Nearly 1,000 Falun Gong adherents were barred from entering Hong Kong last week, with many of them being dealt with violently. The incident is said to have been masterminded by Zeng Qinghong, China's vice president and rival of Chinese communist leader Hu Jintao, who this past weekend attended the city's 10-year anniversary of returning to Chinese sovereignty.
According to Taiwan's Falun Dafa Association, between June 24 and July 1, at least 527 Falun Gong adherents traveling from Taiwan to Hong Kong were denied entry at the Hong Kong International Airport, 271 were refused visas, and more than 20 with valid visas were not allowed to board the plane by airline companies; there were others who sought entry to the city individually but failed.
In addition, Falun Gong adherents in Macau, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have also reported being denied entry, bringing the total estimated number of Falun Gong adherents rejected by Hong Kong to around 1,000.
The purpose of the Falun Gong adherents going to Hong Kong was to take part in the annual July 1 pro-democracy march. One consequence of barring them from Hong Kong was to make the Falun Gong presence in the widely watched July 1 march less dramatic than it might otherwise have been.
The former British colony was handed over to China on July 1, 1997, under the agreement of “one country, two systems.” The tradition of the July 1 pro-democracy march began in 2003 as around 500,000 people took to the street protesting the Chinese regime's attempt to impose a set of national security laws in the Self Administrative Region that Hong Kongers believed would put in peril the individual rights protected by Hong Kong law.
Teresa Chu, a Falun Gong adherent from Taiwan, a lawyer in the state of New York, and executive director of the Asia branch of the Human Rights Law Foundation, was the first victim of Hong Kong's massive exclusion of Falun Gong.
After being denied entry to Hong Kong on June 24, she obtained a leaked e-mail message from an airline company that confirms the existence of a blacklist. The airline company's name is being withheld in order to protect Ms. Chu's source.
The message says that Mr. Alan Chan Mang-lun, a land control officer at the Hong Kong Immigration's airport division, convened a meeting with that airline company at 5 p.m. on June 25 about “the matter of blocking Falun Gong from entering Hong Kong” and demanding that the company inform its partner companies in Taiwan over the issue. Falun Gong adherents are classified as “unwelcome travelers to Hong Kong” in the message.
Despite the Hong Kong Falun Dafa Association's urgent appeal to the Hong Kong High Court on June 30 requesting a halt to the Hong Kong Immigration's actions, the barring of entry for Falun Gong continued.
Mr. Kan Hong Cheung, spokesperson of Hong Kong's Falun Dafa Association, said the incident clearly showed that Falun Gong is discriminated against. “Two things are clear,” Kan said, “First, the Immigration Department undoubtedly has a blacklist regarding Falun Gong. Second, those people have been denied entry purely because of their belief in Faun Gong; this is discrimination against Falun Gong.”
Violence and rudeness have been reported by many of the Falun Gong adherents blocked at the Hong Kong International Airport.
According to the Falun Gong adherents deported back to Taiwan, among whom some are in their 80s, they were blocked by more than 100 uniformed immigration officers and police at the Hong Kong International Airport. Some of the police were fully armed.
Many of the adherents reported bruises over their arms and legs, which were caused by being forcibly pushed or dragged away. Some were wrapped up in a police blanket and pulled away on a cart.
Some female adherents reported being pushed by policemen. In one case at least, a female adherent said she was carried by a male police officer on to the plane.
According to Mrs. Ch'en from P'ing Tung of Taiwan, even her 8-year-old daughter was forcibly carried onto the plane; the child was so frightened that she kept crying during the entire process.
Many of the Falun Gong adherents complained that during their detention at the airport they were allowed to go to the washroom only after repeated pleading with the officers, and that they were watched throughout.
There were also passengers who, happening to have the same names as some Falun Gong adherents, were denied entry.
Zeng Qinghong, the most influential man over Hong Kong's affairs, was unexpectedly absent from the city's 10-year handover anniversary.
Dr. Dong Li, a political analyst for New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), says that Zeng was the mastermind behind the scenes of the mass deportations. His absence is said to be part of a larger design.
Last Sunday's anniversary was to be given exceptional attention by both the regime in Beijing and the Hong Kong administration so as to present the best image possible of “one country, two systems.” According to a reliable source in Beijing, vice president Zeng Qinghong, who is in charge of the Coordinating Leading Group on Hong Kong Affairs (CLGHKA), had initially planned to visit Hong Kong together with Hu for a grand appearance on July 1.
But the plan was quietly aborted, the source said.
According to China's state media, last week on Wednesday, Zeng attended an exhibition held at Beijing's Capital Museum devoted to Hong Kong's achievements in the past 10 years. Since then Zeng has completely disappeared from news coverage about the anniversary.
Zeng, known by some colleagues as the “Black-Masked Assassin,” has been referred to by analyst Willy Lam as the “alter ego” of former Chinese communist head Jiang Zemin. He has been Jiang's close advisor and partner in Jiang's power struggle with rivals, including Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao.
The rivalry between Hu-Wen and Jiang's Shanghai Faction was seen to be most obvious for the first time over the issue of Hong Kong in 2005 when Beijing decided to sack former Hong Kong Executive Chief Tung Chee-hwa, a native of Shanghai.
According to Li, the deportations of the Falun Gong adherents were another episode in this rivalry. By creating this controversy on the occasion of Hu's first visit to Hong Kong, he said, Zeng wished to humiliate and infuriate Hu.
But beyond merely creating a public relations problem for Hu, Zeng wished to implicate Hu in the persecution of Falun Gong, by tying Hu's visit to the very public denial of Falun Gong adherents' right to travel to Hong Kong, according to Li.
Jiang Sued in Hong Kong
Thus far, Falun Gong adherents around the world have filed numerous lawsuits against former and current Chinese officials over the persecution of Falun Gong in China, with Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong as the chief defendants in many of them.
According to Li, Zeng's blocking of Falun Gong adherents from Hong Kong was an act of retaliation for one of these lawsuits in particular.
On June 28 two of Hong Kong's Falun Gong adherents, Mr. Chu O-ming and Ms. Fu Xueying, filed a civil lawsuit to Hong Kong's High Court against Li Lanqing, former vice premier and former head of the “610” office in charge of persecuting Falun Gong; Luo Gan, founding member and chief executive officer of the “610” office; and Jiang Zemin.
The lawsuit has been accepted, and the first hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8.
Last week's incident, which was reported by many major media around the world, has drawn international concern over the viability of Hong Kong's “one country, two systems.”
Mr. David Kilgour, former Canadian MP and the former Canadian Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific region, wrote an open letter last Saturday to Hong Kong Executive Chief Donald Tsang about Teresa Chu's being denied entry. He requested Tsang to comment on the incident with a focus on those who are considering attending Beijing's 2008 Olympics.
Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott, vice president of the European Parliament said he was shocked by the incident, which he thinks shows the volatility of the Chinese regime's promise about “one country, two systems.”
Professor Chiu Chui-liang, research councilor for the University of Queensland and director of the Taiwanese Association of Australia, said the Falun Gong adherents all traveled to Hong Kong with valid visas and they should not have been treated like criminals. He said the incident has shown that Hong Kong's “one country, two systems” has completely failed.
Over the weekend, there were peaceful public rallies in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States staged by Falun Gong adherents protesting Hong Kong's enforcement of the Chinese regime's blacklist against Falun Gong and the use of unnecessary violence in the deportation process.
With reporting by Epoch Times staff