21 November 2013
Permit me to begin by stressing that my respect for the Chinese people is longstanding. It grew during several visits to the country and meeting both nationals and members of the vast Chinese Diaspora. It is no accident that more than one million Canadians of origin in the Middle Kingdom are our most-educated cultural community. It was an honour to represent many of them in our Parliament for almost twenty seven years. Let me also note here something that diplomats, sinologists, journalists and business executives sometimes forget: China is its peoples, cultures and history far more than its unelected government. The criticisms many of us within and beyond China have are of its governance, but we also acknowledge that the economic policies of paramount leader Deng enabled hundreds of millions of Chinese families to lift themselves by hard work and intelligence out of grinding poverty–a state of affairs that existed unimproved from 1949 until the thrice-purged Deng made major reforms in the economy beginning in 1978.
The world’s democrats, including our national governments, civil society institutions
and businesses, should, of course, engage actively with the Xi/Li government in Beijing
and the broadest possible range of citizens across China despite the difficulties created
by one-party governance and the crackdown on online opinion during the past year.
Democracy with very Chinese features is probably closer than many think. How many
‘experts’ anticipated the fall of European totalitarianism in 1989 or the Arab Spring
No-one on the democratic side should forget in this engagement that the values we
represent are universal ones, including dignity for all, the rule of law, multi-party
democracy, corporate social responsibility and the need for people everywhere to have
access to good jobs and a good natural environment.
Any discussion of governance in Beijing today must unfortunately start with Mao
Zedong because the PRC founder remains the overarching icon of its party-state. Jung Chang and Jon Holliday end their comprehensive biography, Mao, The Unknown Story,
by saying, “Today (2005), Mao‘s portrait and corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in
the heart of the Chinese capital. The current Communist regime declares itself to be
Mao’s heir and fiercely perpetuates the myth of Mao.” Virtually all independent
historians today include him with Stalin and Hitler as the three worst mass murderers of
the 20th century. Chang-Holliday note, “In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished
under Mao’s rule in peacetime.
Suppression of Dissent: Gao Zhisheng
One of the most vexing ongoing practices of the party-state is that it uses overwhelming
force to suppress voices that advocate dignity for all and the rule of law in China. One is
Gao Zhisheng, a twice Nobel Peace Prize-nominated lawyer in the tradition of Nelson
Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. A decade ago, he was named one of China’s top ten
lawyers by its ministry of Justice.
Party apparatchiks released their full wrath, however, when Gao, a Christian defended
Falun Gong practitioners. It began with the removal of his permit to practise law,
followed by an attempt on his life, a police attack on his wife, and denying the family any
income. It intensified when Gao responded in the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi by
launching nationwide hunger strikes calling for dignity for all Chinese. In one of his
articles, Gao described more than 50 days of torture in prison. In January 2009, his
wife, Geng He, their teen-age daughter and six-year-old son escaped China and reached
the U.S. He remains in prison.
Rule of Law?
It is difficult for many outside China to understand that trials there are mere theatres.
The deciding ‘judges’ often don’t even hear evidence given in ‘courts’. The Canadian
lawyer Clive Ansley practised law in Shanghai for 13 years, handling about 300 cases in
their courts before returning to British Columbia several years ago. He explains the
reality of what happened to Gao, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and so any
others: “There is a current saying amongst Chinese lawyers and judges who truly believe
in the Rule of Law and this saying, familiar throughout all legal circles in China, vividly
illustrates the futility of attempting to ‘assist China in improving its legal system’ by
training judges. The saying is: ‘Those who hear the case do not make the judgment;
those who make the judgment have not heard the case’…Nothing which has transpired
in the ‘courtroom’ has any impact on the ‘judgment’.”
Organ Trafficking and Falun Gong
Let me urge all of you as influential residents of this country to urge your MPs to join the
growing international coalition in applying maximum pressure on the Xi/Li government to end the pillaging of Falun Gong organs for trafficking purposes. David Matas and I
concluded that 41,500 organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience were sold
between 2001 and 2005 alone. The appalling commerce continues today, although there
is hope that recent commitments from the party plenum will result in ending the seizure
of prisoner organs, including ones from Falun Gong, for trafficking purposes.
