The China Nexus: Thirty Years In and Around the Chinese Communist Party’s Tyranny
A new book has been published exploring the history, politics and ideology of the China’s authoritarian regime, the human rights abuses occurring in China and the international response to such practices. It is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the comprehensive interplay of factors leading to the regime we see today in China, thoroughly researched and effectively told through the personal experiences of the author, Benedict Rogers.
Rogers, born in London, England, first went to China at age eighteen to teach English for six months in Qingdao, three years after the Tiananmen Square massacre. That opened the door to a thirty-year adventure with China, from teaching English in schools and hospitals to working as a journalist in Hong Kong for the first five years after the handover to travelling to China’s borders with Myanmar/Burma and North Korea to document the plight of refugees escaping from Beijing-backed satellite dictatorships and then campaigning for human rights in China, especially for Uyghurs, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, human rights defenders, journalists and dissidents, and the people of Hong Kong.
This book tells the story of his fight for freedom for the peoples of China and neighbouring countries Myanmar and North Korea and sets out how a global movement for human rights in China is emerging and what the free world should do next. It describes the importance of the “China Nexus” in the author’s journey and geopolitics and its challenges. Pioneering international inquiries into forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, the genocide of the Uyghurs and global action for Hong Kong, as well as highlighting the Vatican’s silence, the author has been at the heart of advocacy for human rights in China in recent years.
In 2017, on the orders of Beijing, he was denied entry to Hong Kong, 20 years after he had moved to the city and began his working life as a journalist and activist. Benedict Rogers co-founded Hong Kong Watch and worked with a variety of other international groups at the forefront of the fight for freedom, including the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for China (IPAC), the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign, the China Democracy Foundation, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission which he co-founded, and the international human rights organization CSW with which he has worked for over 25 years.
This book hits the Chinese Communist Party hard on their lack of Human Rights efficacy, genocide, and despicable and barbaric organ harvesting programs (an estimated $1 billion US a year business).
Rogers takes the readers on a journey through some of the leaders and participants in the Human rights activities that China has suppressed since its inception in 1949. He goes on to dispute and lays to rest all of the specious claims by the tyrants in Beijing that all Chinese citizens are equal and are afforded human and civil rights. Currently, the regime is engaged in re-education, cultural assimilation, and multiple genocides, leading to better citizens for China and the world if one believes Chinese officials.
China’s ambassador to Canada says reports of genocide and forced labour of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province are the “lie of the century,” despite international bodies like the United Nations deeming the reports of such activities “numerous and credible.” The author will completely dispel that notion.
The following extract is from The China Nexus, Thirty Years In and Around the Chinese Communist Party’s Tyranny. Published by Optimum Publishing International
A Criminal State: The Persecution of Falun Gong and the Story of Forced Organ Harvesting
Beauty queens, pageant contestants, and movie stars are not usually in my orbit. Indeed, I was only vaguely aware of the Miss World contest and had never previously paid any attention to it. But when the news broke in November 2015 that Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin, a Chinese-born Canadian actor, had been turned away from a flight from Hong Kong to Sanya, on Hainan Island, where the Miss World finals were taking place, I took notice.
Declared persona non grata by the Chinese Communist Party regime, Anastasia was excluded from contesting the world pageant because of her outspoken advocacy against the persecution of Falun Gong, and the practice of forced organ harvesting. A practitioner of Falun Gong herself, she had taken the Miss World slogan—“Beauty with a purpose”—seriously and intended to use her platform in the contest to, in her own words, “advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves—those who suffer in prisons and labour camps, or whose voices have been stifled by repression and censorship.”
Three months later, I sat beside the swimming pool in the sunshine in a hotel in Bangkok, having just a day of “down time” after a long visit to Myanmar. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across a video of Anastasia speaking at a debate at the Oxford Union, a few days previously, on the motion that “This House would sacrifice trade with China in protest of human rights abuses” I could easily have scrolled on as I often do, especially as I was trying to have a short break. But I felt prompted to watch it, and as I did, I was deeply impressed by her intelligence, courage, passion, eloquence, and force of argument.
I then had what at the time seemed a crazy idea. The UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, which I had co-founded and serve as deputy chair, was preparing to hold its first enquiry into the human rights situation in China. Anastasia, I thought, would be a perfect witness to testify at one of our hearings in Parliament. The Commission had no funds at all to be able to fly in witnesses from outside the United Kingdom, and it was highly likely that Anastasia would, in any case, be booked up with other engagements, but I thought that there was nothing to be lost by enquiring.
