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Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin – Chapter 13

Persecuting Falun Gong Shamelessly, the Prime Criminal Goes His Own Way (The Second Half of 1999)

The Epoch Times Editorial Board
Aug 13, 2005

A number of major events transpired during the fifteen years of Jiang Zemin’s rule (including the past two years, post-retirement, in which he controlled state affairs from behind the scenes), among which are counted the return of Hong Kong and Macau to China, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the suppression of Falun Gong. Of the events, only the suppression of Falun Gong was spurred forward by Jiang, while the others happened either due to luck or as a result of other people’s hard work.

When Jiang banned Falun Gong it was the beginning of his political downfall. One might say that after Jiang became one of Beijing’s power elite on the heels of the Tiananmen Massacre, he methodically consolidated his power through a series of brutal political struggles. But the suppression of Falun Gong quickly became an albatross for Jiang. Jiang didn’t expect this in the least, anticipating instead that Falun Gong could be swiftly crushed. Jiang’s political fate was tied to the campaign against Falun Gong from the moment he went his own way in launching it. All of his decisions came to revolve around the issue.

Hard is it for those who reside in a mundane world to grasp the power of higher spiritual beliefs. Consider that power as manifest in the early Christians, who never took up arms and outlasted three hundred years of persecution by the once-powerful Roman Empire. Jiang will, unto death, never admit that he made a mistake in persecuting the followers of Falun Gong; yet their peaceful and composed fight over the past several years has left him with no way out. To understand Jiang’s thinking and behavior post 1999 (the year he began the ban on Falun Gong), it is necessary to first understand the persecution in a comprehensive way.

1. Cooking up Charges

After the April 25, 1999, gathering at Zhongnanhai, there was constant activity by Chinese authorities involving Falun Gong, such as nationwide investigations on the part of the government, preparations for the propaganda to be leveled against the group, mobilization of the Public Security system to seek out and collect information on Falun Gong, and “ideological preparation” of the people at the various local Party organizations. Jiang treated the Falun Gong issue as top priority.

Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, had moved to the United States some years before, but Jiang went so far as to try to extradite Li back to China through a reduction of $500 million in trade surplus with the U.S. In an article called “Some Thoughts of Mine,” published on June 2, 1999, Li said:

I only teach people to be good. At the same time, I unconditionally help people get rid of their diseases and health problems, and I enable them to reach higher realms of mind. I don’t charge any money or ask for material things as reward. All of this has had a positive impact on society and its people, and it has, on a large scale, turned people’s hearts towards goodness and made their moral level high. I wonder if that is why they seek to extradite me. […] however, normally people who are extradited are war criminals, public enemies, or criminal offenders. If so, I wonder which of the above categories I would fit into. [1]

Li also said:

In fact, I keep teaching people to conduct themselves with Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance as their guiding principles. So naturally, I have also been setting an example. When Falun Gong disciples and I have been criticized for no reason and treated unfairly, we have always displayed breadth of mind with great benevolence and great forbearance, and have silently endured everything in order to give the government sufficient time to find out what we are about. […] Actually, I know perfectly well why some people are bent on opposing Falun Gong. Just as reported by the media, there are so many people practicing Falun Gong. One hundred million people are indeed no small number. Yet why should having a large number of good people be feared? Isn’t it true that the more good people there are, the better, and that the fewer the bad people, the better? [2]

Even though Jiang could read all of Li’s well-intended words, he still couldn’t help assuming that others acted like he himself did, being driven only by base, petty motives. Jiang thinks that it is impossible for a person not to fear death and that anyone can be bought. He thought he could accomplish anything since the mechanisms of the entire state were under his control.

On June 7, 1999, Jiang gave a speech at the Politburo meeting of the CCP’s Central Committee regarding speeding up the effort to deal with and resolve the “Falun Gong problem.” In the speech, he described the formation of Falun Gong and its rapid spread by saying, “This is a political struggle between the Party and its enemies, both at home and abroad, over the [allegiance of the] masses and over the dominant position.”

Jiang never provided any grounds for his argument or any account as to how he arrived at his conclusion. And despite the fact that the Falun Gong always acted nonviolently and reasonably, and improved over 100 million people physically and mentally, he demanded with the weight of a dictator that all members of the CCP and the Communist Youth League (CYL), cadres in the workforce, retired officials, leaders of work units of the CCP and CYL organizations stop practicing Falun Gong and “draw a clear line in their minds.”

Based on the reaction of the Politburo to his letter written on the evening of April 25, Jiang felt that on the issue of suppressing Falun Gong, the majority of the Politburo members and even the Standing Committee members were indifferent. Government leaders, including Zhu Rongji, felt it unnecessary to treat the Falun Gong issue as a conflict between themselves and some enemy. Jiang thus decided to set up an interministerial leadership group directly under his command, a group that would be above all other government institutions. It wouldn’t be subject to restrictions by the government, the legal system, or the fiscal system, being instead able to freely give orders to persecute the Falun Gong. It was along these lines that Jiang thought of Li Lanqing.

At that time, of the seven Politburo Standing Committee members, other than Jiang all were against the persecution campaign. It was then that Bo Yibo, a high-ranking CCP official with a terrible reputation, learned of the members disapproval and thus, sensing an opportunity, came out strongly in favor of Jiang’s decision.

Jiang around that time decided to persuade Li Lanqing to join his side, as he had a good personal relationship with Li. Jiang threatened to label him as someone who doesn’t do things the “Party way” and who is “ruining and betraying the Party and the country.” In the end Li was swayed, and agreed to Jiang’s decision.

And so it was Jiang formed a leadership group so as to deal with Falun Gong however he willed. Li Lanqing became the director of the group. And in order to harness both the power of the sword and the power of the pen, Luo Gan and Ding Guangen were chosen as deputy directors. Jiang also appointed the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, Liu Jing, and other relevant heads of departments as key members of the group to combine wits and solve the “Falun Gong problem” systematically. Jiang commanded that the CCP Central Committee and each ministry and commission, of every province, autonomous region, and municipality that was directly under the central government, cooperate fully. The group, or organization, was formed on June 10, 1999, thus gaining it the name “6-10 Office.”

