arrests seven behind plot to kill activist, report says
AFP , HONG KONG
Monday, Jul 20, 2009, Page 1
Police in southern China arrested the suspected mastermind and six accomplices behind a plot to shoot Hong Kong¡¦s leading pro-democracy campaigner Martin Lee (§õ¬W»Ê), a report said yesterday.
The Sunday Morning Post, citing unnamed Chinese police sources, said officers in Shenzhen had arrested a Hong Kong man allegedly behind the plot and six accomplices with links to Hong Kong organized crime gangs known as triads.
It said the case was due to go before a court in Shenzhen on Thursday.
A Hong Kong court earlier this month sentenced a mainland Chinese gunman to 16 years in jail for possessing firearms with the intention to harm Lee.
A second man was handed a three-year jail term for possessing firearms in connection with the plot which allegedly also targeted media mogul Jimmy Lai (¾¤´¼^).
¡§If this guy really is the mastermind, this is a big step forward in the investigation,¡¨ the Post quoted Lee as saying in response to news of the arrests in Shenzhen.
Lee is a founding member of the city¡¦s Democratic Party and a top barrister. Lai is chairman of Next Media, which runs newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan that are strongly critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
Both Lee and Lai were also at the forefront of the campaign to commemorate the 1989 protests on Beijing¡¦s Tiananmen Square that were ended by a bloody military crackdown.
The plot was foiled after an officer stopped the gunman by chance at a police checkpoint in August last year. He was found to have a homemade pistol and five rounds of ammunition in his bag.
march marks decade-long persecution
By Loa Iok-sin
Monday, Jul 20, 2009, Page 1
practitioners hold portraits of alleged victims at a demonstration in
Taipei yesterday to mark the 10th anniversary of China¡¦s launch of a
crackdown on the group. China banned Falun Gong in 1999 after branding
it an ¡§evil cult.¡¨
More than 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners staged a protest yesterday against China¡¦s persecution of the movement over the past 10 years.
Led by a marching band, protesters held banners and signs as they departed from a park across the street from Taipei 101.
¡§Ending the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] regime is the only way to end the persecution,¡¨ one sign read, while a banner said: ¡§Supporting human rights in China is supporting freedom for Taiwan.¡¨
Several hundred people each held a photo of a Falun Gong practitioner who they said had died at the hand of Chinese officials, while others enacted how Chinese authorities allegedly torture Falun Gong practitioners or harvest their organs.
¡§This July 20 marks the 10th anniversary of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China,¡¨ Taiwan Falun Dafa Association member Liao Hsiao-lan (¹ù¾å´P) said. ¡§Every year, Falun Gong practitioners around the world stage demonstrations around this date to protest against the persecution and to remember the victims.¡¨
On July 20, 1999, the Chinese government formally declared Falun Gong an ¡§evil cult,¡¨ outlawed Falun Gong organizations and began to crack down on practitioners.
Liao said that more than 100,000 practitioners have been put in jails in China and that more than 3,300 practitioners had died in prison.
Similar demonstrations are being held in 30 other countries.
¡§We often pay too much attention to economic development in China and the positive impact it may bring, but not enough attention to the dark side of China, such as human rights violations,¡¨ said Wu Ya-ting (§d¶®´@), who has practiced Falun Gong since 2000. ¡§As a practitioner, I hope such events will raise public awareness.¡¨
Despite being partially paralyzed and having difficulty speaking, an elderly practitioner stood on the sidewalk with the help of a walker and handed out flyers.
When asked why he went to so much effort, he gave a ¡§thumbs up¡¨ sign and slowly said: ¡§It¡¦s good.¡¨
A woman surnamed Hsiao said she would take part in protests ¡§for as long as China represses Falun Gong practitioners.¡¨
Chairman of the Deng Liberty Foundation and long-time human rights activist Kenneth Chiu (ªô®Ì¬u) also expressed support for Falun Gong practitioners.
