Zhang Hongbao in Blast Furnace

---- A documentary on how the outstanding spiritual leader transformed to a political leader

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Politics Should Not Interfere with Justice

By Chang-Ching Cao


Following the worldwide attention to China suppression of the religious organization Falungong and its founder Li Hongzhi, the persecution of another Chinese religious leader is now brought under the spotlight of the international media. Zhang Hongbao, the founder of Zhonggong, translate to "China Health Care and Wisdom Enhancement Practice" is now seeking political asylum in Guam.


Zhonggong is a religious group similar to Falungong that aimed at improve people physical and mental health. The group was founded in 1987, according to a report in World Journal, the largest Chinese newspaper based in New York, and had grown to an organization with about 40 million members by 1990. Faced with the rapid growth of this civil and religious organization, the Chinese authorities began to fear of  its influence and decided to crack it down. By the time of the fifth anniversary of June 4th Tiananmen massacre, the then mayor of Beijingand butcher of Tiananmen, Chen Xitong, warranted the suppression ofZhonggong and the arrest of  Zhang Hongbao. Zhang was forced to escape from China in 1994 and, after six years of hiding in Thailand etc., entered in the U.S. territory of Guam in January 2000 seeking political asylum.


Another key member of Zhonggong who accompanied Zhang to Guam was granted political asylum shortly after the case was brought to the court. However, since the Chinese authorities indicted Zhang as a criminal and demanded the US Justice Department to extradite Zhang toChina from the US, Zhang's case was brought to a standstill.


In September, the US immigration court in Hawaii granted Zhang protection status, which is not political asylum but it allows Zhang to live in the United States. Immediately, the spokesman of Foreign Ministry of China, Sun Yuxi, made a strongly worded speech criticizing the US immigration court's decision as "to let a criminal shake off  justice and punishment", "which Revealed the hypocrisy of the US justice." Beijing also expressed its strong discontent and opposition and asked the US "to correct its mistakes and repatriate Zhang Hongbao as soon as possible."


The Chinese authorities accused Zhang of rape and provided some testimonies by three unnamed women. The Chinese government also threatened not to cooperate with the US on international indictment and will not extradite American criminals should Zhang Hongbao be set free.


Although Zhang has been given "protection status" by the court, the Guam police department still keeps him in prison, obviously under the pressure of the Chinese authorities. Considering the uniqueness of this case, which related to the relationship between the United States and China, and the US Justice Department, one has to worry about the possibility of Zhang deportation.How to judge Zhang"s case? And should Zhang be deported? In order to obtain a clear understanding of the situation, one must keep in mind the fact that China has no independent justice system, and no independent media. There are ample reasons for the US Justice Department to comply with the ruling of the Immigration Court in Hawaii and allow Zhang Hongbao to live in the United Sates.


Firstly, the Chinese authorities' oppression of qigong organizations, a popular practice with a principal aim of improving people physical health, is universally known. Reports on arrests and persecutions of qigong members in China have constantly been seen in both Chinese and English media.


The nature of Zhonggong is very much similar to Falungong, for its members are mainly consisted of the old, the poor and the sick. They belong to the weakest class in China today. There have never been any political pursuits of toppling the Chinese communist government in both the teaching and practice of qigong organizations. It is preposterous for the Chinese authorities to consider this kind of organizations dangerous and further persecute the members with all means.


The only explanation for the Chinese government absurd action is that after the worldwide collapse of communist regimes, the Chinese communist party has lost all confidence about its control and cannot tolerate even the weakest civil organizations. The 40 million member Zhonggong (the number close to the count of Communist party members) and its founder certainly become the subject of persecution. Therefore, it is not without ground to assume that Beijing request of sending Zhang Hongbao back to China in the name of criminal justice has a political objective.


Secondly, it is almost impossible for Zhang Hongbao to receive fairtrial even the Chinese authorities' accusation has some basis since China has no independent justice system and free media.


It is also universally known that the Chinese justice department is under the total control of the communist party. Any case that has the slightest political tinge will be decided by the party authorities. Under the rule of the government officials, the courts usually carry out a "quick trial and quick verdict" to such political cases. The nature of this kind of pseudo-justice is to "punish somebody as a warning to all." The law was made, explained and carried out all by the communist party in China, therefore, it is certainly impossible for Zhang Hongbao to have a fair trial once he was send back to China.