As to its nature, the 6-10 Office is in every sense of the term an illegal organization. There is no legal basis for either its formation or its existence. It is the same as the CCP Central Committee Leadership Group, as it was called, that came about during the Cultural Revolution. The only purpose of the 6-10 Office is to bypass the law, bypass the normal examination and approval of funds and personnel, and mobilize the entire country’s means of suppression to persecute the Falun Gong. The illegal organization’s head is none other than Jiang Zemin. All of its orders are given in secret by Jiang, who fears leaving evidence of his doings. When he sends out orders through the office he never signs his name. Whenever people in the 6-10 Office see the special orders, however, they take immediate action, knowing their origin.

It was by way of his autocratic powers that Jiang managed to circumvent the legal system and create the 6-10 Office—a body that presides over even the judicial organs at different levels. Jiang also pushed the 6-10 Office to coerce law-enforcement officials from the Central Government on down to the local level to break the law, signifying a halt to the progress made by China’s legal system over the last twenty years. The harm to Chinese society is immeasurable.

Though Jiang made such a fuss over Falun Gong, when it came to concrete ideas for what to do he was at a loss. Jiang thus had Zeng Qinghong hatch a secret scheme to publish on June 14, 1999, a “Speech by the Heads of the Letters and Complaints Bureaus under the General Office of the CCP Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council after Meeting with Some Falun Gong Petitioners” through the General Office of the CCP Central Committee and the State Council. The misleading remarks stated:

First, in the past few days, some Falun Gong practitioners have been spreading rumors such as “the Office of Public Security is going to start persecuting Falun Gong” and “Communist party members and cadres will be fired from their jobs if they practice Falun Gong” […] these are just vicious rumors, which are fabricated and that poison people’s minds. […] Second, the attitude of the Party and the government concerning normal activities for exercising the body and for fitness is very explicit. […] I want to emphasize again: no normal exercising of the body for fitness has ever been banned by any level of the government; people have the right to believe in and do a practice, and also the right not to believe in a practice.

Looking back at the speeches—speeches shared with the nation by key members of the Chinese government—it’s not hard to see that the CCP, headed by Jiang, can do a full about-face at a moment’s notice. Nothing the Party says can be trusted.

As Falun Gong’s activities were, and are, all open to the public, its followers—who believe in the values of truth, compassion, tolerance—weren’t on guard against the CCP media. Matters were complicated by the presence of many police and special agents posing as Falun Gong adherents, the goal being to collect information at countless practice sites of the group. The spies took pictures and made video recordings, gaining personal information on the coordinator of each practice site.

2. The Suppression Begins

On July 19 Jiang called a meeting of the CCP Central Committee’s high-ranking officials and, acting as the Party’s General Secretary, gave the order that the suppression be carried out. Over ten thousand police with guns fully loaded entered Beijing while military stationed outside the city went into red alert mode. On July 20 Jiang gave orders to carry out arrests throughout the country. All those deemed “key” Falun Gong members were either arrested or taken from their homes for interrogation by the CCP. On July 29 Jiang even tried to extradite the practice’s teacher, Li Hongzhi, back to China through Interpol. The move was denied outright.

During the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre, the CCP first killed people with guns and tanks to silence them, and then made full use of its propaganda machinery to spread lies about what had taken place. In a climate in which there was only one voice many believed the CCP’s lies. Jiang believe the method would work similarly when applied to Falun Gong. Jiang thus ordered the destruction of all Falun Gong books, audio and video materials, and other paraphernalia. He also gave orders that any website that might carry true stories and information about Falun Gong be blocked. Thus the only information on Falun Gong that people could obtain was from the state-run media, which were fully controlled by Jiang.

Before the suppression began, Beijing Telecommunications Bureau provided a “263 service” through which citizens could use the internet by dialing the number 263; they needn’t register in any way or provide names or use passwords. They could sign up for email addresses as well. However, when the persecution campaign began, suddenly the 263 line was “unavailable” for forty-eight hours (due to the need for “technical maintenance,” it was claimed), effectively cutting off a major line of communication between those in China and the outside world.

Two days after the persecution began, on July 22 at 3:00 P.M., the lies that Jiang had carefully prepared were exhibited in full. A thirty-minute film, replete with bizarre stories and deception meant to denigrate Falun Gong, was shown—again and again—across the country on national TV networks. One of the things shown was as follows. In a talk on Falun Dafa Li Hongzhi gave in Los Angles in February of 1999, as evident in the original sound recording, one sentence said: “The catastrophes that people mentioned in the past do not exist.” But in the TV program, the Chinese regime edited out the word “not” so that the sentence was changed to its opposite: “The catastrophes that people mentioned in the past do exist.” The CCP tried to use the sentence as evidence that Falun Gong is “apocalyptic.”

As of 1999, China’s GDP had reached 8300 billion yuan, and it had the largest army, armed police, security guards, labor camps, and prison system in the world. China moreover had a propaganda system of over two thousand newspapers and magazines as well as over a hundred broadcasting and television stations. Just CCTV alone had twelve television channels, covering the entire country; through satellites its programs were broadcast around the world. After July 20, overnight the nation’s propaganda machinery was ratcheted up to full capacity for one single purpose: to make Jiang’s plan to eradicate Falun Gong “within three months” a reality. Newspapers, magazines, broadcasting stations, and TV channels everywhere were put into high gear, carrying a litany of articles and programs that “exposed and criticized” Falun Gong. Police meanwhile drove the practitioners of Falun Gong away from every practice site, and those who wouldn’t obey were arrested and shoved into police cars. All factories, businesses, schools, and neighborhood associations were required to organize people to watch the news and feature programs dedicated to criticizing Falun Gong. Chinese embassies and consulates around the world began organizing local Chinese people to hold rallies to “expose and criticize” the practice and to deliver to governments around the world materials that denigrated Falun Gong. Book burnings, the ransacking of homes, and arrests took place throughout China. Almost everyone was coerced into following the government and supporting the persecution, and propaganda was broadcast and printed in every corner of the country. Overnight, the days of the Cultural Revolution seemed to have returned.

