong’s bustling financial district of Central was again packed with protesters on Aug. 2 evening. According to organizers, an estimated 40,000 civil servants showed up in rare defiance against the Hong Kong government.

Demonstrators gather and hold placards during a rally organized by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug. 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather and hold placards during a rally organized by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug. 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)


The crowd had gotten so large that they spilled over to surrounding streets and a nearby skybridge, and forced several roads to close.

Demonstrators gather during a rally organized by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug, 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather during a rally organized by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug, 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)


The rally reiterated the five demands that protesters have repeated in the past few months as they opposed a controversial extradition bill: drop all charges against arrested protesters; withdraw the bill; establish an independent commission to investigate police use of force; call for current Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign; and institute universal suffrage.

The bill, which has been indefinitely suspended amid public outrage, would have allowed the Chinese regime to seek extradition of criminal suspects. It has drawn widespread opposition as Hongkongers fear that dissidents could be punished at will, and the city’s rule of law eroded.

People attend a protest held by civil servants in the Central District of Hong Kong in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law, on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
People attend a protest held by civil servants in the Central District of Hong Kong in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law, on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)


Meanwhile in nearby Edinburgh Place, medical workers also staged a mass rally demanding the release of a nurse who was arrested on July 28 as she was tending to injured protesters. Organizers said that around 10,000 attended the demonstration.

The Friday events follow a flash mob hosted by the city’s banking professionals on Thursday, in solidarity with protesters’ demands.

Members of the territory’s medical sector attend a protest in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law in Edinburgh Place, Hong Kong, on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the territory’s medical sector attend a protest in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law in Edinburgh Place, Hong Kong, on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)


Citizens First

Themed “Civil Servants Stand Together With the Public,” the civil servant rally took off at 7 p.m. local time, despite a stern government warning issued the previous day reminding the city’s roughly 180,000 civil servants to be loyal to the administration.

“The Hong Kong government will absolutely not accept any conduct that challenges the principle of civil servants’ political neutrality,” the statement read. “Regardless of their political ideology, civil servants must show unreserved loyalty to the current chief executive and the government.” It also warned of serious consequences should civil servants violate rules regarding political neutrality.

Members of the territory’s medical sector attend a protest in Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the territory’s medical sector attend a protest in Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)


Many at the rally said that they felt compelled to come out despite the pressure. A customs official surnamed Zhang told the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times that although he would be impartial in fulfilling his duties as a civil servant, he was “first a Hongkonger and therefore also needs to be loyal to the Hong Kong citizens.”

Zhang added that recent events, such as the police denying applications to hold marches and firing rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters, showed that even Hongkongers’ right to peaceful assembly were being stripped away. Thus, he felt the need to give support to the protesters.

Demonstrators gather and hold placards that reads “Safeguard Future” during a rally organized by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather and hold placards that reads “Safeguard Future” during a rally organized by civil servants at Chater Garden in the Central district in Hong Kong, on Aug 02, 2019. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)


Several other retired officials echoed the sentiment during rally speeches.

Joseph Wong, former Secretary for the Civil Service, said that civil servants are duty-bound to point out anything in the leadership’s conduct that deviates from the rule of law. He as well as former Legislative Council member Margaret Ng both agreed that that the rule of law is superior to any government official.

“Having been a lawmaker for 18 years, I want to share a thought from the bottom of my heart,” Ng said. “The biggest asset that Hong Kong has for the democratic system and democratic elections is that we have a group of professional, outstanding civil servants who understand and protect the fair system, and who can bring their professional input to the administrative branches dutifully and with impartiality.”

She added: “Cheers to them at this tough moment in time.”

People attend a protest held by civil servants in the Central District of Hong Kong on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
People attend a protest held by civil servants in the Central District of Hong Kong on Aug. 2, 2019. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)


Marches and protests have been planned for the weekend, in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O and Sai Ying Pun districts.

For Aug. 5, protesters are calling for a general strike. Organizers are planning several rallies in various neighborhoods around the city, though police have yet to grant approval for any of the locations, according to Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK. Initially suggested on the popular online forum, the strike has since acquired endorsements from pro-democracy lawmakers, trade unions, the city’s teachers’ association, 34 banks, airlines, as well as several associations in the local entertainment industry.

A dozen of RTHK presenters will also join the strike, along with at least 2,000 social workers.

Follow Eva on Twitter: @EvaSailEast

China Detains Another Canadian, 12 Taiwanese Amid Rising Tensions

A group of tourists stand by the Bund near the Huangpu river across the Pudong New Financial district, in Shanghai on March 14, 2016. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)



July 14, 2019 Updated: July 14, 2019

A Canadian citizen has been detained in the Chinese city of Yantai, a Canadian government spokesman said on July 13, an incident that comes amid chilly diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Global Affairs, as Canada’s foreign ministry is known, didn’t provide further details or say whether the case was related to the detention of 16 foreign teachers and students earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, 12 Taiwanese securities analysts were also detained in Shanghai on July 7, Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council said on July 13.

Relations between China and Canada nosedived last December after Vancouver police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co, on a U.S. arrest warrant. Beijing has repeatedly demanded Meng’s return, and has warned of “severe consequences” if Canada doesn’t release her.

Meng is indicted in the United States on charges of fraud relating to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

After Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and business consultant Michael Spavor, accusing them of involvement in stealing state secrets.

The Globe and Mail reported on Jan. 3 that Global Affairs spokesman Guillaume Bérubé said that at least 13 Canadians had been detained in China since Meng was arrested last year.

Bérubé confirmed that eight of the 13 detained Canadians have been released.

