Friday, April 21, 2006

Not a Good Day

Thanks to Peking Duck for the link. More about Dr. Wang's outburst here.

Not a Good Day for Relations Between China and the Bush Administration

The revelation that the White House granted a Falun Gong activist, Dr. Wang Wenyi, a temporary press pass in the name of the Epoch Times, whereupon she hectored Chinese president Hu Jintao at length on the White House lawn on April 20 during the welcoming ceremony, is unlikely to elicit a forgiving shrug from the Chinese government.

Dr. Wang is not a journalist. She is a pathologist, and the lead researcher on Falun Gong's current hot-button issue--the alleged vivisection of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese government at a facility in Shenyang, and the sale of their organs for transplant purposes.

The Epoch Times is widely known as an organ of the Falun Gong spiritual practice movement, which has been at loggerheads with the Chinese Communist Party ever since the Chinese government suppressed its practice in 1999.

An analogous situation would have been if the Chinese government had granted a credential to Jose Padilla's mother as representative of “The Newspaper of Record for Increasingly Desperate and Infuriated Relatives of Detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo” and permitted her to participate in President Bush’s visit to Beijing last year.

This quote from the AP report pretty much sums it up:

"It's hugely embarrassing," said Derek Mitchell, a former Asia adviser at the Pentagon and now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
China "must know that this Bush administration is good at controlling crowds for themselves, and the fact that they couldn't control this is going to play to their worst fears and suspicions about the United States, into mistrust about American intentions toward China."

It will be interesting to see how this spins out. Initial US news reports concentrated on Dr. Wang’s dire—and legally more problematic statements—along the lines of “President Hu, your days are numbered!”

Subsequent reports concentrated on the more civil disobedience-styled Let My People Goisms such as “President Bush, stop him from persecuting Falun Gong!”. More recent reports merely described Dr. Wang as “pleading with Bush to stop the Chinese president from persecuting the Falun Gong”.

Ming Pao reported more categorically that Dr. Wang declaimed in a piercing voice, shouting exhortations such as “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communists”, “Leave the Party”, “10 million heroes have left the party, when will you leave?”, “Judge Jiang Zemin, Luo Gan, Zhou Yongkang” and “Falun Practice is Great”.

Apparently Dr. Wang’s outburst continued for two minutes—which, one can confidently assume, felt like an eternity for the White House staff—before she was hustled from the scene.

The Epoch Times professed itself as flummoxed as Hu Jintao. The paper waited several hours before issuing a statement apologizing for Wang’s outburst and declaring the paper had nothing to do with it. As a mitigating circumstance, it also stated that Wang and the movement are incensed by horrific reports that the Chinese government is vivisecting Falun Gong supporters and harvesting and selling their organs.

From a domestic Chinese perspective, the image of Falun Gong as an organization of extraordinary reach and resource—after all, these were the same people who hacked into a Chinese TV satellite twice in 2003—has been reinforced.

And part of that image will now include the idea that Fa Lun Gong has penetrated the White House.

Bush administration apologies for sloppy security procedures will gain little traction.

It is difficult to believe that an administration that is so fetishistic about message control that it salts the White House press conferences with hustler-shills like Jeff Gannon to ensure favorable coverage did not understand that Epoch Times is the house organ of Falun Gong and could be expected at least to embarrass Hu Jintao if given the opportunity , if not verbally assault him.

It is also difficult to believe that the Epoch Times sought accreditation for Dr. Wang—who they describe as the key activist and researcher on the vivisection issue—for the White House ceremony with the idea that she would be fulfilling some conventional journalistic function.

I don’t know if Epoch Times has a regular Washington correspondent, but the fact that concerns about security and decorum relating to the admission of an unorthodox representative of an intensely hostile group—moreover, the point person for an issue described as “desperate”-- didn’t set off any alarm bells in the White House does seem kind of fishy.

Maybe there was some kind of nod-and-a-wink going on between a sympathetic party in the White House and Falun Gong to give the movement a platform to get its message out.

If there was, we’ll probably never know.

The takeaway, intentional or inadvertent, is that the Bush administration simply doesn’t care enough, either about Hu Jintao’s face--or about relations with his regime--to take care to prevent such a humiliating incident.

It also leaves the Bush administration open to the accusation that it lacks the skill, discipline, and credibility to conduct a carefully modulated policy of confrontation and conciliation with Beijing on behalf of the free world.

Altogether, not a good day.


bobby fletcher said...

Does Dr. Wang know her Sujiatun concentration camp allegation has been discredited?

"Officers and staff from our embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shenyang have visited the area and the specific site mentioned in these reports on two separate occasions," McCormack said.

"In these visits the officers were allowed to tour the entire facility and grounds and found no evidence that the site is being used for any function other than as a normal public hospital."

bodhi963 said...

I think it is premature to say that the story on Organ Harvesting (Vivisection) has been discredited. In fact, it appears to be gaining considerable momentum, with many of the more Liberal News services taking the Kilgour-Matas report seriously.

bodhi963 said...

I think it is premature to say that the story on Organ Harvesting (Vivisection) has been discredited. In fact, it appears to be gaining considerable momentum, with many of the more Liberal News services taking the Kilgour-Matas report seriously.

China Hand said...

