In His Own Words: Hao Fengjun Explains Why He Escaped from China
A Special to the Epoch Times
Editor’s note: Hao Fengjun, 32, a former police officer of the 610 Office of the Tianjin Bureau of State Security, sought political asylum in Australia after he fled China in February, 2005. He left his work because he no longer wanted to be involved in the persecution of Falun Gong and other religious groups. Encouraged by the recent events related to the “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” and Chen Yonglin, Hao decided to step forward and tell the public the truth. The following is a transcript of Hao Fengjun’s words about why he chose to escape from China.
1. Family Background
I was born late in China’s Cultural Revolution. My father was a construction worker and my mother a housewife. I have an elder brother. My father was the only bread winner in the family. My childhood memories were full of political purges and earthquakes. The only good times I could remember were when I played in the mud and had water-fights with the other kids. Fortunately, my loving parents always taught me to be optimistic about the future, gave me moral instruction and told me what is really important in life. They also told me that I should have courage to face any difficulties and be positive in anything I do. My parents paid a lot of attention to the nurture of a child’s character by teaching us to be honest, righteous, modest, kind and brave. My growing years were profoundly influenced by my parents and I did well in school.
I had been fascinated by many professions, foremost among them was that of police officer. I wanted to make my contribution to society by fighting the bad guys and crime, and protecting people. I had worked to achieve that goal! In 1985, I got into Nankai High School, one of the five elite high schools in Tianjin City, through a competitive exam after finishing my grade school, and I chose to focus on the humanities.
The June 4th incident that shook the world broke out between the spring and summer of 1989 when I was a junior in high school. News about the student movement in Beijing spread to my school, and we began to care about the situation in Beijing and the students there. One day, led by our homeroom teacher, we took to the street in support of the college students in Beijing. The flyers I took and read while walking in the parade shocked me. I learned from those flyers the notorious acts of corruption by our country’s political leaders at various levels.
For instance, Deng Xiaoping’s son Deng Pufang held the post of president of China’s Federation of the Handicapped; another of Deng’s son, Deng Zhifang, was the board chairman of China Northern Inc. (an arms dealer), and so on. Watching the dialogue between China’s then premier Li Peng and college students on TV, I felt the questions raised by the students were indeed realistic. Though still in my formative years, I already saw a lot of social ills including graft, disparities between the rich and poor, and favoritism. What those college students stood for reflected exactly how I had felt and inspired my sympathy with the students’ just actions and my desire to fight for democracy and against corruption. Then, the central government silenced the whole incident with guns.
I learned afterwards that the personnel files of the college students would include records of their involvement in the June 4 demonstrations, and these students, after graduation, would have to find jobs themselves. Since no one dared to take them, they had to support themselves by doing odd jobs.
2. The Conflict between My Dreams and Reality
I got into the Tianjin Nankai University and became a student in the law department in 1991. Upon graduation in 1994, I was assigned to work in the Tianjin Public Security Bureau. One year of ideological and legal education in addition to military and submission training [training that makes one get used to obeying the order of higher authorities] left in the minds of college graduates that “the organs of the public security are violent apparatus in the state based on people’s democratic dictatorship, and the tools serving the Party.” We learned, after the brainwashing, to obey orders without asking why. I finished the basic police training at the end of 1994 and was assigned to the anti-riot team of the Heping branch of the Tianjin Public Security Bureau, where I worked for two years.
When I started out, I had wanted to get rid of gangsters and protect people, and arrested some suspects of murders, robberies, and drug trafficking. Meanwhile, many things that happened illogically during work hurt me profoundly. Take for example a case that took place in 1996. I got a report that someone was stabbed at Fulihua Entertainment Center. When we arrived there, we saw the injured man, stabbed four times and bloody, lying on the floor of the center’s lobby surrounded by six security guards in black suits.
Before I had a chance to ask about what had happened, the guards asked me to take the victim to the police station for detention. I felt both insulted and puzzled. And then my boss, Zhao Shaozhong, came and also ordered me to take the victim away, first for treatment in a hospital and then for detention. I’d rather have vanished into thin air at that moment! Was I still a police officer charged with the responsibility of protecting people? No way!
I didn’t learn the truth until later. Fulihua Entertainment Center was run by Liu Li, sister of Liu Ying who was a standing member of the city committee of Tianjin and Party chief of Heping District. It is well known that China, a socialist state, claims not to allow the existence of brothels. But it’s an open secret that Fulihua Entertainment Center was a whore house with patrons like Gao Dezhan, then the Party chief in Tianjin (later removed from the post for visiting prostitutes), and some high-ranking officials from Beijing and dandies of central leaders.