Besides Kovrig and Spavor, another Canadian in China, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced to death in January for his involvement in a drug case, an escalation of his previous 15-year prison term. A second Canadian man, Fan Wei, was given the death penalty in April for drug offenses.

On July 9, police in Xuzhou, a city in northern China’s Jiangsu Province, said it had detained 19 people on drug-related charges and that 16 of them were foreigners. Yantai is about 385 miles from Xuzhou.

The British Embassy in Beijing said on July 12 that four British nationals were arrested as part of the drug raid in Xuzhou.

China’s state radio said some of the detained individuals were teachers at an English education center operated by EF Education First, a privately held Swiss firm that operates in 114 countries.

Nine Taiwanese Released

Of the 12 Taiwanese securities analysts detained on July 9, nine were released after they posted bail, while the remaining three are still detained under unspecified criminal charges, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said.

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), all of the analysts work for Thousand & Billion Education and Trading Co., a Shanghai-based company that offers securities-related programs and lessons.

CNA, citing an insider from the company, reported that the analysts didn’t have licenses to engage in securities-related work in mainland China, but only had Taiwanese licenses.

Thousand & Billion Education told CNA that the company had “not experienced any abnormalities.” But the company suspended its programs on July 9, citing a system failure. The programs weren’t restored until July 14.

The arrests occurred just one day after the U.S. State Department approved a possible sale to Taiwan of $2.2 billion worth of military equipment, including M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles.

The detention also came two days before Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen stayed in New York for two nights on July 11, while in transit to the Caribbean, a trip that has angered the Chinese regime, which views the self-ruled democratic island as a wayward province.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Rights Group Urges US to Sanction China Over Xinjiang Camps

Chinese soldiers participate in an anti-terror drill in Hami, Xinjiang region, China on July 8, 2017. (Reuters)



May 29, 2019 Updated: May 29, 2019

GENEVA—The United States, embroiled in a trade war with China, should also impose sanctions on China for detaining an estimated one million Uyghurs in its Xinjiang region, where repression has not abated, Human Rights Watch said on May 29.

The Trump administration has been weighing sanctions against Chinese officials, including Xinjiang Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, since late last year, and though it has ramped up criticism, it has held back from imposing the measures.

China has faced growing global condemnation for setting up complexes in the remote western region that U.N. experts describe as mass detention centers holding more than one million ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims.

“Here we have got a U.S. administration that is clearly fine with the idea of imposing serious economic sanctions, but then seems to be lagging behind on imposing them for serious human rights violations,” Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, told a briefing in Geneva.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers last month faulted the Trump administration for failing so far to impose sanctions over China’s alleged rights abuses against its Muslim minority and called for punitive measures against a senior Communist Party official and Chinese companies.

The lawmakers called on the administration to apply sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act. This federal law allows the U.S. government to target human rights violators around the world with freezes on any U.S. assets, U.S. travel bans and prohibitions on Americans doing business with them.

“We believe that senior Xinjiang officials and national officials who are implicated in the crisis in Xinjiang should be subject to global Magnitsky sanctions,” Richardson said.

“The situation in Xinjiang is far from improving. If anything, (there is) the failure to release large numbers of people, and the desire to spin this as some sort of essential national security strategy that really is about vocational training rather than arbitrary detention,” she said.

The U.S. Senate and House are considering draft bills, variations of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, both of which enjoy “very broad bipartisan support,” she added.

Human Rights Watch published a report this month entitled “China’s Algorithms of Repression,” on a mass surveillance app used by Xinjiang police to track citizens that has led to arrests.

“One of our concerns coming out of this project really is about these oceanic data sets that the Chinese government has now gathered and how exactly they are being used,” Richardson said.

The U.S.-based activist group is lobbying the 47 member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to hold China to account for abuses at the three-week session opening on June 24.

By Stephanie Nebehay

Venezuela’s Violent Suppression of Protesters Aided by Chinese Military Supplies

Opposition demonstrators clash with soldiers loyal to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro after troops joined opposition leader Juan Guaidó in his campaign to oust Maduro’s government, in the surroundings of La Carlota military base in Caracas on April 30, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

By Frank Fang, Epoch Times

May 2, 2019 Updated: May 3, 2019

The recent violent suppression of protests against the ruling regime in Venezuela, captured on camera by international media outlets, sparked public outrage.

The military armor vehicle that ran over protestors was manufactured by a Chinese state-run defense company, highlighting China’s role in supporting the current dictatorship.

In the morning hours on April 30, unarmed protestors backing Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader and head of Venezuela’s National Assembly who declared himself acting president in January, took to the streets of Caracas.

They assembled after Guaidó called on supporters to gather on the streets to begin the “final phase” of his plan to oust Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.

The peaceful protest turned ugly outside a military base in Caracas, when a Venezuelan National Guard vehicle ran over protestors, according to accounts and footage filmed by Reuters. Other protestors could be seen rushing to the aid of those who were hit by the vehicle. It isn’t known how many were injured or if there were any fatalities.

Venezolana de Televisión, Venezuela’s state-run broadcaster, briefly mentioned the morning hour protest in a report published May 1. While calling Guaidó a “coup deputy,” the article mentioned that eight VN-4 vehicles were present at the protest site. These vehicles later withdrew and returned to their military units, according to the report.

Several Spanish-language media also identified the vehicle that plowed into protestors as a VN-4 vehicle, including Argentinian news website Infobae, Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia, and Mexico-based media Cultura Colectiva. They pointed out that VN-4 vehicles are nicknamed the “Rhinoceros.”

Indeed, the VN-4 are from China. They are light, tactical-armored vehicles manufactured by China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco), which is owned by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, an agency under the cabinet-like State Council.

