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Speech on Forum: A Closer Look into China

Posted by Author on December 10, 2006

by Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice President of the European Parliament, at New York Summit Forum “China’s Global Strategy and Inner Crisis,” organized by The Future China Forum , The SecretChina News, and co-organized by The Epoch Times, the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, Sound-of-Hope Radio Network, New Tang Dynasty TV, and The Beijing Spring Magazine, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on November 10.

Transcript of Mr. McMillan-Scott’s Speech on 11/10/06 NY Forum:

Thank you Sen, very much indeed, and thank you to the other introductory speakers. I was with Tony a few weeks ago in Australia, and I was delighted to meet John Nania yesterday in New York.

Perhaps I should explain my own position in relation to China and its future and religious freedom. I’m a Conservative member of the European Parliament, I was elected in 1984, and I set up in 1992 the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, which is a program aimed originally at transforming the ex-Soviet bloc. And in 1996, I was appointed by the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee as the Rapporteur, that’s to say, the coordinator of an opinion, on EU-China relations.

At that time, the EU and China sought to establish a full relationship, which was primarily concerned with trade, but also looked at human rights, and established a human rights dialogue. I visited China on a number of occasions, and wrote a very critical report of the state of human rights in China, and the complete absence of political freedom. I was concerned, at that time, about rights, in particular religious beliefs. And so, that’s the personal background.

Only one other remark: My previous contact with China was absolutely zero. My uncle was killed by the Chinese in Korea, and he has no known grave, and for six months his family knew nothing of his fate. But that is entirely typical of the absence of concern about individuals that characterizes the Communist regime in China, which has been in existence since I was born in August 1949.

A few months ago earlier this year, the nature of relationships between civilized countries and China suffered something of a shock. We had all been aware, those of us who deal in human rights and democracy and religious freedom, of the crackdown by the Chinese regime of the Falun Gong practice in China dated from the 10th of July, 1999, and the very brutal repression, which the practitioners had suffered. But a new dimension began in March of this year, when reports of organ harvesting began to emerge here in the United States and elsewhere in the world. And since I am currently preparing a review of the programs on democracy and human rights I set up in 1992, I was very pleased to take the opportunity of a visit to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taiwan: a fact-finding visit in May that Sen has referred to, since it offered me an opportunity first-hand to look into these allegations.

I arrived in Beijing in May, and immediately went with a Falun Gong practitioner who had helped arrange a meeting to a hotel nearby. And in that hotel, in a bedroom, I met two former prisoners of the regime.

Niu Jingping is in his 50s, and he was there with his 2-and-a-half year old daughter from his second marriage. He told me that his wife—his second wife—was in prison in Beijing; that she was also a Falun Gong practitioner; and was being tortured for her beliefs in order to encourage her to renounce her practice. He said that she was black and blue over the whole of her body as a result of repeated beatings, that she had become deaf as a result of this torture, and that visiting days were often advised to him after the visiting day had taken place. He told me that her treatment was very typical of Falun Gong practitioners who are detained in China and suffering political reeducation. I asked him whether he had heard of reports of organ harvesting, and he said he had not.

I then spoke to Cao Dong, a young man in his 30s, a former tour guide in Beijing. And he too had been married, his wife had been in prison as well. And he had been in prison in northern China, and his marriage had then broken up. He too had suffered very harsh treatment in prison, and had been forced to make tourist goods for export. But what was significant about this young man, was when I asked him about organ harvesting.

I don’t think I need to tell you in this audience what organ harvesting is, but just for the clarification, it is a widespread practice in China to execute prisoners and then to sell their organs for transplant—livers, kidneys, lungs, and other organs. What is new is the systematic use of Falun Gong practitioners as a resource, the body parts for organs.

I asked Cao Dong whether he was aware of such reports, and he told me that he, while he was in prison, had a good friend, his buddy, who disappeared in one evening in the prison in northern China; he’d been there for four years. And the next time he saw his friend, it was his body—his cadaver—with holes where apparently body parts had been removed. Now that is a direct report, you can say evidence if you like, of the removal of body parts from a prisoner, who is also a Falun Gong practitioner.

I later discovered that it is only Falun Gong practitioners, who while imprisoned in China, always have blood tests, urine tests, and blood pressure tests. And these tests are not done for their own health; they are done for another purpose. And that purpose we believe to be the use of their body parts for profits.

I regret to say that after that meeting, everybody present, apart from myself and my assistant, were arrested. Steve, the American who had helped arrange the meeting, was deported. Niu Jingping, the elder man, was held for a week and questioned, and then released with his daughter. Cao Dong, the younger man, remains in prison to this day. He has apparently been charged with a criminal offense—in China—of disseminating Falun Gong material.

During the course of this four-day visit to Beijing, I had been advised that I should meet a very distinguished individual in China today, Mr. Gao Zhisheng. Gao Zhisheng is a Christian, who is a self-taught lawyer, and he has represented many cases of people who he believes are victims of human rights abuses in China. These include people with property problems, and people who’ve had religious pressure, including Falun Gong practitioners. As a matter of fact, he knew of Niu Jingping, because they had been in telephone contact. However, I was advised by the EU ambassadors that to meet Gao Zhisheng would be harmful to Gao Zhisheng. And so, I decided I’d better not, since by that time I already knew that everybody had been arrested whom I’d already met.

