‘After We Get Rich With Our Hard Work, the CCP Is There to Harvest’: Former Chinese Millionaire

‘After We Get Rich With Our Hard Work, the CCP Is There to Harvest’: Former Chinese Millionaire
On Aug. 20, 2022, Feng Zhenguo attended a rally in Vancouver, Canada, calling for the end of the CCP. The Chinese sentence printed on his T-Shirt reads: "Destroy the CCP. Build a new democratic country." (Da Yu/The Epoch Times)
Sophia Lam

The former owner of a profitable wood furniture factory in China’s Hebei Province experienced extortion from environmental authorities before being forced to sell the plant to Chinese police at an extremely low price.

“The communist regime’s so-called ’reform and opening up' is just to loosen the shackles around Chinese people’s necks when both its rule and economy are on the verge of collapse,” Feng Zhenguo told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Sept. 14.

“The communist regime allows you to experience a little bit of freedom and lets you work hard until you make some money. Then, it comes for your money.”

Feng had invested more than 3 million yuan (over $430,000) and had about 40 employees at the factory, which made high-end customized furniture, in Qinhuangdao, a port city 190 miles east of Beijing. But he was forced to sell the business to the police for only 400,000 yuan ($57,000).

He had originally set up the business out of his love for carpentry and good craftsmanship. “I thought that I could do something well if I was really fond of it and did it with all my heart,” he said.

Custom wood furniture made in Feng Zhenguo's factory. (Courtesy of Feng Zhenguo)
Custom wood furniture made in Feng Zhenguo's factory. (Courtesy of Feng Zhenguo)

However, the communist regime turned his life’s dream into a nightmare, repeatedly asking him for money while using various excuses and guises, he said.

“I suddenly came to understand that, under the rule of the CCP, we ordinary Chinese people are just like ants, insignificant and easily crushed, no matter how hard we work,” he said.

Environmental Protection in China an ‘Extortion Campaign’

For years, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) environmental authorities and police extorted money from Feng.

In 2016, he went about the various procedures listed for establishing a factory, including filing an application for an environmental impact assessment; that was the most troublesome of all the procedures, Feng said.

The assessment is part of “a mandatory legal system that determines whether a construction project can proceed,” states the website of the CCP’s rubber-stamp legislature. The local ecology and environment bureau assesses a construction project, after which a report will be submitted for approval regarding the site selection for the project, the effects on the surrounding environment, and any preventive measures to be taken.

A business can’t operate without the bureau’s approval.

In reality, the assessment process actually facilitates constant extortion by the bureau that oversees it, Feng said.

“For example, the ecology and environmental bureau would designate a certain supplier of environmental protection products,” he said. “You have to purchase from this supplier. For a piece of environmental protection equipment that is worth a bit more than 100,000 yuan [$21,000], this supplier might sell it for 400,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan [$57,000 to $71,000].”

That’s just one way that the bureau makes money from businesses that apply for assessments, he noted.

“They also designate a contractor for construction and an acceptance company for review at completion,” Feng said.

In his city, the boss of the acceptance company was a former deputy director of the ecology and environment bureau, he said. “The deputy director claims that he’s taken leave without pay, which is a red herring.”

The bureau and the acceptance company colluded to force business owners to pay more for the equipment, and that extra money is expected to guarantee approval of the assessment, Feng said.

Feng was relieved when he passed the assessment—after having spent several hundred thousand yuan—and was able to finally begin production.

“Many people have been forced to demolish their factories as they could not pass the assessment, and they went bankrupt,” he said. “Some committed suicide.”

After Feng passed the assessment, staffers from the ecology and environment bureau came to his factory regularly—roughly several times a month.

“They sent different people with different allegations,” he said. “We were never able to meet their requirements, because their purpose was to ask for money.”

The bureau official told him, “Our quota of fines for this year is 3 million yuan ($429,559), which we must fulfill.”

In addition to the regular payments, Feng needed to prepare for unexpected expenses.

For example, only months after he began production, he had to install new environmental protection equipment, since a new director of the ecology and environment bureau said that his equipment was substandard.

Feng had no choice but to comply, since he had already invested millions of yuan by then.

Undated photo of Feng Zhenguo's furniture factory in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, China. (Courtesy of Feng Zhenguo)
Undated photo of Feng Zhenguo's furniture factory in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, China. (Courtesy of Feng Zhenguo)
“The CCP’s environmental protection is a campaign to get money. It is not for the long-term protection of the enterprises or the environment,” he said.

Persecuted for Belief

Feng and his wife, Han Yanjing, accompanied their daughter to Vancouver, Canada, to study in 2019. There, a friend from their hometown brought Han to church.

Han returned to China in early 2020, just before the outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, to oversee the daily operations of the factory, while Feng stayed in Canada with their daughter.

