Zhang Hongbao in Blast Furnace

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The Most Conspicuous Political Litigation in America Today

----An Analysis of Zhang Hongbao's Political Asylum Case

Guan Kaicheng

 

The case of ZhangHongbao's application for political asylum in the United States has dawdled into the first week of its second year and evolved into the most conspicuous case in America today. In the past year Mr. Zhang, who came to America to seek moral support from Clinton Administration for the Zhonggong organization, has been incarcerated in Guam's immigration prison under the excuse of "physical protection," deprived of his personal freedom and treated as an ordinary prisoner. The mistreatment Mr. Zhang has received in America may serve as a lampoon targeted at a country that has always upheld its reputation as a preeminent promoter and advocator of human rights.  By now, Clinton has left the White House , but the political riddle of Zhang Hongbao's political asylum case, a riddle that evolved into its current shape during Mr. Clinton's presidency, is still fomenting various conjectures and interpretations.

 

A mission to seek moral assistance for a suppressed organization was tactfully transformed into an individual case of Zhang's application for Political Asylum.

 

It is well known that Mr. Zhong Hongbao, the founder and leader of China's largest spiritual organization-Zhonggong, has always been viewed by the Chinese Communist Party as its most dangerous political enemy. Zhang was politically persecuted not only because his political concepts are antagonistic to Marxism, the theoretical foundation of CCP and the Communist China, but also because under his leadership, Zhonggong has developed, at a remarkable speed, into an organization with numerous members. Zhang Hongbao was forced into exile in 1994 and continued, from abroad, to monitor and direct the operations of Zhonggong organizations in China. Beginning in October 1999, the Chinese government launched an overall crackdown on the Zhonggong organization, with its more than thirty-eight million members. CCP shut down 3,000 Zhonggong's enterprises and organizations that had registered legally, confiscated fixed assets worth more than 810 million RMB, froze bank accounts of more than 60 million RMB, arrested more than 600 key members of Zhonggong organizations, sentenced some of them to imprisonment with the charge of "subversion of the government," and laid out a far-flung network over more than 30 country in a desperate attempt to capture Mr. Zhang Hongbao.

 

Under the tremendous pressure imposed by CCP's intense manhunt, Mr. Zhang had no other choice but to conceal his identity and relocate frequently. Going through countless hardships on a mission for his Zhonggong organization, Zhang Hongbao took a tortuous journey to the United States, to ask Clinton Administration's permission for a temporary stay in the country, in order to pave the way for obtaining more substantial assistance at higher levels. Upon his arrival in Guam on January 29, 2000, Zhang was received by an INS officer. Having listened to Zhang's explications, the officer immediately expressed his understanding and support. He went on to announce that, in view of the special circumstance of the manhunt and according to the new stipulations, Mr. Zhang and his companions would not be prosecuted as criminals for their entry into Guam using passports issued by a third country. He also indicated that he would report the case to the higher authorities as soon as possible and, if everything went well, the problem could be resolved in 15 days. Mr. Zhang Hongbao and his companions expressed their gratitude right away.

 

But things underwent subtle changes in the following weeks. The INS was getting evasive about the promises they had made in regard to an expeditious report to the relevant highest authorities and to assisting Zhang Hongbao in achieving the goal of his American trip. Later, they resorted to a total denial of having made such a promise, saying that the government was under pressure not to take up matters like this and that Zhang should instead turn to human right organizations. They also suggested to Zhang that "the individual's political asylum case be attended to first and the problem concerning the Zhonggong organization should be taken care of later." After several fruitless negotiations, Zhang had to accept the arrangements offered by the host government. Hereafter, the situation took a drastic change. Zhang Hongbao was put into the immigration prison and the case began to evolve along the path as designated by INS.

 

The processing of Zhang's individual application for political asylum started in February, but the first court hearing was not held until June 13, after a prolonged waiting period of more than 130 days. At this time, Zhang was placed in a quandary, for things were no longer in his control: the initial goal of his American trip was unattainable now, while going back was out of the question. Because of incarceration, he had lost his ability to maintain an effective leadership or provide timely instructions for his domestic organizations. Thus, as CCP launched a large-scale manhunt for important Zhonggong members, resulting in irreversible damages to Zhonggong's organization structure and a drastic loss of its members due to massive exiles, Zhang Hongbao had no other choice but move along a tortuous path of judicial procedure as designed by his host.

