U.S. Lawmakers Condemn Chinese Oppression of American Falun Gong
Falun Gong practitioners in U.S. victims of vandalism, harassment, violence, and death threats
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) isn’t happy. She knows what’s going on.
“The Chinese authorities show no regard for human life; no mercy; no remorse.”
Ros-Lehtinen, herself once a refugee of a communist nation, is taking on Chinese officials for a stunning, however bizarre, program of violence and intimidation aimed at U.S. Falun Gong adherents.
“We will not sit idly by as you infringe upon the rights of our citizens and residents who practice Falun Gong,” Ros-Lehtinen told Chinese officials recently, speaking before Congress.
“Falun Gong practitioners in the U.S. are the victims of death threats; car bombs; vandalism against their homes; cyberattacks and harassment.”
Chinese officials have even gone so far as to pressure, with diplomatic and economic threat, local U.S. officials who would support Falun Gong and its human rights.
The illicit effort began in 2000 on orders from then Communist Party head, Jiang Zemin. Jiang feared growing awareness, and resultant criticism, of the human rights abuses perpetrated against Falun Gong in China. Jiang ordered Chinese agents to “intensify the struggle overseas.” Shortly after, incidents of violence and intimidation here in the States started to grow.
The actions, however, haven’t gone unnoticed.
Ros-Lehtinen joined last year with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) to put a stop to the tawdry tactics. Several months ago the two began working on corrective legislation, ultimately introducing a resolution to the House of Representatives.
“The Resolution is about defending human rights and democracy,” Woolsey said.
“I am outraged that a foreign government would try to interfere with our democratic process.”
This past October, the House of Representatives unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 304, condemning the Chinese Government’s oppression of Falun Gong in both the United States and China.
Ros-Lehtinen described the legislation—and the problem more largely—saying it, “focuses on reports and investigations on the use of fear, intimidation and oppression, often connected with violence, right here within the borders of our own country.”
Citing cases in which Chinese-Government agents targeted U.S. officials, residents, and citizens from New York to San Francisco, the resolution calls upon the Chinese Government to, among other things, immediately “cease using the diplomatic missions in the United States to spread falsehoods about the nature of Falun Gong.”
In particular, the Resolution cited a gang beating that took place on June 23, 2003, in which “Falun Gong practitioners were attacked outside a Chinese restaurant in New York City by local United States-based individuals with reported ties to the Chinese Government.”
Similar beatings in San Francisco and Chicago are also cited in the Resolution, the latter of which resulted in battery convictions against two assailants—both members of Chicago-area Chinese associations that maintain “close ties with the Chinese Consulate.”
The Resolution also cited a number of cases where Chinese consular officials pressured U.S. public officials to rescind support for Falun Gong, threatening, in some cases, economic repercussions if they failed to do so. Many U.S. cities have delicate investments in and trade relationships with China.
In all, some 75 members of Congress co-sponsored the Resolution.
In the clearest warning yet to Chinese officialdom, Resolution 304 concludes that the U.S. Attorney General should investigate reports of Chinese consular officials in the U.S. committing illegal acts against Falun Gong or local elected officials, and take appropriate measures. It further resolves that officials should report incidents of harassment or pressure by P.R.C. agents to Congress, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State.
“What this faction of China’s leadership is doing is really self-defeating,” says Shiyu Zhou, a professor and frequent commentator on China affairs.
“The more they try to scare and silence people overseas, the more people find out, and the worse they end up looking.”