Chinese media reports indicate that the VN-4 was ready for export since at least 2009. It was first unveiled to the public at a police equipment exhibition in Beijing that year. It has since been exported to Venezuela, Kenya, Sudan, Cambodia, among others.

Opposition demonstrator injured from Venezuelan security forces using an armored vehicle to ram demonstrators during clashes in the surroundings of La Carlota military base in Caracas, on April 30, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)
Opposition demonstrator injured from Venezuelan security forces using an armored vehicle to ram demonstrators during clashes in the surroundings of La Carlota military base in Caracas, on April 30, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela’s use of these vehicles has not been for normal peacekeeping purposes. In testimony before a U.S. congressional hearing in September 2017, Evan Ellis, senior associate at the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated that “the VN-4 armored cars and VN-16 light tanks sold by the P.R.C. [People’s Republic of China] to Venezuela, and designed for riot control, have arguably contributed to efforts by Venezuela’s current regime to suppress democratic protests.”

Venezuela has built up its stock of VN-4 over the years, some being donations from China.

According to an October 2018 report on China’s engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean by the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, Venezuela ordered 121 VN-4 vehicles from China in 2012, which were delivered between 2013 and 2015. Chinese state-run media reported in 2013 about its first delivery of the VN-4s to Venezuela.

Then, in November 2015, Venezuela’s state-run newspaper Correo del Orinoco, reported comments made by Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, about the arrival of 560 VN-4 vehicles that were donated by Beijing.

In June 2017, Spanish-language daily El Nuevo Herald, which is published in Florida, reported that more than 150 vehicles, including VN-4s, were delivered from Norinco to Venezuela.

Given the timing, it is likely the armored vehicles deployed to suppress past protests were also VN-4s.

El Nuevo Herald reported comments by Henrique Capriles, then-opposition leader and governor of Miranda State, who expressed outrage at both the Venezuelan government and Beijing for the purchases, saying the vehicles would be used to suppress people.

“It is unacceptable that in the most serious food and medicine crisis in history, China sells equipment to suppress the people with hunger,” Capriles said.


Norinco was founded in 1980 with approval from the State Council and China’s Central Military Commission—the highest military governing body within the Chinese Communist Party.

On its website, the company description explains that, for the past 40 years, the company has consistently “listened to the party, and followed the party.” It boasts that “party-building” within the company has powered its development to become a global competitor.

The company has explicitly stated its support for China’s foreign policy project, One Belt, One Road (OBOR, also known as Belt and Road), an initiative launched in 2013 to build up geopolitical influence via investments across Southeast Asia, African, Europe, and Latin America.

Norinco also is known to have armed unethical governments and criminal organizations, while being accused of human rights abuses.

In 2014, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released the results of an investigation into whether the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons in an attack on three towns in northern Syria in April 2014.

HRW found strong evidence to the affirmative, noting that there were canisters with the markings “Cl2,” which is the chemical symbol for chlorine gas, and “NORINCO,” which “indicates that the cylinders were manufactured in China by the state-owned company NORINCO,” the report said.

Opposition demonstrator clashes with soldiers loyal to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro in front of La Carlota military base in Caracas, on April 30, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)
Opposition demonstrator clashes with soldiers loyal to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro in front of La Carlota military base in Caracas, on April 30, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

In August 2015, a U.N. report called out Norinco for selling the South Sudan government 100 anti-tank guided missile launchers, 1,200 missiles, about 2,400 grenade launchers, nearly 10,000 automatic rifles, and 24 million rounds of various types of ammunition, according to the Associated Press.

The South Sudan government was condemned for war crimes committed during the civil war of 2013 that pitted forces loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir against those who rebelled under former deputy Riek Machar. According to Reuters, South Sudanese soldiers have been accused of raping children, burning people alive, and razing villages.

Norinco also manufactures guns and rifles, one of them being the Type 56 rifle, a variant of the Soviet-designed AK-47.

Amnesty International, in a 2009 report, stated that “Chinese-made Norinco guns are frequently used by criminal gangs in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Africa.”

In February, U.S. magazine The National Interest identified several models of Norinco guns that are being widely used in the Middle East by the ISIS terrorist group and the Syrian regime. The Type 56 rifles are “common on international arms markets and often bought up by nations looking to arm groups with some level of deniability,” the report added.

Norinco is also in the mining business through its subsidiary Wanbao Mining. Zimbabwe politicians have arranged lucrative mining contracts to Chinese companies, including Norinco, in exchange for arms. Wanbao holds several mineral rights in the African country, according to a 2013 article by Zimbabwean radio station Nehanda Radio.

Also, in February 2017, Amnesty International called on Burmese authorities to shut down a copper mine operated by Wanbao due to human rights abuses, including forced evictions of locals living near the mine.

China Evolves From ‘Copier’ to ‘Innovator,’ Posing a Serious Threat, Say Experts

An employee works on a mobile phone production line at a Huawei production base during a media tour in Dongguan, China’s Guangdong province on March 6, 2019. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)


April 14, 2019 Updated: April 14, 2019

WASHINGTON—A new report shows that China is not just a copier of technology, but is also moving faster in innovation and in developing advanced technology industries than the United States.

The U.S. think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) examines various areas where China has made progress and closed the innovation gap with America in the last decade. The report uses 36 indicators in measuring Chinese performance and shows that China has closed the gap or, in some cases, even outstripped the United States.

“If China were only a copier, then the competitive threat to advanced economies would be limited,” the report stated. “But there is no reason to believe China won’t follow the path of ‘Asian tigers’ that rapidly evolved from copiers to innovators, which poses a serious threat.”

To become a global innovation leader, China is following the path of Asian tigers such as Japan and South Korea. The country made notable progress in the last decade in the areas of research and development (R&D), university performance, patents, entrepreneurial activity, industrial sales, and exports, according to the report.