I didn’t have the heart to arrest the victim and asked my boss, Zhao Shaozhong, to let others take over. The victim was really held under police custody for 15 days for disturbing public order.??Actually, the victim had come to Fulihua Entertainment Center for his daughter, a college student who had gone back home every weekend until nearly half a year before. His daughter’s classmate told him that she worked as a bar girl and even a prostitute at Fulihua Entertainment Center after class every day and he could find her there. This case was a blow to me and I felt confused about my future. I didn’t know how to be a good person and a good policeman at the same time.
3. The Persecution of Falun Gong
In 1999 the well-known April 25th incident broke out. The direct cause for this event happened in Tianjin City. As a policeman serving the people, I witnessed the whole event.
At the beginning of April, we received a notice from higher authorities “To be secretly cautious of the scheme of Falun Gong.”
On April 11, 1999 an issue of a magazine for youth published by the Tianjin College of Education published an article attacking Falun Gong and its founder. The author of this article was He Zuoxiu, who was a member of an institute affiliated with the institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was one of a few radicals in China who opposed Falun Gong and qigong. Those radicals regarded all the supernatural phenomena of qigong practices as anti-science, superstition and deception. He claimed that Falun Gong caused mental illness, and said that Falun Gong was similar to the Boxers, who tried in the late 1800s to overthrow the government.
He Zuoxiu’s article greatly hurt the hearts of the Falun Gong practitioners. Therefore, some practitioners went to the Tianjin College of Education and other related governmental agencies to tell the facts.
At that time all of us were informed by the Tianjin Public Security Bureau to come to the site promptly and to provide traffic control, block any news reports and surround Falun Gong practitioners on the spot. On April 23, over three hundred riot police were redeployed to this area; they beat up and arrested forty-five Falun Gong practitioners. Some practitioners from the crowd went to the Tianjin municipal government directly. The city officials said they could not solve this problem. To do so, the practitioners should go to Beijing. The Falun Gong practitioners had to go to Beijing on April 25 and appeal to the higher authorities to solve the problem.
At that time, when I came to the site in order to do my job, the scene in front of me made me feel at a loss. I absolutely didn’t expect the congregated Falun Gong practitioners were going to strike the Tianjin College of Education with lethal weapons in their hands. Instead, they were all the ordinary civilians, former employees who had been laid off and had no money to pay for their medications, and the aged. I myself wouldn’t have had a single thought of hurting them. However, the scene didn’t last for a long time.
After two or three days of confrontation with the Falun Gong practitioners, the police started to clear the field. No matter how old or how sick the practitioners were, all of them were forcefully taken away from the site. A few critical members were brought to police stations for checkup and registration. Later on, I found that for all those registered Falun Gong practitioners, their behaviors would be recorded in their personal files permanently, which would affect them and their family members in the future regarding all social services.
I also knew that on that day, they had installed video cameras secretly on the surrounding high buildings of Tianjin College of Education, and tape-recorded all of the more than 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners on the spot.
After April 25, 1999, the Chinese government enhanced the work of collecting facts and information on Falun Gong and prepared fully for the persecution of Falun Gong. At that time, the functional departments in the Public Security Bureau and the Religious Affairs Department of the National Security Bureau all immediately became involved. In July, the higher authorities passed down a piece of news of that Falun Gong was going to be banned on July 18. They also informed us that the news was going to be broadcast by CCTV.
Later on, it is said that due to the disagreements among the higher authorities, the news wasn’t publicized. Before July 20, my workplace organized people from different levels and ranks to hold meetings and set forth and made firm our understanding of ideology. In those meetings, a few words of an oral order from the General Secretary of the CCP (Jiang Zemin) were passed down to us, claiming that we shouldn’t wait any longer to ban Falun Gong, and neither should we focus on solid evidence to do so. Otherwise, Falun Gong will ruin the Party and the nation, etc. On July 20, the news of the crackdown on Falun Gong was finally broadcast by CCTV, and my workplace organized everyone to watch it. From then on, I came to know Falun Gong.
At around eleven o’clock on the evening of July 20th, I was staying at home when my pager rang and I was called to attend a meeting at the police station. We were told that there would be many Falun Gong practitioners appealing the next day. The authority ordered us to stay overnight at the police station. Before five o’clock in the morning of the next day, we arrived at the location where we were assigned to be on duty: the front gate of the Communist Party Committee at Tianjin.
