THE UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
THE MANY FACES OF CHINA'S REPRESSION:
HUMAN RIGHTS, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM,
AND U.S. DIPLOMACY IN CHINA
JANUARY 31, 2007, 1:30-4:00 P.M.
PANEL I: CURRENT POLICY STATEMENT FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL INVITED
PANEL II: CHINA'S MAJOR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES:
THE FACES OF REPESSION
BHUCHUNG TSERING, VICE PRESIDENT,
INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR TIBET
BOB FU, PRESIDENT, CHINA AID ASSOCIATION
KAMILA TELENBIDAEVA, WIFE OF HUSEYIN CELIL,
UYGHUR CANDAIAN ASSOCIATION
ERPING ZHANG, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION FOR ASIAN RESEARCH
JOSEPH KUNG, PRESIDENT, CARDINAL KUNG FOUNDATION
PANEL III: HUMAN RIGHTS AND U.S. DIPLOMACY IN CHINA
MICHAEL GREEN, JAPAN CHAIR,
CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
SHARON HOM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA
Federal News Service
FELICE GAER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for waiting for us while we had the assistance of some technical specialists who were working out the electronics - new rules and new orders of business here in the room. I would like to ask anyone who has a cell phone to please be kind enough to put it on mute or turn it off altogether. And I understand that the rules also include no water, no food in the room, so please, I ask you to comply with that.
Good afternoon. My name is Felice Gaer, and I'm the chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. I welcome you all to our hearing to examine United States policy towards China. I'm joined today by two fellow commissioners: Vice Chair Michael Cromartie and Commissioner Richard Land.
The commission is an independent bipartisan body that was made up of commissioners appointed by the president and by each of the houses of Congress, but which is separate from them. The commission was created in 1998 by the Congress through the International Religious Freedom Act with two purposes: first, to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief abroad; and second, to give independent policy recommendations to the president, secretary of State, and Congress as to how United States policy can most effectively advance freedom of religion or belief and related rights.
Since its founding, the commission has monitored religions freedom conditions in China. The commission recommendation has been consistent: that the United States government should designate China as a, quote, unquote, "country of particular concern," or CPC, for its systematic and egregious violations of the freedom of religion. The State Department has followed the commission's recommendation and has named China as a CPC since 1999 when it first named such countries.
The commission has also traveled to both mainland China and Hong Kong after a three-year diplomatic dust-up over commission access and schedule. A commission delegation visited Beijing, Xinjiang, Tibet, Chengdu and Shanghai in August 2005.
In our stops, we found that religious belief and practice was growing in China. We also found that the Chinese government was eager to manage and control religious activity when it could, and to repress this activity when it could not be controlled. This was particularly true of so-called unregistered Protestants and Catholic groups, Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and spiritual movements such as the Falun Gong.
Chinese authorities were eager to demonstrate to us that the Chinese government respected the human rights of its citizens. However, it was clear during our travels, as it is clear now, that the Chinese legal system does not protect those whose religious practice is, according to Chinese law, classified as, quote, unquote, "abnormal, splitist, illegal," religious activity, or, as increasingly common, quote, unquote, "evil cults."
Most religious activity and religious growth in China today occurs under these categories. And clearly, nonetheless, this activity is protected by international law and human rights treaties to which China is a party. In the past year and a half, the commission has seen a marked deterioration in conditions of religious freedom and other human rights. That is to say, since our visit, we have seen a marked deterioration. Nearly every week, the commission receives reports of raids on unregistered religious gatherings and multiple cases of arrest, detention, and harassment of religious leaders, journalists, human rights lawyers, and other activists.
Ironically, as all these arrests and detention are occurring, Chinese leaders at the highest levels have made statements praising the contributions of the so-called, quote, unquote, "normal" religious activity, to the creation of the so-called "harmonious socialist society."
In the year before the Beijing Olympics, which is this year, 2007, Chinese authorities have raised the stakes, drawing a line between normal, so-called, religious activity and so-called illegal religious activity. Those not deemed normal either by joining one of the five government-sanctioned religious groups, renouncing allegiance to so-called evil cults, such as Falun Gong, or giving up their so-called separatist activities and demonstrating loyalty to the leadership of the Communist Party face continued pressure, harassment and arrest.
The Chinese government views religious activity that it cannot control as a threat to its national stability. As the 2008 Olympics approach, the international spotlight on China will become increasingly intense. It is up to the United States and its allies to vigorously advocate that China finally end the systematic and egregious human rights violations it may try to hide behind a façade of Olympic goodwill.
You will notice an array of photos behind us in the room today. These are photos of current prisoners held for their religious activities and beliefs, taken before they were imprisoned. In this hearing today, I want to emphasize very clearly that the policies of the Chinese government are not abstract issues of international law; they have a human face and they are very real.
I also want to note that in the audience today, Rabiya Kadeer. Rabiya spent eight years in prison for her activism for Uyghur Muslim human rights and religious freedom. Her activities have come at a terrible cost to her family. In June last year, three sons of Rabiya Kadeer were arrested. One has now been sentenced to seven years imprisonment and another is detained facing serious charges of subverting state power.
Thank you for your work and thank you for joining us.
There are hundreds of similar stories, some stretching back decades. These individuals are the concrete results of China's policies to control and repress freedom of religion and belief. In their testimony today, we have asked our witnesses to tell the story of a prisoner of concern and to highlight the details of each case.
While we are all aware of what is happening in China, the question remains, what should be done about it? And that is the question before the commission and that is the question before this hearing today. The U.S. government commits significant diplomatic capital to address China's human rights violations, including religious freedom. But the issue of human rights in China is sometimes pushed to the background as policymakers pursue trade deals and diplomats search for a mediator with such problematic situations as those in North Korea and Sudan.
As China's economic power and diplomatic influence have grown, some governments have retreated from directly confronting China on human rights issues. At the United Nations, China has rallied developing nations to defeat repeated U.S. and Western efforts at censure. Those efforts seem to have come to an end.
And this is why we want to take this opportunity to reiterate the commission's recommendations. First, we urge the United States government to call on the Chinese government to end its crackdown on religious and spiritual groups, to end harassment, surveillance and detention of persons on account of their manifestation of religion or belief, and to halt the coercion of individuals to renounce or condemn any religion or belief.
Second, the U.S. government must deliver a consistent message from the president on down that respect for religious freedom and related human rights are essential for safeguarding China's development. Too often, the Chinese are given mixed signals.
Third, as part of the State Department's new strategic dialogue with China, human rights and religious freedom concerns must have priority status along with other issues such as trade and security. The new U.S. Congress should seek oversight of the dialogue to set concrete, transparent benchmarks for progress and regular reporting on its status. This must be part of a policy to prevent human rights from being sidelined by other issues.
Fourth, the United States government should hold China to its word that China wants to improve the rule of law and the United States should put resources into programs that can expand the role of human rights lawyers and civic organizations in rights protection.
The commission hopes to hear from witnesses today specific advice, recommendations and strategies to effectively promote religious freedom in China, including ways to improve the United States' human rights diplomacy.
At the beginning of this new session of Congress, there are of course many priorities competing for a place on the agenda. The relationship between Washington and Beijing is among the most important bilateral relationships that our government currently maintains. China's rise will affect U.S. foreign policy options for the next century. And it is important to understand how the United States and China can continue to find shared interests and means of bilateral cooperation. But along with our trade and security interests in China, it is also an interest of the United States that the government of China pursue policies that will uphold their commitment to internationally recognized human rights, including the right to freedom of religion and belief. China will find true prosperity and true stability, and better relations with the United States, when it protects the rights and freedoms of all of China's citizens.
Today we have with us two panels of witnesses, and we want to thank them for their participation. The commission did invite the State Department to testify about current policies and the status of U.S. discussions on human rights with China. We are disappointed that although we invited a number of officials from the State Department, knowledgeable and expert and responsible officials, to testify, the chose not to provide a witness. We also understand that the Chinese government has delivered a demarche to the United States in which they characterize our distinguished first panel - and I quote - as "enemies of China," unquote, a reference that has historically chilling implications.
Now, let me begin by briefly introducing the first panel. I want to remind the witnesses that we hope they can keep your oral remarks to five minutes so there will be time for question and answer.
The first panel will consist of the following five persons: Bob Fu, who is president of the China Aid Association, an organization that disseminates news and information about unregistered Protestants in China. He also organizes efforts to train lawyers and other activists to defend the rights of religious communities in China. Mr. Fu himself was a prisoner in China, arrested in 1995 for so-called illegal religious activities. Welcome, Mr. Fu.
The second panelist will be Joseph Kung, who is the current director of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, an organization that gathers information on the Roman Catholic Church in China and works to unify the unregistered and registered Catholic communities in China. Mr. Kung carries on the work of his uncle, Ignatius Cardinal Kung, who fought for religious freedom in China. Thank you for being with us, Mr. Kung.
Our third witness will be Kamila Telenbidaeva. She is a Canadian citizen of Uyghur ethnicity and she will testify on behalf of her husband, Huseyin Celil. In August 2006, only a few months ago, during a visit to Uzbekistan to visit his wife's family, Mr. Celil, who is now a Canadian citizen, was detained and extradited by the Uzbek authorities to China, where he is reportedly being held on unknown charges. Mr. Celil is an imam in Canada, and was a very popular imam in China before seeking asylum in the West. Thank you for coming.
Our fourth panelist will be Erping Zhang. He is the president of the Association for Asian Research, has served as a volunteer spokesperson for Falun Gong since the early part of the crackdown on this spiritual movement in 1999. He has published many articles and testified before the United States Congress, the European Parliament, the Canadian Parliament on behalf of Falun Gong. Thank you also for joining us.
And our fifth panelist in this first panel is Bhuchung Tsering, currently vice president of the organization the International Campaign for Tibet here in Washington, D.C. He has accompanied Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama's special envoy, on visits to China for dialogue on Tibet with the Chinese government.
I thank you all for coming and we'll begin with Mr. Fu. Thank you.
XIQIU "BOB" FU: Thank you. Dear Honorable Commissioners and distinguished guests, thank you very much for inviting me to testify before this important commission. Yesterday, we issued our first annual report on persecution against the Protestant house churches in China from January to December 2006. During the period covered by our report, the Chinese government continued its general crackdown on unregistered house churches, but the strategies used have changed to some degree with the shifting domestic and international situation.
Reported incidents of raids on house churches have decreased in 2006 as compared to previous years. And we compiled the list of the rest, with all the details, on the report. According to our own sources alone, the government detained and arrested over 600 Christians in 2006. It is less than 2005, with more than 2,000 arrests were reported. Today I just want to focus on a few cases and then make an analysis.
First of all, a new tendency for the 2006 crackdown by the Chinese government was to target house church leaders with criminal accusations. And that's why the number of arrests was shown was less than 2005.
I want to focus on one case of Pastor Wang Zaiqing, whose picture is displayed today. And Pastor Wang is a disabled pastor that, because of the lack of the Bibles and supplies in China, so he volunteers printing hundreds of Bibles and then distributed freely to the house churches. Then he was arrested and then sentenced to two years for printing Bibles. And the accusation was illegal operation of a business. So Pastor Wang is serving two years in prison now.
Another tendency or trend happened last year that the government used against the Protestant house churches is that more house church buildings was destroyed. In July 29th of 2006, the Zhejiang government deployed over 3,000 armed policemen and public security persons to demolish the church buildings of the Dangshan Church of Xiaoshan District for what it claimed as - I quote - "illicit use of land and illegal buildings. In December of 2006, it also convicted eight house church leaders of the crime of - accused "instigating violent resistance against law enforcement" and inflicted criminal penalties on them. So eight of them were sentenced to one to three years respectively. So four of the pastors are serving their sentence now; the other four with their sentence suspension from one to three years.
And this Xiaoshan case is particularly remarkable because of this history of crackdown in this particular province, and also it can reflect the pattern of the Chinese government new tactic against the house church. What is remarkable is that the leaders of the Xiaoshan house churches, in peaceful protest against the government demolition of churches and its rejection of church construction applications, have since 2003 adopted the time consuming, effort consuming, and money consuming strategy of so-called "reconstruction" and "rush construction" instead of filing lawsuits. This tug of war in human and material resources not only poses a grave threat to the authority of local governments, but also constitutes what you'd call an enormous obstacle to the goal of fostering Christianity.
The trigger to the Xiaoshan religious case of 2006 was the altercation between the church and the government because of the inactivity of the Xiaoshan District government because the government appropriated church buildings and church properties and the price was unfair, and the citizens' legal application for permission to use land was rejected by the government without giving proper reasons, and the intensification of the conflict between the church and the government because the district government failed to fulfill or delayed in fulfilling its legal obligations. Under the current legal system in China, the land in urban areas belongs to the state, and the use of and planning for these lands must adhere to strict administrative guidelines. Meanwhile, the venues for religious activities must undergo the dual procedures of application and registration by the religious organizations that have already been registered on record and obtaining administrative permission.
So therefore, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the house churches that have refused to register with the government to build their own churches. So that's why, in this case, it was used - you know, it's an excuse to demolish this church under the name of the Land Law.
The paradigm of demolition and construction has become the unique method by which house churches of Xiaoshan District protest against the government and strive for religious freedom by building independent churches to worship God freely. And of course the outcome of this resistance is four of the eight defendants being sentenced to terms of imprisonment and the remaining four with suspension. And this result itself - I want to emphasize that - was a compromise that the Chinese government made between the regulating Christian house churches and responding to the international pressure, and including the voice of course of concern from this important commission and the honorable commissioners here today.
So I have several suggestions in terms of how the commission and the U.S. government can help advance the basic religious freedom in China.
First of all, I would encourage the commission to continue to recommend to the Bush administration to put China as a CPC country and the commission to continue to request, you know, to visit the Chinese religious prisoners in their prison.
I would say a few recommendations later for the question and answer time.
MS. GAER: I just would like to ask each of you panelists to remember that - (inaudible).
JOSEPH KUNG: Ms. Chairman, all the commissioners, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to come over here to share with you. I shall use two examples to illustrate the ongoing persecution of the underground Catholics in China.
We know that six underground Catholic bishops are now in jail. Three of them have disappeared. Out of these three disappeared bishops, Bishop Su Zhimin - the picture is over there - has been missing for almost 10 years. He was arrested and jailed in 1997. Inquiries to the Chinese government from various U.S. governments about Bishop Su's whereabouts were never answered satisfactorily. For six years since then w could not be certain if Bishop Su was still alive.
Then on or near November 15, 2003, we received information that Bishop Su was taken to the Baoding Central Hospital for an eye operation and a heart ailment. He was heavily guarded. As soon as the authorities learned that Bishop Su was recognized, he was immediately removed to a secret location.
The prominent leader of some 10 million underground Roman Catholics in China, Bishop Su met privately with Congressman Christopher Smith in 1994 during the congressman's official visit to China. Immediately after the departure of Congressman Smith, Bishop Su was arrested and detained. He was released after nine days due to very vigorous protest from the United States Congress led by Congressman Smith. In his interview with freelance reporter, Ms. Moreau, Congressman Smith said - I quote - "The Chinese government claims that he is missing or cannot be found. That is so not believable. They know exactly where he is, and we believe - we cannot say absolutely - that they have him."
Bishop Su has been arrested at least five times and spent approximately 27 years in prison thus far. He was once beaten so savagely that he suffered extensive hearing loss. He escaped from detention in April 1996 and remained in hiding for 16 months until October 1997 when he was rearrested. While in hiding, he wrote to the Standing Committee of the People's National Congress in China, requesting it - I quote - "to ensure that the civil rights and interests of the vast number of religious believes are protected.
The United States and other foreign governments must continue to press on Chinese government for an answer on Bishop Su's disappearance and his wellbeing. This is our only hope that the Chinese government will keep Bishop Su alive.
There are many missing priests. Among them is Father Joseph Lu. In 2006, when Father Lu was to meet a fellow underground Roman Catholic priest at the Baoding Train Station, he was intercepted by several government officials. They dragged him to the police station. He was never seen again.
Born in 1962, Father Lu was raised near Baoding. After high school, he joined the Communist army. At night, he secretly listened to Bible readings on radio stations and to listen to the news on Voice of America. After serving in the army, he literally ran to the underground seminary. In May 1989, he was ordained a priest. F
Father Lu was first arrested in 1990. During his detention, which lasted a month, he was often beaten and handcuffed for 24 hours a day. His head and face were hit so hard that his lower jaw was seriously injured and his teeth loosened, making chewing food impossible for him for many days. Father Lu was arrested a second time in May, 1994 and again in April 1998. Both times he was released after a short time.
In March 2001, Father Lu was arrested again, but this time it was different. He was almost immediately sentenced to three years labor camp. According to the court documents, Father Lu was guilty of receiving theology training, being ordained into a priesthood that is not recognized by the Patriotic Association, refusing to follow the directives of the Patriotic Association, and he was accused of conducting illegal evangelization For all of these charges, Father Lu was found guilty and was sent to the labor camp for three years.
It is extremely important to understand the significance of this court document that I have just quoted. This court document is a de facto admission by the Chinese government of policy against freedom of religion. This court document also proves clearly that Article 36 of the Chinese constitution guaranteeing freedom of religious belief does not mean freedom of religion. A copy of this court document, both in Chinese and English, is attached to this presentation.
On March 30, 2004, Father Lu was released. However, the arrests soon began again. On May 14, 2004, while he was preparing to give talks to local Catholic young married couples, the police took him away again. He was locked up for a few days. Then Father Lu was arrested again on his way to the train station in 2006 as I described above. We do not know where he is or if he is still alive.
From these two examples that I have presented, you can see that religious persecution in China is not ancient history. The open persecution of peaceful religious believers by the 2008 Olympic host country makes a mockery of the Olympic Games.
Releasing these religious believers and exonerating their so-called crimes should be one of the top priorities on the United States. I have appealed to the president of the People Republic of China and appealed to him do just that. A copy of my letter is attached to this presentation.
I have also attached my article, published by Asia Wall Street Journal in April 2005 on Vatican-China relations. The situation of Vatican-China relations has not changed much since 2005. Pope Benedict XVI will reportedly write an open letter to the Catholics in China. Meanwhile, the conference on China recently held in the Vatican has been very so secretive. However, according to an interview by Yahoo news, on January 25th, Cardinal Zen, the bishop of Hong Kong said - I quote - "It was time for the Vatican to take a more uncompromising line toward the Chinese government." Cardinal Zen also said that he had told the pope that - I quote - "The people in China expect from him clear direction."
MS. GAER: Thank you very much.
We now turn to Ms. Telenbidaeva.
KAMILA TELENBIDAEVA: Dear Madam Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the commission, thank you so much for inviting me here today to speak about the situation of my husband Huseyin Celil, a peaceful religious man and a Canadian citizen who has been in Chinese custody since June 2006. The Chinese government's treatment of my husband is typical of its treatment of all Uyghurs who want to peacefully practice their religion.
My husband is originally from Eastern Turkistan, also known as China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He is being held in incommunicado detention somewhere in the People's Republic of China after being forcibly returned from Uzbekistan at the end of June. At present, he is at risk of serious human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment, and possibly the death penalty if tried and convicted of a serious crime such as "separatism." Amnesty International has documented several cases of Uyghurs being sentenced to death and executed in Eastern Turkistan for alleged "separatist" or "terrorist" activities.
My husband left East Turkistan for Central Asia in the mid-1990s after being detained for a month in connection with his religious activities, which included teaching other Uyghurs to pray and learning the Koran. We were married in December 1998 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. My husband went to Turkey in April 1999 where he sought asylum through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and I followed him in May 1999. He was recognized as a refugee, and as a result, we were resettled to Canada in October 2001. We now have Canadian citizenship. Together, we have four children. Our youngest son Zubiyr was born on August 23rd, 2006 while his father was in a prison somewhere in the People's Republic of China.
We were visiting my family in Uzbekistan when he was arrested. He was detained on March 27 when he tried to get an extension to his visa. The Uzbek authorities did not tell us why they had detained him and we were not allowed to visit him. In June, he was handed over to the Chinese authorities where he has been held incommunicado ever since. The Chinese government should not be allowed to refuse to recognize his Canadian citizenship, which he was granted in November 2005. My husband was traveling on a Canadian passport at the time of his detention in Uzbekistan.
According to some reports, my husband was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in early August 2006 and is currently being held in Bajiahu prison in Ummqi, the capital of East Turkistan. He was said to have denied all charges brought against him but the exact nature of these charges remains unclear.
This news was passed on to his relatives in Kashgar. In the same month, news about my husband facing imminent execution was similarly passed on to his relatives by an unnamed police officer, but this was later denied by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement implying that my husband was being tried for charges related to terrorism.
Following the information regarding the possible imminent execution of my husband, I learned that Canadian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and Member Parliament Jason Kenney, had sought and obtained assurances from Chinese officials that he would not be executed. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also brought up the case of my husband with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Hanoi on November 18th 2006. Canadian International Trade Minister David Emerson and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also raised the case of my husband a week ago in Beijing with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
I am deeply grateful to Canadian officials for taking such a strong stand on my husband's case, and I commend the Canadian government for the actions it continues to take on behalf of my husband, yet I remain extremely concerned about the safety of my husband, and fear he remains at great risk of torture and execution. Even if the threat of execution is not imminent, I am gravely concerned at the prospects of him remaining in prison indefinitely and suffering severe mistreatment. His security will not be assured until he is released and returned to Canada.
Chinese authorities are obligated under international law to grant Canadian officials consular access to Huseyin Celil as a Canadian citizen, and to provide detailed information about his imprisonment and any charges filed against him. I'm encouraged to see that the Canadian government is continuing to push hard for consular access to my husband and for detailed information about his situation: where he is being held and how he is being treated.
My husband's continued imprisonment sets a worrying precedent for Uyghur refugees throughout the world. If he is not released from imprisonment soon and returned to Canada, Uyghurs can no longer feel secure when traveling anywhere outside their country of residence or citizenship. If China is allowed to ignore the Canadian citizenship of Canadian citizens who were born in the People's Republic of China, this could have far-reaching implications. Chinese-Canadian immigrants of any ethnicity who travel to the People's Republic of China or surrounding nations in the future will face the threat of arbitrary detention, imprisonment or deportation to China. Chinese-Canadians who were originally citizens of the People's Republic of China may no longer be assured of their safety if they choose to travel to China in 2008 to attend the Olympic Games, for example.
I beg the United States and Canadian governments to explore all avenues to bring about my husband's safe return to Canada, his country of citizenship. I thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your continued efforts to raise his case with the Chinese government. Thank you.
MS. GAER: Thank you very much for that very moving account.
Our next panelist is Mr. Zhang.
ERPING ZHANG: Thank you, Chair Gaer. Dear Honorable Commissioners, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for holding this important hearing, as it provides an opportunity to address the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China. I am saddened to report that since my last testimony before this commission in 2000, the conditions of Falun Gong practitioners in China have not improved, but have only deteriorated in many respects.
As of January 2007, over 3,000 Falun Gong adherents are known to have died from torture in police custody. Due to the difficulty in obtaining information from China, however, it is likely that the actual death toll is several times higher than what can be confirmed at this time. Hundreds of thousands have been imprisoned without trial in labor camps and jails simply by virtue of their beliefs. There they are beaten, sexually abused, brainwashed, deprived of sleep, forced to perform manual labor for up to 20 hours a day, and tortured.
The story of Gao Rongrong is representative of what many Falun Gong adherents face in China today. In 1999, the 31-year-old accountant was stripped of her work because she practiced Falun Gong, and subsequently lodged legal appeals to protest the government's treatment of the practice. Later, in July of 2003, Ms. Gao was taken into custody for her affiliation with Falun Gong and sent to the Longshan forced labor camp in Shenyang city. On May 7th, 2004, she was summoned to an office by two labor camp officials who proceeded to torture her with electric batons for seven consecutive hours. The torture seared the skin off her face, head, and neck, and she sustained severe, disfiguring burns. Her once-radiant face was left scared with blisters and her hair was matted with pus and blood.
In a desperate attempt to escape her torturers, Ms. Gao jumped from the second floor office window of the facility, but sustained multiple injuries. Subsequent hospitalization allowed those close to her to take photos of the injuries to her face and body. The shocking photos made their way overseas, where rights activists publicized them widely.
As international pressure mounted concerning Ms. Gao's case, one of China's highest ranking officials stepped in. Luo Gan, the Politburo Standing Committee member, proceeded to order the Justice Department and the Police Department to conceal all her information.
Sources in China report that on March 6, 2005, Ms. Gao was located by police and sent to the Masanjia Hospital. By the time her family was informed of her whereabouts on June 12th, Gao had lost consciousness. Her organs were atrophying and she was hooked up to a respirator. Her family members say she was little more than "skin and bones" and she died four days later at the age of 37.
In recent years, China's state-run media stopped carrying daily or even weekly reports vilifying Falun Gong and its adherents. Instead, Chinese diplomats prefer to treat Falun Gong as a non-issue, suggesting that it has already been wiped out, its practitioners fully converted.
We believe this represents a disturbing new tactic by the regime that is increasingly sensitive to its international image in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games. But while the regime would like the international community to believe that Falun Gong has disappeared in China, the evidence suggests otherwise. Every day, reports of torture, abuse, abductions, disappearances, and deaths continue to leak out of China, and Falun Gong continues to account for an overwhelming majority of all Chinese torture cases reported through the United Nation's Special Rapporteurs.
Take, for example, the case of 38-year-old Bu Dongwei, a staffer with the U.S. aid agency the Asia Foundation. Mr. Bu lived in Beijing, where he worked through the Asia Foundation to provide legal aid and counseling, and advising his fellow citizens on their legal rights. On May 29th, 2006, a group of plainclothes police officers abducted Mr. Bu from his home without explanation, confiscating his computer and Falun Gong books.
This is the second time Mr. Bu has been detained since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999. He and his wife, a graduate student of Cambridge University, who were sitting in the audience, began practicing Falun Gong in 1996. In 2000, the couple was sent to separate labor camps in Beijing for sending a letter to the Chinese authorities asking them to revaluate the ban on Falun Gong.
Recently, Mr. Bu was sentenced to two and half years of labor camp with no possibility of appeal. Not only is he not compensated for what amounts to his slave labor, but to add insult to injury, his family is even forced to pay 400 yuan per month to labor camp authorities. Sadly, we have not heard from Asia Foundation about any effort to rescue its employee, Mr. Bu.
Since 1999, untold thousands of Falun Gong adherents simply vanishing into the labor camp system, never to be heard from again. Yet in March 2006, a chilling dimension was added to the story of these disappearances. Allegations began surfacing that Falun Gong practitioners were killed for their organs to fuel China's lucrative transplant industry, the phenomenal growth of which coincided directly with the persecution of Falun Gong.
In July of 2006, two prominent Canadian lawyers released the findings of a two-month investigation into the allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong. After analyzing numerous pieces of evidence, including taped confessions from several hospitals, the pair concluded that Falun Gong adherents were likely the unwilling sources for at least 50,000 organ transplant surgeries since 2000. They are releasing an updated version of their report today in Ottawa.
Further, we must report that there has been an increased effort by Chinese diplomats here in the U.S. and elsewhere to spread hatred propaganda materials and information against Falun Gong practitioners overseas. There have been reports of U.S. Falun Gong practitioners being followed, monitored, and even physically attacked by agents from PRC. Yuan Li, a U.S. citizen and Ph.D. graduate in engineering from Princeton, was beaten at his own home in Atlanta for developing technology to bring down China's Internet firewall system. Since last night and even this morning, I have been receiving numerous pre-recorded phone calls from Beijing to harass and intimidate me from showing up at this hearing. In fact, over the years, many Falun Gong practitioners living overseas have received such harassing phone calls from PRC.
There is much that can be done by this government to bring pressure to bear on the Chinese to curb the suppression of Falun Gong. We can prohibit entry to the United States to those Chinese officials known to have tortured and persecuted Falun Gong; we can urge the Chinese to release detained Falun Gong adherents like Mr. Bu Dongwei; we can affect the demand for organ transplants in China by encouraging our own citizens not to travel to that country for organs. Most importantly, the United States should continue to use every opportunity to raise the Falun Gong issue with Chinese authorities. At this time more than ever, when we have in China a regime concerned with its international reputation and legitimacy, continued public pressure on human rights issues will have an impact. Finally, our government can certainly do more to protect its citizens from being harassed and attacked by agents from PRC.
To conclude, I would like to applaud this commission in its work to promote human rights and religious freedom in China. I would also like to also reassure those present here that, contrary to what the Chinese regime would have us believe, the promotion of human rights in China is done fully for the welfare of the Chinese people. There is nothing anti-China about supporting constitutionally guaranteed rights when they are abused. Instead, promoting a fair and just society for 1.3 billion people is being friend of China.
Thank you very much.
MS. GAER: Thank you very much, Mr. Erping. I want to - before calling on Mr. Tsering, I want to welcome Commissioner Nina Shea, a vice chair of the commission, to the panel, and she'll be joining us subsequently in the Q&A.
Now we turn for the last presentation of this panel to Mr. Bhuchung Tsering. Thank you very much.
BHUCHUNG TSERING: Thank you, Madam Chairperson, members of the commission. I thank the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom for providing me with this opportunity.
As successive reports by the United States government, your own commission, the Congressional Executive Commission on China, as well as international human rights organizations have revealed, religious freedom of the Tibetan people has been greatly undermined by the policies of the Chinese government.
Official visitors to Tibet, including by the members of the commission in August 2005, as well as independent witnesses, have confirmed a consistent pattern of violation of the fundamental rights to the religious freedom of the Tibetan people. The most recent case is the order issued by Chinese government banning Tibetan government workers, retired staff and cadres, students and party members from participating in the commemoration of an important Tibetan Buddhist festival in December 2006.
The International Campaign for Tibet has been able to obtain a copy of this order. While this in itself is a cause of concern to the Tibetan people, I would like to draw your attention to a far sinister motive the Chinese government in its present approach to watch religious freedom in Tibet. Today, it's clear that the Chinese government has altered its religious policy by virtually making it an instrument of control of the Tibetan people.
I would like to expand on this by highlighting a specific case of the present Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima, whose photo is behind you, who continues to remain under some sort of detention since his recognition by the Dalai Lama in 1995. January 28th, this year, three days ago, marked the 18th anniversary of the passing away of the previous Panchen Lama in Tibet.
As per Tibetan religious tradition, following the passing away of the Panchen Lama in 1989, the Dalai Lama undertook to initiate the process of finding his reincarnation. However, the Chinese government, which had once banned the system of reincarnation of Tibetan lamas, claimed authority to appoint the next Panchen Lama and to dictate the process of his search. When the Dalai Lama announced his recognition of the then six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995, the Chinese authorities retaliated by detaining the boy and his family and appointing another boy on the throne. Since then, despite repeated attempts to gain access to the Panchen Lama, no international agencies or human rights organizations - including the United Nations and your commission - has been allowed to visit him or his family, and their condition remains uncertain.
Although the Tibetan people have been under the control of the People's Republic of China for the past nearly five decades, no Chinese leader has been able to win the hearts of the Tibetan people. Time and again, the Tibetan people, including the previous Panchen Lama, have showed their reverence and loyalty to the Dalai Lama, despite the physical distance between them. The previous Panchen Lama used all his authority to protect religious freedom of the Tibetan people.
The Chinese authorities are now bent upon using the institution of the Panchen Lama to control the Tibetan people. As it is, China's appointee to the throne of the Panchen Lama has been making political statements praising the work of the Communist Party of China, which are not in the nature of a typical Tibetan lama. The Chinese authorities assume and hope that their selected boy will play a decisive role in the choice of the next Dalai Lama.
The issue of the Panchen Lama is also reflective of the nature of China's trampling of Tibetan religious freedom. The process of reincarnation is a distinctly spiritual process and the Tibetan people have evolved a unique process to search and recognize reincarnations of lamas. By denying the Tibetan people the right to undertake this religious process in their own way, the Chinese government is grossly interfering in this spiritual process.
It is because of such a repressive atmosphere that the Chinese authorities have created in Tibet today that Tibetan prominent lamas, like the Karmapa and Arjia Rinpoche, have fled to freedom in the last several years. The Karmapa, as many of you may know, is a prominent Tibetan religious leader and this reincarnation was recognized while he was in Tibet. However, he soon began to realize that the Chinese officials wanted to make use of him for political purposes and that he would not be able to have a wholesome spiritual education if he remained inside Tibet. During a press conference in Dharamsala, India on April 27, 2001, the Karmapa said, "I came to suspect that there might be a plan to use me to separate the people within Tibet from His Holiness the Dalai Lama," unquote.
The Arjia Rinpoche is directly related to the issue of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, as he informed your commission during a hearing in Los Angeles in 2000. He said then - I quote - "I was part of the committee formed by the Chinese government to search for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. Historically, it has been an important part of our tradition to have the Panchen Lama's reincarnation chosen by the Dalai Lama and the Dalai Lama's reincarnation chosen by the Panchen Lama." The Chinese authorities hope to use Arjia Rinpoche's good offices to legitimize their choice of the Panchel Lama. Therefore, Arjia Rinpoche took the decision to flee China rather than surrender to the political elite of the Chinese government. As he told your hearing - and I quote - "Had I remained in Tibet I would have been forced to denounce the Dalai Lama and my religion and to serve the Chinese government. This meant also participating in government practices that went against my religion and my personal beliefs. As Abbot of the Kumbum Monastery, I would have been forced to help the government have its choice of the Panchen Lama accepted by the Tibetan people. This would violate my deepest beliefs," unquote.
Thus, it is our contention that the lack of fundamental religious human rights is the cause of instability in Tibet today. Under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people have chosen not to seek a violent path to find a resolution to the problem. The Chinese authorities cannot hope to resolve the Tibetan problem through control. In fact, such issues of religious freedom or human rights are mere symptoms of a bigger political problem. No Tibetan, including the Dalai Lama, feels any pleasure in working to resolve the Tibetan issue. The Dalai Lama rightly believes that once there is a lasting mutually satisfactory solution through negotiations, these issues will get resolved in a natural process.
It is important, therefore, that the United States plays an effective role in supporting the Dalai Lama's endeavor. As the United States government said in its annual Report on Tibet negotiations - and I quote - "The Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner as China deals with the difficult challenges of regional and national stability. He represents the views of the vast majority of Tibetans and his moral authority helps to unite the Tibetan community inside and outside of China. China's engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interest of both the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. At the same time, the lack of resolution of these problems leads to greater tensions inside China and will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States and other nations," unquote.
Specifically, establishing religious freedom in Tibet requires deep structural and systematic changes in China's policies in Tibet. I would like to conclude by repeating here some recommendations that the International Campaign for Tibet has to bring about a change in the condition of Tibetan religious practitioners.
First, immediate and unconditional release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family. The Panchen Lama must be allowed to return to monastery, Tashi Lhunpo, and be allowed to receive traditional religious education; second, immediate and unconditional release of all religious prisoners of conscience; third, restoration of complete religious freedom to the Tibetan religious practitioners, including in the matters of search and recognition of reincarnations; fourth, abolish minimum age requirements for entering a monastery or nunnery; fifth, halt the use of work teams in monasteries and nunneries.
MS. GAER. Thank you very much.
Well, these are certainly a number of extremely distressing cases and very important testimonies and I thank you, again, all of you for presenting that. We're going to have a round or two of question and answers to the panelists and then we'll follow that by the second panel, which is patiently waiting.
The first question I have, and then I'll ask the other commissioners, is a three-part question. What has struck me from all of the testimonies is the incommunicado nature of each of the prisoners that you have described. Certainly that's most clearly the case, I think, in the last presentation. But I'd like to ask each of the panelists if you could just clarify for us, when was the prisoner you spoke about last seen, and do you know the exact location? Pastor Wang, Su Zhimin - I think I understood you clearly, Mr. Kung, about the difficulty of knowing that, but I'd appreciate for the record, if you could just clarify. Mrs. Telenbidaeva, your husband, you've heard from authorities in or from people in Kashgar, relatives, but it wasn't clear to me if you know where he is located and when he was last seen. The same question for Mr. Zhang on Bu Dongwei. And if you wanted to add anything to that, Mr. Tsering, I'd appreciate it that.
And the corollary to that question is whether relatives or foreign international human rights experts or government representatives have asked to visit that individual. Again, Mrs. Telenbidaeva gave us a complete account of those efforts by the Canadians but I thought it would be helpful for us to understand if any of these people have been seen, what their location is, and whether relatives have asked for them or international human rights experts have asked to visit?
And finally, has there been a difference in the United States' policy with regard to seeking the release or seeking to visit any of these five principal prisoners that we've been talking about in the course of the last several years since the United States stopped presenting resolutions at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights? I'd appreciate it if you could just characterize that. So that's a question for each of the panelists, and then I turn the floor over to the other commissioners for their questions.
I apologize; I was supposed to invite Alim Seytoff for comments regarding the situation of the Uyghur Muslims. So thank you for joining us. He is with the Uyghur American Foundation. But I thought we could go in order with Mr. Fu first on my questions about when they were last seen, et cetera.
BOB FU: For most of the cases that we received, the persecution - I mean, the persecuted pastors that are arrested, we pretty much know where they are held in terms of detention center, then they're sentenced. We pretty much know their prison.
MS. GAER: Specific case of Pastor Wang?
MR. FU: Mm-hmm. Yes. So we know where he's being held. And in terms of the question regarding whether the case is raised by the U.S. government, I don't know. I don't know whether - but in the case of - like the Xiaoshan, the church pastors, the eight pastors were destroyed - I mean, the church destroyed, the eight pastors were sentenced, I don't know. Both the U.S. embassy and consulate in Shanghai have tried, you know, sending officials to go there but they were prohibited to attend the hearing or to know more, yeah.
MR. KUNG: Usually when people are arrested, we know where they went the first time - the first day - the first night. And then later on, they move the prisoners around and then we lost track of them. So there are a number of other agencies asking people to write letters to certain - (inaudible) - and so forth, and I receive them and I tell myself and also tell them, that's not true, because they're not there or they were there three years ago but they're not there anymore. So you have to be very careful.
But how much does the United States government know of all these arrests? Let me put it this way: I think they ought to know because at least when we make a press release, all the major media pick up, like Reuters, like AAP, like Associated Press. And anybody who reads newspaper or use - you read the email, and so forth, they should be able to know how many people got arrested. And unfortunately, I do not hear anything - feedback as much as I'd like to hear.
MS. TELENBIDAEVA: He was arrested in Uzbekistan. And Canadian officials see him twice, and it was April and last time was May 9th. And after they deport him to China, no one see him and then no one knows where he is by his detaining, where he's detaining. Even his family, they are not given any information for his family.
MR. ZHANG: In terms of the case of Mr. Bu Dongwei, he was last seen on May 19, 2006 and recently he was sentenced two and half year in labor camp. And it's probably likely in Beijing. There's a lot of press report like AP and AAP and coverage of this story because he worked for Asia Foundation. We are not aware of any effort from this government nor Asia Foundation to help rescue Mr. Bu.
MR. TSERING: On May 14, 1995, the Dalai Lama announced his recognition of the Panchen Lama. A few days thereafter, the Chinese authorities reportedly detained the Panchen Lama and his family. To date, we don't know where they are or their conditions.
MS. GAER: To your knowledge, has anyone visited any of them?
MR. TSERING: We don't know of anyone who has been able to be visit the family but we know that many governments have expressed their concern at the well being of the Panchen Lama.
MS. GAER: (Off mike.)
MR. TSERING: No.
MS. GAER: Alim, did you have a comment on this?
ALIM SEYTOF: No, thank you.
MS. GAER: Okay.
MR.KUNG: Could I add one more -
MS. GAER: Very quickly.
MR. KUNG: I have a case - an asylum case and the judge wanted to verify asylum case that was from an underground church. So the judge sent a letter to the American consulate in China, asked them to investigate and authenticate the whole thing. Do you know what happened? The American consulate checked with the Patriotic Association instead of check with the underground church, so the answer came back is of course negative: We never heard of him. So these kind of things have to be brought up.
MS. GAER: Thank you very much; a very telling example and a problem.
I'm now going to turn the floor over to Commissioner Cromartie, who has some questions, and then we'll go through the rest of the panel and come around again.
MICHAEL CROMARTIE: Well, I just have one question to begin with, right now for Bob Fu.
Bob, the question would be this: What would have to happen in China, with the government in China, for the various Protestant groups that you know of to co-exist and work with the government-sanctioned Three-Self church? In other words, what are the preconditions and requirements that you think those churches would demand before they'd work with the government church?
MR. FU: Actually, you know, it's really not a matter of registration or not registration. First of all, the unregistered independent house churches, their true concern that for registration is exactly that when they try to register, their only choice they are asked is to join the government-sanctioned church. I think that's the condition. If they are not, you know, asked to join the government-sanctioned church, or TSPM, you know, Three-Self Patriotic Movement Association, and the - you know, the registration will be volunteer not instead of, you know, coercive, I think, you know, the Protestant house churches are willing to try to register.
And in fact, in Beijing there's a one large house church called So Wong (ph) church with over 300 members, with many intellectuals. The congregation actually passed a resolution in 2005 to authorize the church committee to register in the Beijing government. But unfortunately, after two years in the rule, they had a committee for filing all the papers; their application was denied - two years, I mean, twice. And actually, instead of being registered, the pastor was interrogated, the elders were taken to the police station, and their Christmas celebration was blocked this past Christmas.
So that's the type of result and fear, you know, if once they registered.
MS. GAER: Commissioner Land.
RICHARD LAND: Yes, this is a question for all of you who would choose to answer it.
Our commission has expressed particular interest in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as a point of possible leverage on the human rights situation in China. What has China done to improve its international image in preparation for the games and how has Olympic preparation affected religious communities, if it has, and what can be done? What ideas do you have for what can be done with the Olympics to highlight religious freedom and related human rights conditions in China to shine the spotlight on it? And I'd be happy to hear from any and all of you on that issue.
MR. FU: I can point to one very specific example. I think the Chinese government is trying change its image, at least a positive step, with one of over - advisory board member of China Aid Association, Mrs. Deborah Fikes, and she paid a visit to China last week and, of course, with the coordination and help from Ambassador Randt over there, she was able to meet with the deputy Chinese foreign minister and the national director of Religious Affairs Bureau. Mr. Ye Shu Wen (ph) also hosted a luncheon meeting with her. Of course, she's on her way back to the United States. I don't know whether there's any substantial discussion, but that's a positive step, of course, compared - you know, when she tried to talk to the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., she was even not allowed to get in, you know, last year. But other than that, I really don't know how much effort they have made.
MR. KUNG: I am not aware of any conversation between the underground Roman Catholic Church and any Chinese government official regarding the Olympic Games. However, every time we issue a press release, in my commentary I always mention about the Olympic Games as incompatibility of the principle of the Olympic Games and the ongoing persecution. I do this every time.
And I have a little paragraph, right here, in my long form here. I'd like quickly to read it. I said the goal of the Olympic Game is - I quote - "To build a peaceful and a better world through sport practice characterized by friendship, solidarity, and fair play. The open persecution of peaceful religious believers by an Olympic host country makes a mockery of this goal of the Olympic movement. Obviously the current Chinese government's religious policy is a direct opposite to the Olympic goal. Therefore, the spirit and the noble name of the Olympic Games are being downgraded and severely tarnished by their co-existence with the evil acts of religious persecution and human rights violations in China."
MS. TELENBIDAEVA: Yes, Alim Seytoff can explain.
MR. SEYTOFF: Okay. I have a comment, actually.
MR. : (Off mike.)
MR. SEYTOFF: Okay, thank you.
My comment is actually China's 2008 Olympics and the preparation of the Chinese government in a way is really affecting the Uyghur Muslims in East Turkistan, also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. And just three weeks ago, the Chinese party secretary Wan Lu Tran (ph) and he convened a meeting specifically about how to prevent Uyghurs, such as those Uyghurs who are going to Beijing maybe for business or other purposes, or to attend Olympics meetings, how to monitor them, their activities, and through our contacts we also learned that the Chinese police in Beijing, they're recruiting Uyghurs to become their police members there, so that in Beijing, especially before and during Olympics, they can specifically monitor those Uyghurs who live, work, and study in Beijing; also those Uyghurs who come to Beijing during that period. Thank you.
MR. ZSERING: I think with regards to the Tibetan people, we have reports that the Chinese authorities may try to use the opportunity of the Olympic Games to legitimize China's rule in Tibet, particularly using the logo of Mt. Everest. And we feel that the Olympic Games is an opportunity for the Chinese government to show itself as a responsible government, and this could be done specifically with the Tibetan issue by trying to find a resolution to the broader Tibetan problem. That is what we feel the Chinese authorities ought to be doing.
And in the case of our own organization, the International Campaign for Tibet, we have a specific campaign called Race for Tibet, which is linked to the Olympics, and there's a separate website. Race - yeah, R-A-C-E.
MR. ZHANG: As someone who was born in China, actually I'm honored that China has the opportunity to host the Olympic Games, but we have to remember that during the heydays of the Third Reich, Hitler used the Olympic Games to legitimize and to showcase his brutal expansion policy and also a policy of suppression against the Jews - Jewish people. And I just hope that history will not repeat itself today and the rest of the world is being silent about what is going on in terms of religious persecution in China.
MS. GAER: Thank you.
NINA SHEA: Thank you. I want to apologize for being delayed, but I want to assure you all that I have read your testimonies, and sadly, the contents are very familiar to me. It has been in part of what you have been tirelessly stating about your communities for years, and I want to commend all of you for your own tireless dedication to your communities' freedom in China.
I wanted to ask you each about the experience of your communities, if any, in Hong Kong. Now, some of you may not have representation in Hong Kong, I don't know, but we have observed that it's a freer environment for religion and spiritual expression than in mainland China itself, but if you could briefly describe for us what are some of the concerns that you have, what some of the problems the communities may face, but also some of the highlights, some of the differences in mainland - how it may be better, and whether you think that the example of Hong Kong could be better used by the United States and the international community and the commission, all of us, as perhaps an argument to the Chinese: here is a stable, prosperous place, Hong Kong, that hasn't descended into chaos because there's a relative religious freedom - whether you think that there may be a tactical value to raising Hong Kong with the Chinese government.
Maybe we could start - Bob, if you want to start and work our way down.
MR. FU: As far as I observed, I think after Hong Kong was handed over to China, the freedom, especially the religious freedom issue, I think the churches are pretty much maintained. I think your point is very good. If China regards Hong Kong as now a part of China, the Hong Kongese are part of the Chinese people, and why part of Chinese enjoy a very religious freedom protected by the International Covenant, and while the other, you know, majority of the Chinese are being discriminated and actually being persecuted, and I would really, you know, highly recommend, you know, this approach, I think, to the Chinese government to remind them their actually international obligations that they signed is not sort of you have one part of the territory different standard compared to other territories.
MS. SHEA: Had there been any arrests or church closings that you're aware of in Hong Kong in the Protestant - in the evangelical community?
MR. FU: Not that I am aware of.
MR. KUNG: One country, two systems; that's how they sell it. So Hong Kong is basically very free in religion, and as far as I'm aware of, there is no official - and I underline "official"- systems of Patriotic Association in Hong Kong, and there is no parish in Hong Kong officially report to the Patriotic Association. And all the parishes in Hong Kong Catholic community, they're reported to the bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen. So officially there is no Patriotic Association church.
Now, the question you may ask me, is there any influence of Patriotic Association in Hong Kong, and I'm afraid that there is an element of influence just like there is influence of Patriotic Association even in the United States. When you go to a parish church in the United States, when you see a Chinese priest is offering the mass, you never know the Chinese priest is religious (?) or nonreligious (?) or from the Catholic Church. And so we have to be very careful.
MR. ZHANG: In Hong Kong, Falun Gong is legal. However, there has been problems reported over the years that whenever Falun Gong is trying to hold events, to rent a facility, a theater or convention site, then they would be under pressure from PRC not to allow us to rent the facilities.