So, I messaged her on Facebook, asked how long she would be in the U.K., and whether she might testify to the Commission. Within minutes, she replied, informing me that she was already back in Canada but might be willing to come to London again for our enquiry. When I explained that we had no means to cover the costs, she assured me that she could work around that, if I could also set up a programme of appointments for her to make the journey more worthwhile. I proposed to set up meetings with senior Parliamentarians, including the Speaker of the House of Common, John Bercow; Lord Alton; and others, and a round of media interviews.
And so, less than a month later, Anastasia returned to London. I will never forget our first meeting together, at her hotel near Russell Square, where we arranged to discuss the programme for her visit. She told me she had a craving for scones, and so we asked the hotel waiter if they served scones in the lounge.
The waiter took one look at Anastasia and said that they did not, but that he would personally go and find some. Some minutes later, he returned with scones, jam, and cream, which he had purchased outside the hotel, and refused to take payment. That never happens to me, I thought—I need to hang out with Miss World Canada more often.
… From then on, I tried to do whatever I could to awaken consciences. I wrote opinion articles in The Diplomat, The Huffington Post, The Spectator, The Catholic Herald, and the Asian Catholic news service UCA News. Later, in February 2019, the Wall Street Journal published my article headlined, “The Nightmare of Human Organ Harvesting in China.” I am told that this was considered a breakthrough, as that newspaper had previously been skeptical about the allegations and reluctant to publish commentary on the subject.
In my article in the Wall Street Journal, I wrote this:
“Patients in China—including foreigners—are promised matching organs within days. Former Canadian politician and prosecutor David Kilgour, lawyer David Matas, American journalist Ethan Gutmann and a team of researchers have confirmed this by posing to Chinese hospitals as patients. Dr. Huang Jiefu, China’s former vice minister for health and chairman of its organ-transplant committee, ordered two spare livers as backups for a 2005 medical operation. They were delivered the next morning. In most advanced Western countries, patients wait months or even years for transplants. . . . Where are the organs coming from? . . . China’s figures don’t add up. To provide healthy, matching organs within days to patients at hundreds of hospitals, using only several thousand voluntary donors a year means there must be an additional, involuntary source of organs.
Death-row inmates cannot account for all of these. China executes more people than the rest of the world combined, but still only about a few thousand a year. Besides, Chinese law requires prisoners sentenced to death to be executed within seven days—not enough time to match their organs to patients and have them ready on demand, as is China’s practice.”
I was persuaded to join the advisory board of the newly formed International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), and when I learned, in 2017, that the Vatican was hosting a conference on organ harvesting around the world and had invited Huang Jiefu—the former Chinese deputy health minister believed to be the architect of the organ harvesting policy—as the sole speaker on China’s record, I went into overdrive, lobbying all my contacts in Rome and Catholic politicians round the world. We were unsuccessful in our attempt to persuade the Vatican to invite one of the experts—Ethan, David Matas, or David Kilgour, for example—to speak, or to withdraw the invitation to Huang Jiefu, but Pope Francis withdrew his agreement for an audience with conference participants, thus depriving Huang from the desired photograph and propaganda coup. The Pope, after all, was on record saying that “trade in organs is immoral and a crime against humanity.”
Despite being convinced of the evidence myself, I became increasingly concerned that unlike other human rights violations in China, the claim of forced organ harvesting was met with considerable skepticism by many. In contrast with other violations, forced organ harvesting is extremely difficult to prove conclusively, because it suffers from the fact that the evidence is swept off the operating room floor, the victim does not survive, and the witnesses are also the perpetrators or accomplices and therefore unlikely to implicate themselves. As Anastasia said, “On the street, if someone assaults you or steals your purse, you can scream for help. Tied to a hospital bed in the surgical room of a labour camp, no one can hear your screams. In China, it is the State itself that is involved in organ stealing.”
For these reasons, despite the remarkable efforts of dedicated researchers like Ethan, David Matas, David Kilgour, Matthew Robertson, Dr. Torsten Trey who leads Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), and a few others, many policy-makers, journalists, and some human rights organizations were unconvinced.