 

INS initiated an blockade against the court ruling on Zhang's application for political asylum

 

During the court hearing held on June 13, the judge granted political asylum to Zhang Hongbao. However, INS claimed that Zhang's "Fingerprint Verification has not arrived yet," making the judge unable to sign his approval on Zhang's political asylum documents. Zhang had to continue his incarceration while awaiting the arrival of his fingerprint verification.

 

Something unusual occurred as Zhang walked out of the courtroom. The INS officer who had initially received him approached him and told him that, even if FBI's fingerprint verification arrived, INS would still proceed to prosecute him with the charge of "illegal entry with a passport issued by a third country." Apologetically, the officer tried to come up with an explanation for having backed down from his earlier promise, saying that he was just carrying out the orders from the higher authorities. (Later, after the legal efforts made by Zhang's lawyer, INS had to drop the prosecution.)

 

On June 14, (the next day after the hearing), INS notified Zhang that his fingerprint verification was not arrivingat all. It was lost, and a new fingerprint had to be made. What a strange coincidence! How to account for the discrepancy between the excuse offered on the first day of the hearing-"not here yet" and the excuse offered on the second day-"it was lost"? How long would it take to make a new one? Would this period of time be spent on waiting for the new fingerprint verification, or for something else? Is there something about this fingerprint verification that has been concealed from the public?

 

Is it a pure coincidence that during this period of waiting, on June 19, China and the United States formally signed an extradition agreement?

 

The official authorization of political asylum documents for Zhang was originally scheduled for July 14, but on July 8, INS notified that the hearing would be postponed until August 10, citing the reason that "the fingerprint verification is not here yet." When questioned, INS revised its statement: "The hearing will be held as soon as the fingerprint verification has arrived." On July 21, INS notified Zhang that the fingerprint verification had arrived. The hearing, however, was held a week later, on July 28.

 

There was something suspicious about the procrastination. According to reliable sources, it used to take several months for FBI to manually verify fingerprints for immigration visas, but since the new computers were installed in 1999, it only takes a few minutes now. There was an interval of almost one and a half months between June 13, when INS notified the court that the fingerprints had not arrived yet, and July 28, when the court hearing resumed.  Where did things go wrong?

 

Apparently, it is INS, instead of CCP, that initiated the first blockade against a successful processing of Zhang Hongbao's application for political asylum.

 

CCP, coming forward with fabulous criminal charges, launched its own blockade against Zhang's political asylum application, and INS did its best to cooperate with CCP.

 

At the resumption of the hearing on July 28, the court received Zhang's fingerprint verification and, at the same time, a letter from the Chinese Embassy which accused Zhang of criminal offenses but offered no evidence to back up the claims. The judge, taken by surprise, asked a series of questions about when, how, and through what channels the letter had made its way to the court. The INS officials in charge of the case could not offer any coherent explanation. It is noteworthy that, according to the stipulations concerning the American judicial procedure, when presenting any document or evidence to the court, each side must at the same time give the other side a copy. In this case, by failing to present any document to Zhang Hongbao and his lawyer, INS performed an illegal conduct.

 

What is even more noteworthy is the fact that the letter requesting the court not to proceed with Zhang's application for political asylum was issued by the Chinese Embassy on July 10, but prior to the court session of June 13, CCP had not been aware of Zhang's asylum application. According to the U.S. laws on political asylum, any information involving a political asylum applicant should be categorized as confidential. Shortly after Zhang had been granted political asylum, somebody in the former administration informed CCP of the situation and used groundless reasons to have the court hearing postponed twice. This conduct obviously constituted another violation of U.S. laws.

 

Because of the alarming nature of CCP's letter, the judge used her discretion to put off the hearing until August 4.

 

When the court resumed the session on August 4, INS was uncharacteristically obstinate in their insistence that, if the judge signed her authorization on Zhang's political asylum documents, INS would go ahead with the appeal. Thus, the judge had to adjourn the court again.