Undated photo of Feng's family. From left to right: Feng Zhenguo, a daughter, and Feng's wife Han Yanjing (Courtesy of Feng Zhenguo)
Undated photo of Feng's family. From left to right: Feng Zhenguo, a daughter, and Feng's wife Han Yanjing (Courtesy of Feng Zhenguo)

Back in Qinhuangdao city, Han attended meetings at an underground church, a church not officially recognized by the Chinese Communist Party, several times with an employee. She was then targeted by the local police.

Zheng Shiyong, a police officer from Haiyang Police Station in Qinhuangdao, started visiting Han at her home, telling her that someone had reported her for participating in an “illegal rally.” He said that the police chief wouldn’t report her to higher authorities as long as she was willing to pay.

Han gave him 5,000 yuan ($715).

Several days later, Zheng returned to Han’s home, along with the police chief. A handmade wooden gazebo in her courtyard caught the police chief’s fancy. He asked Han to make one for him at cost.

Han knew what he meant, so she said, “If you like it, just take it.”

The chief claimed the gazebo a few days later.

Profitable Business

Feng had rented a little over an acre and a half of land to build a workshop with a floor area of about 32,200 square feet.

“I regarded the factory as my baby,” Feng said. “I had an ardent yearning for a bright future.”

With great care, he tended to the workshop’s operation, manufacturing, and planning. Each year, he set a new plan for sales targets, the number of employees, and the scale of production, and positioned his products to be unique, high-end solid wood items designed and made to customers’ requirements.

“In fact, my factory was very profitable. We customized high-grade solid wood furniture for those who planned to upgrade home decoration. In Qinhuangdao city, my brand, ‘Mu Jia, was in a position to set prices for high-end furniture. I didn’t want to compete with low-end products," Feng said.

His products were well received in the market. At a home decoration and construction materials exhibition, his products were so popular that his sales employees were all occupied answering calls and taking orders from customers. His customers came from as far as Xinjiang in the west of China.

His face beamed with happiness as he recalled that period of time.

“I felt very proud because I was able to offer job opportunities for about 40 people who were working with me,” he said.

Business a Steal at $57,274

Because of the police visits, Feng felt it was no longer safe to run the business, and told his wife to sell it.

While a potential buyer offered 2.8 million yuan ($400,000) for the plant, Feng was reluctant to sell it at that price, since his total investment had exceeded 3 million yuan and the business was making a good profit.

But after that, there were no other offers.

They decided to reach out to the person who had made the previous offer, but the man said he could no longer buy the factory “because someone from the police station” wanted it.

After some time, a man named Zhang Jian offered them 400,000 yuan ($57,274) and warned that they would get an even lower price if they didn’t take it.

Feng and his wife decided to sell to Zhang even though the offer didn’t even come close to covering their investment.

The couple eventually learned that Zhang represented Han Jiajun, a police officer from Haiyang Police Station.

Police Continue to Ask for Money

After selling the factory, Han found a job working for a friend. The couple didn’t expect that the police would call them again to ask for money.

Zheng Shiyong, the policeman who accompanied his boss to get the gazebo in Han’s yard, called Han before the Chinese New Year in 2021.

“We can no longer cover up your issue last time [Han going to the church in Qinhuangdao]. We have to report to our superiors.”

This time, Han couldn’t pay them. She fled to Canada and joined her husband and daughter when China lifted its travel restrictions.

Officials at the Haiyang Police Station declined on Sept. 15 to comment to The Epoch Times.

End the CCP

Feng is now enjoying life as a carpenter in Canada.

“I feel much more comfortable working as an ordinary carpenter in Canada than being a boss in China,” he said.

“The iron fist of the CCP kept hitting me almost every day, and I wasn’t able to have a good sleep during those years when I had my own factory in China.”

He sees now that private enterprises in China are just like “chives,” a term used by Chinese citizens to describe things that are easy to grow but are subject “to cuts or harvests.”

“After we get rich with our hard work, the CCP is there to harvest,” Feng said.

He said that the CCP has long been treating the Chinese people this way. When the Party first came into existence, it robbed wealthy farmers and then killed them. Since coming to power, the CCP has continued to kill the Chinese people.

Freedom of Belief

Feng says his family now enjoys the freedom of belief in Canada. He said he hopes that Chinese people in China will one day enjoy freedom as well.

“My grandpa told me when I was young that the CCP is very, very bad, and an organized gang of bandits,” he said.

On Aug. 20, Feng attended a rally in Vancouver that was calling for an end to the CCP. He was wearing a T-shirt, on which was printed in both Chinese and English: “Destroy the CCP, build a new democratic country.”

Lin Cenxin and Chang Chun contributed to this report.