Forbes: When All Else Fails - Threats
February, 10, 2006
New York - Peter Yuan Li--a key figure in the Falun Gong's technologically sophisticated attempt to undermine the Chinese Communist Party--was brutally attacked and beaten in his home in Duluth, Ga., as Forbes was going to press with its cover story on how the spiritual movement is penetrating the Chinese government's hi-tech censorship. At 11:15 A.M. on Feb. 8, according to the Fulton County Police Department Incident Report, Asian men stormed the house of the Princeton-educated information technology technician, bound and gagged and beat him, before fleeing with two 16-inch Sony laptop computers, Li's wallet and yet unknown material from his files.
"They were not looking for valuables," says Dr. Li, who needed 15 stitches in his face. "They left my daughter's jewelry and camcorder and other valuables."
Li is a Falun Gong practitioner and a technology specialist employed by the Epoch Times, a Falun Gong-affiliated newspaper that published a highly critical series of essays in a book called Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. The Nine Commentaries was coupled with an effective promotional campaign within China that urged the CCP and related youth party members to renounce their party affiliation on specially designed Web sites (see: "Cracks In The Wall"). The Falun Gong claim 7 million Communist Party members have renounced their allegiances due to the Nine Commentaries campaign.
U.S. citizen Li says he not only maintains the Epoch Times Web site, but also the related Nine Commentaries and CCP renunciation Web sites that mainland Chinese are accessing through proxy technologies to register their displeasure with the Chinese government. Beijing has been trying to combat their efforts with the compliance of Western firms that provide the nuts and bolts of China's Internet: Cisco Systems, Google, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo!
The two first men who pushed their way into his home in the Atlanta suburb were armed with a knife and gun and spoke Korean, Li tells Forbes. But once they had taped his eyes and bound him, Li says he heard another one or two men enter his house. One of these men spoke to him in Mandarin and demanded to know where he kept his "locker" and documents. The intruders ransacked the house and forced open locked file cabinets. After the men left, Li was able to escape into the street, where a neighbor was able to help him and call the police.
There have been many reported incidents of Falun Gong practitioners getting harassed or threatened while on U.S. soil. Last year, for example, the San Francisco home of Houzhi Ma, an Epoch Times editor, who finances and manages reporters inside China, was repeatedly burgled. His laptops were also stolen.
Erping Zhang, spokesman for the Falun Gong, says it is no coincidence that Li's attack took place as Forbes reveals the extent of the Falun Gong's penetration of the Chinese government's information barriers. "Given that valuables were not taken; given that laptops and related Internet files and receipts were taken; and given that the attackers asked where the files were kept--it is apparent that the attackers were after Internet antiblockage and encryption information," says Zhang.
In 2004, the U.S. Congress passed Resolution 304, which recognized "the Chinese government has attempted to silence the Falun Gong movement and Chinese pro-democracy groups inside the United States." The resolution urged the U.S. Attorney General to "investigate reports that Chinese consular officials in the U.S. have committed illegal acts while attempting to intimidate or inappropriately influence Falun Gong practitioners or local elected officials."
Dr. Haiying He, a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University, is also a Falun Gong [practitioner] and was one of the first CCP party members to officially and publicly renounce his membership after the Nine Commentaries campaign began. He says he has not only been threatened in person in Boston, but that his parents get regular secret police visits at their home in Chongqing City, China. Three months ago, he says, the secret police described his "every move" in the U.S. to his parents.
Dayong Li, is a founder of the global organization that is orchestrating the CCP renouncements. He also owns a New Jersey satellite service company. Li says his parents in Hunan Province also receive similar visits, and the secret police terrorize the elderly couple by saying they know "everything" about their son--including where he walks, his salary and his company details.
"They warn me not to be active," says Li. "They tell my parents if I am, my life is in danger."