¡§The Chinese government¡¦s persecution of Falun Gong is simply ridiculous,¡¨ Chiu said. ¡§If Falun Gong is an evil cult, why is it no problem to practice it in other countries and in Hong Kong?¡¨
He said any government that declared a religion illegal not only violated religious freedom, but also other rights such as the right to assemble, to preach and to spread teachings.
As the protesters marched, several Chinese tourist groups were either getting ready to enter or leave the Taipei 101 building across the street. Most of them stood and watched, took pictures or simply ignored the protest.
One complained that it was ¡§bad luck to run into something so disgusting.¡¨
rise in ¡¥random¡¦ crime raises public fears
By Shelley Huang
Monday, Jul 20, 2009, Page 3
In the last few months, the Taiwanese public has seen a number of fatal crimes, including a random stabbing by a man in Taipei¡¦s Shilin District known to be an avid reader of violent comic books, a stray bullet killing a newly married man in Sinjhuang (·s²ø) and a cyclist in Taipei County¡¦s Shenkeng Township (²`§|) who was fatally shot in the neck by an arrow.
Members of the public who are shocked by these cases also find themselves perplexed by a key element in these crimes ¡X the randomness of the acts. The victims had no direct relations with their attackers and seem to have been randomly selected from a vast population of ordinary people, much like a bloody version of winning the lottery, in which the prize is not cash, but brutal deaths.
A question seems to linger on many people¡¦s mind: Do we find ourselves in a period of relatively high crime rates and must we fear for our safety whenever we leave home?
Huang Fu-yuan (¶À´I·½), a specialist in criminology who serves on the committee of the Criminal Investigation Bureau¡¦s Crime Prevention Center, disagrees with that view.
¡§There has not been a dramatic increase in the number of crimes occurring in the country,¡¨ he said. ¡§But in the mass media environment, cases that are special and different from what we usually see receive a lot of coverage, so people fear for their safety when they see the reports.¡¨
A survey of 2,000 families conducted in January by the director of National Chung Cheng University¡¦s department of criminology, Yang Shu-lung (·¨¤h¶©), and his associates showed that most families nationwide were rather apprehensive about the state of public safety.
A majority of surveyed families expressed concern about neighborhood crime, with 45 percent saying they found their neighborhoods were ¡§not very safe¡¨ and 24.3 percent saying they were ¡§very dangerous.¡¨
Asked about nighttime safety, 52.6 percent said they were ¡§a little worried,¡¨ while 8.3 percent said they were ¡§very worried.¡¨ Only 8.6 percent said they were ¡§not worried at all.¡¨
As many as 20 percent said they were ¡§very worried¡¨ and 38.6 percent said they were ¡§a little worried¡¨ about being injured or harmed in a crime.
Yang said the survey showed the country¡¦s judicial and law enforcement systems had not succeeded in winning public confidence and that this could cause law-abiding citizens to raise doubts or even lower their willingness to obey the laws governing criminal cases.
Despite widespread concern about public safety, official records show that crime rates have been falling.
The latest statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior showed that from January to May, police handled 107 armed crime cases, a 16.4 percent decrease from the same period last year. The number of murder cases (42) and armed robbery (39) also fell.
¡§What the numbers tell us objectively is different from what people feel subjectively,¡¨ said Hsieh Wen-yan (ÁÂ¤å«Û), an associate professor of criminology at the Central Police University. ¡§It is not easy for people to obtain correct information about crimes. When they see media reports of murders and that innocent people get randomly killed for no apparent reason, it makes them panic and fear that anybody could be the victim of a violent crime.¡¨
Officials play too many numbers games to try to convince the public that it is doing a good job of fighting crime, he said. At the same time, we see random killings in our community; it makes even academics suspicious of government¡¦s statistics, he said.
Hsieh reminded the public that numbers do not tell everything. Statistical bias may occur when administrative policies makes a certain type of crime a priority.
