WASHINGTON—China is in much deeper trouble than the world suspects and countries like America and international bodies need to adjust policy accordingly. This was the message delivered recently by speakers on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations.
Gordon Chang, China expert and author of the 2001 book “The Coming Collapse of China,” says that as the once-in-a-decade transfer of power looms in the 18th Party Congress, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is caught in internal leadership struggles, the economy is waning, and citizen dissatisfaction is rising.
Significantly the Chinese military, now the most organized agency, is increasingly stepping in to fill the void, he warned.
After the 18th Party Congress, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may become the most powerful faction in the Chinese Community Party, Chang said, comparing the young “arrogant” and “sometimes bellicose” Chinese military officers of today to those of Japan prior to WWII.
“They are thinking about what they can do, not what they should do,” he said. “They are spoiling for a fight.”
Chang, who also writes for Forbes, argues that China’s economic boom was a matter of timing: early reforms by Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, plus a ready and able workforce, coincided with a product-hungry global economy.
Those conditions no longer exist, he said, the Chinese economy is slowing and may “already be in recession.”
“The wheels are coming off China, and we don’t know where that country is heading,” he said.
Chang was speaking at a forum on the topic of “Responding to Regime Crisis in China,” held in a meeting room on Capitol Hill and sponsored by The Epoch Times. He was joined by: Li Ding, Ph.D, executive director of Chinascope, a magazine offering English translations and analysis of important CCP documents, academic reports, and Chinese media; Matthew Robertson, who covers China for The Epoch Times; and David Matas, a human rights lawyer who is the author (with David Kilgour) of the seminal text about harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners, “Bloody Harvest.”
Li Ding said Chinese people no longer have faith in the Chinese leadership, with hundreds of thousands of mass protests occurring in China each year, according to the best statistics.
Information can be divided into two streams: the official Communist Party line, which no one believes, and the personal accounts, anecdotes, opinions, and rumors that fly around online and from which Chinese people draw their own understanding.
“The propaganda machine is no longer effective,” Ding said.
Ding said the United States needs to engage more with civil society, grassroots groups, and ordinary citizens in China as the Communist Party faces unprecedented challenges—many from the Chinese people, who want a fairer country—that may end its rule.
Chang says engagement may not be enough. He believes the U.S. policy of bringing the Chinese communist leadership into the “liberal system” through engagement over the last 40 years has failed.
The United States needs a new policy framework that will deal with China, “the way it actually is and not the way we want it to be,” he said.
That will involve drawing clear boundaries, sticking to principles, and admonishing the Chinese leadership publicly over unacceptable behavior.
By compromising on Western values for the sake of engagement, America has unwittingly “reinforced the worst tendency of the Communist Party’s authoritarian system,” he said, rewarding “irresponsible conduct” with more diplomatic efforts to engage.
Falun Gong and the Leadership Struggle
Matthew Robertson addressed the leadership struggles in China and linked the persecution of Falun Gong as a critical factor. He detailed the story of the exercise and meditation practice in China, Falun Gong’s popular rise, the perceived ideological threat it posed to former regime leader Jiang Zemin, and the persecution Jiang initiated.
Security forces required to implement the persecution were the largest “security mobilization upheaval since the Mao era” and enormously costly, he said. The forces also changed the dynamics of power within the CCP hierarchy, boosting Jiang Zemin’s influence and contributing to the instability evident today.
The fall from grace of former Politburo member and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, and the attempted defection of his right-hand man and former Chongqing chief of police Wang Lijun to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February, were direct results of that power structure.
The two were heavily implicated in both the persecution of the Falun Gong and the harvesting of organs from its adherents. Bo’s role and the subsequent lawsuits taken out against him around the world, were credited for sidelining him to Chongqing in the first place.
Robertson said forced, live organ harvesting threatens the legitimacy of the regime, which will have a hard time surviving once the atrocities are widely known by the Chinese people.
David Matas also links the leadership ructions in China to Falun Gong, dividing leading Chinese figures into three factions: the “reformists,” like Wen Jiabao and former premier Zhu Rongj, who have hinted they would like to see a stop to the persecution and atrocities against Falun Gong; the “harmonizers,” like Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, who are keen to do what it takes to maintain the status quo; and the “hardliners,” like Jiang Zemin and Bo Xilai, who wanted it hidden, fearing retribution for the crimes they have committed in carrying out the persecution.
In that context, the United States should push for change in Chinese organ-sourcing practices, Matas said. He proposed that the State Department release information that Wang Lijun may have given about organ harvesting, that Congress enact legislation to combat transplant abuse, that compulsory reporting be instituted around transplant tourism, and that health insurance should be denied for organ transplants in China—a measure that Israel has already adopted.
In short, Matas said the United States should do more.
After 13 years of persecution and nearly as many years of illegal organ harvesting against Falun Gong practitioners, the Chinese leadership may believe they can outrun being held accountable for their crimes, but the world is starting to pay the issue increasing attention.
Earlier reports like Matas’s book have now been joined by others.
At a House hearing on the persecution of Falun Gong, earlier this month Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) described organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners as the “most monstrous crime” he could imagine.
Testifying before that hearing was author and researcher Ethan Gutman. He has conducted extensive interviews with surgeons, nurses, and formerly imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, concluding that at least 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been slaughtered for their organs in China over a decade—although he suspects the numbers are far higher.
Initially it was hard for people to grasp that such a state-orchestrated atrocity could occur but that has changed, he said. “It’s becoming an accepted fact now, you can feel it.”
An informative collection of articles on the issue recently released in a book titled “State Organs” has added to the collections of reports, and the U.S. State Department, for the first time this year, mentioned organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners as a matter of concern in its 2012 Human Rights Report.
Concern is also spreading internationally. Guo Jun, the editor-in-chief of The Epoch Times’ Chinese editions, was asked to speak about the persecution against Falun Gong at a number of events surrounding the 21st session of the U.N. Human Rights Council held between Sept. 10 and Sept. 28 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“In our investigation we found that prisoners, detained in labor camps and jails, were almost the sole source of transplant organs in China. The vast majority were practitioners of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice,” she said.
Karen Parker, a human rights lawyer and chief representative of International Educational Development, an NGO affiliated with the U.N., said her group was concerned about “continuing evidence that the organs of many [Falun Gong] practitioners are forcibly harvested.”
“We are aware that the Council as a whole will not address any issue in China due to political considerations,” she said. “However, we urge that states eliminate the market for organs from China and that the Special Rapporteurs on Summary Execution, the Right to Health, and the Right to Freedom from Torture to look into this matter as an issue of great urgency.”
Editor’s Note: When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing to participate in the persecution any longer. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.