 

Afterwards, on August 16, INS claimed that it needed some more time to verify the evidence offered by the Chinese government, forcing the next court hearing, originally scheduled for August 18, to be postponed until September 1. The judge pointed out empathetically to INS that, prior to August 31, INS must present the evidence of alleged offenses to Zhang Hongbao and his lawyer.

 

On September 1, 12 minutes before the scheduled session began, INS sent a fax to the court to request for another postponement.  The reason cited was that because the current translation of CCP's supporting documents for Zhang's alleged criminal offenses, forwarded by the State Council department in charge, was not accurate, another translation of the documents was required. Consequently, the judge had to have the hearing postponed until September 20, but once again she insisted that INS should hand over the evidence for the alleged offenses.

 

By putting off court hearings, INS assisted CCP in gaining precious time to fabricate false evidence in order to block the processing of the political asylum  already granted to Zhang. This Satanic strategy of "procrastination" created a record in the number of postponements in a court hearing in America's judiciary history. The procrastination has made many people suspect that, if Zhang were a criminal as CCP has charged, then CCP should already possess the relevant evidence to back up its charges. If these charges were true, CCP would not have to rely on INS' assistance in putting off the court hearing to buy time in order to fabricate more "evidence".

 

Under the pressure of administrative interventions from INS, the Immigration Court replaced the already-announced political asylum to Mr. Zhang with another judicial decision: suspended deportation based on fear of torture.

 

The court was finally resumed on September 20. Once again, INS came up with some excuses and requested for another postponement of the hearing, but this time, even the judge found the excuses unacceptable. She turned down the request, and decided to announce the judgement on September 21.

 

When the court resumed on September 21, the judge rescinded the political asylum already granted to Zhang and changed the sentence to suspended deportation based on fear of torture. She pointed out explicitly, however, that the Chinese government's accusations are not credible and should not be allowed to affect Zhang's application for political asylum. Evidently, even an American judge has to concede to outside pressures. And it is equally obvious that the decision to change the judgement was made amidst administrative interference and under tremendous pressure.  The independence of America's judiciary system was compromised.

 

Regarding the immigration court's new judgement, the American Embassy in Beijing offered another explanation. According to a report issued by the French News Agency, on the same day when the judgement was announced, an official at the American Embassy in Beijing said that Zhang's application for political asylum had "inadequate reasons." Waht an inscrutable remark! Zhang and his organization have endured political persecution from CCP for many years, and the large-scale, comprehensive crackdown launched by CCP on Zhonggong organizations has persisted for more than a year. Today, Zhang Hongbao is being targeted by CCP as a latent, most dangerous political opponent. The Zhonggong organization has been banned as a counter-revolutionary organization, and key Zhonggong members have been sentenced to imprisonment under the charge of "attempting to subvert the government."  The properties of Zhonggong organizations have been confiscated, and the manhunt for important Zhonggong members is still continuing. If Zhang, as Zhonggong's leader, had "inadequate reasons" in his application for political asylum, who else would have adequate reasons? Another Zhonggong leader of a lower rank, who accompanied Zhang in this trip and entered the United States at the same time, and whose application was processed by the same court, has already been granted political asylum. In New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Southern California, Zhonggong disciples, one after another, have been granted political asylum. In the same case of political asylum as Zhang's, the applications submitted by those lower ranking those members have been approved, while the application of Zhang Hongbao as the highest leader has been denied because of "insufficient reasons." Isn't it something incomprehensible? The American Embassy official is supposed to be a representative of the U.S. government, but by issuing such a statement, how could he expect people to interpret his remarks in any other way than as a U.S. government's blatant attempt to collaborate with CCP by providing a shield for its spurious evidence?  

 

INS refused to carry out the court's re-sentence and continued to keep Zhang in incarceration in accordance with the order from "the upper higher authorities." Who is "the upper higher authorities"?

 

According to the court sentence of September 21, Zhang Hongbao has the right to reside temporarily in the United States and the freedom to work and lead a normal life here. If this were the end of the story, it could be an acceptable result, though not a satisfactory one. But to everyone's surprise, INS refused to execute even the court's new decision, saying that it would appeal this judgment and continuing to incarcerate Zhang Hongbao, citing the reason of "protecting Zhang's physical safety."