Just now Joseph mentioned the one country, two systems. Actually, this policy itself is quite a shameful policy for Beijing - an embarrassment, I should say - because if the political system, the social system in China is really superior, there wouldn't be a need for two policies, two systems and two treatment for the same Chinese people. I think it will be a good case for you to profile and to raise to the public in China about why people prefer to have two systems, not one system under Beijing.
MS. GAER: Thank you very much.
We're going to conclude this panel in one moment, but I wanted to ask a question that I hope you can answer with either a yes or a no or a seven-word response - very short, and that is, in March 2005, the government of China adopted or promulgated the National Regulations on Religious Affairs. They have called this a significant step forward and some legal scholars have as well. It has an attempt to codify various provisions that existed regarding religious activities and claims to protect, quote, unquote, "normal" religious activities in China. I'm wondering if you could tell me, have they helped protect your religious organization or the organization you know best from harassment, intimidation, or interference from state authorities? And perhaps we can begin with Alim. This can be a yes or no. I would be very happy for that.
MR. SEYTOFF: No, not at all.
MR. TSERING: No.
MR. ZHANG: No. You can never train a wolf to become a vegetarian.
MR. KUNG: I use American slang: Hell no. (Laughter.)
MR. FU: There is no progress. Actually, there is one even government-sanctioned church, the pastor was evicted with just a drive off just because that pastor issued the invitation to Hong Kong pastor to visit his church. So that is the new spirit of regulation.
MS. GAER: Thank you all very much for clarifying that. Thank you, Mr. Fu, Mr. Kung, Mrs. Telenbidaeva, Mr. Zhang, Mr. Tsering, and Alim.
We now invite the second panel to take their places at the table. This panel will - and so I thank you all, and invite you to withdraw, those who are there. Oh, all right. Good. Let me introduce them as they are coming to the table. They are Mr. Michael Green and Ms. Sharon Hom. Michael Green was here, but he just may have stepped out. But I'm sure we'll find him. He has just come back in, and I invite you, Mr. Green, to take the table, and Ms. Hom.
Michael Green currently holds the position of Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And he also works - thank you for joining us - he also works as an associate professor of international relations at Georgetown University here in Washington. He previously served as special assistant to the president for national security affairs and was senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council from January 2004 to December 2005. Some of you may note that that was during the period when President Hu visited the U.S. and when President Bush visited China. Mr. Green joined the NSC in April 2001 as director of Asian affairs. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Institute for International Security Studies, the IISS in London.
Sharon Hom, our second panelist, became executive director at Human Rights in China in January 2003. She has more than 14 years of experience in U.S.-China law training and legal exchange initiatives. Sharon has participated in numerous non-governmental organization, corporate, multilateral, and bilateral consultations and workshops for advancement of human rights issues and rule of law in China. She is a member of the advisory board of Human Rights Watch, Asia, and serves on the committees on Asian affairs and international human rights of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
I think them both for joining us, and we are going to ask Mr. Green to speak first, and then Ms. Hom. The floor is yours.
MICHAEL GREEN: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for holding this important hearing and for the work the commission does. I have been out of the White House for one year. I was there for five years. My responsibilities stretched from Pakistan to Japan and issues ranging from civil nuclear cooperation with India to the six-party talks with North Korea to APEC trade issues. It was a broad agenda.
But within that, I spent a significant amount of time on the issue we're talking about today, religious freedom in China because it was important to U.S. China relations, and because it was very, very important to President George W. Bush, as Michael Cromartie knows well, and to other senior people I work for, like Condoleezza Rice. This, as you can imagine, came from deep personal faith for the president, but also from I think a strategic recognition that managing China's growing importance in international affairs was going to take a very well-developed and disciplined strategy
There is really no precedent in history for a nation growing in this rapid manner and its influence, and its impact on world affairs. And expressing and pursuing U.S. values, whether it's human rights, democracy, or religious freedom, is not an a la carte or optional issue when it comes to China; it's absolutely central to our interests. In other words, I think the president and others I work with recognize that religious freedom was a strategic issue, in effect, that we were, in our dialogue and in our behavior, shaping China's choices. We are not containing China. The U.S. doesn't have a policy containing China. We are trying to encourage China to be what Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick called a more responsible stakeholder, and that means the signals we send - the standards we hold need to be consistent and thoughtful and with an eye to the future.
When we prepared briefing books for President Bush for his meetings with President Jiang or with President Hu, we usually had five very large baskets of issues. They were the longest briefing books, except, perhaps, for the meetings with Tony Blair. And the issues were typically Taiwan, human rights and religious freedom, trade, North Korea, and then the - what we like to call the company China keeps, China's increasing importance in issues such as Darfur and Sudan, and so forth.
And I think for the president, certainly for us in the National Security Council, it was a matter of principle and of discipline to make sure that we did not drop the ball on any five of these categories. The last thing we wanted to do was have the Chinese think that we would be willing to compromise on human rights to get progress in North Korea, or that we would be willing to compromise on our obligations to Taiwan to get progress on trade.
And as a result, the president always raised all of these issues, made a point of it. And in particular, I can tell you on the issues related to the Dalai Lama, the Vatican, house churches, and religious - freedom of religious worship, broadly, it was important for them to know that it was constantly on his agenda. When we had the human rights commission, there were some in the administration who thought we should not move forward because, as you know, we were procedurally defeated very time by Beijing, but it was -
MS. GAER: Except 1995.
MR. GREEN: Sorry?
MS. GAER: Except 1995.
MR. GREEN: Except 1995. We, the Bush administration, were procedurally defeated through no fault of our own but because the Chinese had that kind of buying power around the world. But we nevertheless thought putting them on the paper was very, very important. In 2004, there was some question - well, should we be doing this as we're trying to get China to help us with North Korea, and the answer was yes; that is precisely the time we need to be consistent, and as a result we pushed quite hard, and I think with some effect because though the Chinese defeated it procedurally, it really bothered them, and it got their attention. It got the attention of the rest of the world.
The other thing I think that was important as part of this, in terms of a disciplined policy - you know, make it part of the comprehensive strategic message China hears, consistent with our desire to have improved U.S.-China relations. That is important. Face matters, and the Chinese always believe that President Bush, Secretary Rice, Bob Zoellick, wanted to improve U.S.-China relations, and this was happening in that context.
But the other aspect of it was highlighting the abuses, highlight the problems, as you're doing here, as you did in your report in December, as the House did in its 2006 June resolution, as the president did when he met with house church leaders in the oval office last may, or when he met with the Dalai Lama. And that is important to highlight, to spotlight, to make sure things comes to light.
The harder aspect in many ways, and I think what I can perhaps help the commission think through, is how you get traction with the Chinese leadership, how you go from spotlighting the problem to actually getting the Chinese to engage on it. And that takes a combination of pressure, embarrassment, but also some incentives, and some explanation of why it's in China's interests.
For his part, the president was I thought very effective at explaining to his counterparts, whether it was President Jiang or President Hu, that religious freedom was in China's interests, that China's enormous societal changes with economic modernization could not be managed by the toolkit that the Communist Party had, and that they had to think more broadly about civil society, about freedom of speech, and about religious freedom. And the president would speak of his own personal faith, and his own - its importance in his life. And I think that resonated. I think the Chinese took it seriously.
Jiang Zemin read the Bible on his way to Crawford because he knew the president would talk about it. He said - you know, he didn't get it, but he enjoyed reading it. (Laughter.) You know, at least he - at least he was engaged; at least he tried. And I think that the president's putting this in the context of what was good for China was important.
There was progress I think; there was resonance. The Chinese leadership felt they had to respond to it. Things, as you suggested, Madam Chairman, in your opening statement, things suddenly got very dry, very cold about a year-and-a-half ago, quite noticeably, across the range of issues from civil society to religious freedom to press freedom. It's too bad that Professor Nathan isn't today. You know, Andrew Nathan. He follows these things closely and could give a more nuance explanation than I can. But I think there are a number of reasons why we confronted this, why we hit this.
And I should first say that it's not all bad news, as one of your earlier witnesses suggested. At a local level, there is some more tolerance for house church worship. There is review and better procedures for death-penalty sentencing. There are a few things you can point to, but overall it's a somewhat chilling environment. On the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government is essentially doing nothing. Rebiya Kadir's family is under, as you know, intense pressure. The Vatican has been quite forthcoming and tried to move on their issues, and Beijing has not been responsive, and the list goes on.
I think part of it is that - it's not that the U.S. president or secretary of State is any less committed to this issue, and it's not that we don't have good people like Paula Dobriansky or John Hanford or my successor, Dennis Wilder, who cared deeply and worked very hard on this issue. I think there are some structural problems that we can hopefully fix. One is that we don't have the U.N., the Commission on Human Rights. I mean, the switch to this new format has made it much harder procedurally to put this in the docket to get it on the agenda every spring as we did. We don't have that, and I think we miss it.
The second issue I think is unique to China, but as they approach the 17th Party Congress, there is a typical pattern of a chilling and authoritarian crackdown before the party congresses. Hu Jintao, as you mentioned, is emphasizing a harmonious society. You know, Hu Jintao is, from my perspective, and a lot of people who work these issues in the government, pretty good on North Korea, and better than Jiang was on economic issues and intellectual property rights. He brings some new thinking on some important issues to the U.S.
I fear that on the issues of importance to this commission, though, he is not quite as engaged as Jiang Zemin, and I've asked senior Chinese officials why this is, and they, you know, making sure no one was around to hear it said, basically, President Hu has been captured by ministry of state security and other conservative elements who are arguing that colored revolutions threaten peaceful harmonies, threaten stability, and that religious organizations that they can't control or civil societies or NGOs represent a threat. And he is open to that thinking. He is prone to believe it, given his own background. That is a problem for us.
Our diplomacy is not structured right. And you I think correctly pointed this out in your report. The economic strategy dialogue of Secretary Pauslon at Treasury is a very good thing, and is a way we can get some good progress. But we lost what we had with Bob Zoellick, which was a strategic dialogue or a senior dialogue, as he called it, on all of the other issues that go under this heading of stakeholder, and that includes religious freedom. And I think that is a problem.
I noticed I was out of government when President Hu came in April, but I did go out to Seattle as part of the group of academics and former officials who met with him out there. The atmosphere was completely different from Washington. Microsoft, Boeing, you know, feted Hu Jintao. He heard nothing in Seattle except for me and one or two other participants about - the Chinese delegation heard very little about human rights, religion, North Korea. There were two visits he had, and so - and the messages were very different. There was the business message, and there was, I suppose you could say, the political message. And that is something that is going to be hard for us to manage.
Our friends and allies around the world, the Europeans, the Japanese, the Indians, are much more engaged with us in thinking about how to deal with the rise of China. The Europeans, in particular, are concerned about China's behavior in Africa, and so forth. But religious freedom is clearly not as high a priority for many of our democratic allies as it is for us, and how we mobilize or incentivize them to help is an issue.
And finally, I hesitate to say this, having worked in the administration, I don't think it is a - the major problem, but it is a problem. We suffer a bit in our dialogue with China because of issues like Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay. And I say that with some pain, and I don't think it is the main issue, and I don't buy arguments that the U.S. has lost moral authority. But as a tactical matter, as you all have seen, they throw this back in our face, and I think it empowers those within the Chinese debate who argue that they don't need to really deal with us on this, and we have to find a way around that.
You know, I think your commission has pointed to many of the ways around this. We need to broaden the dialogue on how we promote religious freedom in China beyond the legislative and administrative branches to include NGOs, to include business who are sending signals that matter, also to include our allies. It needs to be part of our transatlantic strategic dialogue with Europe about China.
The new - presumed, I assume new deputy secretary, John Negroponte, will, I believe, restart the senior dialogue with China. As you recommended, this has to be part of the main theme that he addresses. And I think we need to make certain that, as we conduct the North Korea diplomacy, which involved many, many visits to China by our assistant and undersecretaries of State, that the talking points have the discipline to include not just North Korea; they need to be hearing this regularly. These are some tactical, some organizational points. I think they will help.
We do have this fundamental problem with the 17th Party Congress. I think you're right about the Olympics, and if we can organize across business and governmental lines to send a consistent message on how the Olympics would be perceived, I would - with apologies to my friends now in the embassy, because this would be tough to orchestrate. But I would like to see a letter from George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, Manmohan Singh about religious freedom in the context of the Olympics, for example. I think we need to be sending, as much as possible, constant messages.