Policemen from our station were grouped into two teams and sent to the Communist Party Committee and the government building. One team was dressed in police uniforms to show they were on duty. The other team was dressed casually, so they could seize the opportunity to mix in the crowd, and, when the time was right, create negative effects.
At the same time, the authorities required us to be strictly disciplined and secretive. We were ordered to completely distance ourselves from the Falun Gong practitioners. At eight o’clock, many practitioners arrived at the Communist Party Committee and the Municipal Government. They lined up in two lines and waited to appeal. They asked why the city government banned Falun Gong. A leader from the appealing office of the Party Committee came out and told the policeman in charge, Mr. Zhou Lanshan, that they would not communicate with the practitioners. The committee member said to Zhou, first, try to persuade the practitioners to leave. If they still would not leave, then use force.
I didn’t execute the orders. Instead, I talked to a few practitioners who had come to appeal but had been forcibly taken to the Party Committee backyard. We chatted for a while. Our conversation topics ranged from human life, reality and society to health problems. That was the first impression I had about Falun Gong. On that day, several dozens of trucks carried away Falun Gong practitioners and dispersed them. We punished the main “leaders” of the group for disturbing social security.
The period after July 20 involved both public and underground registration and investigation in the city. The authority required every police station to register and report on Falun Gong practitioners (with emphasis on collecting data on participants in the events on April 25, July 20 and July 22). The authorities also demanded Falun Gong practitioners write a “guarantee letter” saying they would never practice Falun Gong again. Anyone who refused to write the letter would either be sent to education classes that were established by local governments, or be punished for disturbing social stability.
The Falun Gong practitioners who were registered or family members of the practitioners registered would have their rights deprived in many aspects, including university entrance, employment, children’s military assignments and pension, etc. They were put under great hardship. Some work units would even fire anybody who had been categorized as a Falun Gong practitioner.
After July 20, to ensure the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China would be safe and stable, Tianjin City launched a mass arrest of Falun Gong practitioners. This action was plotted by the first sector of the Tianjin Public Security Bureau (the political and security sector). A few days before the National Day, many Falun Gong practitioners across the country voluntarily went to Beijing to appeal, but were repatriated on a large scale. At that time, because the arrested Falun Gong practitioners refused to reveal their names and where they came from, the Central 610 Office was furious.
The Central 610 Office ordered local 610 Offices to allocate Falun Gong practitioners to each district according to population size. Several hundreds of practitioners were allocated to the Tianjin Public Security Bureau. The Public Security Bureau then allocated practitioners to each district station. Each district station then allocated practitioners to each local police station for investigation. Each local police station sent over somebody to claim practitioners as if claiming cattle. Whichever police station the practitioners were allocated to, the police station officers would collar practitioners with hemp ropes and force them to kneel down.
There were three female practitioners brought back to my police station. They were in their forties and fifties. All three were interrogated by our criminal investigation team. In the next couple of days of interrogation, I could hear extremely tragic crying and screaming every time I went to work. I later heard from a colleague that they received orders to use all means to force Falun Gong practitioners to reveal their names and family addresses.
During the period of Chinese New Year of 2000, in order to strengthen control over Falun Gong practitioners and prevent them from appealing to Beijing, work units, neighborhoods and police stations were ordered to set up brainwashing sessions and open “education classes.” Falun Gong practitioners were forced to listen to brainwashing materials together at one place. They must also pay a “study fee.” I expressed my dissatisfaction to some governmental officials. I said outlawing Falun Gong was a waste of manpower, material resources and financial resources. They only wanted to be healthy and good people. Why couldn’t you let them practice?
4. Passively Became a Staff in the Bureau of State Security, Started Facing People with Different Beliefs
In October, 2000, to strengthen political stability, the Central Committee of the CCP decided to raise the administrative power of the Political and Security Department in each Public Security Bureau over the country (i.e., the No. 1 department in the Tianjin Public Security Bureau) to sub-bureau level, and combined it with the local 610 Office to formed the current Bureau of State Security.
What is ironical is that although the newly formed bureau has an administrative power of a city bureau, very few wanted to join it. At that time, a tragedy occurred. The bureau requested each branch in the Public Security Bureau to use a computer program to randomly draw names from the roster. Whoever who was selected by the computer must report to the newly formed bureau. Otherwise he would be counted as quitting the job. Unfortunately, I was pulled out by the machine and have to join this bureau that nobody wanted to work with.