I felt that some independent, legal analysis was required. At some point in 2017, I asked one of Britain’s most prominent lawyers, Sir Geoffrey Nice KC— who had prosecuted Slobodan Milošević and later went on to chair the Uyghur Tribunal into the question of genocide in Xinjiang—if he would consider looking at the claims of forced organ harvesting in China. I had worked with Sir Geoffrey on human rights in Myanmar and on the campaign for a United Nations enquiry into crimes against humanity in North Korea, and knew him to be one of the finest legal minds in the land. I presented him with the reports and books by Ethan and the two Davids, documentary films on the topic including Human Harvest and Hard to Believe, and other information, and asked if he might provide a legal opinion as to what this evidence amounts to under international law.
We met in a restaurant in Sloane Square in London, and I handed over the 194 A Criminal State documents and DVDs. Sir Geoffrey agreed to go through them, but then he looked me in the eyes and said with a smile, “Why don’t we go one better? Why don’t we establish an independent people’s tribunal?”
I have described in the chapter on the Uyghurs what such a tribunal is, but at the time, I knew nothing about them. I asked what it would entail. Several discussions ensued, and then I introduced him to ETAC. In 2018, the ChinaTribunal into forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China began. The seven-member panel included one of Britain’s top medical experts, Professor Martin Elliott, a specialist in cardiothoracic surgery at University College London; one of Asia’s leading human rights lawyers, Andrew Khoo, who had served as chair of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee; U.S. lawyer Regina Paulose and Iranian lawyer Shadi Sadr; an American historian specializing in China, Professor Arthur Waldron; and British businessman Nicholas Vetch. Meeting in the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden in London, the Tribunal held evidence hearings over three days in December 2018 and two days in April 2019, all of which were open to the public and published in video and transcript form online. Selected specifically on the basis that they did not have any prior expertise or position on the question at hand, the panel sat through long days hearing dozens of witnesses testify.
The format is something of a cross between a courtroom interrogation by counsel, a hybrid panel of judge and jury, and the feel of a parliamentary committee hearing. The weakness is that, unlike, say, a UN-mandated commission of enquiry or a parliamentary inquiry, there is no official ability to enforce the conclusions or recommendations. But you could say the same of a UN-mandated enquiry.
Repeatedly, the Tribunal invited evidence from the Chinese government, from the Transplantation Society, and from others who might dispute the claims of forced organ harvesting in China. They refused.
In a surprise move, the panel decided at the conclusion of the first three days of hearings to issue a draft interim judgment, in which they noted the following: “We, the tribunal members, are all certain, unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt, that in China, forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time, involving a very substantial number of victims. We will deal in our final judgement with our finding as to whether any international crimes have been committed by this practice. If so, by whom, and with detail as to the time periods concerned, and the number of victims, which will all be derived from further analysis of present evidence, and other material yet to be provided and to the legal advice yet to be received, but, to repeat, it is beyond doubt, that forced harvesting of organs happened on a substantial scale, and by state organised or approved organisations and individuals.”
In their final judgment, in 2019, they were even more conclusive. They found that it was beyond reasonable doubt that the Chinese State has been forcibly extracting human organs from prisoners of conscience for the transplant industry. The China Tribunal concluded that this amounts to a crime against humanity and that anyone engaging with the Chinese State should do so in the knowledge that they are “interacting with a criminal state.”
Ambassador Brownback believes Sir Geoffrey Nice has made a major contribution to the effort to “get this charge taken seriously.” Like many, when he first heard the allegations of organ harvesting, Brownback was skeptical. “For years, there were too many people outside China who did not take the charge seriously. There were questions around the credibility of the sources. And yet, the charge kept coming up. There could have been a simple answer for the Chinese Communist Party to give, which was to just open up their books and show where all the organs were coming from, because we in the West have so much difficulty getting organ donations, with long waiting times for transplants.” Now, he added, “it is becoming much more recognized that the Chinese Communist Party is forcibly harvesting organs. I believe it is happening; otherwise, the Chinese government would open up their books and show us the source of the organs. Of all the graphic, horrific things that a government could do to its own people, forced organ harvesting has to be among the most egregious. I am trying to imagine anything more horrific, other than drawing and quartering a person as they did in medieval times.”
It is now up to our governments and legislators to decide how to respond to the China Tribunal’s judgment, and how to hold that “criminal State” to account. It is time to act.
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