My first big argument with my dad erupted in my senior year of high school when I told him that I had decided to pursue a degree, and then a career, in journalism.
“My head teacher also believes it’s a good decision and strongly encourages me.”
“No. That’s not for you, my child.”
I looked at my dad in disbelief. I tried to reason with him that I had always preferred liberal arts over sciences, and was guaranteed admission to the top university in China. I pleaded with him.
My dad sat there, listening to me patiently. But he wouldn’t change his mind.
“You’re not going to pursue journalism as a career. Not in this society, not in this time,” he quietly said to me.
Out of despair, I shouted, “But why?!”
“Because I’m your dad. I don’t want you to lie to be successful, and I don’t want you to die because you speak the truth.”
Dad’s Brush With the Cultural Revolution
That day, for the first time in my life, I learned that when I was only 1 month old, my dad was forced into a three-week reeducation class for his “improper discussion” of the government leaders with his friends. He was forced to study Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book every day and to “dig deep” into his mind to eradicate any not-so-red thoughts about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the revolutionary government.
“Compared with those who eventually were sent to the forced labor camp or even prison, I was lucky that they let me come home after three weeks. When I held you again in my arms, I vowed that I would not let you or your mom go through this again.”
That day, Dad told me what he had witnessed and gone through during the Great Leap Forward, the Great Chinese Famine, and the Cultural Revolution. He then reminded me of what had happened to my grandparents. During the Cultural Revolution, among other things, they were labeled “Rich Farmers,” one of the five “Black Categories,” and as a result had part of their house confiscated for village use so that the “Poor Peasants” (one of the five “Red Categories”) could use it for free. They suffered physically and mentally during the whole 10-year Cultural Revolution.
“I’m proud to have a daughter who’s honest and outspoken. But simply because of that, journalism is not for you. Let’s try something in engineering instead.”
The Regime Persecutes Good People
My head teacher was, of course, disappointed and wanted to have a talk with my dad. He told my dad at the end of their meeting, “The Cultural Revolution ended almost 10 years ago, but you are still living in its shadow.”
What happened a few years later on June 4, 1989, in Tiananmen Square proved that it wasn’t a shadow, but still very much a reality.
Ten years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP launched another brutal persecution against its own people, on July 20, 1999. This time, they targeted Falun Gong practitioners who believe in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Millions have been detained or imprisoned, and untold numbers have died from torture in custody.
In particular, the CCP has mobilized the entire state-run propaganda apparatus to conduct an all-out assault on Falun Gong. To target the entire society, the propaganda was spread across every medium imaginable: state-run radio stations, newspapers, billboards, comic books, posters, movies, a TV series, and even theatrical plays.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 13, 2001, “Beijing has ratcheted up the campaign to a fever pitch, bombarding citizens with an old, communist-style propaganda war.”
I then realized how lucky I was to have a dad who had the foresight to save me from being part of this vicious media campaign.
It was then that I realized how lucky I was to have a dad who had exhausted his life savings to provide me with the opportunity to leave the country shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre to study in the United States, where I can freely practice Falun Gong without risking my freedom or my life.
Another Argument With Dad, Another Brush With the Regime
I would have my second big argument with my dad soon after.
During one of my annual trips to China to visit my parents, my dad got a call two days after I had arrived. National Security agents wanted to have a talk with me. Dad got off the phone and told me: “Call the airline and change your return flight to the next available one. I’ll meet with them after you leave the country.”
“No, Dad. I won’t put you through this. I’ll go.”
But no matter how firmly I insisted that I stay and meet with the agents, Dad wouldn’t listen. It was like a déjà vu of a scene 20 years ago, where I reasoned, pleaded, and eventually shouted in tears, “But why?!”
“Because I’m your dad,” came the same answer.
The 10-hour flight back to the United States was the longest flight in my life. The minute I was on American soil, I found a payphone and called home. My eyes welled up with tears when Dad’s voice came on the other end.
The National Security agents were not happy that my dad had met with them alone. They tried to intimidate my dad by telling him how much they knew about my personal life in America. They urged my dad to convince me to stop practicing Falun Gong and to not get involved with “Western political forces.” They still want to meet with me in person if I ever go back to China.
Dad told them that as far as he knew, I wasn’t involved with any political forces. He also told them that he had also read some of Falun Gong’s teachings and found nothing wrong or political. He told them how much I had changed for the better, both health-wise and personality-wise, since I started practicing Falun Gong.
“As a parent, I have no heart to tell my daughter to stop.”
What a lucky girl I am!
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Han Zhou was born in China and has lived in the United States for more than 30 years. She uses a pen name to protect her family in China from the possible consequences of her speaking the truth.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.