SAN DIEGO, CA─Yet another U.S. elected official has made public a letter that appears to be part of a nationwide effort by the Chinese Consulates in this country to put pressure on U.S. government officials in an attempt to discredit and interfere with an American business enterprise: the global Chinese New Spectacular show.
On Jan. 4, Councilwoman Donna Frye of San Diego emailed The Epoch Times a letter she had received from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles.
In the letter, dated Dec. 17, the Chinese Consulate asks that the Councilwoman make sure that no congratulations, recognition letters, no attendance or support in any form be given by her to the Chinese New Year Spectacular show to be performed at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, January 15-17.
"The letter is ridiculous, I intend to just ignore it," said Frye.
The annual, global Chinese New Year Spectacular and New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) of New York, the media which is co-sponsoring and co-producing the show, have faced repeated attacks by the Chinese communist regime in the past.
NTDTV is an independent, nonprofit Chinese language satellite network known for its outspoken reporting about human rights abuses in China, including the persecution of the peaceful spiritual practice Falun Gong.
In May, 2005, 93 members of the Senate urged President Bush to support NTDTV as it was again faced with immediate dangers of shutdown because of Beijing's pressure on Eutelsat, the Paris-based satellite company that transmits NTDTV's signal over Asia. They recognized NTDTV as an important source of uncensored information from the West for tens of millions of private satellite dish owners across China.
The Chinese New Year Spectacular, now in its fifth season, has earned world acclaim for its revival of classical Chinese culture, with depiction of scenes from China's 5,000 year history, with the exception of its communist influences.
Another letter from the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate went to the chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Chris Norby, asking him not to recognize the upcoming Chinese New Year Spectacular performances at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido and at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
According to a Los Angeles Times report of Jan. 3, the letter drew a stern rebuke from the chairman of the county's Board of Supervisors Chris Norby who said it amounted to "an attempt by a foreign government to dictate to American elected officials what organizations we should support, recognize or associate with."
Similar letters sent by the Chinese Consulates to members of the U.S. governments have been responded to with differing levels of concern, contempt and outrage.
On Dec. 18, New York Assemblyman Michael Benjamin received a letter warning him not to send congratulatory greetings to or attend the NTDTV Holiday Wonders or Chinese New Year Spectacular shows in New York.
Assemblyman Benjamin said in an e-mail statement to The Epoch Times, "The CCP [Chinese communist party] insists to the world that there is only one China. They seek to drown out alternative voices. They fear that the world will learn the truth of their 'Animal Farm' regime."
On Dec. 20, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California stated, "The Chinese regime has again demonstrated that it is not content with just repressing the Chinese people at home, but abroad as well. For the Chinese government to reach into the U.S. to further its suppression of the Chinese people is unconscionable and should not escape the attention and condemnation of the American people."
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle confirmed that he too received such a letter with similar contents from the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, warning him that he might face possible damages to his mayor's reputation if he sent a congratulatory greeting or attended the Holiday Wonders show in Ft. Lauderdale.
Mayor Naugle said he was familiar with similar interference by the Chinese consulate in Houston and that he would answer the letter and explain to them that in America we allow different points of view. The Mayor signed a proclamation declaring December 27, 2007 as "Holiday Wonders Day" in Fort Lauderdale, and decided to go watch the program.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, also voiced her concerns. She said in an e-mail, "I am deeply concerned about reports of Chinese regime interference in the cultural activities of American citizens within the U.S. It would not surprise me given this regime's record of violating the rights and civil liberties of its people.
If true, the regime must be held accountable for infringing upon the Constitutional protections of freedom of speech and expression of our citizens. I shudder to think what will greet visitors next summer as they gather for the Olympics in Beijing."