I was shown an article in the Norwegian paper Dagbladet in October 2006 about the
large Swedish hospital, Karolinska, which had a research cooperation agreement with
Beijing and Fudan Universities. The cooperation included organs from death row
prisoners. The source of the article is sverigesradi.se. Here is part of it:
“I know that during this year the Chinese Ministry of Health has ratified a law that this
kind of activities are not to be carried out in this way; the number of places for
transplant operations will be reduced and organs are not to be sold. So it’s going in the
right direction”, says Dean of research at Karolinska sjukhuset,Jan Carlstedt Duke. He
also stated in the interview that the cooperation will continue and that (the Swedes)
would influence the Chinese in the right direction, and that the development now is in
the right direction.
In the 2012 book State Organs, writer/researcher Ethan
Gutmann estimates that 65,000 Falun Gong were killed for their
organs during the years 2000-2008, selected from about 1.2
million of them interned in China’s forced labour system. As with
the camps created by Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, on
which the ones across China were adapted by Mao in the 1950s, a
police signature alone remains sufficient to commit anyone to one
of them for up to four years. No charges, no lawyers, no appeals.
In 2007, a U.S. government report estimated that at least half of
the inmates in 350 such camps were Falun Gong. Leninist
governance and ‘anything is permitted’ economics allow organ
trafficking to continue across China. The recent Hangzhou
Declaration is a step in a better direction, but only 40 doctors
signed it, leaving 129 transplant hospitals and all the military
ones across China unaffected.
Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview Falun Gong, who managed to
leave both the camps and the country. They told us of working in appalling conditions
for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay and little food, crowded sleeping conditions
and torture. Inmates made a range of export products, including Christmas decorations
and chopsticks, as subcontractors to multinational companies. This constitutes, of
course, both corporate irresponsibility and a violation of WTO rules and calls for an effective response by all trading partners of China. Our governments should ban forced
labour exports by enacting legislation which places an onus on importers in each
country to prove their goods are not made in effect by slaves.
I would like to go very briefly through a bit of the evidence that led us to our conclusion.
Investigators made many calls to hospitals, detention centres and other facilities across
China claiming to be relatives of patients needing transplants and asking if the hospitals
had organs of Falun Gong for sale. We obtained on tape and then transcribed and
translated admissions that hospitals were using Falun Gong organs throughout China.
Falun Gong practitioners, who were detained and later got out of China, testified that
they were systematically blood-tested and organ-examined while in detention in forced
labour camps across the country. The blood testing and organ examination could not
have been for their health, since they were regularly tortured, but it would have been
necessary for organ transplants and for building a bank of live “donors”. In a few cases,
family members of Falun Gong practitioners were able to see mutilated corpses of their
loved ones between death and cremation. Organs had been removed.
We interviewed the ex-wife of a surgeon from Sujiatun district in Shenyang City in
Liaoning. She told us that her surgeon husband told her that he removed corneas from
2,000 Falun Gong practitioners between 2001 and 2003, at which time he refused to
continue. The surgeon made it clear to his wife that none of these sources survived the
experience because other surgeons removed other vital organs and all of the bodies were
Finally, there’s no other explanation for the transplant numbers than sourcing from
Falun Gong. China is the second-largest country in the world after the U.S. for
transplantation, yet until 2010 China did not have a deceased donation system, and
even today that system produces donations that are statistically insignificant. The living
donor sources are limited in law to relatives of donors and are officially discouraged
because live donors often suffer health complications from giving up an organ.
The number of prisoners sentenced to death and executed that would be necessary to
supply the volume of transplants in China, is far greater than even the most exaggerated
death penalty statistics and estimates, in the tens of thousands. Moreover, in recent
years death penalty volumes have gone down, but transplant volumes, except for a short
blip in 2007, have remained constant.
It’s encouraging that the Spanish courts have recently issues arrest warrants for five
former party-state officials, including former President Jiang Zemin for human rights
abuses in Tibet. I hope that all persons actively involved in organ trafficking will one day
face the International Criminal Court.
International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe concluded in the Vancouver Sun a
couple of years ago that one observes in China variations of a Ponzi scheme. “A local
government, without a functioning system for raising tax revenue—and…riddled with
corruption…sells development land to garner cash… (first getting rid of (farmers) living on the land)… And, this being China…the municipality has the power to instruct banks
to lend the development company the money for the sale. So the local government gets
its cash, the municipally-owned company gets to build a speculative residential or
industrial complex, and all seems well”.
