“Never forget,” wrote the exiled Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei in his new memoir, “that under a totalitarian system, cruelty and absurdity go hand in hand.”
He is absolutely right.
Last week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started talking about democracy. Indeed, its State Council published a paper declaring itself a “whole-process democracy.”
Excuse me? That is morally cruel—insulting—and intellectually absurd.
If it were not for my friends in prison in Hong Kong or languishing in concentration camps in Xinjiang, if it were not for Chinese Christian pastors jailed for their faith, Falun Gong practitioners tortured and stripped of their organs, Tibetan Buddhists defrocked and repressed, or civil society activists and citizen journalists hunted down for revealing the truth about the Chinese regime’s failings and corruption, I would have simply laughed. It’s like a joke. But because of the consequences of the policies of one of the world’s most brutal, cruel, mendacious, criminal, repressive totalitarian regimes, I did not laugh. Because it’s a sick joke.
First of all, let’s unpack Beijing’s ludicrous claims about democracy, and ask and answer some questions.
Are there free, fair, multi-party contested elections in China? No.
Are there genuine, independent opinion polls? No.
Are people able to express an opinion freely, without fear of arrest, torture, and disappearance? No.
Is there an independent judiciary, with innocence until proven guilty, fair trial, no one above the law? No.
Is there an independent media, free to scrutinize, report, and express opinions? No.
Is there a free civil society, in which activists can hold the government accountable? No.
Is there widespread, systematic, and cruel torture? Yes.
Are there prison camps with slave labor, sexual violence, and horrific gulag conditions? Yes.
Are places of worship destroyed or desecrated by the state on a widespread scale? Yes.
Do people disappear or end up in jail simply for expressing an opinion or revealing some facts or allegations that the regime finds uncomfortable? Yes.
You only have to look at the case of China’s tennis star, Peng Shuai. After alleging that a very senior CCP leader sexually abused her, she disappeared. Instead of her abuser being held accountable, it was Peng who was forced into a public confession, coerced into withdrawing her allegation, and compelled to appear in public in staged video scenarios—at a dinner with her coach, on court in a match, and in an audience with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
It’s obvious to everyone that these appearances are not free or natural—and that unfortunately, as Peter Dahlin rightly describes, Bach is an accomplice—witting or unwitting—to a crime. Despite her staged appearances, Peng is not free. We must not stop asking every day #WhereIsPengShuai and demanding #FreePengShuai.
Then there’s Hong Kong, whose freedom has been torn apart before its very eyes. The city now faces a new so-called election—which demeans the term and should be rephrased as “selection”—on Dec. 19, for its puppet, zombie, rubber-stamp legislature.
Ever since the handover in 1997, Beijing has always had a built-in majority in Hong Kong’s partially-democratic legislature. But the pro-democracy camp’s victory in district council elections two years ago so spooked Xi Jinping that pro-Beijing lawmakers decided to disqualify and expel the entire pro-democracy camp of legislators last year, and introduced a new electoral system that would turn Hong Kong’s legislature into a local branch of the National People’s Congress.
In other words, the system is so rigged that a genuine vote counts for nothing. The result of the election on Dec. 19 is already predetermined. The only result that is awaited is whether it is a 90 percent, 95 percent, or 99.9 percent majority for the CCP and its henchmen.
Even worse, there are hints that casting a blank vote might be deemed a crime under the regime’s absurdly vague and draconian National Security Law, imposed by Beijing on July 1, 2020. The Hong Kong people, therefore, cannot vote for opposition candidates, and face a risk of jail if they spoil their ballot papers. I don’t usually tell people to stay away from the ballot box, but on this occasion I agree with my friend Nathan Law, who urges Hongkongers to stay home. He is right. Why risk legitimizing a process that has no shred of credibility whatsoever and that might land you in jail if you vote the wrong way? Watch a movie instead.
Later this week, an independent tribunal, chaired by the man who prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic, British barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, will deliver its judgment on whether or not the atrocities perpetrated against the Uyghurs amount to genocide. It is a judgment we all await eagerly, because it will be the first quasi-judicial opinion.
Parliaments from around the world, including Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and the United States—both the previous and current Secretaries of State, Mike Pompeo and Anthony Blinken—have already declared it a genocide. But for some, the argument has been that no court has done so. The problem is that no international court under the current system can do so, hence the need for an independent people’s tribunal.
Let’s see what they conclude. The wisdom of a process led by Milosevic’s prosecutor—who knows a thing or two about international law—ought to be taken seriously.
Finally, there’s the question of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begins in less than two months.
Personally, I think it’s shameful that the IOC has allowed the Games to proceed. The dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong over the past two years, the reports of forced organ harvesting over several years, the growing allegations of genocide of the Uyghurs, decades of repression in Tibet, continued and intensifying persecution of Christians, the crackdown on media, lawyers, dissidents, and civil society, and the disappearance of public figures ought, taken together, to have led to a decision to reassign the Games to another host. The disappearance of lawyer Gao Zhisheng, the abduction from Thailand of Chinese-born Swedish national Gui Minhai, actress Zhao Wei, and billionaire Jack Ma, among others, should have given the international community pause for thought.
In the absence of a last-minute outbreak of courage by the IOC, it is clear that no representative of the free, democratic world should attend the Games in any form—no government representative, no royalty however junior, and no diplomat, however lowly. None.
But that’s a minimum. No consumer, no spectator should engage with these Genocide Games at all. Fans should boycott corporate sponsors. And the media should take the opportunity to talk about the crimes of the Chinese regime hosting the Games, instead—or at least as well as—the sports themselves. We must ensure that the scenes on our screens are not white-washed with snow sports, but are bloodstained with the atrocities of the host regime.
In the coming months, we have much work to do. If we believe in freedom and human rights, then we must not regard Beijing’s propaganda and lies, the Hong Kong sham elections, or the ridiculous Winter Olympics as a fait accompli. Indeed, the battle is only just beginning.
It’s carpe diem time. Let’s expose to the world the truth about both the cruelty and the absurdity of the CCP.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.