 

When asked why they continued to put Zhang in incarceration, an INS official responded: "we are simply carrying out the orders from the higher authorities, the upper higher authorities."

 

The government lawyer working for INS explained that the Attorney General has the authority to keep Zhang in incarceration.

 

According to the stipulations of the U.S. immigration law, "depending on each particular case, the chief of local immigration office has the authority to release from prison and grant temporary residency to an incarcerated political asylum applicant, based on one of the following reasons, such as conformity with national interest, humanitarian considerations, or adequate evidence for a political asylum application."

 

However, Zhang's lawyer's legitimate request to have Zhang bailed out was rejected seven times. Indeed, it seems that the issue has less to do with whether or not the head of local immigration office handled the matter in accordance with relevant laws, than with the decision made by the upper higher authorities.

 

There seems to be an invisible hand that, from the very beginning, manipulated the processing of Zhang's application for political asylum. The INS official's remark somewhat gave the show away, revealing the person behind the curtain.

 

For the head of INS, the higher authorities should be the Attorney General, and the higher authorities for the Attorney General should be President Clinton.  Could it be possible that the person behind the curtain was President Clinton? If that is true, we have witnessed a serious political incident! But what is the possible motivation?

 

No wonder that the former administration evaded and, lacking basic decorum, refused to respond to letters from Zhonggong organizations and members asking for an early release and humane treatment of Zhang Hongbao. No wonder it turned a blind eye to the petitions and correspondences from the leaders of democratic movements, democratic organizations and human right organizations requesting for Zhang's freedom and for giving him the courtesy as deserved by a spiritual leader. Obviously, the former administration had something to hide.

 

 

INS was ordered to appeal the court decision, and the bottomline was to have Zhang deported to a third country.

 

The more shocking news came on October 20, when INS appealed again. This time, they showed their cards, making an unambiguous request that Zhang be deported to a third country.

Someone had asserted that the American government was not likely to send Zhang to a third country. It would be interesting to know how that person feels when he gets to know the requests made in the INS appeals.

 

The U.S. government's behavior is even more incomprehensible when it is compared to the Canadian government's handling of the legal procedure involving Lai Cangxing, the prime culprit of the Yuanhau case. Out of humanitarian considerations, the Canadian government approved the bail to Lai Cangxing and his spouse, in total disregard of protests and requests from CCP. Why would the United States, a preeminent advocator of human rights, give up its principles and insist on deporting Zhang to a third country?

 

Another event that serves as a foil is the Indian government's recent granting of political asylum to the Tibetan spiritual leader Kamaba, who went into exile in India a month earlier than Zhang Hongbao's arrival in the United States. The Indian president tactfully rejected, during his visit to China last year, Jiang Zemin's request for the handover of Kamaba, explicitly expressed India's respect for Kamaba's individual choice, and meanwhile allowed Kamaba to travel in India. After a year of patient maneuvering, India, a country lagging behind China in national strength and possessing the moral stamina to adhere to its principles, finally made up its mind that it was an appropriate moment to grant Kamaba political asylum. The United States government, however, chose to intervene in the legal procedure involving the political asylum application of Zhang Hongbao, leader of Mainland China's largest spiritual organization. To appease CCP,  the Department of Justice collaborated with the Chinese government, releasing confidential documents, postponing court hearings, misleading the public opinion, attempting a de facto conviction of Zhang through the media, and working to facilitate Zhang's deportation to a third country as a necessary step for Zhang's extradition to China. No wonder the U.S. congressman from Georgia, Bob Bar, in his statement marking President Clinton's departure from the White House, called upon the American people to embark on the task of mending the judicial system, national security, and political system, and restoring the respect for the Presidency and the Department of Justice.

 

In retrospect, in Zhang's case, the independence of the judiciary system was compromised from the very beginning by administrative interventions. People have reasons to suspect that someone used Zhang Hongbao's case as a bargaining chip and aidd CCP in facilitating the extradition of Zhang Hongbao from a third country, probably in exchange for personal gains. We should bear in mind an old Chinese proverb: "if you don't want anybody to know, don't do it in the first place." It is futile to conceal the skeleton in the cupboard for long, as the Watergate Incident testified to.

 

The partnership on misleading the public opinion and attempting a de facto conviction through the news media

 

On July 29, Zhang Hongbao's application for political asylum in Guam, the United States, as well as CCP's allegation of his criminal offenses, was first revealed in the news media. Almost all the major news media of the world carried this astonishing news.

 

On July 30, in a long article entitled "The United States in Quandary: A Chinese Sect Leader Seeks Political Asylum," a very prestigious American newspaper was inspired by certain people to concoct a theory of "two possibilities and two concerns." The two possibilities: it is possible that Zhang Hongbao is actually a criminal; it is possible that he is not. The two concerns refer to the Clinton government's concern that CCP might be offended and, on the other hand, its concern that the general public might be offended. Latent in the article is a strong insinuation that Zhang is probably culpable or guilty. The article's argument, however, is crippled by a serious fallacy. On the one hand, it asserts that, prior to July, the United States did not inform CCP of Zhang Hongbao's whereabouts; on the other, the article indicates that the United States found itself in an awkward situation about granting Zhang political asylum. If on June 13, when the immigration court decided that Zhang should be granted political asylum, CCP was not aware of Zhang's trip to the United States, then how to explain why the Clinton Administration should have indicated to the press that it felt awkward because of its fear that CCP might be offended? It is difficult, anyway, to convince people that "fear" is a word compatible with the status of the United States as the only superpower in the world.

 

What is even more incomprehensible is that the article was inspired to suggest that "Zhang's application for political asylum disturbs the bilateral judiciary cooperation between China and the United States," setting up a fallacious connection between Zhang's asylum case with the issue of "judicial cooperation" between China and the United States.

 

It was on June 19 that the two countries signed "The Agreement on Judicial Assistance in Criminal Cases," an agreement about mutual deportation of criminals, while it was on June 13 that the immigration court announced its decision to grant Zhang Hongbao political asylum. Prior to this time, CCP was not aware of Zhang's presence in the United States, and it hadn't signed any agreement on judicial cooperation with the United States, so how could Zhang's political asylum case affect the judicial cooperation between China and the United States on criminal deportation?

 

It must be pointed out that the issue that has been raised is extraneous to the essence of Zhang's case. Zhang Hongbao came to the United States to seek humanitarian assistance for the Zhonggong organization that he represents, an organization in distress. He came here as a Chinese spiritual leader escaping persecuted by CCP. As an official of the U.S. Department of Justice said in response to an eminent official from the Chinese Embassy, "Zhang Hongbao is not a criminal." Zhang's case has absolutely no bearings on the judicial cooperation involving criminal exchange. To back up CCP's false accusation by associating the groundless criminal charge with Zhang Hongbao is a shameless conspiracy, a clandestine change of two different concepts. It would be easy to understand if this flagrant defamation was carried out by the press controlled by CCP, for one of the Chinese government's routine practices involves discrediting dissidents under the name of attacking criminals. For them, getting a conviction always precedes presenting evidence. What is disturbing is the fact that this defamation is taking place in the United States, where "the assumption of innocence" is a judicial principle. In any legal case, it should be assumed that the defendant is innocent, and conviction can be reached only after the prosecutor has come up with credible witnesses and indisputable, verifiable evidence. How can we allow somebody to reach a de facto conviction in accordance with the judicial model only applicable in authoritarian countries such as the Communist China?

 

Someone suggested such a possibility: some CCP collaborators used the excuse that Zhang's political asylum case might "affect judicial cooperation" to back up their argument, through a disguised change of concepts, that it would "affect the national interest." Thus, by misleading the public opinion through the news media, they put up a smoke certain to cover up their dirty deals under the table.

 

What is worse, a week before the court opened its session on September 20, CCP published, simultaneously at several overseas media, the so-called criminal evidence which was supposed to be verified in court. In this way, the media had given Zhang Hongbao a de facto conviction even before the court began its session. It is noteworthy that hereto neither the court nor Zhang Hongbao himself and his lawyer had seen the fabricated criminal evidence produced by CCP. Those people who disseminated the documents through the media even before the court began the hearing obviously tried to benefit from taking this first step, in an attempt to exert influence on judiciary independence and interfere with the fairness of the legal procedure. It is not something unusually for CCP to resort to hooliganism in their attempt to eliminate alien forces, but didn't their audacity manifested in Zhang's case have something to do with some tacit agreement with the U.S. authorities?