China, for example, increased its R&D investment significantly during the ten-year period. In 2007, the country invested $129 billion in R&D, which was 33 percent of the R&D spending in the United States. By 2017, the gap was reduced, reaching 76 percent of U.S. levels and surpassing the European Union, stated the report.

U.S. patents issued to Chinese companies, which is an important indicator of innovation, also jumped in recent years.

Nearly half of the patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office each year go to foreign inventors. In 2006, the United States granted 1,066 patents to Chinese, which accounted for 1.2 percent of patents granted to U.S. inventors. By 2016, the number had risen to more than 11,000, which equaled 8.0 percent of U.S. patents.

The study also highlights the role universities play in national innovation systems, as they produce skilled scientists and engineers as well as entrepreneurs and innovators. About 7 million students in China obtain a bachelor’s degree every year, with over 30 percent receiving an engineering degree, compared with just 5 percent in the United States. The report also finds that as a share of the population, China produces 46 percent more computer science and engineering degrees than the United States.

China is also not just relying on Chinese-educated scientists and engineers, according to the report. The country is actively recruiting foreign engineers and scientists from other Asian countries and the United States by paying them very high salaries, which is all backed by government subsidies.

The development in Chinese high-tech manufacturing also provides insight into China’s innovation. For example, Chinese high-tech exports grew from 139 percent of U.S. levels in 2006 to 203 percent in 2016. And value-added—the measure of industry output minus inputs such as raw materials, energy, and so on—increased from 30 percent in 2006 to 77 percent in 2016. If the pace of growth continues, China will surpass the United States in high-tech manufacturing value added by 2020, said the report.

In other sectors such as information and communication technology, semiconductors, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, high-speed rail, and aerospace, the report showed that China made dramatic progress relative to the United States in the last decade.

The United States, however, had gained competencies and leadership in many sectors by investing trillions of dollars in R&D, workforce training, and other areas in order to innovate complex products, according to the report.

“The Chinese government knows that if it proceeds the fair and ‘natural’ way that it will take it many decades or more to seriously close the innovation gap with the global leaders,” said the report.

Hence, it resorts to various policies to obtain the know-how it needs from foreign companies, such as theft of intellectual property, forced joint ventures and technology transfer, and state-subsidized acquisition of foreign advanced industry firms.

“Korea went through the same process of development China is now following,” stated the report. “Like China, Korea was initially focused on copying.”

If China rapidly evolves from a copier to innovator, however, the negative impact on advanced economies will be big because the Chinese economy is massive and it is much more difficult to get China to compete fairly, according to the report.

The loss of leadership in innovation and technology has two implications for advanced economies. The first one is it reduces prosperity and living standards. The second factor relates to national security and the defense industrial base, which is a significant problem for the United States as its defense superiority is driven largely by technological superiority, says the report.

Follow Emel on Twitter: @mlakan

Chinese Student Sentenced for Photographing US Military Base, Raising Questions About His Military Ties

Freshmen practice fighting skills during a military training at a university in Gaochun County in coastal China’s Jiangsu Province, on Sept. 25, 2008. (China Photos/Getty Images)


February 7, 2019 Updated: February 7, 2019

A Chinese exchange student who was recently sentenced for illegally photographing a U.S. naval facility in Florida hailed from a Chinese university with deep ties to China’s military.

Zhao Qianli, 21, a Chinese national from Shanxi Province, was sentenced to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to photographing defense installations at the U.S. Naval Air Station Key West, according to a Feb. 5 press release by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also must complete a year of supervised release.

Zhao was arrested on Sept. 26, 2018, after trespassing at the Navy base and using his cellphone and a digital camera to take pictures. He was found to have overstayed his visa after studying at a summer exchange program.

The program had ended in September, according to a Feb. 5 article by the Miami Herald; the U.S. school where Zhao was studying wasn’t disclosed.

After serving his sentence, Zhao will be deported. If he’s allowed to reenter the United States by officials, he must report to a U.S. probation office within 72 hours of arriving.

The judge handed Zhao the statutory maximum term of one year, higher than the sentencing guidelines of zero to six months for his offense. The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami had submitted a memorandum requesting that Zhao be given a nine-month sentence, due to his atypical behaviors and to reflect the seriousness of the offense.

Zhao had claimed that he was just a tourist who got lost while visiting the area. But according to court documents, none of the photos and videos found on his cell phone and digital cameras were of any tourist attraction sites in Key West. There were only photos of the Navy base and an antenna field on the base.

Witnesses said they saw Zhao walk directly toward the restricted area where the antenna field was located and took photos—despite a sign clearly indicating the area was restricted.

Zhao wasn’t forthcoming about many details when questioned by U.S. officials. Regarding his education background in China, Zhao stated that he was in the fourth year of his music undergraduate study at the North University of China. Yet, his visa application showed that he began his studies there in 2017, according to court documents.

During questioning, Zhao admitted to having received military training as a university student in China—a fact he failed to disclose on his visa application.

U.S. officials also found photos on his phone of uniformed individuals, in what appears to be military training in China, as well as “documentation of a university engineering course curriculum.” When questioned, Zhao said he had no recollection of how those photos and documents got onto his phone.

Officials also confronted him with a police blouse and a belt buckle indicating it belonged to a Chinese government ministry; both were recovered at the Miami Beach hotel where he was staying.

Zhao claimed the items were given to him by his father so he could “have nice clothes” to wear while in the United States.

Chinese Military Ties

The North University of China, which Zhao attended, has deep ties to China’s military, going back more than 50 years to the founding of the Chinese regime.

