Testimony of Harry Wu
Executive Director of the Laogai Research Foundation [a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting information about China's vast system of forced-labor camps (http://www.laogai.org)]
June 11, 2002
China is a state terrorist country. As such, the Communist regime keeps tight control of the people by making use of all resources at its disposal - economic policies, politics, the police force, etc. Scores of Chinese citizens arrive in the US every year to escape this imperious control. Many of these immigrants have suffered greatly and the US has become a haven for them to do what is impossible in their motherland: to live free. But, as we discuss today, by simply becoming Americans these people have certainly not fully escaped the stronghold of the Communist regime. Everyone knows that China is one of the biggest exporters of manufactured goods to the U.S. Few are aware that China is also one of the biggest exporters of domestic state terror.
In my twelve-year career as a human rights activist, I have come across dozens of overseas Chinese who recently escaped persecution or other human rights abuses in China. These people could provide invaluable testimony and research toward the cause of improving human rights at home. What stops them nearly every time is the simple fact that for every action they take in the United States, there will likely be a severe reaction from the authorities taken out on their family members. Loved ones become hostages in their own homes. Those of us here today will think this harsh and unjust; the Chinese officials think this a highly reliable system to keep those abroad frightened and insecure, and therefore under the yoke of Communist control regardless of their location.
As one of China's most wanted dissidents, naturally I, too, have seen my share of harassment. As I have very few remaining relatives in the mainland, there has been no threat on their safety. Rather, the harassment I've experienced has been far more classic; death threats, threatening phone calls, blackmail attempts, all too many to list individually. Most shocking has been the attempts by the Chinese consulate itself to organize overseas students to retaliate against my work.
In some cases, the authorities harass overseas critics of the regime by revoking their rights to return to their homeland. Last week, I participated in a conference to honor the 13th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Chicago. While there, I met a talented young woman named Fengshi Yang. As the first Mainland Chinese woman to earn a PhD in music in the US, she should be the pride of her homeland. After the Tiananmen incident, however, she began to devote her talents to memorializing her peers who had been killed. With each following June, she honored the anniversary with special artistic events. What she did not realize was that she was becoming a "persona non grata" in China for doing so until the year 2000. At that time, her father was seriously ill, and she hoped to visit him for the first time in eight years. Without any explanation, her visa was declined. She appealed for months, but to no avail. With great strength, she did not succumb to China's pressure and continued using her music to promote freedom in China, but paid the price in never seeing her family again.
It is truly a tragedy that Ms. Yang will not have the chance to see her father. It is also a shame that political asylum recipients are too frightened in a free country to fight back against the abuse they suffered. For Chinese officials to extend their own brutal methods of lawmaking into our country is immoral, unethical, and, I suspect, illegal. I urge American lawmakers to further investigate these potential violations of international and domestic law. This situation is not merely a human rights abuse; it is the blatant disregard of another country's policies and people.