The 610 Office, Created on June 10, 1999, Still Plays a Critical Role in Persecuting Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) Under orders from Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader, a Gestapo-like organization was launched on June 10, 1999, named the 610 Office. One month later, on July 20, Jiang officially launched a nationwide persecution of Falun Gong, a meditation system based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
The 610 Office has been an extralegal agency from the very beginning, with no legislation establishing it or laws delineating its powers. It came into existence simply after Jiang's announcement of setting up the organization. Despite its illegality, the 610 Office has played a critical role in executing the persecution policies during the past 21 years.
The central 610 Office leadership team was disbanded in 2018 and integrated into China’s Ministry of Public Security and Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC). Zhao Leji, secretary of the CCP Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, recently visited a city and revealed that the disbandment was simply to quell criticism of the CCP's human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners. He made it clear that the 610 Office was to continue persecuting Falun Gong.
Well funded and working closely with other agencies, the 610 Office has been actively committing human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners.
Information from Fangshan District, Beijing
A leaked document showed that the Fangshan District PLAC spent 29.2 million yuan on various projects aimed to “maintain social stability,” with the funding coming from both Fangshan District and Beijing City.
Below are some major projects on the list:
* Dazzling Snow (xueliang): a video surveillance project in the countryside. Its urban counterpart is referred to as Skynet (tianwang). Falun Gong practitioners who go out and raise awareness of the persecution are the main targets of the project. Many have been arrested after being spotted in surveillance videos talking to people and passing out informational materials about Falun Gong.
* Railway Joint Prevention: a project designed to monitor passenger trains. Many Falun Gong practitioners are arrested when their IDs are flagged before boarding the trains, or searched while on the trains. The CCP police have built an extensive database of Falun Gong practitioners and closely monitored them.
* Comprehensive management (core responsibilities of the 610 Office):1) To defame and suppress Falun Gong, “a large number of propaganda items were made such as cups, spice jars, aprons, and banners. They were then distributed in 24 towns, Sinopec Yanshan Petrochemical Company, and four urban neighborhoods.”
2) Although only a district level agency, Fangshan 610 Office dispatched staff to Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa in Canada to spread the CCP propaganda against Falun Gong. In addition to hosting forums that defamed Falun Gong, staff members also worked with Chinesepress.com (a pro-CCP Chinese newspaper in Canada) and distributed 400,000 flyers with slandering information about Falun Gong.
* Preventing and stopping petitioners from going to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong.
* The 610 Legal Education Centers: These centers are in fact brainwashing centers where Falun Gong practitioners are detained and subjected to intensive brainwashing attempting to force them to renounce their belief.
Published data showed that in 2018 and 2019, about 200 billion yuan (approximately US$29 billion) was allocated by the central government for “social order maintenance.”
Lv Bingquan, a senior lecturer at the Hong Kong Baptist University's Department of Journalism, has long tracked the CCP's stability maintenance spending. He found that these expenditures have three major parts: a central government budget, a “central to local financial subsidy,” and a local budget for maintaining stability.
Based on data from 2011 to 2014, Lv found that the central government budget accounted for 16% to 17% of the total national budget for maintaining stability. With the 200 billion yuan central government budget in 2018, he estimated the total national budget for maintaining stability exceeds 1.1 trillion yuan (approximately US$159 billion).
Many agents working in the 610 Office system have died from accidents in recent years. Given the traditional Chinese culture of “Good is rewarded with good, and evil meets evil,” many people interpreted this as consequences incurred by these officers for persecuting innocent practitioners and their belief.
To attract more people to work in these positions, higher officials raised the salaries of the 610 Office staff. One document from the 610 Office in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, showed that a typical 610 staff member was paid 200,000 yuan per year, which was 14 times higher than the earnings (29,000 yuan) of a typical countryside resident and 7 times higher than the earnings (14,000) of an urban resident.
Even when compared to other public employees, whose income was about 68,000 yuan on average in 2018, one would find the 610 Office staff members’ salaries were three times higher.
Such a situation is not just limited to Harbin City. In the 2018 budget of Dali, Yunnan Province, the 610 Office staff annual pay was about 280,000 per person. This was 24.5 times that of countryside income (11,000 yuan on average) or 8 times the urban income amount (34,000 yuan on average).
Two things can be learned from these numbers. First is that the CCP uses strong financial incentives to instigate the 610 Office people into doing bad things against their conscience. Another is that the salaries of the 610 Office staff offer a glimpse into the high financial cost of persecuting Falun Gong in China.
Sources of the Budget
The payroll cost of the 610 Office is only a very small portion of the total expenses incurred in the persecution of Falun Gong, as many other parts of society, including law enforcement, the Procuratorate, the courts, state-owned and private businesses in various industries, and the education system, have all been mobilized to take part in the persecution.
Using Beijing as an example, according to officially published data between 1998 and 2002, the budget for infrastructure investment dropped sharply between 2001 and 2002. The expenditure on agriculture and education also went down in 2002. The spending on the PLAC system soared from second to last place in 1998 to the top place in 2002 in terms of budget growth rates. These changes coincided well with the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999.
The situation is even more severe in provinces close to Beijing, including Shandong, Hebei, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Jilin, with more slices of the budget pie allocated to agencies in charge of the persecution of Falun Gong. Data shows that these places also have the highest number of brainwashing centers and worst persecution in terms of practitioner deaths.
As the costs of stability maintenance rose to unprecedented levels, other functions of society suffered. For instance, the financial health of China's social security and pension systems have continued to deteriorate. “There may be more pressing issues, but the simmering pension crisis cannot be put on the back burner for much longer,” wrote an article on March 6 from The Diplomat, titled “China’s Pension System Is Not Aging Well.”
The 610 Office Continues to Function
While the central 610 Office leadership team was disbanded in March 2018, with its functions integrated into the PLAC and China’s Ministry of Public Security, the 610 Offices at all levels remain active in the persecution of Falun Gong.
Zhao Leji, secretary of the CCP Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, recently visited a city and specifically requested updates from the local 610 Office.
Local officials, including the Party secretary and the discipline inspection secretary, said they had been told that the 610 Office had been removed and its functions shifted to the PLAC and police departments.
“Following and solidifying the Party’s leadership are our highest priorities,” Zhao reprimanded the officials, “It is true that the news media said the central 610 Office was disbanded, but that was just to silence those anti-China forces who always make noise about so-called human rights violations.”
Zhao said that Falun Gong still exists and the responsibilities of the 610 Office are still critical. “Next year will be the centennial celebration for the CCP. We need to celebrate and celebrate big, without noises!”
While the CCP intensifies the persecution, many more practitioners and their families have suffered unimaginable losses. Close to 4,500 practitioners are confirmed to have died as a result of the persecution. Due to the CCP's information blockade, the actual death toll is likely much higher. Millions more have been arrested or detained at one point or another for holding firm to their faith. Many have been subjected to various forms of torture during detention. Some have even had their organs harvested while still alive.