It is also important to note that during that time Jiang made use of Hong Kong media which had been paid off to malign Falun Gong. Hong Kong’s Phoenix Satellite Television went to great lengths and was the most insidious of the bunch. On the surface it seemed unbiased, neutral, but in truth, the CCP’s most important propaganda articles and decrees were delivered to the station directly for broadcasting. Not a single word was to be changed, and anyone who had misgivings about the propaganda campaign was simply dismissed. The station’s staff knew that at critical times and on critical issues, Phoenix TV played a role that CCTV could not.

Liu Changle, CEO of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television, was (or is) an undercover agent under the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army. [3] After the April 25, 1999, Falun Gong gathering at Zhongnanhai, Liu was secretly sent by Luo Gan to collaborate with the pseudoscientist He Zuoxiu. Starting as early as May of 1999, Liu put forth a great deal of effort starting rumors and concocting TV programs specifically meant to frame Falun Gong and its founder. He also published a book expressly to discredit the founder of Falun Gong. Its contents would be almost humorous for their inaccuracy and perversity were the consequences not so regrettable. Phoenix TV disguised its connections with the CCP government by broadcasting popular programs that attracted regular viewers and, under the guise of normalcy, used reports that seemed objective to in fact spread Jiang Zemin’s fabricated stories on Falun Gong and influence public opinion. Many of the station’s viewers in mainland China and Chinese living overseas were sorely misled. After these things transpired, a number of staff from Phoenix TV ran into serious problems. Liu Changle was interrogated and investigated on grounds of reportedly having been part of the financial crimes of the former president of the Bank of China, Wang Xuebin, as well as other illegal activities; Zhao Liqun, deputy president of the station and the man responsible for Chinese-language programming, died in a plane crash; one of the station’s hostesses was in a severe car accident; and a reporter from its news department was kidnapped.

Since Jiang Zemin was exhausting the country’s resources with persecuting the Falun Gong, a number of sociologists thought, “Given the power of the Chinese government, Falun Gong will last at most a week.”

Jiang was mistaken about something, however. He never understood that Falun Gong doesn’t in fact have “key figures.” Even the so-called “assistants” in the practice were merely persons who brought to the park tape players for people to exercise by or who would relay information about upcoming activities. Apart from that, they differ little from other practitioners. Students of Falun Gong make a point of being a functioning part of society, and each makes his or her own decisions based on the study of the book Zhuan Falun and what he or she has come to understand from it. Jiang was thus misguided in his belief that once the “people in charge” were arrested others wouldn’t know what to do. The mass arrests and detentions that took place in effect caused only more people in Falun Gong to assume leadership roles; more and more people grew committed to peacefully petitioning the government and explaining the situation factually to the public.

From early morning on July 20 on, great numbers of Falun Gong practitioners poured into Beijing to voice their grievances, file petitions with government leaders, [4] and assert their legitimate right to practice Falun Gong. Consequently, from July 21 to 22 places near Zhongnanhai, Xidan, Liubukou, Beihai, and Tiananmen were blocked off so as to prevent Falun Gong adherents from entering the area. The 6-10 Office demanded that local governments block people from coming to petition at all costs, and all major roads to Beijing were closely monitored. The army was on red alert. Yet many people still either walked or bicycled over the mountains and hills to reach Beijing. Some were stopped by local police and detained along the way while others managed to reach Beijing. But the tens of thousands who did make it to the capital were promptly arrested—though they were exercising a constitutional right—and detained in sports stadiums in Fengtai and Shijingshan.

In the several months thereafter, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who gathered to petition leaders in the various districts of Beijing reached upwards of 300,000, while around 700,000 came forward to petition on behalf of Falun Gong in Beijing’s suburbs, with many staying in the area for prolonged periods. Among the petitioners were government officials, soldiers, scholars, students, businessmen, and farmers, ranging in age from young children to senior citizens. Among the peasants some came from as far as Sichuan, Yunnan, Heilongjiang, and Xingjiang provinces; some were women who had never left their hometowns before. Yet they traveled thousands of miles to petition their government. One case is telling. A woman from the Changbai Mountains in Jilin province was stopped and detained in Liaoning province en route to Beijing, and all of her belongings were confiscated. She managed to escape from police custody and proceeded to walk, amidst snowstorms, across northeast China, begging for food along the way. Eventually she made it to Beijing. One Sichuan farmer, meanwhile, was questioned by a policeman in Beijing upon arrival. The farmer opened his bag and took out nine pairs of shoes. They were shoes he had worn out as he walked to Beijing. He said, “I have walked such a long way only to say a few words from the bottom of my heart: Falun Gong is good! The government is wrong!”

Two people known to have unfurled banners in protest in Beijing were officials at the rank of provincial minister. [5] They, like others, were arrested by police. When their names and identities were confirmed, the police were shocked, and quickly asked their work units to take them back to their areas. This not only suggests that those who took up Falun Gong were from every strata of society, but also the fact that Jiang Zemin was so despotic as to not even give consideration to the voices and concerns of such high-ranking officials.

The petitioning system was put in place by the CCP after the Cultural Revolution to address the massive number of wrongful verdicts enacted during the those tumultuous years. It is a unique Chinese institution meant to facilitate communication between the masses and the nation’s bureaucracy, a final hope for justice for the weaker segments of the population. In dealing with Falun Gong cases, however, Jiang made six regulations that would prohibit Falun Gong and its supporters from petitioning higher authorities. That is, he commandeered the system. Evidence is regularly found, such as in one recent notice distributed by CCP authorities in the 6-10 Office of Shijiazhuang city. It was a notice concerning how to suppress Falun Gong practitioners during the Chinese New Year in 2005. The notice included six “preventative measures.” The last among them was, “to prevent Falun Gong practitioners from utilizing legal actions and petitioning higher authorities in order to counteract [the suppression].” In effect, this was saying that if a citizen was to express his or her grievances in accordance with the law it should be seen as “counteracting” the government, and for doing so the person was to be arrested and sentenced. Using the law to protect oneself was turned into, with this and similar measures, “violating” the law. Measures such as these are some of the least known, but most sinister, that Jiang has used to persecute Falun Gong. Jiang has gone off the beaten path of reform in this regard.