And finally, I noticed that the commission thinks that we should not remove Vietnam from the country of particular concerns, and I know we're not here to talk about Vietnam. I spent a lot of time on Vietnam, and I would just end with this footnote. I think we ought to consider what signals we send when have pass-fail - I'm a professor of Georgetown; I think in these terms now - rather than grades. And I think that there is - I think there is some relevance to China for how we deal with Vietnam.
And I think that taking Vietnam off the CPC list shows that we're not just interested in shaming and blaming, that we are interested in working with governments. Vietnam engaged at the highest levels to do these things, and I would just offer that for your consideration, and thank you for inviting me today.
MS. GAER: Thank you very much for joining us. We will be back to you on all of those issues after our next panelist, Sharon Hom. Thank you for joining us.
SHARON HOM: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair. You have my - I want to thank the commission for inviting Human Rights in China to offer our thoughts. Because you have my written statement in front of you, what I would like to do is use my speaking time to expand on the discussion - I would like to address some of the questions that have already been posed by the commissioners as well. So what I'll do is - you won't be following me with responsive reading on my statement. (Chuckles.) I'll be moving around, and at the risk of coherence, I think at least it will be right to the point; it will be more relevant.
I think that the question that Professor Green really addressed on this question of attraction is the question, how to get greater attraction on the human rights question, and it has never been more urgent and timely. Human Rights in China, in particular, in the last three years, we have been very involved in the EU-China dialogue, sometimes with greater and lesser success personally. We have been very involved with the U.S. government engagement with China. We have been very engaged in the U.N. processes with greater or lesser success with the Chinese slamming the door, but we have somehow maintained our presence inside.
And we have also been very involved in the Berne process, and that is extremely important because there are no really effective tools. Many of the tools in policies in baskets, when you come down to the bottom line, the really isn't much attraction. You're beyond a few hostage releases and the raising and urgent. The reality is governments, the U.N., the multilaterals, everyone is frustrated and really feeling, as Commissioner Shea said, this is unfortunately what we know. It's the same story; it's getting worse. The powerful testimonies and the other - and the panel before this one really underscores it; the situation is getting worse. And it hasn't been only in the past year-and-a-half; it has been consistently getting worse.
So the real question is, how are we going to think about it? And so I originally had three points but because time is short, I'm going to speed through the first two and get to the real one. The point I was going to make was the point about information; the second one about framework, and the third one about the strategy. I'm going to speed through the first two because I want to talk about strategy.
The first, information: In order to really understand and have an accurate assessment of the human rights situation, we need to know and understand what we know and what we don't know, and why. Secondly, on framework, we were very pleased to see this commission really last year, or I think the year before - was looking at the bi-laterals and trying to link the bilateral strategy with the multilateral strategies because there has been some de-linking with - and you can see that, that the Chinese government in particular has been pushing for the de-linking. And they have also been pushing a great deal of pressure on processes where governments are sharing information, as in the Berne process.
We participated in the Berne process meeting, just the last one, in which the U.S. government also participated. That is about over a dozen governments convened by the Swiss government sharing their experience in their bilateral engagements with China. The poor Swiss government had been convening that meeting alone for many, many years, and the Chinese government got very upset, and basically cancelled all of their cooperation programs as part of a threat that they should discontinue the process.
So there was a lot of nervousness before the last meeting, and many of the governments felt that perhaps we should discontinue the process because China was so upset that these unfriendly governments were getting together in the same room and plotting, and et cetera, et cetera. Well, our main message there was, well, if you're having no tools that are getting any attraction, and many of your processes are not getting a response, maybe you should ask why the government of China might be concerned about 12 foreign governments getting together and sharing their lists, their case lists, and their strategies. It's because maybe it might have some attraction.
So we were pushing for them not to back down in the face of really thug-ism and bully-ism. And so we understand it will be made public soon, that the chair the Berne process meeting will rotate so different governments may take the hot seat rather than have the poor Swiss government go it alone out there in you know, "igloo (?) city."
So the important thing about information is, despite all of, as you know, the overarching state secret system, the use - the extensive use of police and security apparatus, and the most sophisticated state-of-the arts architecture of surveillance in the world right now, surveillance and censorship in the world, despite all of that, you still have the very powerful testimonies you heard today, and that is because despite all of the legal and social and political, and - they can't silence the human voices, and that is why there is hope in China.
When we think about strategy, I really appreciated Chairwoman Gaer's point about human voices - is that every strategy, this is one of the litmus test, whether it's policy or at any level, does the policy support the strengthening of the voices inside China and the groups in China. Is it sending the message - not just the message of geopolitical pressure? Is it sending the message of expanding the space inside? That really is the key litmus test. And you would be amazed, if you actually apply that, how many policies fail that test.
The numerous missions to China, including, by this mission - and I would like to take the chance publicly to thank the commission for a very good report in really a wide, I think broader framework for thinking about it, and I hope to support some of that and echo some of that framework and our recommendations, but the numerous missions that have gone to China - this mission, U.S. government missions, U.N. bodies and mechanisms, independent monitors, all of these missions - and I think this echoes the experience of your visit, all of these missions were constrained by limited access and official surveillance.
Manfred Nowak, the special rapporteur on tortured stated after his visit in China, he pointed out that his visit throughout the visit was obstructed, and he was under surveillance by intelligence personnel. He noted a pervasive climate of fear. And he was his own staff and mission, and the members and victim families he tried to meet with were intimidated by security personnel. And as you know, the official response to his report was it was untrue, and that it was - his report was based on limited, partial.
So this is the bottom line: the general consensus - this is what we do know. It's all hardening, it's going to get harder, and in the lead-up to the 17th Community Party congress, and in the lead up to the Olympics, it will get harder. But I'm going to suggest something more complicated. It's going to get harder, and there are very specific windows of opportunities that we have been trying hard to exploit, and perhaps something that the commission, we would urge you to think about.
I won't - I have elaborated in the testimony about the Tiananmen bargain. That is the don't ask, get rich, be quiet. That is falling apart clearly because the - you cannot have 700, 800, 900 million people be left behind and say that the bargain will hold because that is what is happening. And so this is why you're getting the Hu Jintao government not only intensifying crack downs and repression, but trying to uphold the legitimacy of the government by now wrapping itself in a new popularism, and rhetoric about concern about the growing social inequity.
But I think one should distinguish between general concern about social inequalities, and a rhetorical strategy to address the growing social protest and unrest because the bottom line is the political and economic elites have no incentives to reform. You cannot have over 95 percent of the billionaires in China be party members or family relatives of high-party members and expect to incentivize them to say, give it up; they won't. So we're not going to really get people who are in economic and political power to say give up that power and give up your access to all of that. So it's going to become much more complicated.
So let me move to framework and strategy. In terms of framework, this commission's framing of the topic of this hearing already encompasses what we want to say, which is that religious repression must be addressed, analyzed, strategized within the broader context of human rights violations, crackdowns, and the lack of this independent and transparent rule of law. And I want to tunnel down a little bit so it doesn't stay at such a level of jargon and rhetoric.
What we have in China with respect to this broader framework is that you can think of it two different ways. One is - think of it as an individual, that is, maintaining attention to the human cost, the individual cases, the case list, which, by the way, the Chinese government has very clearly told this government, as well as all of the other governments, they are not taking case lists any more. They don't want lists. Now, the Chinese way of saving face is no lists, but if you ask about this case, then we'll talk about it. Okay, then you can say, what about this case? Well, now what we do about that case? But you can't give it as a list. That is part of their hard line - you know. We are not going to deal with cases. And they are essentially not able to do that with the U.N. mechanisms, but with the cases that we're submitting, we are finding that they are responding to those cases.
The specific steps that have been taken by the authorities, including media restrictions, and limiting the ability of people, that is what is at stake. A key factor, why the government has cracked down so viciously on Falun Gong, and on the underground and non-state-sanctioned groups is really because of their ability to stay organized. The greatest fear is organization, that they are able to mobilize and organize. So what you see happening from every single quarter, media regulations, the new limits on petitioning, and the guiding opinion on lawyers handling collective cases, all of these are closing the space for collective action. That is, even if you try to bring a collective case, that is more than 10 people. You have to get guidance and supervision from the judicial administrative organ. So in every level, you are seeing this cracking down.
I wanted to make a quick footnote on the chair's question about the new religious freedom in 2005 regs. There are four problems wrong with those regulations as they have been implemented. One is that religious affairs in the - well, Chinese Sing Jian (sp), inner Mongolia, or Tibet, are still perceived as national security problems, and therefore fight against separatism and anti-state activity, all of that is still going hand in hand. So those - you know, that is just - it's trumping the regs.
Secondly, past regulations that have been used to persecute and drive underground groups, labeled evil cults, such as Falun Gong still remain in place. So what are you going to do with these regs if the old repressive regs are still in place? Third, even for approved religions, invasive controls are still in place, and these controls are, for example, you can't sing religious hymns in public. You can't have children in religious - you know, et cetera, et cetera.
Finally, individual worship still remains limited. So you have these regulations but the actual reality is much more restrictive, and that underscores my next point, which is that what you have in China is not a rule by law, an efau (ph); it's a rule by law, not a rule of law. And they actually say it. They say it in Chinese, and it's meant, use law to rule. It doesn't say rule of law, not fachur (ph); it's efau dru guau (ph), and it's like there is no - there is no hiding the ball here. It's just if you see it, that they very clearly intend to use law to maintain control, and most importantly, to maintain the party's control.
There is a Trojan Horse problem, and the Trojan Horse problem is using what looks like legitimate regulatory aims of government. For example, anti-money laundering; that looks like there is a legitimate aim of government. But in fact, this is the Trojan horse problem of using regulation, which people can't contest, like, anti-terrorism, for example, but in fact, the net will be much, much wider. So if you look very closely at the new regs on anti-money laundering, it is very clearly an intent to chill and make very difficult not only transfer of money and other support between domestic and overseas groups. It is a very vague and draws a very large net.
So let me go to strategy so we have some time for questions. The access points for China, how we might get a little more leverage, has to include the tangible bargaining chips, as well as intangibles. And I think that intangibles seems to be something that is not as heavily strategized, I think part because of the cultural difference between Chinese and U.S. culture or American culture.
And the one key intangible that I think you can get a lot more attraction on is China's really strong desire to be viewed as a respected member of the club - you know, that we are modern, et cetera. A smooth and successful Olympics is paramount to the Chinese government. And Commissioner Land had asked the question, well, what about the preparations? The preparations are quite expensive beyond construction of venues, which you all know bout it - massive dislocations of people and communities.
They have built the most sophisticated security system where many of the security companies who are building beta systems are testing it for Beijing. So this is really science fiction stuff, but it's really biometerics of the most sophisticated. And if you look at the list of companies that went home from the Beijing police exposition, 2006, many of them are U.S. companies and they went home with contracts to build various parts of various security systems.
So you have the venue constructions, you have the security system. We have suggested to the European - the EU government, in particular, that they should be careful because in the EU, they have a data privacy protection regime. One might think about it in the context of the U.S. government. Every one of the projected 800,000 foreign visitors, and 1 million domestic Chinese visitors to Beijing will go through security systems that are collect biometric data. So all of your biometric data, your retinal scans, your - all will be in some database, and given what we can imagine of what the Chinese do with this very sophisticated database, I think we should start asking questions - what will happen to all of that data?
The third part of preparation has to do with the PR. China has initiated many campaigns aimed at repackaging China to change public. There is a new code of conduct that has been promoted. No spitting, no slurping of soup, no littering, how to stand in line in a really cultured way, and the massive one is teaching residence to speak English. They are recruiting over 30, 40,000 that they would like to be fluent by 2008 to welcome the foreign guests.
If you would like to see the kinds of English and freedom of expression that is being promoted, I commend you to the Beijing Olympics site, the city site and lesson seven. And this lesson seven is titled, "Agreement and Disagreement." And so the foreign guest says to the Chinese bilingual person, I understand your country has many problems. Answer, I don't think so. And that is the answer. So that is not going to encourage a real information flow.