If, for example, the government lists drug prevention as a high priority, he said, we will see a rise in the number of drug-related crimes. Although drug crimes may not have actually increased, the more resources we dedicate to monitoring such crimes, the more crimes we catch that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.
¡§When certain forms of crimes are labeled as very important to a police officer¡¦s performance record, police will be more diligent when it comes to preventing such crimes, so we will naturally see an increase in such cases,¡¨ he said.
Yang agreed that rising unemployment could lead to a rise in the number of thefts or other crimes by individuals facing financial difficulties.
Huang said that although the economy directly influences our lives, the public cannot blame everything on Wall Street.
¡§The social element is what worries me,¡¨ he said. ¡§There is a saying: ¡¥Poor married couples have many worries.¡¦ Although the recession poses a financial burden on families, if we don¡¦t know how to solve problems that plague our interpersonal relationships, they may end in conflicts or tragedy, especially when violence is involved.¡¨
Huang said that when families or individuals that have experienced some affluence are affected by an economic downturn, they may find themselves in relative deprivation, or even become frustrated at not being able to buy what they used to afford. When people lack the interpersonal skills to cope with pressure that may have originated from financial burdens, they might act out and resort to aggression, harming those close to them or even an unlucky stranger who happened to be passing by.
To get to the root of the problem, people must emphasize the importance of handling negative emotions, Huang said.
Cases such as random killings occur when criminals cannot find a peaceful way to resolve their negative emotions, so they randomly select their victims to take out their anger, he said, adding that such cases occur very rarely and are not something the public should lose sleep over.
10 years after the ban
AFP , WASHINGTON
Monday, Jul 20, 2009, Page 5
Falun Gong practioners mark the 10th anniversary of the group being
outlawed in China at the National Mall in Washington on Saturday.
Ten years after China banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement, the two sides are waging a battle both at home and abroad where the Buddhist-inspired group has become a thorn in Beijing¡¦s side.
Falun Gong has taken its case straight to the Western street, where rallies highlighting the group¡¦s signature breathing exercises and grisly photos of purported victims of China¡¦s crackdown have become a fixture.
Falun Gong has tried to show its strength ahead of the anniversary of China¡¦s ban on July 20, 1999, with thousands of supporters converging on Washington in yellow shirts for public speeches, prayers and vigils.
Sixty-two members of the US Congress signed a letter to US President Barack Obama to denounce ¡§one of the most unjust and cruel persecutions of our times.¡¨
The lawmakers called on the Obama administration to speak out to China to end ¡§the extreme brutality of the persecution faced by Falun Gong practitioners.¡¨
Even for China, which in the past two years has witnessed deadly unrest involving Uighur and Tibetan minorities, Falun Gong remains an especially sensitive topic and is rarely mentioned by state media.
Unveiled in 1992 by Li Hongzhi (§õ¬x§Ó), who now lives quietly in the New York area, Falun Gong emphasizes moral teachings and slow-motion exercises and was once encouraged by Chinese authorities to ease the burden on a creaky health system.
However, aghast after thousands of Falun Gong supporters gathered in Beijing to protest against persecution, then Chinese president Jiang Zemin (¦¿¿A¥Á) issued orders in 1999 to eliminate the group. China later declared it an ¡§evil cult.¡¨
Falun Gong says that more than 3,200 practitioners have since died from persecution and that Chinese authorities have harvested their organs.
While it is impossible to independently verify each case, Falun Gong supporters and relatives speak of constant monitoring and harassment.
Jin Pang, 26, a Chinese student in the US, said her mother was taken away with some 100 other Falun Gong practitioners in Weifang, Shandong Province, in July last year ahead of the Beijing Olympics. She has not heard from her mother since.
Jin, who has sought help from dozens of US politicians, fears the worst. She said police held her mother for 11 days in 2001 and beat her with electric batons that burned her body. She said her mother was freed after police demanded 2,000 yuan (US$300) from the family.
¡§They were forcing my mom to give up her beliefs but she refused. She said we believe in truthfulness, compassion and tolerance,¡¨ she said, referring to the Falun Gong motto.