According to the university’s official website, the school was founded by the Eighth Route Army, a division under the command of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The school was later renamed Taiyuan Institute of Machinery in 1958.

In 1963, the school was transferred to the administration of the National Defense, Technology, and Industry Committee, a central government agency. It became one of eight colleges considered key to China’s defense industry at the time.

Since 2011, the Shanxi provincial government and China’s State Administration for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) have had joint administration over the school. The latter is a central government agency tasked with drafting guidelines and policies that strengthen China’s military forces with more advanced equipment.

In June 2015, North University made headlines in Chinese media when the school hosted a ceremony to transfer its research results to the Chinese military: a new 125mm multi-purpose cannon with anti-aircraft and anti-tank capabilities. The school headed development of the new cannon, with support from more than 10 other Chinese defense technology research centers, according to the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece newspaper People’s Daily.

The school continues to enjoy close ties to the military. In October 2018, the school’s president, Shen Xingquan, signed agreements with China’s state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry (CASIC)—known for developing China’s missiles—to enhance the transfer of technological development to the military from academia, according to the school website.

The school also announced in December last year that two professors were awarded a total of 2.48 billion yuan (about $367 million) in funding by SASTIND for defense-technology related projects.

Beijing’s National Policies

North University also participates in Beijing’s current national development and recruitment policies, ”Made in China 2025” and the “Thousand Talents Plan.”

On Jan. 13, 2019, Shen, while giving a speech at the school about the establishment of a provincial association for scientists and entrepreneurs to foster artificial intelligence-enhanced manufacturing, said that it’s vital for the association to help implement the “Made in China 2025” policy.

He said he envisioned the association taking the lead in improving the time it takes to turn patented technologies into actual products, so that the province “would not lag in the progress of ‘Made in China 2025.’” According to the school’s website, Shen was appointed to be the association’s deputy chairman.

The “Made in China 2025” industrial policy was announced in 2015, with goals for China to achieve self-sufficiency in 10 tech-manufacturing sectors by 2025, including advanced information technology, robotics, and automated machine tools.

The plan, however, has been criticized by the U.S. administration for undermining fair competition in the global market, and abetting the theft of technology and trade secrets.

In December 2008, Beijing rolled out the “Thousand Talents Plan,” a state recruitment program to attract primarily Chinese science and technology talents who studied or lived abroad to work in China. Since then, the plan has recruited more than 7,000 people for employment at a university, research institute, or state-owned enterprise, according to the program’s website.

According to the official website of China’s Ministry of National Defense, two staff members were recruited under the plan to North University by July 2011.

In an April 2015 article, China’s state-run Shanxi News Net reported that Wang Wanjun, a professor at North University, was recruited by the talent program from Louisiana State University. Upon Wang’s return to China, North University established a lithography center, as well as a lithography company—after successfully obtaining 10 million yuan (about $1.48 million) in funding. Lithography is an important manufacturing step in the production of semiconductor chips.

In the Shanxi News article, Wang said the reason he decided to return to China was because the school provided him with the platform “to serve his country and start a business.”

According to Chinese news portal Baidu, Wang was recruited by the talent program in 2010.

The “Thousand Talents Plan” has since been flagged by U.S. officials as a means to transfer U.S. technology and intellectual properties to China.

Crusading Hong Kong Cardinal Receives US Award for Pro-Religious Freedom, Anti-Chinese Communist, Activism

Cardinal Joseph Zen, recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom during the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s ceremony in his honor, at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)


January 29, 2019 Updated: January 29, 2019

WASHINGTON—Honoring years of campaigning against Chinese Communist repression of religious freedom, the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation presented Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun with a prestigious award for his heroic activism.

The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong received the foundation’s highest honor, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, at a Capitol Hill ceremony Jan. 28.

The medal is bestowed annually on “those individuals and institutions that have demonstrated a life-long commitment to freedom and democracy and opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny,” according to the foundation, an educational and human-rights nonprofit organization. The late pope, Saint John Paul II, whose bold stand against world communism helped to topple the Soviet Union, was a past recipient of the medal.

Marion Smith, the foundation’s executive director, said Zen has “given voice to those denied religious liberty and has opposed the collusion of the Vatican and Chinese Communist Party on the matter of ecclesiastical appointments.”

Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese civil rights activist and lawyer (R), greets Cardinal Joseph Zen, recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Hong Kong Autonomy

The 87-year-old cleric said he was worried about the future of Hong Kong because the autonomy that Beijing promised to protect is slipping away.

Although “true” Marxism no longer exists in mainland China, “the atheist persecutor dictatorship remains,” and is cracking down on religion throughout the country, including in Hong Kong, whose preexisting rights and freedoms Beijing vowed to respect for at least 50 years in 1997, when the United Kingdom ceded the territory to China.

“Of the promised high degree of autonomy, very little remains,” Zen said. “We are soon to become just one of the cities in China.”

“I want to remember many of those heroes who are suffering at this moment in China or Hong Kong for voicing their claim for respect of their dignity, for freedom, and for democracy—those well-known and those anonymous heroes.”

Cardinal Joseph Zen, recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom speaks at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s ceremony in his honor, at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Religious Repression

Beijing seeks to subordinate all churches to Communist Party control and employs officials whose job is to oversee those religious institutions. The Chinese regime openly interferes in the affairs of that nation’s estimated 12 million Catholics and has arrested and persecuted church officials. Zen has been a leading critic of this policy.

In the fall, the Vatican and the ruling Communist Party reportedly signed a provisional deal allowing Beijing to effectively appoint a limited number of bishops, a move that has been criticized by that nation’s Christians, who warn that it will only encourage more officially-sanctioned religious repression.

