CSN's Exec. Dir., Curry Kenworthy, encourages blog entries that simply share experience, so here I can talk about Friday's events in New York City.
When 15 million people have recently quit from the Chinese Communist Party, and when the Vice President of the European Parliament will appear with Wei Jingsheng (China's most famous dissident), you would think that there ought to be a splash in the news that goes along with the occasion.
America's news media has been noticeably reticent to cover the entire (a.) Chinese democracy movement; (b.) persecution of Falun Gong; (c.) Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party -- a tract that has gone on to greatness; (d.) the "Bye Bye CCP" campaign with 15 million resignations from the CCP; and (e.) the grizzly scandal of organ harvesting that prompted an outburst, on the south lawn of the White House, by Wenyi Wang. --All of the foregoing is huge news! --All of it has been tidily contained by America's mainstream corporate media.
I attended Friday's forum, that was held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. This is New York City! There are numerous news channels, and major international media have bureaus in New York as well. But, just like a good politician upon walking in, my eyes counted the number of television cameras in evidence. The answer? Two. At least one camera was for New Tang Dynasty Television, and it was not evident for whom the other camera was present.
I attended this time as an audience member, or observer for CSN. I was not slated to speak. (On other days, I have given impromptu speeches when I didn't plan to, because the organizers plucked me out of the crowd; but Friday was not like that.) I could just take in the program.
There is an Epoch Times article about the program at http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/6-11-11/48037.html
The title, China's Global Strategy and Inner Crisis, meant that discussion went to both foreign policy (North Korea, e.g.) and to the CCP-withdrawal phenomenon. Human rights, of course, were on the program, but the take away was that CCP foreign policy was being used as a diversion to distract attention away from the internal crisis as millions of people withdraw and quit from the CCP.
The star, featured attraction -- the keynote speaker, was Edward McMillan-Scott, a British politician who is also Vice President of the EU European Parliament. He recounted his own investigation into Chinese human rights; earlier this year he went to Beijing and met with some Falun Gong practitioners, who were arrested afterwards for meeting with him. At the time, he did not meet with Gao Zhisheng; that meeting was contemplated, but not carried out. (Gao was arrested three months later.)
China has a human rights emergency, and McMillan-Scott has come to the positioning that the Beijing Olympics of 2008 should be linked to human rights, and pressured against in the absence of same.
He is strongly with the "Bye Bye CCP" campaign, and his European Democracy Initiative has its focus moving to China. He concluded by saying, "Everyone knows that the Chinese regime is coming to an end. I just say to the people in China who are guilty of crimes of genocide, such as harvesting organs from Falun Gong prisoners—we know your names. We know what you're doing… and you will be punished. This is the world of 2006 and beyond. It is a world of human rights and democracy, and a world in which the CCP has no place."
Well, everyone knows WITH THE EXCEPTIONS of AP, Reuters, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN....all those people who were absent from this forum!
I'll continue to blog my experience, because this was my first time face-to-face with Edward McMillan-Scott. During a break, I gained the introductions with him, and promised that I would insert a question into the Q&A period later.
I'll say that I'm happy that the cause has gained attention from political figures such as David Kilgour (former Canadian MP and Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific affairs) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, soon to be US House Speaker), and here was Edward McMillan-Scott. --But, the China Support Network is fully hard-line against Communist China, so I wondered, 'how close are we, really, on the issues'?
My question to him was sort of a firecracker. I mentioned that CSN is in coalitions that say, 'Boycott the Olympics' and 'Boycott Made in China products.' He, in his remarks, said that it took him a while to come around to wanting to use the Olympics as a chip or a card to be played against Communist China. --So, my question was about using trade as a chip or a card against Communist China.
I stressed that China has a pace or a rate of killing of innocent people. I made mine a two part question: (1.) Would he favor using trade against Communist China; and, anticipating that he was hesitant, part (2.) was hypothetical. "If the pace of killing doubled, tripled, quadrupled, or so on, at what point does the human rights emergency justify using trade as a chip against Communist China?"
This was a perilous question, because why accept one rate of killing, but then switch positions if the emergency worsened? (For a human rights person, no rate of killing of innocents is acceptable. So my question sort of set him up for possible embarrassment.) Despite my loaded question, McMillan-Scott is a good politician, and so he sidestepped the pitfall.
He said that he favors that we identify and prohibit the import of products that are made in any way by forced labor, or during incarceration. In this political position, some imports are unacceptable, while other imports are acceptable.
I did not follow up to pin him down; I'm a friendly questioner, not an unfriendly one. But, if we spoke with the Boycott Made In China coalition (where CSN is a member), we would hear that there is no way, from the outside of a product, to tell whether it was made in forced-labor conditions or not. (And even outside of prisons, a lot of the labor conditions are perilous and hazardous exploitation that amounts to human rights abuse anyway.) So, the Boycott coalition would say that the only sure way to avoid such products is to avoid ALL Made In China products. It's part of the justification for boycotting.
If such products could effectively be identified, I would support banning them too. But, the Tibetans (who run the Boycott coalition) have a principled approach. If Chinese products are avoided all together, then so too is the question of trying to identify which ones come from forced (slave) labor conditions.
After the event, I was invited to dinner with top organizers.
I found myself riding in an SUV, driven by Wei Jingsheng, across town in Manhattan. With us was Brian Marple, a good translator. I asked some questions about the loyalties of the Chinese military, and about the Constitution for a future Chinese regime. Apparently, Wei does not feel settled upon one or another draft of Constitution. (More than one draft floats around in the movement.) He would be just as fine with the 1947 Constitution that was made for all of China, but which became the Constitution of Taiwan. That 1947 draft seems to be the default choice, the one that is always there in the absence of agreement about anything newer or upgraded by comparison.
We drove right by 30 Rock, but we didn't stop. Chinese food was in order, and we kept driving. (30 Rock is the home of NBC News. Wei Jingsheng actually lives in Washington. Any time that he sets foot in another city, it would be on business that is of import to the democracy movement. So, in a healthier world, that should be recognized as a newsworthy occasion--he should have been stopping at 30 Rock for a newsmaker interview.) We kept driving, and we chatted some about the impact of Nancy Pelosi as the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
We then arrived at the Chinese restaurant, where more leading figures were already there. The pleasant supper included some top Falun Gong organizers, but not Edward McMillan-Scott, who didn't join us because he was catching a flight.
So, that was my experience of Friday, Nov. 10, 2006. After I parted company with my Chinese friends, I went to a club in Greenwich Village, and took in the concert by a Connecticut group, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang.