Free Speech in US? Not if Chinese Government Has its Way

Recent internationally important events in Flushing, Queens County, New York State, have gone unreported and unnoticed by most Americans. The exception to the previous assertion, being those of the outspoken, resident ethnic Chinese. This issue may dramatically alter US-Chinese relations.

For three years the Falun Gong, a religious group banned and persecuted by the Chinese government, has met outside the Flushing public library to encourage Chinese Communist Party members to turn in their Party membership. The activity attracted little attention until the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province and staggering loss of life put a spotlight on the Chinese government’s response.

Since then, Falun Gong’s ‘Epoch Times’ newspaper and its website have relentlessly attacked the government’s failure before and after the earthquake to protect its citizens. It charges that seismologists issued warnings well before the quake but that the government withheld the information from the general public even as selected insiders and their families were notified and able to move to safety. Epoch also lays the blame squarely on government graft and corrupt practices for the more than 10,000 children who perished in school classrooms because of shoddy construction. Photos of grieving parents have filled the newspaper daily since the quake occurred along with reports of parents taking to the streets and government buildings to demonstrate.

In Flushing, however, many Chinese were incensed by what Falun Gong says is a scurrilous charge – that it discouraged people from donating to Chinese quake victims. To the contrary, the group says it encourages donations but only though independent organizations not under the control of the Chinese government. It believes that the money channeled though the government will not get to those in need. Still, hundreds of Chinese demonstrators who depend on Chinese language satellite broadcasts and other media tied to the China government for information have descended on the Flushing library since, May 17, 2008, to threaten and attack Falun Gong members. The violence has resulted in arrests by the New York police.

Epoch Times says Chinese government agents orchestrated the Flushing attacks and observers liken the scene on Flushing streets to that witnessed during the turmoil of China’s Cultural Revolution in the late 1960’s.

This attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to stifle free speech a world away from Beijing is an ominous development. Epoch Times has published evidence that the demonstrators were organized and paid for by the Chinese Consulate office in New York. The earthquake donation charges, it says, were trumped up by the Chinese government solely to eliminate Falun Gong solely because of its vehement opposition to the Communist Party.

Peng Keyu, General Consul for China in New York admits the consulate’s role and the reason behind it in a secretly recorded telephone conversation available on the internet . With the recording in hand the Falun Gong says that the US government should expel Peng from the United States for violating his diplomatic status. The group also argues that Communist Party members who act as foreign agents for the Chinese government on the streets of Flushing and who falsified their applications in order to be allowed into the U.S. should be denied residency.

Party leaders often refer to threats to the legitimacy of their rule as ’life and death struggles’. Indeed, should Falun Gong’s charges of criminal malfeasance committed by the Chinese government both before and after the destructive earthquake take root among the Chinese public it could spell the end of the line for the current Chinese regime.

Wei Jingsheng, a prominent pro-democracy activist who spent 18 years in a China prison for his activities, says the Chinese government is desperate to prevent any domestic political fallout from the earthquake and will use all the resources at its command including its overseas consulates and media to destroy the Falun Gong. Wang Dang, a student leader in 1989 during the Tiananmen demonstrations who was imprisoned in China for his political activities, says that: "although the Olympics in Beijing and the Sichuan earthquake may foster the growth of democratic forces in China the resulting social conflict will make for a dangerous transformation".

Two Congressman, Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher, visited Flushing and expressed their support for the Falun Gong and for action by the U.S. government.

It’s unlikely that the U.S. federal government will respond any time soon to China’s violations of its diplomatic status. As China’s obvious economic "maid servant" the U.S. can’t afford to offend the country which now pays the expense of its empire abroad. The U.S. federal government employees may even allow China’s diplomatic service to continue its untoward activities, in the County of Queens, located within the New York City area, which is now taking place, openly and overtly, in the area of Flushing therein. This capitulation to the Chinese Government "officials at large" makes it awkwardly clear to many here and now just how politically emasculated, compliant and complacent to inhumane foreign government conduct by our very own nation, America has become. We are able to send armies to every region of the globe yet incapable of defending free speech and individual liberty within our own borders from the acts of foreign agents.

Whether one agrees, or not, with the Falun Gong’s view of the Chinese government, there is no doubt that if the U.S.A. allows the group to be silenced in our homeland we will have become a willing accomplice to an attack on our founding ideals.

Editors note:

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