I'm persuaded that there are abuses in the harvesting of prisoner's organs, and would not be surprised that FLG practitioners were suffering disproportionately. However, as I blogged

on November 28, I did not find the Matas/Kilgour report alleging an organized campaign of vivisection against FLG members impressive in its documentation or logic. Despite its flaws, the report has gained some traction and it perhaps will lead to better-researched and more conclusive investigations down the road.

bobby fletcher said...

Chinahand, have you or PKD covered the rebuttal from long time Chinese activist Harry Wu? Wu investigated FLG's allegation inside China and found it not credible, echoing US State department's investigation: (page 3)

As you can see, the hospital FLG fingered is actually partly owned by a Malaysian healthcare company, and is subject to oversight beyond Chinese authority.

Malay officials have visited the alleged site in previous year; the place has been open to public for years.

MaKina said...

I've just stumbled on your blog....Not a good day -- but it was a good day for exposing human rights wasn't it? Beijing needs to hear it from somebody--if politicians are too coward to even mention human rights to dictators, then the onus forcibly is on the victims to do so. Very risky for the victims. Enough said.

I thought you might be interested in reading this piece about Bobby who's commented on your blog. He's been all over the blogosphere discrediting the organ harvesting report. Have a look.

Western Standard (Alberta): Sowing Confusion; Embarrassed by reports of live
organ harvesting, China's sympathizers launch a high-tech disinformation

April 9, 2007 Monday
Final Edition

HEADLINE: Sowing Confusion; Embarrassed by reports of live organ harvesting,

China's sympathizers launch a high-tech disinformation campaign

BYLINE: Kevin Steel, Western Standard


He posts his messages everywhere under several different names on Internet
blogs and discussion groups. He writes letters to the editor anywhere and
sends e-mails to anyone--anyone who might take seriously shocking evidence
that the Chinese government "harvests" and sells live organs from political
prisoners. His main message is that the Falun Gong--the group which first
brought evidence of live organ harvesting to light--and the Epoch Times
newspaper that broke that story are spreading propaganda against China's
Communist government. And he's not even Chinese. He is Charles Liu, a
40-year-old Taiwanese-born technology consultant who lives in Issaquah,
Wash., and does business in China.

Liu has been so active and so pro-Beijing in his writings that some Falun
Gong supporters--in particular Epoch Times reporter Jana Shearer--have
accused him of being an agent for the Chinese government, waging a
disinformation campaign against them, trying to confuse people, and
deliberately wasting everyone's time.

It's a charge that upsets Liu, who dismisses it as "a bunch of kooky friends

making unfounded accusations. It's just a bunch of blog BS." As for why he
devotes so much energy to attacking the Falun Gong and the organ harvesting
allegations, he says, "My position is that I simply don't agree with their
brand of politics, because I observed their politics turning from
anti-Communist party, to anti-China, . . . and recently it's morphed into
this anti-Chinese hysteria and that's going to be hurting people," he says.
As an Asian-American, he says he decided to speak up.

He doesn't really explain, when asked, why he started a blog last year
called "The Myth of Tiananmen Square Massacre" under the name of Bobby
Fletcher (one of his online aliases, which he also uses to comment on the
Western Standard's online blog). On that blog, he pushes the minimal 250
casualty figure that the Chinese government has always maintained died that
night in 1989 (more reliable estimates put the figure at at least ten times

Liu's actions mirror disinformation campaigns waged by the Chinese
government in the past. Typically, these include the deliberate spreading of

false or misleading facts to sow confusion or doubt among the conflicting
accounts. The classic example is the Tiananmen Square massacre; the Chinese
government has maintained that no one died in the square itself, that there
was only pushing and shoving on the streets around the square, resulting in
a few military casualties. Overseas, the CCP relies on its United Front Work

department, part of the Chinese intelligence service, to propagate its
message. During the Cold War, the Soviets employed many overseas flunkies
through their Disinformation Department.

Former Canadian MP David Kilgour, who co-authored a report on China's
macabre organ harvesting industry, has received many propaganda e-mails from

Liu. For instance, Liu has written repeatedly that a U.S. congressional
committee looked into the organ harvesting allegations and found nothing.
"[David] Matas and I gave evidence to that subcommittee and got support from

both the Republican chairman and the Democratic vice-chair," says Kilgour.
"I just came to the conclusion he was trying to waste my time, and I have
other things to do."

Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer, and Kilgour's co-author, David Matas,
really doesn't know what to make of Liu. "I don't know who he is, but what
he does is spend a lot of time replicating nonsense to defend the Chinese
government," Matas says.

The only concern Matas has is that Liu seems to know who he and Kilgour met
with in the United States to discuss their report. Matas discovered Liu had
sent e-mails to politicians--and their staff--prior to the meetings. "The
only people who would have that information would potentially be the Chinese

government. I can't imagine how Liu would know we were meeting with those
people," Matas says. "We're not super-secretive, but you can't find
information on the Internet or in any public place about who we're meeting
with, where and when." He himself has received at least 10 e-mails from Liu,

all of which he's ignored. Maybe Matas is onto something with that approach.

Colour Photo: CP, Dave Cahn; David Kilgour (left) and David Matas,
co-authors of a report on China's organ harvesting industry: How does Liu
know who they're meeting with? ;

LOAD-DATE: March 29, 2007

JENG said...

Well it was obviously intentional and probably recycled for an episode of House of Cards Season 3.