Jiang continues to insist that the most severe and extreme measures be used in dealing with those of the Falun Gong who petition higher authorities—of which measures include fines, imprisonment, removal from jobs, punishment of family, and implicating one’s work unit. What he has found hardest to understand is that the Falun Gong practitioners who continue to petition and demonstrate are not swayed by any of his measures. Jiang just can’t fathom that there are people in this world who will not give up their beliefs for material gain or ease. The convictions held by Falun Gong’s followers also made Jiang envy Falun Gong’s founder, the master Li Hongzhi. This only spurred Jiang’s eagerness to suppress Falun Gong.

3. The Responses of Falun Gong and the International Community

While Jiang was actively mobilizing forces for the persecution, Li Hongzhi happened to be in Sydney, Australia, attending what is known in the Falun Gong community as an “experience sharing” conference; this one was hosted by students of Falun Gong from around the world. On May 2, 1999, Li met with reporters from the Chinese newspapers Australian Chinese Daily, Independence Daily, and Yazhou Zhoukan. In the afternoon he spoke with reporters from Australia’s Department of Radio and Television Broadcasting, the Sydney Morning Herald, and Agence France Presse. Li said in his opening remarks:

I believe that this Dafa practice is a serious thing. Singing its praises in various media, as if doing advertising, wouldn’t be serious, though, and so we haven’t done such things in print media. Basically, students share news with their family and friends of their general well being, talking about their heartfelt feelings and how their health has improved, or how after learning the teachings of Falun Gong they are drawn to them. We wouldn’t lie to our own family or spouse about this kind of thing, so what is said has to be true, people realize. You would never entice your own wife or kids, or family or friends to follow suit after you were duped by something. That doesn’t happen.

Li also stated:

Many of our students are highly educated, and many are scientists; many hold Doctoral or Masters degrees. In the U.S., for example, many of them—no fewer than a few thousand—have obtained multiple degrees. Aren’t they smart? They are very smart. To elaborate, in mainland China many in our practice are intellectuals, senior cadres, or even politicians. They went through the Cultural Revolution and they have had a spiritual faith, have sought the truth, believed in things blindly, and gone through all sorts of movements. Are these people dumb? Absolutely not. Then would they blindly follow or believe in something? They definitely wouldn’t. [6]

Li’s comments dispelled the misgivings—of which there were several, this being soon after the April 25 gathering at Zhongnanhai—of many people outside of China. And that is why the first thing Jiang Zemin did after launching the persecution of Falun Gong was to block all accurate information about Falun Gong from entering the country.

On the day the persecution in China began, Li made public a statement calling for the support and help of governments around the world, international organizations, and kindhearted people, asking for help resolving the crisis unfolding in China. He expressed a wish that the Chinese government and its leaders not consider Falun Gong’s practitioners as enemies.

Over the next several days Li spoke with reporters from various countries, stating and restating that Falun Gong did not pose a threat to any political regime and instead could only benefit a government, a country, or a peoples. On July 22 Falun Gong’s Clearwisdom website published a letter Li had sent to the Central Committee of the CCP and government leaders. In the letter he called on the Chinese government to refrain from adopting measures to persecute the innocent adherents of Falun Gong and to instead solve the problem through peaceful dialogue. He predicted that the violent, reckless persecution of the group would eventually bring disaster to the country and its people—something no good person would want to see happen.

Along with the peaceful petitioning by anywhere from one hundred thousand to a million Falun Gong adherents in China, support for the group also came from practitioners around the world. After the events of July 20, many devotees decided to gather at the United States capitol to meditate and peacefully petition the Chinese consulate in the U.S. Over the next two weeks adherents would reach out to the American government, congressmen, media, and consulates of countries around the world located in the United States, informing them about the suppression in China. The hope was a simple one: that these persons and groups would speak to the Chinese government on behalf of the persecuted.

Governments of the free world and human rights organizations responded promptly. Between July and December of 1999, many statements were made strongly condemning the CCP’s campaign—a campaign that violated human rights and freedom—and calling for the release of jailed and detained victims. Statements were made by the Canadian government, the World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA), and the Senate and House of Representatives of both Australia and the United States.

4. The CCP’s Decision-Making Body

Starting from the time when the signal was given to commence the suppression, the one who held the highest real government position, Premier Zhu Rongji of the State Council, didn’t show his face on television. For two weeks, in fact. One day mid-August that year (1999), the state-run CCTV broadcast news of Jiang having an informal discussion about the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) turning things around and overcoming financial problems. Usually it would have been Zhu’s place to comment on helping the SOEs to come out of financial difficulty within three years (as was said); it was Zhu, after all, who had formulated the admirable plan. Now even this domain had been ceded to Jiang. It seems that Zhu had grown by this time so jaded and dejected that he was throwing in the towel.

In August, in his report to the National People’s Congress on work related to the “Three Emphases,” [7] Li Peng said, “When it comes to Falun Gong people, don’t try to determine what they did or didn’t do in the past. The key is to look at whether they have changed their outlook on things. I have to make this point clear to my comrades. Don’t turn this internal conflict within our people into a conflict with ‘an enemy’—we have to be judicious.” Clearly and purposefully was Li Peng distancing himself from Jiang’s policy of suppression.

Members of the Politburo had similar views. What aggravated Jiang was that other than a few places, such as Shandong and Liaoning provinces, many cities and provinces weren’t interested in carrying out the persecution. They followed orders outwardly, but when it came down to it, they were derelict. In some cities and provinces in southern China, such as Guangdong, up until the end of 1999 statements such as, “The vast majority of Falun Gong practitioners are good people,” and “Not one practitioner will be sentenced in Guangdong,” were heard. Hu Jintao, the heir apparent to China’s throne, and Li Changchun only handled the matter passively and with little enthusiasm. They weren’t willing to go down in history as shameful persecutors, like Jiang.