In order to support my family, I started working for the newly formed Tianjin Bureau of State Security until February, 2005 when I managed to escape from China. I was in charge of Falun Gong issue, and dealt with other Qigong sects that were labeled cults by the Chinese government.
Later, on October 3, 2001, the Network Monitoring Team of the Tianjin Public Security Bureau discovered that some Falun Gong practitioners surfed oversea Clearwisdon.net by breaking the firewall blockage. They passed this information to police in the 610 Office of the Bureau of State Security. The Falun Gong Investigation Team in the 610 Office was in charge of this case. They asked the No. 1 division (the investigation department) of the Tianjin Public Security Bureau to provide support on monitoring, tracking, secret searching, and secret arresting of Falun Practitioners. At the end of the year, this “103 ” case was listed as a special case by Chinese Ministry of Public Security.
5. My Heart Sunk to the Bottom Witnessing the Miserable Experience of an Innocent Mother and Daughter
In the beginning of 2002, they authority started arresting people involved in the “103” case. In one day, 79 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested and other two escaped. One of the escaped practitioners was a 13 year-old girl named Xu Ziao. This girl’s mother, Sun Ti, was arrested and little Xu hence became homeless at the age of 13. One night in Feb 2002, I received a call asking me to go back to work and accompany a Falun Gong practitioner to see a doctor. I rushed to work and drove with a female officer to the prison of the Nankai Branch of Tianjin Public Security Bureau. When we arrived the prison located at Erwei Rd., Nankai District, I saw Sun Ti sat on a table in an interrogation room. Sun’s eyes were so swollen because of the beating. The police who interrogated Sun was Mr. Mu Ruili, captain of the 2nd division of the 610 Office of the Bureau of State Security. Mu was holding a steel rod (0.6 inch in diameter) with screw thread stained with blood. There was a hi-voltage electric baton sitting on the table. As we entered the room, we asked Mu to leave. Sun burst into tears and was going show us the injuries. I volunteered to leave the room since she was a woman. Sun stopped me and showed me her back. I was terribly shocked. Almost her entire back turned black and there were two cuts about 8 inches long with blood coming out.
After a while, Zhao Yuezeng, the Assistant Director of the Bureau of State Security and the Director of the 610 Office, came. To my surprise, Zhao ordered me not to mention this to anyone and asked me and the female officer to take Sun to the infirmary of the prison. For the next 30 days, we had to apply medicine on Sun. Almost everyday I heard Sun asked about her daughter’s whereabouts and told us how Falun Gong practitioners are good people. My heart was shattered into pieces. I knew Falun Gong practitioners are good people and I cared about her daughter even more. A 13-year-old girl who lost her parents and couldn’t even go to her relatives (all her relatives were monitored), how could she find food and a place to sleep? I regretted I didn’t stop this from happening. My heart became anxious and heavy and I cried.
I often dreamed about what happened to Sun and Xu and the miserable scene I witnessed, and I lost sleep. I was in a total despair about China’s future and my future as a police.
Later I heard that Sun Ti was sentence to 7 to 10 years and I am not sure whether she is alive now or not.
My Sympathy For An Old Scientist Started It All
It was just after the 2004 New Year, in Tianjin State Security Bureau where I serve received a special assignment. Four or five policemen, led by 610 Office chief Shi He, went to Shijiazhuang city in Hebei Province to handle a “special” case. After they had returned, I saw a white-haired, elderly man hanging from handcuffs in the interrogation room. I later learn that he was Jing Zhanyi, a high level official in Hebei province. After the interrogation, a reporter from China Central Television came to interview Jing Zhanyi. The plan was to show the world how much this official regretted his involvement with Falun Gong.
I was outside the door that day while the interview was being carefully conducted. I heard the Deputy Director of the State Security Bureau, Zhao Yuezeng, told Jing Zhanyi that they would reduce his sentence if he was willing to recite some lines that they had prepared for him, otherwise he would be charged with treason and face either a life sentence or execution by firing squad. The poor old man complied with their requests and went on TV to criticize Falun Gong with their words. Afterwards, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The reporter saw me as she was leaving the interview and asked me for my comment, probably wanting to gather some supporting statements. But to her disappointment I told her, “Aren’t these lies?” I walked away leaving her standing there, shocked.
My comment to that reporter brought me enormous trouble. Two days after the incident, Deputy Dirctor Zhao Yuezeng came to me and asked what I had meant by “lies”. Without mincing my words, I asked him, “Why did you threaten Jing Zhanyi?” He pounded the table and claimed that I was revolting. I knew in my heart that to fight him is like throwing an egg at a stone, so I kept silent. He said that I should think the matter through and write a formal self-criticism statement before returning to work.
