Amnesty International Is Denied Lease in China-Owned NYC Building

May 14, 2019 Updated: May 15, 2019

NEW YORK—A giant shipping conglomerate owned by the Chinese regime has declined to lease space in a building it owns in New York City to the U.S. chapter of Amnesty International, an organization that’s been critical of China’s human rights abuses.

Amnesty International U.S.A. told The New York Times that just as it was about to sign a lease during the week of May 5 for office space in Wall Street Plaza, the building’s owner, Orient Overseas, said its new parent company, Cosco Shipping Holdings Co., put a stop to it.

A spokesperson for the human rights group said they were told they were “not the best tenant” for the 33-story tower on Pine Street in lower Manhattan. Orient Overseas, a subsidiary of a Hong Kong shipping company, Orient Overseas Container Line, had owned the building for almost 50 years, according to The NY Times.

But in 2017, Cosco Shipping bought Orient Overseas for $6.3 billion, making it one of the largest container shipping operators in the world and one of the largest shipping import companies in the United States. Cosco Shipping also took ownership of Orient’s real estate investments—including 88 Pine Street, its only U.S. property—according to The NY Times.

The NY Times said Cosco didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Amnesty International has urged action against the Beijing regime’s mass internment of ethnic minority Muslims. The group has been denied access to the internment camps in the Xinjiang region.

Other human rights groups claim that more than 1 million Uyghurs from Xinjiang are being held in so-called re-education camps, where they are forced to deny their faith and pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party. Other Uyghurs are subject to constant online surveillance and the collection of vocal samples, iris scans, and DNA sampling.

Amnesty International has also reported on the persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice with moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

Introduced to the Chinese public in 1992, Falun Gong soon gained popularity, with official estimates of roughly 100 million practitioners in mainland China by 1999. Fearing the popularity threatened the Chinese regime’s authority, then-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched nationwide persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in July 1999, rounding up adherents and throwing them into detention facilities, labor camps, and brainwashing centers in an effort to eradicate the faith.

In 2015, the Taiwanese branch of Amnesty International aided in rescuing Falun Gong practitioner Chen Zhenping, who was detained and tortured by the Chinese regime for her beliefs. Chen was detained at a women’s prison in Henan Province for seven years, where she was tortured and forced to perform slave labor. Amnesty International had taken up Chen’s case in 2012.

In the three years that followed, members of the group applied constant pressure on Chen’s persecutors, while appealing to the Finnish government and media, and Chinese authorities as well. Chen was released and reunited with her daughter at her new home in Finland in October 2015.

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.