Jiang felt he had no choice but to make a special trip to Guangdong province in February of 2000 so as to supervise in person the campaign against Falun Gong there. He criticized Guangdong for being “weak and incompetent in the suppression,” and forced Li Changchun (the province’s Party Secretary) to perform self-criticism at a Politburo meeting. Jiang also sent a personal fax to the Shenzhen municipal Party committee, telling them things such as to “defend the front.” Under pressure from Jiang and Luo Gan, Guangdong province in the end began sending Falun Gong adherents to forced labor camps. Of the first batch of followers sent to the camps, one was a college classmate of Hu Jintao, named Zhang Mengye. Someone told Jiang, “You killed two birds with one stone. You set a precedent for the persecution in Guangdong—if even Hu Jintao’s classmate is fair game, then who isn’t? At the same time, you gave Hu Jintao a bad name [in some people’s minds] for selling out his classmate when everything was on the line.”

Jiang led the charge single-handedly and made a big showing of it. Many in the central government looked on, however, as if watching the performance of a court jester.

5. Coercing Zhu Rongji

Bo Yibo noticed the stalemate regarding the suppression and thus gave Jiang an idea, saying, “The government hasn’t been putting forth enough effort on this matter. This is related to the fact that Comrade Rongji hasn’t emphasized it or publicly taken a stand.”

There was a saying circulating among the masses at the time: “Marxism has to be summed up in volumes. Mao Zedong’s ideology is summed up in books, Deng Xiaoping’s in articles, and that of Jiang Zemin in mere words. Each generation is a mere shadow of the one before it.” True enough, Jiang’s theories of the Three Emphases and Three Represents amount only to a few dozen words. They don’t make for much of an “ideology.”

After the persecution of Falun Gong began, Zeng Qinghong began to popularize the Three Emphases theory on a large scale. Jiang considered the theory a great opportunity to bolster his own image. As Zeng saw it, Zhu—who had met with Falun Gong practitioners during the April 25 gathering—needed to take a stance now, lest outsiders think there were dissenting views in the CCP. Zeng also thought that because Zhu had such reputation and prestige, if he were to support the persecution the Chinese people would be won over to Jiang’s side on the issue and the hopes of the petitioning Falun Gong practitioners would be dashed. The Three Emphases campaign was a great opportunity, Zeng realized, to coerce Zhu into taking a stand.

After Zeng shared his analysis with Jiang, Jiang had Zhu come to speak with him. The message he conveyed to Zhu was that the campaign to promote the Three Emphases wasn’t garnering enough support. Zhu needed to regard the effort, he was told, as one of safeguarding the position of the ruling Party and should thus be given its due attention. Jiang accused Zhu of “not following the overall political situation” and “harboring antagonism towards the Party Central Government’s policies and only passively paying them lip service.” He warned Zhu to take heed, that the most important of the Three Emphases was “stressing politics,” and that right now the suppression of Falun Gong was the most important political issue. Jiang said, “Comrade Rongji, the CCP requires that the State Council not only ‘stress politics,’ but stress it thoroughly. We should popularize the Three Emphases and integrate the ideology with the ‘most important political issue’ at hand—anything less would be an act of dividing the Part!”

After leaving Jiang’s office Zhu was visibly taciturn. Not long afterward Zhu did take a stance in support of Jiang’s decision to persecute—a stance at odds with his own convictions. Perhaps he didn’t want to suffer the pain of being labeled a “Rightist.” Or perhaps he thought about the pitiful predicament of Zhao Ziyang.

The Three Emphases didn’t really have any material impact. A saying going around at the time, which played on the meaning of Politburo members Wu Guangzheng and Wei Jiangxin’s given names, [8] was telling: “You talk about politics, studying, and an upright nature, yet in the end no official is upright; you are against embezzlement, corruption, and moral decline, yet in the end nothing proves to have worked.”

In Three Kingdoms period (220–280 A.D.) the cruelty and malice of tyrant Sima Zhao were widely known, but Sima could get away with it to a certain extent in that he had help in the form of Jia Cong doing his dirty work for him. Mao Zedong started the Cultural Revolution but put Lin Biao, Jiang Qing, and Zhang Chunqiao out in front to do the dirty work. When it came to the rather moronic move to persecute the Falun Gong, however, nobody was willing to do much for Jiang. Jiang wasn’t able to hide behind the scenes as the other figures had. Instead he had to rush to the forefront at every stage. He has revealed time again that he is the one to blame. It was he that wrote the letter to the Politburo the night of April 25, 1999, just as it was he—China’s top leader—who at the September 1999 APEC conference in New Zealand stooped to handing each head of state a small pamphlet maligning Falun Gong. Jiang was hopeful that the heads of state would do what he often denounced others for doing—to meddle in China’s “internal affairs”—and express approval of his suppression. But Jiang ran into a wall on this occasion. Clinton’s government, by way of the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom, had already made public in its Annual Report of September 9 its condemnation of the suppression of Falun Gong by China’s regime. Less than three months later, in a speech on human rights, Clinton publicly criticized China for persecuting the Falun Gong. He called the arrests of adherents “a troubling example” of human rights violations. Not one head of state dared to say Jiang’s persecution campaign was reasonable. Upon seeing to what little effect his pamphlets worked, Jiang accused other countries of “interfering with [China’s] internal affairs” and being “anti-China.”

6. The Celebration That Wasted Manpower and Money

The CCP continued its propaganda against Falun Gong on a daily basis. In its national news program, at least one piece of news each time was designated to discredit the Falun Gong. This lasted for over two months. This stopped abruptly for several days on the occasion of the CCP celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its coming to power. CCP officials wanted the public to feel that the political climate was stable and harmonious.

It was Jiang, the CCP’s General Secretary, who was most eager in regard to the fiftieth anniversary celebration. He wanted to have a huge portrait of himself placed next to that of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping on the main anniversary day; he wanted to feel as if king of the world, if even for a day. He also wanted to have the army, navy, and air force march before him—just as Deng had done on the thirty-fifth anniversary ceremony—and enjoy the feel of being Chairman of the Military Commission. Jiang further wanted to see on Tiananmen Square banners with slogans reading things such as “Rally Around Comrade Jiang Zemin, the Core of the CCP Central Committee.” He wanted his power declared to the world.

