The Epoch Times

Jan 03, 2005

I wish you the best for this special time of year. I also want to tell you about a tragic irony surrounding the holiday lights people put up this time of year.

My mom never wanted to put lights outside our house during the holidays and I used to have difficulties with her wishes. Now I hope no one puts lights up indoors or outdoors, because of what I learned recently:

"The small outdoor Christmas lights that adorn our homes this time of year are manufactured for the most part in slave labor camps operated by the Chinese military. Most of those prisoners are Christians and Falun Gong [practitioners]." (

William J. Murray, Chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition said this at The Epoch Times forum on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the National Press Club on December 21, my birthday. The forum was held to discuss commentaries published by The Epoch Times in both Chinese and English detailing the history, nature, and corruption of the CCP. Since their initial publication in Chinese in November, thousands of Chinese people have already renounced their party membership, including an Olympic medalist, a former high-level official, and a prominent painter.

(On the forum see: and for commentaries see:

Mr. Murray also said that many of the things made in China are also made in forced labor camps. Harry Wu, Executive Director of the Laogai [forced labor] Research Foundation, agrees with Mr. Murray about the manufacture of Christmas lights in China. Mr. Wu, who spent decades inside the camps, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the production of lights:

"Mr. Fu Shenqi is a prominent Chinese dissident who has been jailed many times for his public stance promoting democracy in China. He is an eyewitness to the manufacture of Christmas lights inside a Laogai factory. There is no market for Christmas lights inside China, a country where Christians are targeted and arrested for their beliefs. Christmas lights are for export. The US is almost 40% of China's export market, so it is reasonable to say that at least 40% of the Christmas lights are for America. We do not know under what brand these lights are sold. Or in what store the lights are sold. The American government must investigate this facility to determine the whole story.

"I believe no American would buy Christmas lights from China if they thought they came from the Laogai. I believe no American would buy artificial Christmas trees from China if they thought they came from the Laogai. I don't want to see any of these blood-stained trees and lights taint our holy nights." (

The Free China Movement, a coalition of democracy dissidents said the same thing. According to Reuters, Joel Segal, an attorney with the movement, said "the group's next target was the Chinese government's use of forced labor to make colored light bulbs for Christmas decorations." (

Finally, here's the experience of Li Ying, a Falun Gong practitioner, documented by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong:

"We also had to make holiday lights. There were several different procedures for making them. One way was welding the two feet of the light bulb to the wire with a liquid chemical and tin. This had to be done in a room without airflow since wind would make the welding fail. June and July in Shanghai are the hottest months, yet we could not turn on the electric fan. There were nearly 100 people in the 60-square-meter room that was filled with smog and irritating smells. We felt dizzy and nauseated after staying in the room for a long time. There was another procedure for inspecting the lights. After working the whole day, we saw lights in front of our eyes. Our eyes were constantly tearing and our eyesight decreased dramatically. Everything we saw was fuzzy."

It is ironic that lights that are supposed to celebrate hope and freedom from slavery actually serve to perpetuate it. As I understand it, Christians put up lights in memory of the star that guided the wise men to Jesus. Jews often put up lights to celebrate Chanukah, the festival of light, which marks the liberation and rededication of the Jewish Temple and the overcoming of persecution by the Syrians.

As we celebrate the holidays, let us keep in mind the deeper significance of these times, such as freedom from spiritual or physical slavery; and let's do what we can to either end slavery or at least not support it with our purchases.

Everyone needs to know about the tragic irony that may lie behind the strings of lights we see around us. Give people the truth. Pass it on.