I left China and went to Hong Kong. When I was in Hong Kong, I addressed a Forum like this. And a friend of my family, who happened to be passing by, saw my name on the billboard, and came in and said, “I admire what you’re doing!” He’s a journalist with Hong Kong Radio, an Englishman. He said, “A few months ago, a friend of mine needed a new liver. And he called the hospital in Shenzhen, and the hospital in China said, ‘Come right over. We can find you a liver. It’ll probably take about a week.'” In the U.K., the average time to get a new liver would be anything from eight months onwards. In China today, it’s a matter of eight days.

Many of you may know the two Canadians, David Kilgour and David Matas: David Kilgour, a former Minister, Secretary of State for Asian Affairs, a lawyer, and a human rights specialist; and David Matas, a distinguished human rights attorney. They began to collect the available evidence of organ harvesting earlier this year. In early summer, they produced a report, which brought together all the available evidence of organ harvesting. They established 18 methods of proof. And I traveled to Australia and New Zealand recently with David Kilgour. We met a number of politicians. In Australia, we were fortunate enough in securing the commitments from both the opposition and the government of an international inquiry into organ harvesting. This I look forward to seeing on the table.

After I left Beijing, I organized a telephone call with Gao Zhisheng. And this took place the week after I returned to the U.K. We spoke for more than an hour and a half. Gao Zhisheng said how he had been treated by the regime: His law office had been closed, he was under house arrest since February, and he said, “Down below in my apartment block, there are a number of policemen drinking beer. When I go out, they kick me. They abuse me. They treat me like a dog, but I’m used to this. I can put up with it.” He said, “I want you to tell the world, that when people come to Beijing, they should do like you have done. They should meet former prisoners and people who have been oppressed by the regime. It is only if people outside China stand up for those within that we will begin to defeat this tyranny.”

Mr. Chairman, it’s an honor to share a platform with Wei Jingsheng, one of the greatest exponents of human rights and freedom in China, who I have met before on a number of occasions. I pay tribute to his massive political courage and personal courage. I knew he’d understand how distressed I was, when, on August 15 (as it happened, my birthday), Gao Zhisheng was arrested. He was taken away to an unknown place; we now believe he’s in Beijing somewhere. He was later charged on September 29 with subversion. That is the current state of play.

Now, I have made a number of representations, primarily within the EU, about the fate of Cao Dong and Gao Zhisheng. I have tried to raise the nature of their detentions as typical of the hundreds of thousands of people in China today who are imprisoned for their beliefs, whether political or religious, who are being tortured, and whose human rights are completely ignored.

I’m here in New York as part of a delegation of the European Parliament to meet with figures of the United Nations. It’s part of the routine series of visits every year, in the context of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I believe strongly in forceful representation. I don’t believe that diplomacy can work with a country like China, or indeed a country like Egypt—there are many around the world. I was in Cuba last week, where similar tyranny applies.

But sometimes you need to take advantage of the meetings you have. And this morning, I met Kofi Annan, the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations. I handed him the following letter. Now, I’m going to read it to you; it’s not very long:

*************************** Dear Mr. Annan,

I traveled, as rapporteur for the review of the EU’s Democracy and Human Rights Instrument, which I founded in 1992, to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan on 21–29 May 2006 on a fact-finding mission, in particular to investigate claims of organ harvesting.

On 21 May in Beijing I held a meeting with Mr. Cao Dong, a Falun Gong practitioner, who had been ‘administratively detained’ for his religious beliefs. He said he had seen his friend’s cadaver with holes where parts had apparently been removed. He had discharged his sentence and was guilty of no crime. Following this meeting, he was arrested.

I have recently learned that he is still being detained by the Chinese public authorities, has been transferred to Gansu province and is being held in the Public Security Bureau detention center charged with ‘producing Falun Gong material’ on September 29, 2006.

During my time in Beijing, I sought a meeting with the distinguished human rights attorney Mr. Gao Zhisheng, but was advised against this by several embassies on the grounds of his safety. Over the past years Gao Zhisheng has developed an international reputation for his courageous stand on religious freedom: he has represented Falun Gong practitioners, members of underground churches, and victims of forced evictions.

On 4 June, I spoke to him at some length on the telephone. On August 15, he was arrested, has been charged with ‘subversion’ by the regime and is being held in Beijing.

I would like to request your personal intervention with the Chinese authorities to call for the release of both of these men.

Yours Sincerely,

Edward McMillan-Scott ***************************

Now I hope, Mr. Chairman, that Mr. Annan and I, in our discussion, had raised the question of human rights in China, and described China as a “difficult country.” That is the terminology in the European Union, that we define countries like Cuba, or China, or Burma. But it was a different terminology in the United Nations. For understandable reasons, China is a key player within the United Nations; it is known as a “complex environment.” And that phrase disguises the most massive and longstanding infringement of personal human rights in modern times—since 1949, the oppressive, brutal, arbitrary, and paranoid regime, which currently runs the largest country on Earth.