¡§She said that we didn¡¦t do anything wrong ¡X violence cannot persuade us,¡¨ she said.
China has a history of folk religious movements spiraling into threats to central authority. As many as 25 million people were believed killed in the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion led by a Christian convert in what remains one of the deadliest conflicts in world history.
Ethan Gutmann, the author of a forthcoming book on Falun Gong, said that unlike even the Buddhist Tibetans, no elements within Falun Gong have resorted to violence.
But Gutmann, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think-tank, said Chinese authorities nonetheless feared Falun Gong more than any other domestic group.
Besides mobilizing thousands of people globally, Falun Gong has continued to get its message out through a media empire.
A pro-Falun Gong TV network, New Tang Dynasty, broadcasts around the clock worldwide and a newspaper, the Epoch Times, publishes in 17 languages. The newspaper may be best known for the heckling of Chinese President Hu Jintao (JÀAÀÜ) by one of its reporters in the middle of a White House visit in 2006.
¡§From the Chinese Communist Party¡¦s perspective, they¡¦re not really wrong here ¡X they are a real threat at this point,¡¨ Gutmann said of Falun Gong.
But the Falun Gong remains deeply controversial among Chinese, even among those who are no fans of the communist system.
Wei Jingsheng (ÃQ¨Ê¥Í), one of China¡¦s most-respected pro-democracy dissidents in exile, criticized Beijing for its ¡§crude suppression¡¨ of the Falun Gong.
¡§Fortunately, for both Falun Gong and the Chinese democracy movement, there are a lot of people overseas, thus the Chinese Communist Party cannot destroy them completely,¡¨ Wei said.
But he cautioned that while Falun Gong ¡§has a positive impact on society,¡¨ if ¡§a small portion of them go extreme, it would be similar to other fundamentalists.¡¨
ability to ignore the obvious
Monday, Jul 20, 2009, Page 8
The clashes between the Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang this month left at least 197 people dead and more than 1,600 wounded. The rioting was Xinjiang¡¦s worst ethnic unrest in decades. It not only shook China, but also brought international attention to the problems faced by China¡¦s ethnic minority groups, including Uighurs and Tibetans.
Chinese officialdom cannot see anything wrong with the government¡¦s minority policies and its treatment of minority groups. The official view is that development among the minorities living in Xinjiang is harmonious and calm, therefore it cannot be the cause of the unrest in the region. Chinese officials blame the unrest on exiled separatists and say that it was well planned and co-ordinated to take place at more than 50 locations across the regional capital, Urumqi. They claim that the problems have been incited by foreign forces, whether last year¡¦s riots in Tibetan areas or this year¡¦s unrest in Xinjiang.
These ¡§forces¡¨ have not been identified, but any foreign country, organization, media outlet or individual seen as being prejudiced against China in some way is a possible accomplice. International respect for the Dalai Lama is seen by Beijing as an attempt to strengthen the Tibetan spiritual leader¡¦s prestige and as support for a plot to bring about Tibetan independence. When Forbes magazine listed Rebiya Kadeer, who was Xinjiang¡¦s richest person but was forced into exile in 2005, as one of China¡¦s 10 richest people, Beijing saw this as an attempt to increase her prestige among Uighurs and as a way to oppose Chinese rule and encourage an East Turkestan independence movement.
By externalizing an internal problem, China has not only played down the inappropriate nature of its ethnic minority policies, but has also absolved itself of any responsibility for mishandling the riots by directing the focus of blame away from Beijing. More important, the Chinese authorities have expanded the ethnic minority problem and turned it into an issue of international prejudice. By using nationalism to manipulate the issue and create feelings of insecurity and rising international pressure among the Chinese, the government gains public sympathy and strengthens national unity.
This is China¡¦s standard approach and it usually works. However, redirecting ethnic sentiment also changes the essence of the problem and diminishes domestic criticism of failed policies, political corruption, social injustice and human rights violations. This in turn means that the real, underlying problems are not resolved. This way of handling things will only suppress the current unrest. The result is that the next spark may well set off yet another wave of ethnic unrest.