In September last year, Zen described the pact as “a complete surrender” by the Vatican, as well as an “incredible betrayal” of the Catholic faith.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the co-chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in December 2018 that China’s Communist Party is now engaged in “the most comprehensive attempt to manipulate and control—or destroy—religious communities since Chairman Mao Zedong made the eradication of religion a goal of his disastrous Cultural Revolution half a century ago.”

Zen told reporters Jan. 28 that he’s wary of the agreement, which suggests the Catholic Church in Hong Kong “will need a blessing from Beijing” to name bishops. “This suggests Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ principle is about to disappear,” he said.

“I hope the Vatican will stand their ground and appoint a bishop who can truly lead our diocese and protect our religious life.”

Zen said he is praying for Pope Francis, whom he met with at the Vatican earlier this month, to do the right thing. The Holy See hasn’t answered his letters, in which he objected to the pact about appointing bishops, he said.

“They’re making their own judgment on matters that I disagree with,” he said. “We Catholics are praying for [the pope]. With God’s blessings, we pray he won’t make mistakes.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) speaks at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom award ceremony, honoring the retired Cardinal of Hong Kong Joseph Zen at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

‘Tremendous Leader’

In an interview with The Epoch Times at the awards ceremony, Rep. Smith explained why the cardinal deserved to be honored.

“Cardinal Zen, for years, even before he became the bishop of Hong Kong, has been a tremendous leader for all faiths believing that religious freedom is a fundamentally recognized human right, which China has agreed to. He has spoken out on behalf of everyone, not just Catholics, and I think that makes a difference. We are all in this together.

“The repression that has been unleashed … has crushed so many people’s lives, not just through murder and through torture and long jail sentences, but their hopes and aspirations are thwarted because of this dictatorship.

“I think Cardinal Zen inspires all of us, people inside of China, as well as outside, to do more on behalf of religious freedom.”

A representative of the Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) spiritual practice, which Zen has defended, said the cardinal deserves the award.

“Cardinal Zen is known to be a very righteous and outspoken figure in Hong Kong,” said Kan Hung-cheung of the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa.

Kan recalled how Zen spoke up when the Chinese regime began its persecution of Falun Gong in mainland China in 1999. The regime’s propaganda initially had an effect on Hong Kong’s population, and Falun Gong practitioners faced a hostile environment. Nonetheless, Zen defended them.

“When [the Chinese Communist Party] started the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, the then-Bishop Zen came up to defend the universal values of truthfulness-compassion-forbearance [the core principles of Falun Gong] and the freedom of religion of Falun Gong, and strongly objected to and criticized the Hong Kong government on the intended suppression.”

Zen has helped to ameliorate the repression suffered by Falun Gong practitioners. “We very much appreciate his support of us in so many years,” Kan said.

Zen said that receiving the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom will give his fellow Chinese Catholics hope.

Zen was asked by The Epoch Times if his receipt of the award would have an impact on religious freedom in China and Hong Kong.

“Sure,” Zen replied, “because I got everybody to promise to pray for us and I hope you get informed and always be concerned. That’s important for us, because we need the support of everyone.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) (R) speaks with former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom award ceremony honoring the retired Cardinal of Hong Kong Joseph Zen at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Chinese Moves to Organize Via WeChat Worry Local Communist Authorities

Using the internet and social media for mass organization, especially at the local level, is worrying for the authorities. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)


January 16, 2019 Updated: January 16, 2019

Officials in Muchuan County, in southwestern China, are telling local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organizations to prevent people from organizing through WeChat, a popular Chinese social-media site.

On Jan. 10, the CCP committee in Muchuan, which is located in Leshan City of Sichuan Province, alerted its organizations in all of the county’s townships and villages, requesting that committees exert control the people’s ideological thought, maintain control over social media, and lead public opinion.

The alert, aimed at preventing local residents from mobilizing in protest, comes as part of the communist regime’s attempts to win on “the battlefield of public opinion.” The recent economic downturn in China has exacerbated social conflicts under the CCP’s authoritarian and corruption-ridden rule.

Residents of Muchuan’s 195 villages had set up chat groups on WeChat for each community, which sparked the alert. The local government became wary of the chat groups’ existence and ordered all villagers to leave them, citing the danger of fraud.

Using the internet and social media for mass mobilization, especially at the local level, is troubling to the authorities. The CCP is extremely wary of the threat posed by local organizing in reaction to cases of corruption, environmental damage, and other causes of unrest. In China, tens of thousands of civil disturbances are registered every year, with some involving tens of thousands of people.

“The battlefield of public opinion” is a concept created by Mao Zedong, the founding leader of communist China. In nearly 70 years of governance, the CCP has taken “victory” on that battlefield to be of utmost importance for its propaganda agencies and censorship of discussion.

The CCP controls which films, TV programs, radio, newspaper, books, magazines, and the websites people are allowed to access; the internet has become a new “battlefield” of public discourse. Millions of internet police monitor the regime’s “Great Firewall” to ensure that netizens don’t post politically sensitive content or visit banned websites.

On Jan. 10, China’s Cyberspace Administration announced regulations to manage blockchain technology, requiring registration of real names and identification. After the rules come into effect on Feb. 15, violations will be punishable by fines or prison.

In November 2016, Chinese authorities published the Internet Security Law, which was implemented starting June 1, 2017. That May, authorities announced their Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Services, which was implemented the same day as the Internet Security Law.

In January 2011, CCP updated its Administration of Internet Information Services Procedures, which was first published in September 2000.

On Jan. 8, the Cyberspace Administration published an article asking all its officials and clerks “to defend the battlefield of public opinion” by use of all available technology, including capturing video by drone, making short videos, virtual reality, HTML5, and other methods.

The article said “the battlefield” should combine radio, television, newspaper, internnet, Weibo, WeChat, and computing clients.