 

Washington was engaged in misleading the public opinion, while Beijing was arranging for a de facto conviction to be reached through the media. Didn't this tacit cooperation tell us something?

 

The Department of Justice persisted, in total disregard of the judicial evaluations conducted by the Congress and the authoritative sections of the State Department.

 

The authoritative facilities of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Congress conducted, respectively, judiciary evaluations and assessments on the "evidence incriminating Zhang Hongbao" given by the Chinese government, and all the facilities have concluded unequivocally that the CCP documents are "not credible." 

 

On August 16, in a document presented to the Department of Justice, the Human Right Bureau of the U.S. State Department clearly indicates its doubt about the evidence produced by CCP to support its charge against Zhang Hongbao. This assessment report points out explicitly that the evidence offered by all the four informers is problematic in timing; that in China, sex crime charges are often used to frame the leaders of banned religions and semi-religions as well as people engaged in anti-government activities; that Chinese public security officers and police often exhort confessions through torture or engage in prosecutions to achieve political purposes.

 

On September 11, the Legal Research Department of the U.S. Library of Congress drew up its conclusion concerning evidence sent from China: "the authenticity of the document is subject to serious doubt," and emphasized the "coincidence in time between the criminal charges against Zhang Hongbao and China's suppression of non-official spiritual movements."

 

But the Department of Justice and INS under the former administration totally ignored both these authoritative evaluations and the judicial procedure, continued to collaborate with CCP in seeking a de facto conviction, and exerted pressure on the immigration court, forcing it to revise the original decision to grant Zhang "political asylum" into "suspended deportation based on fear of torture." They persisted in keeping Zhang in incarceration and appealing the court judgement. They persisted in their endeavor to deport Zhang to a third country. Who is the powerful figure behind the curtain that supported all measures?

 

Zhang's political asylum application has become America's most conspicuous political case today.

 

Because of the peculiar handling by the former administration over the past year, Zhang's political asylum application has given rise to many ramifications, complexities and distortions. A wise person once said, "when the situation is chaotic and in disarray, the best policy is returning to the origin." Zhang's political asylum case originated from CCP's persecution of Zhang Hongbao and the Zhonggong organization, which forced Mr. Zhang to come to the United States to seek humanitarian assistance. Manipulated by certain people in the former administration, Zhang's case has been distorted and transformed into a complicated political litigation that draws attention from all over the world.

 

In its handling of Zhang's case, the former administration resorted to underhanded methods, changing Mr. Zhang's request for humanitarian assistance for his organization into an individual's application for political asylum. Then, they informed CCP of Zhang's whereabouts and struck a great deal with them. To pave the way for the consummation of the deal, the former administration signed, on the one hand, "The Agreement on Judicial Assistance in Criminal Cases" with CCP to legalize criminal exchange. On the other hand, the administration assisted CCP in gaining time facilitate its fabrication of false evidence, conducted a defamation campaign against Zhang, and transformed a classical case of political persecution into a criminal case as concocted by CCP. Afterwards, under the name of judicial cooperation, the administration put up the smoke curtains of "two possibilities and two dilemmas" and "the national interest," and tried to consummate their deal by imposing criminal charges on Zhang--a famous Chinese spiritual leader, in an attempt to legitimize the eventual deportation of Zhang back to China.

 

The seriousness of the matter also consists in the fact that, when their intention to take advantage of the newly signed "Agreement on Judicial Assistance in Criminal Cases" and use the evidence given by CCP to report Zhang back to China became known, they continued to incarcerate Zhang under the name of "incrimination in felonies." Afterwards, they changed their strategies and attempted to depart Zhang to a third country to facilitate an extradition there.

 

Because of the interactions between CCP and the U.S. government, Zhang's political asylum case has entangled the American and Chinese leaders in black-box operations, involving the Chinese Embassy in the United States, U.S. Congress, the State Department, the Federal Court, the Department of Justice, INS, the Immigration Court, FBI, and the prison.