The unrest in Xinjiang will not be enough to cause China to feel insecure or make the Chinese leadership nervous. Chinese President Hu Jintao (JÀAÀÜ) once served as Chinese Communist Party secretary in Tibet and thus has firsthand experience in dealing with minority issues. The riots will instead boost the government¡¦s authority as it suppresses unrest.
Another result will be that dissatisfaction with the current economic situation will be redirected toward a new target for nationalist sentiment. Thus the regional problems in Xinjiang will provide an unexpected advantage for the Chinese leadership.
should blame themselves
By Huang Tien-lin
Monday, Jul 20, 2009, Page 8
The Chinese-language Commercial Times published an editorial on July 9 titled ¡§Why has the scale of Taiwan¡¦s exports decreased to half of South Korea¡¦s?¡¨ The editorial said the government¡¦s biased tax incentives and industrial policies have caused an excessive concentration of resources in the semiconductor and flat-panel sectors. This means Taiwan is easily affected by shifts in the economic climate, and this is also why the recovery of Taiwan¡¦s exports has fallen behind South Korea and other major trading countries.
The world ranking of Taiwan¡¦s export volume has declined over the past eight years, from 14 in 2000 to 16 in 2006 and 18 last year. While Taiwan¡¦s exports totaled about 88.2 percent of South Korea¡¦s in 2000, the figure had dropped to 60.5 percent last year and 53.2 percent in the first half of this year ¡X about half of South Korea¡¦s. Why?
Unfortunately, in claiming that there has been an excessive concentration of tax incentives and resources in the semiconductor and panel sectors, the newspaper was generalizing based on partial data. Since the product value of these two industries is higher in South Korea than in Taiwan, how can there be a problem with concentration of resources in these two industries?
The problem is that while South Korean industries have been able to develop in their domestic market, most of Taiwan¡¦s best performing industries ¡X including computers and cellphones ¡X have moved to China, leaving behind industries that were not fully deregulated as a result of the ¡§no haste, be patient¡¨ policy, such as chip and panel makers, the petroleum cracking industry and large steel mills.
As other industries are gradually shrinking in Taiwan, it is not very strange that there appears to be a concentration of resources in the chip and panel sectors, which cannot move to China.
Why do South Korean firms enjoy balanced domestic development when Taiwan¡¦s do not? First, South Koreans generally do not speak Chinese, so language and cultural differences provide natural obstructions.
Second, South Korean enterprises are very patriotic, while Taiwan¡¦s small and medium enterprises thirst to go to China is the result of pro-China education and media propaganda. Statistics show that by this year, Taiwanese capital in China was more than US$400 billion. This is 10 times higher than that of South Korea.
So the problem is not that Taiwanese businesses have stopped investing, but that they are investing in China. This is proven by Taiwan¡¦s low domestic investment ratio, which averaged less than 20 percent of GDP over the past eight years, while South Korea¡¦s domestic investment ratio has remained at between 25 percent and 30 percent of GDP.
Taiwanese businesses invest in, manufacture in and pay taxes in China. They also export from there and this is why Taiwan¡¦s economic growth rate is so inferior to South Korea¡¦s. This is likely to continue unless we stop believing that our economy is dependent on China.
Taiwan¡¦s 19-year experience of investing in China and especially the ¡§active opening¡¨ policy after 2000 have proven the results of the core-peripheral theory. That theory says that in the interaction between a big economy and a small economy that share the same language and culture, the capital, talent and technology of the smaller economy will be gradually attracted to the bigger. As the political and economic status of the small one goes down day by day, it will eventually deteriorate into a peripheral region. The process of attraction will be faster the more convenient transportation is and the more liberal interaction is.
This is why Taiwan¡¦s export volume is half that of South Korea.
Huang Tien-lin is a former national policy adviser to the president.