In the Financial Times not long after Manthorpe wrote was a story about how in one
coastal city luxury apartments were to be built for as much as 70,000 Yuan ($11,000) a
square metre, which is about twice the annual income of the average resident. To
finance a 150 square metre apartment in the building would consume every penny of a
typical resident’s income for 350 years.
He Qinglian, an author and economist, wrote that in China today. “Over 100 million
farmers do not have land. Tens of millions of city dwellers are unemployed…there are
four basic requirements for a society to sustain itself: the ecological system…; the moral
system…; basic living rights…; (and) a political system that maintains the normal
operations of a society. Currently, the…only thing left is the political dictatorship. “
Manufacturing remains the lifeblood of most successful economies. Canadians have
watched numerous manufacturing jobs at home – including thousands of garment
industry ones in Montreal after quotas were lifted in 2000 – disappear because
irresponsible investors felt they could make bigger profits in China. A report on state
capitalism in the January 21, 2012, issue of the Economist made two key points:
• State capitalism (fuses) the power of government with capitalism through such
mechanisms as listing government-owned companies on international stock
markets. The Chinese party-state is the largest shareholder in the country’s 150
largest companies and directs thousands of others. The heads of the 50 or so
leading companies have a “red machine” on their desks, providing a link to the
Party’s high command. It also has cells in most companies in the private sector.
• Transparency International ranks China 75th on its perceived corruption index for
2011. The Economist quotes a central bank of China estimate that between the
mid-1990s and 2008 some 16,000-18,000 Chinese officials and executives of
state-owned companies “made off with a total of $123 billion (about six million
each).” It concludes, “By turning companies into organs of the government, state
capitalism simultaneously concentrates power and corrupts it.”
Former Premier Wen jiao-bao noted more than a year ago, “The reform in China has
come to a critical stage. Without the success of political structural reform, it is
impossible for us to fully institute economic structural reform. The gains we have
made… may be lost, new problems that have cropped up in China’s society cannot be
fundamentally resolved and such a historical tragedy as the Cultural Revolution may
Governments, investors and businesses should examine why they are supporting the
violation of so many universal values in order to increase trade and investment with China. For years this has resulted mostly in national jobs being outsourced to China and
continuous increases in bi-lateral trade deficits. Are the rest of us so focused on access
to inexpensive consumer goods that we ignore the human, social and natural
environment costs paid by many Chinese nationals to produce them?
In mid-January, 2013, Wal-Mart pledged to hire more than 100,000 American veterans
and boost its sourcing from domestic suppliers. The retailer announced a three-part
plan to help jump-start the American economy, which includes spending $50 billion to
buy more American-made goods over the next ten years and helping its part-time
workers move into full-time positions. How about Canadian and Norwegian companies
again recognizing that Canadians with good manufacturing and other jobs are their best
Peter Navarro, a professor at the University of
California with a Harvard PH.D. in economics, argues
convincingly that consumer markets worldwide have
been “conquered” by China largely through cheating.
Navarro has proposals to ensure that trade becomes
fair. Specifically, he says all nations should:
define currency manipulation as an illegal export
subsidy and add it to other subsidies when
calculating anti-dumping and countervail
respect intellectual property; adopt and enforce
health, safety and environmental regulations
consistent with international norms;
ban the use of forced labour effectively-not merely on paper as now- and provide
decent wages and working conditions for all;
apply provisions for protection of the natural environment in all bilateral and
multilateral trade agreements in order to reverse the ‘race to the environmental
bottom’ in China and elsewhere.
The Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has predicted that Beijing’s ongoing
refusal to let its currency float will cause retaliation in a world struggling with
overcapacity. He adds that by displacing the output and jobs of other nations with its
own low-wage goods, China is arguably the prime culprit in holding back a robust
recovery in global economies.
The Chinese people want the same things as the rest of us, respect for all, education,
safety and security, good jobs, the rule of law, democratic and accountable governance
and a sustainable natural environment. If the party-state ends its systematic and gross
violations of human rights at home, especially in respect of Falun Gong practitioners,
and abroad and begins to treat its trade partners in a transparent and equitable way, the
new century can bring harmony and coherence for China and the world. The first step in
a better direction is to end organ pillaging now.