 

The former administration's mishandling of Zhang's case has compromised the independence of America's judicial system and diplomatic principles, further tarnished the image of the Department of Justice, belied President Clinton's promise "to provide effective protection for the people of the world who need protection," and brought dishonor to the American people. It is a serious incident, setting an egregious precedent in which political maneuvering sapped the judiciary system, and administrative intervention compromised judicial independence.

 

Over the past year, Zhang's case has given rise to intensive news coverage all over the world. The global attention demonstrates that the significance of Zhang's case is not of a local, temporary, or isolated nature. The global news media have paid close attention to the development of the case, giving wide-ranging coverage to the events surrounding Zhang Hongbao's political asylum application. Zhang's case has often appeared in the news from the United Press, AFP, Reuters, NHK, Central News Agency and other major news agencies of the world, in the broadcasts from CNN, Voice of America, BBC, and Radio of Free Asia, and in the newspapers such as USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, World Journal, and Tsingtao Daily. The news media in Europe, Australia, and Asia have carried wide-ranging coverage on the case. All newspapers in Hong Kong, most newspapers in Taiwan, and the major newspapers in Japan have reported extensively on Zhang's case. The news media are keeping a close watch on the destiny of Zhang Hongbao, leader of the largest spiritual community in China.

 

On August 7, Guam's information networks conducted a public opinion survey on Zhang's case. To the question: "do you approve of granting political asylum to Zhang Hongbao?" 61% responded positively, while 39% responded negative. This survey had been conducted before the revelation of the truth about CCP's fabrication of criminal evidence against Zhang, at a time when the new media was not oriented in favor of Zhang. Even under such circumstances, 61% of the public still expressed their support for granting political asylum to Zhang, demonstrating the American people's perspicacity and political insight. In this matter, the U.S. Congress and the State Department have also been consistent in their attitude toward Zhang Hongbao's application for political asylum.

 

The world human right organizations and democratic movements have continued to give their generous moral support to Zhang Hongbao in his struggle against CCP's political persecution. In their concerted efforts to rescue Zhang Hongbao, the mainstream democratic movements have demonstrated unprecedented unity and cooperation.

 

Recently, The Alliance of Overseas Democratic Movements for Rescuing Zhang Hongbao was established in Washington D.C., with members coming from more than twenty countries and regions. In Guam, where Zhang was kept in incarceration, people have formed an organization called Guam Alliance for Rescuing Zhang Hongbao. One after another, Zhonggong disciples and friends from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and continental America have visited Zhang at the prison in Guam and demanded for his early release. On February 2, 2001, Guam Alliance for Rescuing Zhang Hongbao held an unprecedented demonstration, consisting mostly of Chinese, to express their support for Zhang Hongbao and petition for his early release. The local authorities in Guam made special arrangements for police vehicles to clear the way for the demonstration, and sent some police officers to maintain order. The local news media in Guam have paid close attention to the rescue activities and, recently, carried daily reports about Zhang Hongbao's case.

 

Zhonggong disciples in both maintain China and overseas, collectively or individually, have written to the new administration of the United States to request for Zhang Hongbao's prompt release.

 

Today, Zhang's case is no longer an ordinary application for political asylum. As a well-known senior American lawyer put it, this case has become "the most conspicuous political case in America today."

 

President Bush and his new administration inherited from Clinton a thorny problem and a rare opportunity to display Bush's political perspicacity.

 

Whether President Bush likes it or not, he has received a thorny problem from the former administration, which put his political wisdom to a serious test that will draw world-wide attention.

 

President Bush has embarked on the historical task of reviving the country's ethical integrity that was seriously compromised, and restoring the dignity of an independent judicial system, especially the respectability of the Department of Justice. Among many important businesses that demand immediate attention in the current effort to resume order, Chinese spiritual leader Zhang Hongbao's application for political asylum should be placed in the agenda, for this case has important bearings on America's foreign policies and China's human right issue. As expounded by Hide, the current Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee of U. S. House of Representative, one goal of America's foreign policies is to provide assistance for the development of human rights, "and (in this respect) China has most conspicuous problems."

 

What will happen next to Zhang's case? How will this case be concluded? As a matter of fact, there are only two possible outcomes.