This repackaging has been with the help of foreign consultants, filmmakers, lawyers, advertising firms. And let me also say that many of these firms, we have them on our website. They are U.S.-based firms. If the U.S. Congress, if U.S. policymakers wants to think about how you might make a difference, we can take a page out of February hearings with the IT companies, for example, which then triggered a lot of discussion more seriously when regulatory initiatives were put on the table.
You might be interested to know that despite the new media regulations that were passed guaranteeing or purporting to guarantee foreign journalists total free access. Ogilvie, a very big - has been hired to conduct training sessions for local governments to teach them how to have gentler approaches to media control for foreign journalists. So this is all being quite managed by that.
The two major law firms that are involved in representing all of the Olympic contracts, Morrison and Foster, or if you go to their website, mofo, for short, and King and Wood - Morrison and Foster, as you know, was able to get the Beijing Olympic contracts by dumping all of their Tibetan asylum cases, their pro-bono cases. And when they dumped the Tibetan asylum cases, miraculously, they got the Beijing Olympics contract, which is quite lucrative, I don't need to say.
So I think that both these, as very big, large corporate law firms - now, I'm a lawyer, so I don't want to do lawyer trashing, but I think it's extremely important that law firms also have public service responsibilities, and there may be a very interesting exchange and discussion that might happen, and we are trying to do that at the bar association as well. So that is one.
Now, in this repackaging, there is a very tricky balancing that is happening. We should stop thinking about China because that is where we don't get traction. It is not monolithic; it is not monolithic. And here is where the fault lines are. There is - and how you exploit them. There are real tensions between the party at the local and the center level. You are having real competition between Beijing and Shanghai, and Guangzhou is getting everyone quite nervous there in the South. You have very - still persistent within the party and the think tanks, reformist voices that continue to articulate a different vision and policy than the Hu Jintao policy.
And so for the - how you might in the crevices of that balancing act, which is that the Chinese government is trying to maintain control, at the same time that they have to respond to international pressure, at the same time that they have to deal with domestic pressure, one thing you can do is to exploit this need to make sure the Olympics is smooth.
But Zhang Erping mentioned something that was very important, and let me highlight that - Chinese backlash, Chinese nationalism. So that is extremely important that any Olympic strategy cannot be only within a U.S.-centric international frame. For an Olympic strategy to be successful, you have to have in the picture Chinese nationalism, which could really have some really bad back blow.
Let me end - there are a number of quick recommendations that we have been targeting the Chinese government, but the U.S. government can play a very important role in giving these recommendations in promoting particularly our legislative and structural reforms through your high-level dialogues, through your technical assistance and exchange programs, and your other interactions with the Chinese government.
Delivering on promises to the international community. The Olympics, in addition to what is already said, it is not only the general Olympic goal and the Olympic values. The Beijing government in hosting the Olympics made very specific Beijing Olympics promises. No one has asked for them to report on compliance with those promises. They have done a whole survey of that if you would like to see. The bottom line is none of the promises have been complied with, and it's based on their city plan that they submitted.
In order to host the Olympics, they had to say, we promise - and among the areas were greater access to the Internet, improvement of social welfare, a green Olympics. They are supposed to submit a public progress report. They haven't done that. We urge you to ask them to do that, and match it not to general vague benchmarks, to the specific promises. And ask for a green Olympics. Green is a very popular color, as you know, now in China - green Olympics, green Internet, green this, green that. You know, they have to come up with a better plan than plan A for the environment. The plan A for meeting the environmental standards was to shut down everything for six weeks or so before so the air quality would improve. That is not a good plan.
Secondly, we are about to come out with our final report on the state secret system. We have very specific recommendations on reforms of the whole structure. And that will be next month. And we urge you to support those.
And then finally, on the U.S. government, I hesitate to put this in, given that I might - we might be overstepping here. We recognize the difficulties of this, but I'll put it out anyway. We think it's really important the U.S. government as a whole might undertake more interagency or cross-department consultations on how best to get more attraction from these window of opportunities. The next two years is really going to be it. Perhaps a joint strategic hearing of the diverse U.S. government bodies that have a specific China or related mission. We know the different bodies. This one, the CECC, all of the others, have different mission. But like the Berne process, there is something very useful about sharing the different experiences. The process and the format is less important than information sharing and the joint development of strategy.
The point about - the last point is, is that the government, U.S. government has to develop more effective responses to the Chinese strategy of criticizing the U.S. government, and that is, when the Chinese government says here is our white paper, citing many human rights NGO - and they did a pretty good job in the human rights white paper - so maybe they are all learning something about human rights norms. Good for them. But - and when they say Guantanamo Bay, which they said in big caps in Geneva over and over and over, I want to suggest one different response that you might explore and really push, and this is the response to the Chinese position on the ICCPR ratification, which is one of your recommendations.
The Chinese response generally is, look, you, U.S. government ratified the ICCPR in - you signed it in 1977 and you didn't ratify it until 1992, and you still haven't even ratified the - you know, the - the international covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights. So they say those two arguments. The third argument they say is, look, many of our laws are not consistent with the ICCPR, so we are trying to conform our laws, and then we'll ratify, and here is the answer to that.
This is the answer: You ratified and acceded to the WTO when massive, thousands and thousands of your domestic regulations were completely out of compliance with WTO accession protocols, completely out of compliance. Then what they did was, after they ratified and were acceded to the WTO, they spent three to five yeas fixing all the law, and they had foreign governments and foreign consultants reviewing the local legislation. They never claimed sovereign immunity; they never claimed any of these things. They allowed this kind of interventionist thing. And I would just say, WTO. I think that would be extremely important.
I'm sorry to go on for so long. Let me thank you for your interest. I hope we can have some time for questions and exchange.
MS. GAER: Thank you very much. We have, I'm told, 25 more minutes before we're actually physically be carried out of the room. So we will try to keep the Q&A within that, and I appreciate your good patience on this. If I may begin, first of all, thank you both. This was extremely valuable and very enormously helpful insights. I was very struck by - Mr. Green, by your comment at the end about the multilateral fora, and when you spoke about how this is - this had been essential in getting the issue routinely onto the agenda, getting questions asked, getting attention and resources paid to issues of human rights in China.
And you said, and I quote, "We don't have it and we miss it," unquote. I'm wondering if you could tie that issue together with, number one, the question of the U.S. membership on the Human Rights Council. Does it make a difference? I think I'm leading the witness, but I'm doing it deliberately, and I also appreciate if Sharon should comment on that. And if, in that context, you could also comment on the Berne process, the dialogue process - has this replaced multilateral fora in human rights, or is it just that - are we more organized or less organized on these issues? Thank you.
MR. GREEN: I'm not trying to be evasive. I don't know if it would make a difference if we joined the council. I know that with the commission, there was a deadline, there was a timetable; there was a process. It was well worn, it was well understood, and it began, as you know, sort of in the fall culminating in March or so with the big debate procedurally about what would be tabled. And the Chinese had to engage us on that constantly and at the highest levels because they hated it. And because it was a multilateral process and because it involved our European allies, and Japan and others, they had to engage with us. And the Chinese demarched them, and tried to get them to demarche us.
And it so there was - there was this snowball effect. And it took a lot of senior level time. Frankly, I think some of the more senior people in our government didn't like it. Their view was why are we going through all of this, why am I taking phone calls from Lee Charxing (ph), why am I having to engage with the French on this, when the end the Chinese are just going to get enough votes to procedurally prevent it from being tabled. And the answer we always gave was because they are paying attention and because we have something to negotiate with. And it was a bit of a cynical routine.
There would be four or five political prisoners they would release as part of the denouements every spring as we got out of this. But they don't release them now. That is four or five political prisoners who now they don't release. They would have a discussion with us about strategically is there another way? And we would say, maybe we need a systemic dialogue, set some benchmarks as well-meaning people on both sides try to find a better process.
I don't know if joining the council, given all of its problems, would allow that sort of dynamic to take place again. Now, Berne we looked at in this context - you know, 2002, ‘3, ‘4, and there was a lot of skepticism about Berne, and there is a lot of skepticism on the U.S. side because so often the discussion from the European friends would be about our death penalty. It really - you know, particularly in the context of the Iraq war in 2003, it became a kind of proxy debate about whether or not the U.S. is so great. And we wasted a lot of effort.
I'm encouraged - I think what I heard from Sharon, and it's certainly what I - I have never been to Berne. I sort of watched it from Washington. It seems like, in particular, our European friends are taking this process more seriously and see the value in it and are not making it as much about us and about our death penalty. Sharon can confirm if that is correct. That is certainly my impression, and that is a good step. And so to some extent, it can become another multilateral venue for dealing with this.
I think there are other opportunities to multilateralize the discussion. Ambassador Rant has regular meetings with likeminded ambassadors in Beijing where they compare notes. This should be a regular. I think it is to some extent. But it should be a regular and amplified and very deliberate part of the process when he meets with his Japanese, and European, Australian counterparts. I think that as Asia debates this whole architecture of East Asia summits and APEC and ASEAN Plus Three.
There is interest in some countries like Singapore and Japan. And know there is in State and NNC, and trying to form coordination mechanisms on issues of importance to us, and we ought to be putting this in that process so that it becomes an agenda item in all of these forms. So there are going to have to be new multilateral outlets. I suspect - I don't know if this is where you wanted to lead me - I just don't know if our being on the council could give us what we had.
MS. HOM: I think that just from - first, the Human Rights Council is having such enormous structural and process debates right now that it is a morass. But from our observation and being there at the early - the sessions that have already been underway, that the U.S. as an observer has been as vocal, had spoken quite a bit, and has taken a lot of - you know, has voiced its opinions. So it seems that in terms of its presence, the U.S. seems to be quite present on the debates. I think it's way to early to tell whether the - you know, the membership is going to have a difference just because there is such a morass.
The Berne process I think cannot replace the multilateral because it's a very different structure and a very different set of tools. The joint demarches, which the Berne process participants had explored is something the Chinese government really, really oppose. But that is something they can do together, is joint demarches. The other thing that I think that they can do is - they are having a discussion about is whether they should have joint lists, one list, different lists. They get many cases from many of the people in this room and from us, and there is a strategic balancing. Should they all go in on different cases, should they have one? So they are still talking about that, but at least they are sharing and thinking about that.
We are pushing one particular approach that links the U.N. system to the Berne and to the bilaterals, and that is, if cases are submitted - and we would urge our NGO friends in the room, if you are submitting cases to the U.N. mechanisms - we submit cases; we have submitted over 40 to the working group on arbitrary detention. We have gotten decisions on about 14 now. All 14 have been determined to be arbitrary, in other words, being held in Chinese prisons in violation of international norms, which means that this would be the perfect list to say, release them all now; we're not interfering in any of your domestic anything. And the Chinese government has been indirectly engaged with us because we submit the cases, so they have to respond to our documentation and submission. But we have these decisions. So we are urging these different processes to push those.
The other main difference is that the NGO's inclusion in the Berne process is very different than at the council. We are not in on the whole meetings; we are in on the guest portion of it, and I think that the NGOs, when we have been invited to Berne in the last few years, we are invited for substantive discussion and substantive presentations, and they give us more than almost - a whole day almost. And then we are asked politely to leave after lunch, and they go into their closed government session and we are all there listening at the door trying to figure out what we can hear. But that I think is radically differently because we really go to the table with substantive recommendations, and there really is an exchange where they push us on it. So that I think that is useful.
The other thing that is very important about the Berne process is it feeds the key bilaterals, including even though there technically isn't one, including feeding the U.S. process, and it feeds the Scandinavian process, in particular, and the Norwegians have a much broader approach to their bilateral than our government. The Norwegians are interacting on the Chinese side with not just the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.
They are interacting with the procurate (sp), the Supreme Court, the public security. They are interacting with a much broader range. So I think that what Berne does, it allows these different governments to share that they are interacting with different Chinese counterparts, and for the U.S. government, I think it would be useful to expand the Chinese counterparts that are being engaged to them because, frankly, I think, with all due respect to the ministry of foreign affairs in China, I believe they are the least powerful ministry.