Initially the Politburo of the Central Committee set a rule that the scale of the fiftieth anniversary celebration should be similar to that of the thirty-fifth anniversary. In its implementation the guideline was, however, cast aside. Before the celebration Zhu Rongji called upon Zeng Peiyan, Minister of the Planning Commission, and Xiang Huaicheng, Minister of Finance, and asked them to provide details of the budget for the celebration. When he learned that the total cost would be 180 billion yuan (USD$22 billion) and that this included plans for elaborate ceremonial tributes, giving raises to public servants and retired staff, and creating new infrastructure for the celebration Zhu was furious. Zhu could only bite his lip, not uttering a word. Later he said to his staff, “I am the Premier, and yet cannot administer anything. The big projects in Beijing are just wasting manpower and capital. They are completely unnecessary. But can I put a stop to them? If this were the United States, forget a fiftieth anniversary, let’s say it was even a one hundredth anniversary, would anyone dare to do this [kind of irrational spending] in Washington, D.C.? Whoever tried to do something like this would get kicked out. Can all of the people’s money be spent on the capitol?”

Jiang, by contrast, said, “I think the celebration needs to have the look of great power. When it comes to activities celebrating the fiftieth anniversary, we need to think about their political impact rather than be limited by finances. And also, we do now have the state resources to pull it off.”

But even if China’s state resources could accomplish the feat, was it necessary? The money that Jiang lavishly spent on the project could have paid for roughly one hundred Project HOPE’s; [9] the educations of over 200 million students; or the daily needs of the 30 million unemployed for a year. [10]

When Jiang and his entourage drove across Tiananmen Square and Jiang imitated Deng Xiaoping, shouting “Hello, Comrades,” he was clearly not as confident as Deng. For Jiang knew that when Deng did the same, students from Peking University had hoisted banners reading “Hello, Xiaoping” on them and that Deng was supported by the nation’s people, or at least its peasants. This time around, when Jiang held his celebration, some 100 million citizens (the Falun Gong) had just been made enemies. They amounted an enormous number, never mind those counted among their friends and family.

7. The Suppression Intensifies

The suppression had begun almost three months before the ceremony. Around the time of the event, Falun Gong practitioners poured into Beijing to petition the central government. Jiang couldn’t understand how the Falun Gong practitioners, people who seemed weak and easily subjugated, had such an indomitable spirit.

The evening after the ceremony, Jiang went to find Zeng Qinghong. He said to Zeng, “Nowadays the news briefings we get have information every day about Falun Gong petitioning. Not long ago I ordered the Bureau of Letters and Calls to arrest and take away those who petitioned, but now the Falun Gong practitioners who come to Beijing go directly to Tiananmen Square and do their exercises in protest. There are people from each province every day, and this puts us on the defensive internationally.”

Zeng responded, “Right now, be it members of the Politburo Standing Committee, members of the Politburo, or officials at various levels of the Party, the vast majority are quite negative about the suppression. I suggest the following. First, let’s hold the top leader of each region responsible and fire him if the number of Falun Gong petitions exceeds a certain limit for his region. Second, Shandong province has the most people coming to petition. Tell Wu Guanzhen that we will remove him from his posit as Shandong Party Secretary and take away his membership in the Politburo if people from his province continue to petition. If his efforts in Shandong are effective, however, tell him he might be considered for membership in the Standing Committee of the Politburo at the Sixteenth National Congress. Third, Hu Jintao’s attitude on this is quite vague, and Li Changchun—who we had originally designated as the fifth generation successor—is not working hard on the suppression in Guangdong province. We must take measures.”

After seeing Zeng off, Jiang urgently called for and met with Lu Yongxiang, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Jiang hoped that the Academy could organize a group of academics to promote “science and atheism” as a means of criticizing Falun Gong. Lu Yongxiang reported that a group of academics headed by He Zuoxiu, Zhuang Fenggan, and Pan Jiazheng were trying to associate with various religious figures so as to form an official group to “expose and criticize” Falun Gong, spread atheism, and “intensify the campaign of criticism.” Jiang wasn’t impressed by the names Lu dropped, and asked him to work on China’s most accomplished scientist, Qian Xueshen.

At that time there were many persons in academe who in fact practiced Falun Gong. Many professors and students from the eight universities in Beijing’s Haidian District and from the Chinese Academy of Sciences had in fact participated in Falun Gong’s April 25 gathering. As the Chinese Academy of Sciences is the nation’s highest institution for scientific research and education and has a significant impact on China’s society, Jiang decided to promote his eldest son, Jiang Jingheng, to the position of Vice President in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This despite the fact that he had worked as President of Shanghai Metallurgy Research Institute for just three months—far below normal qualifications.

Usually in China a newly-minted Ph.D. in a scientific or technological field first does post-doctoral research and later becomes a lecturer; from there he would move up to the rank of an associate professor and later full professor; in time he would come to advise doctoral students, publish a number of papers, and head up his department; finally he would become president of the institute at which he works. Only the truly outstanding in China—all of whom have climbed a ladder of this sort—can become members of the Academy. Yet Jiang Jingheng hadn’t made any contributions to his academic field. Promoting him directly to the position of vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was anything but appropriate. But since it was Jiang Zemin who proposed the move, Lu Yongxiang had no choice but to fulfill the “request.” Thus it was that Jiang Jingheng—who had not so much as been a professor for a single day—became a leader of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Lee Yuan-tseh, President of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica and a Nobel Prize laureate, turned his nose up at what Jiang had done. Someone wrote at the time, “If Taiwan were returned [in terms of governing] to mainland China, and Academia Sinica merged with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it’s a given that they wouldn’t allow the head of Academia Sinica—a provincial level organization in their eyes—to become the head of the mainland’s Academy. So while it would be hard enough for someone of Lee Yuan-tseh’s caliber to be a subordinate to [the academically inferior] Lu Yongxiang, how much more insufferable would it be for him to be of the same status as Jiang Jingheng!”