Canadian MP in China Says Not Business As Usual

Detained Canadians Granted Consular Visit; Canadian citizen Michael Spavor, who is detained in China, in a file photo taking part in an interview from Yangi, China March 2, 2017. (AP Photo)


January 8, 2019 Updated: January 8, 2019

TORONTO—Canadian MP Michael Cooper, who is in China as part of a legislative delegation, says it’s encouraging news that one of the detained Canadians in China was granted consular visit, adding that the delegation has told Chinese officials it’s not business as usual while the Canadians remain detained.

Global Affairs Canada said on Jan. 8 that Canadian consular officials met with Michael Spavor, who along with Michael Kovrig were detained and charged with endangering China’s national security after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request by the United States.

“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since last month and continues to call for their immediate release,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Amy Mills said in a statement.

Conservative MP Michael Cooper in a file photo. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

Conservative MP Cooper and other Canadian lawmakers were scheduled to visit China as part of a routine parliamentary delegation visit before China detained the Canadians. Cooper said Global Affairs Canada told them it’s fine to continue with their visit, and the delegation used this opportunity to call for the release of the Canadians.

“In the course of meetings that we had with Chinese officials, we conveyed the position of the government of Canada, which was to call for the immediate release of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, and to emphasize the fact that it is unacceptable that Mr. Spavor and Mr Kovrig, up until the last few hours, were more ore less unable to access consular services, denied access to a lawyer, or are in conditions that are completely unacceptable,” Cooper said.

As part of their agenda, the delegation met with officials from Shanghai People’s Congress, where they spoke with the deputy director general. Cooper characterized the reaction from the Chinese as being the same as that of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa: “long on criticism in terms of the arrest of Ms. Meng, and very short on details with respect to the details of the detention of Mr. Spavor and Mr, Kovrig.” But he said it was important for the delegation to express Canada’s concern.

Cooper rejected what he called suggestions in media reports that the delegation went to China to “go along and get along” or that the issue of the detained Canadians wasn’t part of the official agenda.

“There really is nothing on our official agenda except the people whom we are meeting with…and what was discussed at the meetings we had with Chinese officials were the cases of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor,” Cooper said.

Cooper, who visited China in 2017 as part of another delegation, said the tone of the visit this time was quite different, saying “it’s not a business as usual delegation.”

He added that the case of other detained Canadians in China, such as Sun Qian, an adherent of Falun Dafa and Huseyincan Celil, a Canadian of Uyghur Chinese ethnicity, are also serious cases impacting Canada’s relations with China.

“They all involve arbitrary detentions, they all speak to a lack of due process, and they remain ongoing, and of course those cases including and these cases, do impact the relationship.”

Allies Voice Support

In a phone conversation on Jan. 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump discussed the “unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens in China,” and agreed to continue to seek their release, according to statements released by their offices.

In its statement on Jan. 8, Global Affairs Canada thanked the allies who have added their voice in support of the detained Canadians.

“Canada continues to express its appreciation to those who have spoken in support of these detained individuals and the rule of law, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the EU, the United States, and Australia,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Mills said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said on Dec. 14 that China’s detention of Canadians is unacceptable, and that the United States will work toward returning them home.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asked for the “immediate release” of the two Canadians on Dec. 21.

Cooper said he wished Canada’s government had spoken out earlier to ask for the release of the detained Canadians.

“Frankly, it’s disappointing that while Secretary Pompeo took a very clear stand, the Trudeau government dithered. But that being said, I do believe that our Global Affairs Canada, consular officials, embassy officials, are doing what they can do in difficult circumstances,” he said.

Czech Lawmakers Urged to Call for End to Chinese Regime’s Crimes Against Humanity

A public hearing on the repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China held at Wallenstein Palace, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic on Nov. 19, 2018. (Jiří Chlebníček/The Epoch Times)

December 24, 2018 Updated: December 25, 2018

PRAGUE—A nongovernmental organization has submitted a petition signed by more than 38,000 people to the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, asking lawmakers to condemn the crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese regime.

The petition submitted to the legislative bodies is the most recent of several petitions. Since January, 2,000 Czech activists have collected more than 170,000 signatures of Czech citizens, public figures, and politicians. They are demanding an end to the violent repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement at the hands of the Chinese communist regime.

In response to the petition, on Nov. 19, a public hearing was held at Wallenstein Palace and a seminar in the Chamber of Deputies, which were attended by experts, representatives of various nongovernmental organizations, and two victims of the persecution.

The first victim to testify was Chen Zhenping, who survived 13 years in Chinese labor camps where she was imprisoned for her belief in Falun Gong. The other was Yumei Liu of Liaoning Province in China, who was arrested nine times and tortured as part of so-called “re-education” led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Her sister, father, mother, and husband were killed during the repression.

(L) and a representative of the NGO WOIPFG Haiyen Wang. (Lukáš Kruťa/The Epoch Times)

The Chinese Embassy in Prague was invited to attend the public hearing, but didn’t respond to the invitation. The secretary of the Senate Committee called the embassy, which stated, “We take note of the invitation.” However, the embassy representative didn’t show up at the hearing.

A representative of the international human rights organization Amnesty International also was at the public hearing.

According to a statement by Amnesty International: “Falun Gong is a spiritual teaching based on traditional Chinese breathing and meditation exercises, which gained a large number of supporters in China during the 1990s. Practitioners focus on the cultivation of character by following spiritual principles such as truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—the universal principles of human existence. Falun Gong combines mental cultivation with physical cultivation (using five simple exercises).”