You know, so you're dealing with the least-powerful ministry, and they are the ones who deal with foreigners, but the really more powerful ministries are state security and then public security, and then their rivalry is interesting because it's like CIA and the FBI. But they are not monolithic. So I think those are the quick thoughts on that.
MR. CROMARTIE: Yes, Michael, you made the comment that one-and-a-half years ago there was a chilling that became so obvious. And I'm wondering a couple of things. I'm wonder why do you think that happens, and why also there has been a deterioration of religious freedom in China over the past two years, and whether you agree with Andy Nathan that China does not want and will resist any type of religious freedom. There are three questions there.
MR. GREEN: Sure. The chilling, it does have something to do with the commission going way. I think we lost - it coincides with that. We lost that leverage, that dynamic. It has something to, as I said, with the 17th Party Congress. But it also has to do with the consolidation of power by Hu Jintao. And in that process, -
MR. CROMARTIE: Michael, let me ask you - what was the first thing you said, that we had something to do with the commission.
MR. GREEN: When we lost the U.N. Human Rights Commission - not you guys -
MR. CROMARTIE: Okay, I thought after our trip, you said the chilling began right after our planned trip there. I didn't know -
MR. GREEN: For the record, not you all. Yeah, thank you. The U.N. Human Rights -
MR. CROMARTIE: I thought maybe we had some real impact.
MR. GREEN: Every first quarter of each year, we had this dynamic to propel -
MR. CROMARTIE: I just wanted to make that clear -
MR. GREEN: Propel the issues to the front of the agenda. That is what I meant.
MR. CROMARTIE: Thank you.
MR. GREEN: The concern about colored revolutions, you know from - it's in Beijing, and it's 2004, and you look at a map of the world, and you see these democratic revolutions. It's a domino, a series of dominos going from Eastern Europe through Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan, and heading almost in a straight line right at Tiananmen (?). And I think there was some paranoia there. The Russians fed it.
I think there was clearly discussion among Shanghai cooperation organization members, Russia and China, about how to crack down on civil society to prevent alternate power centers, as Sharon said, whether it's religious organizations, civil society, and that comes very much from the center - some real parallels between Moscow and Beijing.
Beijing has been a little more subtle about it probably - and also the great success that China has had in its commercial diplomacy, whether - the Chinese have chalked up some pretty big successes, whether it's getting countries to isolate Taiwan, like threatening commercial contracts, getting U.S. companies to pull out of Taiwan. They have been able to use commercial muscle to get results, and I think that there was a sense that that worked here in April of last year with the visit to Seattle being such a contrast to the visit to Washington.
Another factor I think is North Korea, and here I would - you know, if this was a hearing on China's role in North Korea, I would say fairly positive things about the role China is beginning to play on the North Korea problem. But our diplomacy has become very centered on that, and I think it's a little bit like when I played soccer in 4th grade. The tendency was for all of the kids to run after the ball and not stand their position. And what we need when we are dealing with China is for the half-back to stay in the half-back's position in the center in the center's positions, and not everybody run after the ball, which right now is North Korea and trade.
And that also means, as I was saying, we need our system and undersecretaries and others to - in their frequent diplomacy, which is necessary on North Korea, to take the time to register on these issues and move them forward.
I'm sorry, I didn't -
MR. CROMARTIE: Do you agree with Andy Nathan who argues that China does not want and will resist religious freedom? Why is China helpful in North Korea?
MR. GREEN: China is helpful in North Korea because it is in China's interests, A, and, B, to some extent because they do - a very important priority for President Hu's peaceful development is good relations with the U.S., and this is important to us. But the number-one reason they are doing it is because I think they have come to recognize with Pyongyang's nuclear tests that their policy of trying to coax North Korea slowly away from nuclear weapons with economic incentives is not working, that the North Koreans will take the economic incentives, and test and brandish nuclear weapons, which is stabilizing for -
MR. CROMARTIE: Why can't we get them to quit sending the North Koreans back?
MR. GREEN: I am glad you raised that. That is another aspect of this, and it has everything to do with religious freedom because the people who are - the North Koreans who are most severely persecuted are those who have had contact in North East China with church groups from Japan or the ROK or the U.S. And they are the ones who clearly have the worst punishment when they go back to South Korea.
This is a case where South Korea could be doing much more with us. Japan I think will be inclined to, but South Korea could be doing more. And we have talked a lot about the Europeans and the Scandinavians. I think strategically for China, it's Asia that matters. And if China can advance the notion of Asian values and sort of dilute this Euro-centric view of human rights and religious freedom, there will be less incentive; they will feel more emboldened to suppress religious freedom.
But if they hear in their own neighborhood, from South Korea, for example, that this is a high-priority issue - ASEAN just approved a new charter which specifically mentions religious freedom and human rights. There are a lot of areas of hypocrisy there for ASEAN with Burma and so forth. I think one of our areas of attention should be within Asia, getting this on the agenda for countries that haven't necessarily talked about religious freedom with the Chinese. The South Koreans have a constituency for this. In ASEAN, there is a constituency, and I think we should mobilize it.
I don't agree completely with Professor Nathan. I think that the leadership is skeptical of these organized religious groups, but I think there is some evidence that at the local level there is more tolerance of house churches. You know, just the church where President Bush worshiped in November, that was a very different service than Condoleezza Rice witnessed a year or two before that, or then that the president's father witnessed. I mean, there is, as the president himself saw, real worship there. It's a state-sponsored church, but there was an opportunity to worship, and there are - people want this, and it is happening in spite of the state.
So I don't - I wouldn't despair. I think there are some very positive powerful grassroots movements - Buddhists in China, enormous numbers of Buddhists quietly worshiping, and so it's all there. And the problem is organized religion, and that is the part that the Chinese government resists, and I think there is reason to hope that they will see it sort of inevitably.
MR. CROMARTIE: Thank you, Michael.
MR. LAND: Yes, I'll address my question first to Sharon and then to Michael. In your opinion, what past policies of our government have been effective in terms of U.S. promotion human rights in China, and what lessons can we learn from those past policies that could be applied to the current situation?
MS. HOM: Well, I - almost every - yeah, how much time do we have?
MS. GAER: (Off mike.)
MS. HOM: But I also think that there are - each part of the question calls out for some elaboration because, what do we mean by success, and all of that. And not being a political scientists, and not from working within the government - really from the public interest sector and the NGO-human rights sector, I think that if we define success as is often defined in the high-level engagement is that everyone stays at the table, and that they don't leave the room and slam the door, then you might say that all of these various efforts to engage China has been successful because it has never completely broken down.
If we define success as somehow the U.S. engagement together with - because we are not alone in the world and engaging with China obviously - so if we define success as has our high-level talks, our technical assistance programs, our aid programs, have those collectively contributed to strengthening civil society, space, inside China, or have they contributed to cultural reforms that institutionalize protections for human rights, then I would say on balance not really.
For the - you know, those kinds of structural reforms because many of the rule-of-law programs, the exchange programs, the technical assistance programs, unfortunately rule of law is not a proxy for human rights, and that to have a lot of these initiatives under the rubric of rule of law has not really gone to the, quote, sensitive areas, which is really human rights. You know, to really promote human rights, we really have to name it, and we really have to include it in the benchmarks and the programs and the designs, and the monitoring, and the implementation. So would say that a lot of those exchange programs really need to be assessed in terms of their impact on human rights.
MR. GREEN: I have agreed with everything Sharon said so far, and I apologize for deviating now, but I have a slightly different take on that. I agree with the principle. Tactically, I think we actually need to think about how we would go in a slightly different direction, which is to say we need to be creative in our aid programs from Department of Labor, State, AID, and find ways that our civil society groups or foundations can empower people in China to organize, to have - you know, whether it's religious worship, labor, law, or whatever, we need to find creative ways to help empower people.
And I may be misunderstanding what Sharon said, but I think if we labeled to explicitly - and we are very litigious as a people - if we label and have monitoring and evaluation based on labels like human rights, we might make it harder for civil society groups and NGOs in China, and instead, we need to find ways to have the same effect - you know, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but find ways to empower civil society through exchanges.
One where we can do it, when Hu Jintao came -
MR. CROMARTIE: What - I want to hear that rose thing.
MR. GREEN: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
MS. HOM: Would smell as sweet.
MR. GREEN: In other words, instead of saying we want a program from IAD or Department of Labor to improve human rights among labor organizations, maybe we pitch it as labor rights or labor organizations, or - something that the Chinese government at a local level would appreciation - how to develop an ombudsman. And we need to find - one of the things we haven't talked about - we have talked about pressure, which is critical, but face matters too, and we need to find ways where - and I think Sharon made this point very eloquently earlier where there are constituencies in China, local government, party officials, how will see advantage in this kind of civil society group.
When President Hu Jintao came in April last year, he sent State Counselor Tang and a bunch of other people to say there are five priorities, and number five was people-to-people exchange, and you know, religious leaders going to China talking about religious education, and a lot of this kind of looking for ways to find people at the working level, the local government level, the grassroots level, who through incremental steps will start to get us there. And we may not be disagreeing, but that is what I would say has worked for some - some foundations in civil society.
MS. HOM: Can I clarify? I would say that we agree because in the women's conference in '95, I was very active leading up to that with a lot of the women's groups and the two years leading up, and I was also on the tribunal for - international tribunal of violence against women. I was one of the judges. And one of the workshops I organized was called women's human rights. And so in Chinese, it was a possessive - women's human rights. There was a lot of - because we were working with Chinese women's groups, and then we got some information that that was not acceptable because women's rights are not human rights, and that there was a real problem, and ah, la, la. So we had to put the Chinese and. So we said women's rights and human rights, and then it became, like, okay topic.
So I totally agree strategically that you could name these things to get in. You say, okay - (in Chinese) - okay, whatever, because we are still doing the same topic. But, so I agree with that strategically. However, we need to be very careful with something I think is an overreaction by Western governments to be too sensitive to say the Chinese government is going to be sensitive, so we better not use that word because look what has happened to China in the last 20 years.
When I was first teaching in China in the '80s, you couldn't say the word, "human rights;" you couldn't say many things. But now they have a human rights report. They have a thing. The Chinese government is deploying human rights language. They have a human rights society, the Gango (ph). They have a human rights exhibition. They have a human rights this and this and this. So if they are using the language, and they have signed onto human rights treaties, we should not be backing down in 2007 to say, oh, they might get nervous if we say human rights; we should say, my goodness; didn't you sign all of these documents that say human rights, human rights, human rights, so let's talk about how to promote human rights. So I wanted to say we should really push it and not back down now on that.
MR. LAND: Just one follow up, isn't it critical, isn't it absolutely critical that our government uses influence to encourage our businesses and our corporations to not de-link business relationships from human rights concerns when they are doing business in China? (Off mike.)
MR. GREEN: I don't think there is any U.S. policy to delink, and if anything, I know for a fact that my colleagues with whom I work in the NSC have taken U.S. corporations to task for some very prominent ones this commission has talked about for doing just that. And I -
MR. LAND: Don't you think it's important that we continue to do that, even more of it?
MR. GREEN: I agree with that; I agree with that. And I think it's something that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - U.S. China Business Council aught to be taking on as part of their - as part of their mandate.
MS. HOM: I would say that, yes, Commissioner Land, and specifically think sectorally rather than think business. The IT sector - we're - Human Rights in China is involved in the CDTVSR process with the IT companies. Think sectorally: technology, security, systems, advertising, the legal services provision, particularly since now with the opening of services in WTO. So I think thinking strategically with the U.S. government pushing, but really each sector, where there are - we have said to the corporate communities, we say, as NGO human rights, we're not saying don't do business in China. We think that is a false choice. We are saying, how to do business in a way that is responsible, doing good and doing well.
MS. GAER: Well, I want to thank the panelists, this panel, and the earlier panelists. I think this has been a remarkable conversation, and I feel like - I mean, I could stay all night, but we do have to leave.
MR. LAND: I think they are freezing us out of here.
MR. GAER: We are being frozen out of here. I also want to thank the commission staff, Joe Crapa, and Tad Stahnke, Mindy Larmore, and Scott Flipse, Angela Stephens, and Holly Smithson, and others who I am probably forgetting right now, but not at all because there has been - this has been a fabulous conversation, and I think it's only just beginning. It's the beginning of the year, and thank you for coming.