Just before Jiang Jingheng was to assume his new position as Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in November of 1999, he established (in October), using father Jiang’s connections, a company called China Netcom Corporation. If initially he was driven by the high profitability of the telecom sector, it could be said that after China Netcom Corporation was up and running he turned his attention to sealing up China’s internet.

Falun Gong has a large number of accomplished scientists among its following, many of whom live abroad. A significant proportion of its overseas adherents have masters degrees or have pursued even further studies; many have doctorates, are professors, or are even department chairs. This is particularly the case in North America, where followers often use cutting edge technology to break through websites blockages set up by Chinese authorities and communicate with China’s Falun Gong. Their efforts have not only allowed the international community to learn about the oppression unfolding in China, but also, reciprocally, have allowed persons inside China to know about the international support for Falun Gong. Chinese authorities forbid such information from being accessed in China.

8. Hands Stained with Blood

Quite a number of retired high-ranking officials, such as Qiao Shi, felt terrible about Jiang’s suppressive campaign. Qiao had made an investigation into Falun Gong in 1998 and concluded that the practice and its followers were, in every sense, a benefit to the nation and its people. Sentiments such as this, combined with pressure from other nations and the increasing numbers of domestic petitioners, led to the topic of stopping the persecution and offering Falun Gong redress coming up at a 1999 meeting of the Politburo.

Jiang was extremely displeased upon learning of this. If Falun Gong were offered redress it would mean, to the entire nation, that Jiang had erred. Who wouldn’t know that the persecution was initiated by Jiang, and who would thus be the natural scapegoat?

Zeng Qinghong told Jiang that if he wanted to silence the dissenting voices in the Politburo he would have to intensify the suppression. Bo Yibo pitched in with additional advice, “The reason nobody talks seriously about redressing the Tiananmen Massacre is that so many were killed that it would be impossible to redress. Once it were redressed, our Party would be over.” At that point the suppression of Falun Gong had not reached the extent of the Massacre; the Politburo members wished to scare Jiang and strip him of power. Bo said, “I suggest you first kill some Falun Gong practitioners. Once it involves lives, they will rethink the costs of redressing it. Second, we need to have members of the Standing Committee and members of the Politburo speak openly in support of the crackdown, such that everybody could potentially be held responsible [were the matter to be redressed]. Third, it’s not enough to declare that the Falun Gong Research Society was an illegal organization. We must categorize it using more serious terms and have civilians come to believe that practicing Falun Gong is indeed a crime.”

Jiang took Bo’s suggestions to heart. Several days later, in Wu Guanzhen’s territory, Zhao Jinhua from Zhangxing county (of Zhaoyuan city), Shandong province, was shocked with electric batons, beaten, and tortured in other ways until she was pronounced dead (on October 7, 1999); this was done on grounds that she wouldn’t break from her practice of Falun Gong. The police were following orders from above and trying to force Zhao to “recant.” As they beat and tortured her, they pressed her as to whether she would still practice Falun Gong. She replied that she would keep saying “I will” unto death. Zhao became the first case known of a Falun Gong practitioner being tortured to death. On October 25, when Jiang was interviewed by Le Figaro, a French newspaper, he referred to Falun Gong as a “cult”—a new twist in the Party’s rhetoric—and said that the National People’s Congress would soon vote on a bill to prevent and crush so-called “cults.” At almost the same moment, over a dozen Falun Gong practitioners from Shenyang city and Beijing were holding up a banner on the north side of Tiananmen Monument, in Beijing. The banner, more than five meters long, was emblazoned with red characters on a white background, reading, “Falun Dafa Practitioner Lodge a Peaceful Petition.” Within fifteen seconds more than twenty uniformed and plainclothes police had surrounded and assaulted them with kicks and punches. The practitioners were quickly whisked away.

The next day most of the major media in the West reported something that enraged Jiang. They reported that a dozen-plus Falun Gong practitioners had made it through layers of police surveillance and held a press conference in a hotel in the suburbs of Beijing. They told the international reporters of their experiences doing Falun Gong and of the physical and spiritual good it brought them; they also discussed the reality of the brutal suppression they faced in China. Many reporters who were stationed in Beijing attended the press conference and reported accurately. Jiang was in France at the time. Upon learning the news he screamed, “Tell Luo Gan to resolve this immediately. Round up all of the Falun Gong practitioners who attended the conference and have them killed! I refuse to believe that we can’t finish off Falun Gong!” In the years that followed most of those who attended the conference were sentenced to prison, put into forced labor camps, or have gone missing. Two persons, Ding Yan (32 years of age) and Cai Ming (27 years of age), are known to have been killed.

In the first three months during which Falun Gong adherents were being unlawfully arrested several were tortured to death. As Jiang thought about the tremendous pressure he was facing from the international community, he realized that he had overlooked something while plotting the persecution: he had not established a legal basis for arresting and charging Falun Gong’s followers. After all, the Falun Gong issue was one of faith and freedom of thought, and existing laws didn’t cover crimes of thought, only actions. If Falun Gong were to be “finished off,” Jiang believed, this hole would have to be plugged.

It was thus that on October 30, 1999, a National People’s Congress incited by Jiang put forth a decision to punish alleged “cults.” To the international community, particularly problematic about the matter was that Jiang used the legislation—itself purely ideological—to order Chinese courts to retroactively sentence Falun Gong adherents who had been arrested as long ago as July. There are two basic principles of contemporary law: first, if the law does not designate something specifically as a crime, it cannot be considered a crime; and secondly, laws cannot be applied retroactively. Or put more simply, as long as the law does not call something a crime, one cannot be convicted for it; and new laws cannot make a person guilty for actions committed before the laws were enacted. Jiang wanted, however, to use laws made in October to convict persons for actions carried out in July or earlier.

There’s a Chinese saying about a “sharpshooter” who supposedly “hit the target each time he shot.” His secret, though, was merely to shoot an arrow first and then draw circles around the arrow on the target board. One could say this is what the CCP did with Falun Gong, and it is by such means that it has maintained its status as “great, glorious, and correct.”