During the hearing, a representative of the Falun Gong Association of the Czech Republic, Juraj Skovajsa, discussed the rapid increase in the popularity of Falun Gong in China from 1992 to 1999, and illustrated the exercise movements and the spiritual principles of the practice. He also cited a medical study pointing to the health benefits of the Falun Gong exercises.

Journalist and researcher Ethan Gutmann (L), and representative of the Falun Gong Association of the Czech Republic, Juraj Skovajsa. (Lukáš Kruťa/The Epoch Times)

Reports on the growing repression in China were summed up at the request of the petition committee by Milan Kajínek, editor-in-chief of the Czech edition of The Epoch Times.

“The repression has escalated and the Chinese regime has been carrying out arrests, imprisonment, and torture resulting in death,” Kajínek said.

R): Jiří Pokorný from the Falun Gong Association of the Czech Republic; Editor-in-chief of the Czech edition of the Epoch Times Milan Kajínek; Senator Václav Chaloupek. (Jiří Chlebníkek/The Epoch Times)

Amnesty International stated that the Falun Gong spiritual movement was forbidden in China after its practitioners held a peaceful assembly in Beijing in April 1999.

“The Chinese government subsequently set up a special office, the 610 Office, to oversee the persecution of Falun Gong. … In 2017, Falun Gong practitioners continued to be persecuted, arbitrarily detained, exposed to unjust lawsuits, torture and other ill-treatment,” Amnesty International said.

The Czech Helsinki Committee’s chairwoman, Lucie Rybova, also took part in the hearings; the organization monitors compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In connection with the hearing, the committee issued a statement that “calls for the termination of the persecution and the torture of Falun Gong practitioners and the adoption of a Senate resolution on the matter.”

Journalist and researcher Ethan Gutmann, an expert on China and the author of “Losing the New China” and “The Slaughter,” also spoke at the hearing. He has co-authored an investigative report on abusive organ-transplant practices in China.

“During the investigation that began in 2006, David Kilgour, David Matas, and I collected a set of evidence of approximately 1,200 pages,” Gutmann said. Using data from China and interviews with medical experts, Chinese policemen, and labor-camp refugees, the investigators have documented the massive development of organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners in China.

Ethan Gutmann, investigative journalist, writer, and expert on China. (Lukáš Kruťa/The Epoch Times)

‘Strong Pressure’ on Chinese Regime

Hayen Wang, a representative of the NGO World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), also spoke. WOIPFG investigates the crimes of all institutions, organizations, and individuals involved in the repressive campaign of the Chinese regime against the spiritual movement of Falun Gong in China. Founded in January 2003, the New York-based organization has established a global monitoring system in 110 countries.

minister Daniel Herman in an interview with Ms. Liu (L) and representative of the NGO WOIPFG Mrs. Haiyen Wang. (Lukáš Kruťa/The Epoch Times)

“We are urging the Czech Republic to ask the Chinese regime about organ harvesting and demand an explanation,” said Wang, who called upon the Czech Republic “to take concrete steps to thoroughly investigate crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese regime.”

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lukáš Kaucký (ČSSD) summarized the activities of the Ministry, and said that both the European Union and its delegation in Beijing are exerting strong pressure on the Chinese regime in the area of human rights, with the EU’s stance “unambiguously hardening.”

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself, according to Kaucky, has a “consistent policy” in the area of human rights, which includes calling for the “end of the persecution of persons on account of their religious beliefs, as well as ethnic minorities” and allowing the freedom of faith and other fundamental human rights and freedoms under the international declaration.

Public hearing on the repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China held at Wallenstein Palace, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic on Nov. 19, 2018. (Jiří Chlebníček/The Epoch Times)

Members of Parliament from the Pirate Party were also present at the hearing. Olga Richterova, a vice-chairman of the Pirate Party, published an article on her blog after the Senate hearing, in which she responded to reports about current methods of the liquidation of dissidents that are taking place in China, by using modern transplantation techniques.

“It’s an alarming and years-long violation of all conceivable human rights, and a billion-dollar business,” she wrote.

Reforming Czech Law

Sen. Marek Hilšer said he would try to initiate an analysis of current Czech law on transplantation tourism to foreign countries, and plans to work to bring Czech law closer to the legal regulations adopted by Israel (2006) and Italy (2016).

“Not to believe that there is such a thing in China is to disbelieve our own experience with the communist totalitarian regime,” said Hilšer, in response to information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China. “Politicians should talk about these things.”

Former Minister of Culture Daniel Herman, who also supports an amendment to the Transplantation Tourism Act, said: “It is very important that this discussion takes place. Personally, I have known some Czech Falun Gong adherents for several years. I am deeply convinced of the benefits of Falun Gong for society.”

A bioethicist from Charles University, Jan Payne, is also interested in the transplant law.

“What is happening in China (in the area of transplant surgery) is difficult to believe. In general, people are divided into those who do not know anything about the topic, those who do not believe it or don’t want to believe it, and those who cannot believe it,” he said.

According to Payne, there’s a need for a public discussion and to be acquainted with the results of the investigation; otherwise, it is difficult for a person to understand the allegations. He supports the adoption of the law on transplantation tourism and backs awareness-raising activities about the matter.

R) Ex-minister Daniel Herman, chairwoman of the Czech Helsinki Committee Lucie Rybová and former Czech Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková. (Jiří Chlebníček a Lukáš Kruťa/The Epoch Times)

“I have personally met several former prisoners of conscience from China, and I have seen well-documented papers on this issue, as well as film documentaries, such as ‘Free China’ or ‘Hard to Believe,’” said former Czech Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková. “We need to talk about this issue and get it into the public space.

“I personally do not see any reason why the Chinese government suppresses a group that wants to physically and spiritually improve themselves as Falun Gong practitioners.”