Dear Secretary Rice,
Perhaps you look upon relations with Communist China as a tight rope or high wire, where one in your position must perform a balancing act. It may also be true, to extend the analogy, that you have wobbled during your act. That would explain why you and I have sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed. Two examples of where we disagree are the "Countries of Particular Concern" list, and the "worst human rights offenders" list. When you took Vietnam off of the former, I called for you to resign. When you took China off of the latter, I called for you to resign. I continue to feel strongly that those nations belong on those lists.
Conversely, we have been on the same page, as when you were pushing for the freedom of China's dissident,
Yang Jianli. And of course I applaud any blandishments for freedom, democracy, and human rights. I run the China Support Network, formed by Americans in 1989 when everyone had the urge to respond to the bloody Tiananmen Square massacre —the carnage and tragedy that befell China in that year.
Now I have a new matter for you, and this one calls for a diplomatic demarche to Communist China. There has been the sudden onset of "rent-a-mob" counter demonstrators, confronting and harrassing the peaceful protestors of the Chinese democracy movement and the Falun Gong spiritual movement. In fact, similar "rent-a-mobs" have been counter demonstrators for pro-Tibetan campaigners. I'm not sure about the Save Darfur coalition; they, too are against the Summer Olympic Games if they are held in Beijing given its current policies. While I can't speak for the latter campaigners, I am regularly found among Chinese dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners—or just say, human rights campaigners.
In the United States of America, which advertises an environment of free expression, should we be tolerating overt interference, vandalism, and assault directed at human rights campaigners in their peaceful, lawful activities?—No! Very clearly, Communist China is testing its limits, because the recent actions against human rights campaigners have been coordinated and stage-managed—we believe from officials at Chinese Consulates.
Perhaps I can recount my own personal experience, due to my involvement with the human rights campaigners. The Human Rights Torch Relay, an alternative to the Olympic torch, began crossing the United States on March 30. I began a speaking tour at related rallies. The crowds were very supportive, and there were no hecklers, counter demonstrators, or opposition—at first. I witnessed half a dozen rallies with warm receptions. On April 24 at Princeton University was the first occasion with counter demonstrators. They were Princeton students and they were peaceful and orderly—not overly disruptive. On April 26 at Yale University, Chinese students did a separate program of their own nearby, using another area of the New Haven Green for a counter demonstration. There may have been tense moments as our parade passed by their area, and "the reds" aggressively crowded "the blues" to jeer the procession.
CCP Incites Flushing Mobs
So far, I would say "no harm, no foul." America is a democratic environment and I support the right of "the other side" to be there (even while I disagree with "the reds"). Also on May 17, I was present at a rally in Flushing Queens of New York City. This was for the "Quit the CCP" campaign, a different effort than the Human Rights Torch Relay. The "blue" rally on our side of the street, of perhaps 50 people, was jeered by a crowd of about 400 "red" Chinese on the other side of the street. While this situation was tense, I thought that Flushing police did a great job of keeping the two sides apart. At least while I spoke, I witnessed no violence.
Jeering can be considered acceptable in a democracy—if I could tell you, "no harm, no foul" then we wouldn't have this letter. Unfortunately, the "red" crowds have been crossing the line into the area of unacceptable interference, vandalism, and assault. Reports from the scene are that a 70-year-old retired engineer was beaten at that May 17 occasion. The Epoch Times reported, "Peaceful Rally Attacked in New York City's Chinatown." To my knowledge, the Falun Gong presence in Flushing, New York has been attacked repeatedly, each day since May 17.—And reports tell us that similar attacks have simultaneously occurred in Los Angeles and in Japan.
The Flushing police department and City Councilman John Liu can attest to escalation that has happened in recent days. At least two arrests have been made by Flushing police, and Councilman Liu appeared on the scene to lecture through a bullhorn. As expressed by the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI), "Queens police arrested two men in connection with Tuesday's assaults.... Both stand charged with assault, and may be prosecuted for a hate crime. The victims' identity as Falun Gong members is believed to have been the crimes' motive."
Peaceful human rights activists stand with materials such as their booth and their signs. Whether we speak of vandalism to those materials, or whether we speak of physical assaults and death threats to human rights campaigners, these actions serve to deprive the victims of their freedom of expression. They should not be suffering a penalty in consequence of their use of political free speech. A line has been crossed, and these actions are Communist-organized (see below). Councilman Liu drew the line as he said, "This is a fundamental fact in the United States of America: that everybody has a right to say what they want. There's freedom of speech. But nobody has a right to lay a physical hand on anybody else. Or to even touch their belongings including their own signs that they use to make their statements."
Hence, we and I call upon you, Secretary Rice, to make a diplomatic demarche with Communist China. Their consular officials—in making trouble for human rights activists—have crossed a line; have gone too far; and have exceeded the limits of what is acceptable conduct on our soil here in the United States of America. One of our volunteers under attack is a U.S. citizen and mother of two U.S. Marines who are serving the USA in Iraq. She was assaulted and received a death threat. Now she has written an open letter to President Bush. You can read that letter from Judy Chen. Also you can watch video from Flushing, NY.
Are we correctly pinning these actions upon the Chinese Communist Party?—You betcha! Think about the PR—public relations situation. Would mainland Chinese media ever cover the rallies of human rights activists? Not usually. Usually, "the blues" are a verboten taboo in red China.—However, and not by accident, mainland Chinese media arrived at the scene of the attack upon Saturday's rally. According to FDI, "One woman at the Flushing scene identified herself as a reporter sent from Changchun Television, a state-run media entity in northeastern China. A second individual, a male, identified himself as a Beijing journalist assigned to take photos."
As reported by The Epoch Times, "The attack on the rally seems to have been coordinated with Chinese-language media that are controlled or influenced by the CCP. These media outlets, such as CCTV, ordinarily do not cover rallies held to urge people to quit the CCP.
"On Saturday, these media outlets were present in force. Immediately after the event ended, they published and broadcast stories whose themes were that the participants in this rally 'do not care about the victims of the Sichuan earthquake' and 'do not love China.'" The Times also reported that "One of the attackers shouted in Chinese into his cell phone 'Hurry! Bring more people over here. Each person will be paid 90 dollars.' " Hence the term "rent-a-mob."
To sophisticated Western eyes, the sequence of events is very telling. On the one hand, it is a new day when human rights campaigners get coverage from Mainland news media. But on the other hand, the press coverage amounted to hit pieces to tarnish and slander the human rights campaigners. I can say again that this does not happen by accident. Mainland media does not get dispatched to Flushing, NY unless the assignment is in accordance with wishes of the Chinese Communist Party. The regime has tipped its hand. These incidents are a calling card, and they are testing the United States.
A diplomatic demarche is the least you could do. We continue to call for a boycott of the Olympics and the removal of PNTR trade status from Communist China. Thank you for taking these concerns into consideration.
John P. Kusumi
China Support Network, Director Emeritus