I believe, and I said this to Kofi Annan this morning, that the European Union and the United Nations should make common cause. But in particular, the EU, which has no particular relations with China, should be more ambitious, should be more hard-hitting in its approach to relations with China. We have, after all, the great good fortune in Europe, to have witnessed in the last few years an enormous conversion, and I played a small part in it myself.

This was the ending of the regime of the Soviet Union, and its replacement by freedom, peace, and security, and in large measure economic freedom, right across the Continent of Europe. So that countries like Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (which was Czechoslovakia), Slovakia itself, and soon Romania and Bulgaria, now form the European Union. Twenty five going on twenty seven nations living in peace with each other, and upholding democracy and human rights within this economic, political, and social space.

And when I look at China today, with its ludicrous relationship with neighboring territories—and I define neighboring territories as Hong Kong, as Taiwan, and as Tibet, and of course the Chinese peoples in Singapore—I ask myself why China cannot learn from the history of the European Union, which in the past 60-odd years, during my lifetime, has gone from a Continent of starvation, war, internal political repression, and political arbitrariness, to the European Union we see today. Why can this model not be applied to the Chinese people, and I mean all of the Chinese people. This is my optimistic hope for the future.

But let’s be realistic; let’s be realistic. The regime in China today is corrupted. When I was in Beijing, I was entertained to dinner by a very rich Chinese woman. We were in a restaurant very near Tiananmen Square. It was quite a noisy party in the next door room. And I said to this young lady, who I met on the plane on the way from Paris to Beijing—I won’t tell you her name, because she was very kind to me, but I think she’s part of the regime—she said, “That’s a politician who’s come up from the country to receive his bribes for granting planning permissions.” That is the regime in China today, because corruption is at every level of the administration.

What was, whatever you like to feel about Communism, a generally idealistic beginning back in 1919 or 1921 when the Chinese Communist Party was founded, has now developed into the most tyrannous and vicious money-making enterprise the world has ever seen. So corruption there is, corruption at all levels, and the people of China know it.

As you probably know in recent months, a report on internal dissents in the rural areas revealed that nearly 100,000 incidents in one year have taken place, largely by people who have been dispossessed of their capacity to farm, or otherwise use land, by the authorities. This must be the tip of the iceberg, because from all the discussions I had when I was in China, two things emerged: One, that China today is more repressive, more brutal, more lacking in political, religious, and other freedoms than it was ten years ago when I was last there.

I say, in particular, when you look at the status of Falun Gong, when I was there ten years ago, every open space in China, you saw qigong practitioners of various types, but many of them from Falun Gong, practicing freely. Today, no practitioners anywhere in China—too frightened, understandably so. China is a corrupt country, but the people know it. And the people are getting resistive.

One of the messages I want to impart today is one of the lessons in Europe that we learned in the late 1980s. People knew back then that the communists were corrupt. They knew that the regimes were repressive, were arbitrary, and were brutal. In Bulgaria alone, there were 45 internal concentration camps discovered after freedom came to Bulgaria in 1990.

But what was it that got the Velvet Revolution going all across Eastern and Central Europe? Was it political activists? No. There was no political freedom. It was the religions. And in particular, the Protestant religion. I was a Catholic so I’m ashamed to tell you this, but it’s true that it was the Protestant pastors who went from their pulpits through the church and out into the streets, in Eastern Germany, in Czechoslovakia, all the way through to Eastern Romania, and they said, “This must stop.” In a very few months, this extraordinary revolution swept Europe, in which only two people died—Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu.

So the message that I bring to you today is that those people in China who are suffering repression, particularly for their religious beliefs—there are more than 50 million Christians in China today, countless Muslims, maybe 100 million Falun Gong practitioners, all of whom are to a greater or lesser degree repressed by the regime.

I say to the Chinese authorities: Take on religions on your peril. Because there is one thing you can never change, by force, by torture, by repression, by brutal tactics, and that is religious belief. I believe that the strategy of repression of the Falun Gong begun in 1999 was a huge strategic mistake for the regime in China.

I say that I believe with some reason that what happened in Central and Eastern Europe can happen in China, and it doesn’t need to imply massive death, massive killings, massive reactions from the public. It can happen quite peacefully, and it should happen quite peacefully.

But I also say to those involved in crimes against humanity, and organ harvesting of one particular category of society—under the Genocide Convention, it is genocide. One of the proud achievements during my political life has been the setting up of this fund for democracy and human rights, which provides all the funding for the International Criminal Court, and I know that’s not a very popular institution here in the United States. America will not take part in it. But it is now judging cases of crimes against humanity from the Balkans and from countries in Africa where there has been civil war.

I put the people of China on notice that they should identify, they should note, they should record those crimes against humanity, which in future, in my view, will be judged by the International Criminal Court.

I say one other thing, since the Olympic Committee was in Beijing only a few days ago. I do not believe that the 2008 Olympics should take place in China, where repression of the sort that I have witnessed personally continues to take place. I’m grateful to you for listening to me; please keep the faith. Thank you.

extract from news report “Vice President of the European Parliament: A Closer Look into China”, The Epoch Times, Dec 06, 2006

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