 

The first outcome is a return to where the problem originated. As a well-known Chinese spiritual leader, Zhang Hongbao came to the United States to seek humanitarian assistance for his Zhonggong organization, an endangered spiritual community of more than 38 million members. The United States has the responsibility and duty, as well as the power and capacity, to give him assistance, at least moral support. However, because of the collaboration between "partners," Zhang Hongbao's application has encountered numerous impediments and setbacks, causing Mr. Zhang to  suffer unbearable, inhuman treatments in prison, to endure the "physical protection" that has deprived him of freedom. Since the fundamental principle of America's foreign policies is geared towards promoting human rights, it will be utterly incomprehensible that the U.S. government, in making a decision on Zhang's individual case, has to be apprehensive about offending CCP dictators. Indeed, the new administration should muster up enough moral courage to accord courtesy to a spiritual leader who is on a mission to seek moral support, a courtesy Zhang truly deserves.

 

One way to get the job done is to bring a problem, which was initially political in nature, back to its political origin. Going through the current judicial procedure to seek a resolution to the problem was designed by the former administration out of political considerations, and the situation has evolved into its current shape as a result of administrative interventions. It is imperative, therefore, to rectify the mistake made by the former administration, to seek a political solution, to offer moral support to the Zhonggong organization, and to grant political asylum to Mr. Zhang Hongbao, a prestigious Chinese spiritual leader suffering persecution from CCP dictators. This action will serve to reinforce people's impression of President Bush's political courage, perspicacity and resolution, to strengthen national unity and cohesion, to expeditiously make up for the losses caused by the former administration's mishandling of the case, and to enhance the prestige of the new President and the new administration.

 

Another way to get the job done is to move along the procedure as designated by the former administration, but execute, in the first place, the judicial decision the court has reached-that is, Zhang Hongbao should be released immediately. Afterwards, the judicial procedure of the appeals should be expedited, and any interventions from CCP should be ruled out, in order to safeguard America's lofty principle of judiciary independence. Either one of these two solutions will contribute to the enhancement of the prestige of the United States and President Bush, to the strengthening of people's favorable impression of President Bush's administrative style, and to a further confirmation of his political wisdom and ethical standard. Either solution will be a political plus as well as a demonstration of American people's magnanimity, courage, and compassion.

 

The second outcome is to complete the judiciary procedure as designated by the former administration, which will drag on for at least another year. During this time, the case is likely to take a more complicated, more tortuous course as a result of interventions from CCP and the incorrigibility of those who have chosen to assist CCP in this case. The final result, nevertheless, can only be Zhang's exculpation and regaining freedom. And it is very likely that Zhang will eventually be granted political asylum in America. As Zhang's case procrastinates, however, more and more people will get involved, and more and more countries and organizations will take a jaundiced view of America's handling of the case. Consequently, America's image will continue to be tarnished, and the political image of the new President will also be affected.

 

But we have good reasons to be optimistic that today, after the inauguration of the new President, the most conspicuous political case in America today will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. The following words from President Bush's inauguration address are still echoing in people's ears: "I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well." Present motivations determined by short-term interactions between the interests of the United States and China should be replaced by political perspicacity in view of the following aspects: the immutable principles of the United States as an advocator and promoter of human rights; the intrinsic decadence of the Chinese communist dictatorship and the inevitable advancement of democracy and liberty in China; the empathy and attention Zhang Hongbao has drawn from the global news media; and the moral support and assistance Zhang has received from more and more people throughout the world. President Bush, with a more candid and realistic view of China's human right conditions, cannot ignore the fact that Zhang Hongbao is the leader of China's largest spiritual community with 38 million members. Providing Zhang with effective protection will have great impacts not only on Zhang's individual destiny, but also on the future of the vast masses of Zhonggong members and, more importantly, on the general trends of democratic movements in China. We place our hope on President Bush. We hope that President Bush will review Zhang's case from a humanitarian perspective, especially in the context of current human right conditions in China, grant freedom to Zhang Hongbao, and bring this extremely important political litigation to a satisfactory conclusion.

 

The brambles planted by the predecessor will be eradicated by his successor. The thorny problem of Zhang's case, paradoxically, offers President Bush an opportunity to display his political wisdom and his ethical benchmark. We are confident that, in his handling of Zhang's case, President Bush will justify our optimism with his outstanding performance.

 

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