I was thus kept in solitary confinement in a cell at Tianjin Public Security Bureau 7th Division, where there are solitary confinement cells specifically for policemen. The moment I walked into the cell I was in total despair.?That was the first and only time I have been locked up in a cell. The ten square meter cell has no windows. A light hangs from the ceiling by a cord and stays on 24 hours a day; the toilet in the corner emits a constant foul stench. February was extremely cold in Tianjin, but the cell had no heating. I lived for nearly a month in these conditions. When I walked out of the cell, my ears and hands had been damaged by the freezing temperatures and my hands were swollen like steamed buns, while my ears constantly emitted pus. During those 30 days, I wasn’t even once allowed to call my family. I was tormented mentally and physically by those people to the brink of collapse. Even then, I did not say or write one word of repentance. Finally one day I was released without given any reason. Later I learned that they were trying to keep the incident low-key, fearing that I might expose their torture of Falun Gong practitioners and other scandals.
After my release I was moved to the mail room, delivering newspapers and mail and doing various chores, until I fled abroad. My fiancée suffered greatly while I was in solitary confinement. She sensed that something was wrong, but when she, my mother and my brother called the office looking for me they told her that I was on a business trip. I was heart broken when I heard this. They are so deceitful that they would even lie to the family of their own officers! What would they not do? Where is justice?
My Escape To Freedom and Democracy
In China, police officers are not normally allowed to go abroad. If they go abroad, they must do so after a secret-preservation period, which, for an officer in the State Security Bureau, is at least five years following his resignation. Otherwise, one is treated as committing treason. Therefore, getting a passport for me became a major problem since I did not want to alarm my work unit. I approached a friend who changed my work unit details on my household registration document, and I thus smoothly obtained a passport.
In February 2005, I finally obtained an Australian travel visa. I began to prepare things. I got to Beijing airport at 9am on February 14 and took a flight on the same day to Shenzhen, intending to go through the customs and get to the Hong Kong side at 6:30pm.
While waiting to go through the border controls at Shenzhen, I was afraid of being searched, because I had with me a large number of files saved in my MP3 player containing information about the organized persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese government. I called my family to say that if I did not phone by 7:30 pm, it meant that I had failed to pass the border controls, and was in danger.
It was with trepidation that my fiancée and I boarded a flight from Hong Kong to Australia. We landed with indescribable relief, on February 15, on such a land of beauty, freedom and democracy.
My work unit has now realized that I’ve gone missing, and they have begun to pressure my family to convince me to return. They promised that “everything will be taken care of” if I would go back to China. The most wicked is that they also deceive and threaten my fiancé’s family. I know we mustn’t return. They will use the most despicable methods in dealing with us. I have sent the work unit a letter of resignation, but they refused to accept it and chose to fire me instead. They also threatened my fiancé and myself, through our families, “not to speak nonsense”, or things could happen to our families in China.
Neither my fiancée nor I can phone our families, because the telephones are tapped. The only way that I can communicate back home is to call my brother at his office. On the phone, my brother never talks about the family situation and only tries to comfort me by saying that things are going well. However, I know that they are facing difficulties and danger. It makes me apprehensive that I have brought this kind of hardship to our two families. I’ve no way of knowing if we will ever meet again.
Inspired By the “Nine Commentaries” and Chen Yonglin I Decided To Step Forward
I know for certain that the Chinese government will never leave my family or myself alone. Since coming to Australia I have read Nine Commentaries and been deeply moved. Among the articles and events mentioned in Nine Commentaries, some I have seen and others I have not. But ordinary Chinese citizens would not be able to see such articles. The Nine Commentaries expose the dark aspects of China which are all facts. After reading the Nine Commentaries, I had the urge of stepping out.
A few days ago, at a memorial rally for the June 4th massacre, I learned that Chen Yonglin, a former Chinese Consul General in Australia, stepped out publicly to expose Chinese government’s infiltration abroad. I was deeply inspired. I thought that Chen Yonglin as a diplomat of the Chinese Communist regime had made such a (brave) choice; I felt proud for him and I decided to step out to support Chen Yonglin with my action.
I am joyful that I’ve found my coordinates for life again. I firmly believe that the pursuit of justice is a perpetual goal of my life.
I thank my family and my fiancée’s family for giving us courage and strength. I also thank all the kind-hearted people who have helped us.