It should be pointed out that even today, Chinese law has not banned Falun Gong. Even though Jiang ordered the Ministry of Public Security to publish an announcement with “six bans” (such as banning persons from doing Falun Gong or petitioning the government on its behalf) the Ministry of Public Security is not a legislative body. The “six bans” thus have no legal validity. Furthermore, the Anti-Cult legislation that the People’s Congress passed in October of 1999 cannot legally be used to convict Falun Gong adherents for being “cult members,” for when a law is created, it can only designate certain behaviors as being in violation of the law, not a certain group of people by dint of their identity. Whether someone is convicted or not should be decided during trial by a court; and the court, at that, is meant to determine whether or not the said person has violated some part of the law. The rhetoric denouncing Falun Gong as “a cult” has come either from Jiang or the People’s Daily—neither of which has legislative power. Little can their claims be used as a basis for court rulings. Yet regrettably this is what has happened.

Not long after the anti-cult move, Luo Gan acted on a prompting from Jiang and gave orders that Beijing Intermediate Court hold a court session on December 26, 1999. In the session former members of the Falun Gong Research Society Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen, Ji Liewu, and Yao Jie were sentenced to prison, the longest sentence being eighteen years. The trials invoked the recently-enacted, yet invalid, “laws.” More troublesome still was that Luo purposely chose the second day after Christmas as the court date, knowing this would help to evade international scrutiny; most Western journalists would be away from Beijing on vacation. What’s more, they arrested all of the three-hundred-plus practitioners who had applied to be present at the trial after the court date was announced, and even sent some of them to forced labor camps.

9. WTO Negotiations

Jiang urgently needed a way to improve China’s relations with the West and to quell popular discontent over the suppression. It was for this reason his thinking turned to the WTO.

Jiang called a meeting of the Politburo before a U.S. delegation was to arrive in Beijing. At the meeting Jiang said, “We must not have any illusions about the U.S. giving in as soon as we get a little tough. Clinton might not care much and sign the agreement with us, but as for the U.S. Congress, they won’t agree to it. In 1997 and in April of this year, when Comrade [Zhu] Rongji visited the U.S., simply because of the U.S. Congress getting in the way the WTO agreement was not signed. We must now continue our efforts. Necessary concessions may be unavoidable.”

Jiang always took China’s entry into the WTO to be a good opportunity for bolstering his own image. Thus it was when Zhu Rongji negotiated with the U.S. delegation that Jiang was at work behind the scenes. All concessions in the negotiations were made with Jiang’s personal endorsement. The concessions that Jiang made in order to gain WTO accession were far more than those proposed by Zhu during his April visit to the U.S. On October 15, when both sides finally signed the agreement, Zhu drew upon a lesson he had learned—that “great achievements make one’s boss feel insecure”—and didn’t attend the signing ceremony. Nor did he attend the celebration party held at Zhongnanhai that night. Newsweek magazine commented that the WTO agreement made Zhu Rongji “an invisible man.”

Jiang Zemin, on the other hand, attended the party with glee and received the U.S. delegation. He was aglow with delight, and said, “People are in high spirits when happy things take place.”

Jiang’s happiness didn’t last long, however. While he was spending the bulk of each day working on his suppression campaign of Falun Gong, it seemed that no matter how much effort he made—whether it was sending diplomats to lobby or giving heads of state booklets maligning Falun Gong—the international community wasn’t buying into it. Telling was that on the evening of November 18, 1999, the U.S. Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 218, which called on the Chinese government to stop persecuting Falun Gong. The next afternoon the U.S. Senate passed a sister resolution, Resolution 217.

The resolutions stated that Falun Gong is a form of personal belief that promotes peace and eschews violence, and that the CCP’s ban on Falun Gong not only violated China’s constitution but also The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The International Covenants on Human Rights. It went on to say that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who had stuck to their beliefs or asked the international community for help had been arrested, inhumanely treated, and even, in some cases, tortured in police custody. The resolutions urged the CCP to immediately stop persecuting Falun Gong and asked the U.S. government to make every effort, through various channels, both official and unofficial and including the UN Human Rights Commission, to strongly call upon the CCP to immediately release all imprisoned Falun Gong believers, to stop all inhumane treatment and oppression, and restore these persons freedom of belief as stipulated by the Chinese Constitution.

Jiang Zemin went his own way in deciding to ban Falun Gong. The resultant tragedy was disastrous for China and terrible for the world. The French prophet Nostradamus wrote the following, interestingly, in his book of prophecy, Centuries: “In the year 1999, seventh month, from the sky will come a great King of Terror.” On July 20, 1999, the solar system presented a celestial image that could only signify disaster: the nine planets aligned to form a massive cross. It was exactly that day that Jiang’s regime began its suppression of Falun Gong. Jiang declared at the time, “I just don’t believe that the Communist Party cannot defeat Falun Gong.” Since that day, some six years now, China has been enmeshed in calamity. Financial and material resources of astronomical proportions have been squandered by Jiang in suppressing Falun Gong. And the suppression continues today. Falun Gong’s followers have been resolute about opposing the injustice on their own, peaceful terms, and working to inform the world as to the injustice that has befallen them. They have held their ground, just as their principles, despite continued tumult around them. They have not retreated or disappeared. Meanwhile, beyond China’s borders, Falun Gong has spread widely, with constant support being extended its way around the world.



[1] See http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/1999/6/3/20106.html.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Liu served in the PLA as early as during the Cultural Revolution, and is a native of Jiang’s main turf, Shanghai.

[4] The petitioning system, explained later in this chapter, is an avenue provided by the government to Chinese citizens to express grievances they wish to see redressed.

[5] Out of concern for safety, their names, as with many others, will not be stated here.

[6] Interview at the International Convention Center, Sydney, Australia. May 2, 1999.

[7] For discussion of the Three Emphases, see Chapter 8, section 6.

[8] The former meaning “upright official” and the latter a homophone for “proven to work.”

[9] Project HOPE is a prominent charity organization in China that offers medical and educational assistance.

[10] That is, calculated at 500 yuan per person per month.

(Copyright © 2005 The Epoch Times)

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