If such a case was brought to a court in the United States, even with the elements of possible unfair trial, it will at least be conducted under the spotlight of the independent media. However, the situation is totally different in China. All the 2160 newspapers, hundreds of magazines and TV and radio stations belong to the communist government. There is absolutely no press freedom. It is inconceivable for a political related case to receive a fair trial in a country that has no supervision of an independent media.


The case of Zhang Hongbao has been covered by the international media for many times since he entered the US territory of Guam. However, the Chinese media has never given a detailed coverage on this case. Giving the circumstance of the governmen sever punishment of all sort of qigong organizations, one cannot but doubt any objective coverage, or any coverage at all, by the official Chinese media should Zhang be sent back. According to the Hong Kong media that more than six hundred followers of Zhonggong have been arrested and none was brought to public trial, let alone fair trials.


Under such a circumstance, there is no doubt that Zhang Hongbao's case will be conducted like all the previous political cases, which is being treated in the authorities' black box. And like all the thousands of millions of political prisoners, Zhang will be squashed silently by the authoritarian machine.


Thirdly, the proofs of Zhang's crimes the Chinese government showed are in many aspects dubious.


An anonymous Chinese official had provided the United Morning Post of Singapore a couple of month ago with testimonies of the alleged rape by Zhang Hongbao, and proofs of his forged identification. The documentation the Chinese government wants to show the world through the Singapore newspaper include copies of testimonies and photographs of the three women whom Zhang was allegedly raped, and the Internal Reference of Health newspaper of 1990 regarding rape, obscene conduct and swindling done by Zhonggong members.


However, the documents provide no full names of the rape victims, they were described as "41-year-old woman surnamed Li", "retired woman surnamed Zhang" and "a retarded woman seeking medical treatment" The three women's pictures were photocopies only and no specific home or  work addresses were provided. Even general information about the women's whereabouts, such as cities or provinces, was not given. There are also no locations and specific times of Zhang's alleged rapes.


Such testimonies and evidences could hardly have any legal credibility. There must be millions of women surnamed Zhang or Li in China, and the generality of the evidences could hardly convince anybody of the existence of such witnesses.


In such totalitarian countries, the authorities could produce any evidence it considered needed, and without independent justice system and independent media, the authorities's schemes automatically become law and final judgement.


During the US presidential election, many newspapers contemptuously quoted a famous saying by Stalin that how many people vote is not important, but who counts the vote is. Likewise, what kind of evidence is not important under the Chinese justice system, and who makes decision about the evidence is.


Fourthly, it is a common practice for the Chinese authorities to persecute religious people by charging them with "sexual misconduct" for it is the most effective way to stigmatize the religious people moral image.


Since religious people have stronger spiritual strength to resist the communist party's oppression and brainwash, the authorities developed the most vicious method to criminate and persecute people who believe in something else other than communism. Those were not exaggerated stories in the 1950s when priests and nuns resisted the authorities' mental control, they were bitten and interrogated ceaselessly for days, and while being too tired and fall into sleep, the priests and nuns were carried into the same bed and photographed.


These kinds of scheme and villainous practice are not new to people who are familiar with the nature of the communists. Therefore, it is only logical to doubt the Chinese governmentevidence and testimonies.


Fifthly, another common practice of the communists is making people guilty by manipulating public opinion, and there is no exception for the case of Zhang Hongbao.


The material of Zhang being a "rapist" was spread in the Chinese media before Zhang's case was heard in the court. Of course, no media could be so well informed without the Chinese official "leak" of information.


Obviously, the media has a strong power in term of dominating the public opinion. It is the Chinese authorities' intention to make Zhang Hongbao guilty first by the verdict of public opinion. However, such contrivance only revealed the fact of political purpose and political persecution.


Punishment before wrongdoing is a one of the cruelest ironies of communist societies, which was vividly described in may literary works. And millions of people have been totally destroyed by such an irony.


Now it is lucky for Zhang Hongbao to be held on the land of law. America is a country where justice is above politics. And according to

the spirit of American justice that one remains innocent before convicted. Therefore, Zhang Hongbao should be released under the ruling

the Immigration Court of Hawaii.



Chang-Ching Cao is a writer and journalist based in New York.


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