TRUST THE PEOPLE OF CHINA,
BUT NOT ITS PARTY-STATE
Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Taiwanese-Canadian Association Annual Convention, Carleton University
Ottawa, 4-6th July, 2008
Time is short so I'll get right to my point, which is that after
learning a lot about China over the past two years from books,
research and knowledgeable people—often of origin in the PRC--I'm
convinced that all of us both should trust the people of China, but
not its party-state. Until about eighteen months ago, when the
Winnipeg human rights lawyer David Matas and I began our independent
study of organ pillaging from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, my
naiveté about China's party-state was regrettably both wide and deep.
Several visits to the country, including ones as Canada's Secretary of
State (Asia-Pacific), did not reduce it significantly. Only when I
began to read books and other material written by knowledgeable
sinologists of independent mind did my eyes begin to open.
The world should draw conclusions about China or anywhere else from
facts alone. Carsten Holz, an academic economist who specializes in
China, published an article on self-censorship several months ago. He
noted, for example, that China experts often take at face value the
country's business laws without mentioning the dominant role of the
Party. He adds: "At the national level, the leadership of the 50
largest state-owned enterprises-enterprises that invest around the
world-is directly appointed by the Politburo." Many studies have
looked at reasons for the growing income inequality in China. Holz
notes that among the 3,220 persons with a personal worth of $13
million equivalent or more in the country 2912 are children of
China experts, Holz goes on, often speak of the Chinese "government"
without further qualification, even when more than 95% of the
"leadership cadres" are Party members. "Who questions the legitimacy
of the Party leadership to rule China and to rule it the ways it
does?" he asks. His conclusion is that many academics, researchers
from private firms and from the World Bank and other international
organizations normally will not speak candidly about China because
their careers "depend on amicable co-operation with the Party."
Separating wheat from self-serving chaff in reports about China thus
remains challenging, especially as the Beijing Olympiad nears.
The Party seeks to conflate itself with China as a country, to
convince naive persons from within and without the country that it is
China, and that without the Party there would be no China. This is
despite the inconvenient reality that its ideological foundation is
now widely discredited European Marxism. This is also an underpinning
of the Party strategy to maintain power despite its abuse of so many
fellow citizens. It is necessary always to stress that one's
criticisms are directed at the unelected government in Beijing and not
at the exploited and hard-working people of the country for which
Canadians and others around the world have much admiration and
The following four examples are intended to illustrate this phenomenon:
1. Taiwan and World Health Organization
In Taiwan, I wonder how many think Beijing's party-state showed any
concern for them during the SARs epidemic of 2003. This brings me to
an eye-witness account of the World Health Assembly two years ago,
which considered whether Taiwan should have observer status at the
World Health Organization. The delegates from two African governments
spoke in favour of admitting Taiwan; ones from China and another
country spoke against. The applause from the delegates present as a
whole indicated very clearly, I'm told by a trusted person who was
present, that most countries represented wanted the motion to admit
Taiwan passed. The presiding chair, however, refused to allow a vote,
asserting that there was little support for the motion. This must be
changed soon, partly because viruses know no borders. Health is an
important component of human rights.
2. Beijing Olympics 2008
The party-state of China hopes that spending an estimated $40 billion
on Games facilities, while forcibly removing thousands from their
homes with inadequate compensation and allowing much abuse of the
construction workers, will improve its international reputation. The
opposite seems more likely since the Games are now clearly being used
as a pretext for a crackdown on human rights advocates and other
citizens of China.
In 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, there
were more than twice as many arrests in China as the previous year for
the offence of 'endangering state security', which is used by
totalitarian governments to silence journalists, civil-rights lawyers
and advocates of religious freedom. Among those arrested were the
crusading lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace
Prize last year and who has been repeatedly detained and beaten-and
whose present whereabouts are unknown; the human-rights, AIDS and
environmental advocate Hu Jia; the blind self-taught lawyer Chen
Guangcheng, now serving a four-year prison term; and the civil-rights
lawyer Guo Feixiong, now serving a five-year term.
The peoples of the world look forward to Olympiads because they
feature the best athletic talent from our entire family of nations.
Unfortunately, the Summer Games next month face increasing opposition
because the host national government remains one of the world's most
systematic violators of human dignity. China was awarded the Games by
the IOC only after it pledged to respect the Olympic Charter and to
improve its human rights record. Many independent organizations have
since observed that an already appalling record is instead worsening
as the Beijing Games approach.
Why, for example, have Falun Gong practitioners faced continuing
merciless persecution for eight years? What principle of the modern
Olympic Games, especially after the experience in Hitler's Berlin at
the 1936 Olympics, allows a host government to bar Falun Gong or any
spiritual community's members from competing in, or even watching,
events in Beijing?
Both the Olympic Games and human rights movements worldwide share a
common goal: the unity, dignity and equality among the entire human
family. When this precept is violated systematically by the host
government of a particular Olympiad, as is the case this year, the
modern Olympic movement as a whole comes into question.
The Olympic Charter assigns to the IOC the oversight role for
compliance with the regulations under the Olympic Charter. The IOC
should be demanding from the organizers of the 2008 Olympic Games that
they conform to the Charter and refrain from discrimination against
any group or individual during their Games.
Mia Farrow, Stephen Spielberg and many others have already taken
stands on human rights and the 2008 Olympics. All of the rest of us
3. Organ Pillaging - "Bloody Harvest Games"
David Matas, and I concluded from 33 kinds of proof to our horror
following our independent investigation last year that since the end
of 2000 the party-state of China and its agencies have killed
thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, mostly without any form of
prior trial, and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money,
often to 'organ tourists' from wealthy countries (Our report is
available in nineteen languages, including Mandarin, at
Neither of us are Falun Gong practitioners. My experience with Falun
Gong in the numerous national capitals Matas and I have now visited,
seeking to bring these crimes against humanity to a halt by helping to
raise public awareness, has been overwhelmingly positive. Falun Gong
practitioners attempt to live their core principles of "truth,
compassion and tolerance".
Matas and I have spoken in several countries to Falun Gong
practitioners sent to labour camps since 1999, who managed later to
leave both the camps and China itself. They told us of working in
appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay and
little food and many persons sleeping in the same room, making export
products, ranging from garments to chopsticks to Christmas decorations
for multinational companies. This clearly constitutes egregious
corporate irresponsibility by the businesses buying such products. The
labour camps, operating across China since the 1950s, are remarkably
similar to one's in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany. They operate
outside the legal system and allow the Party to send anyone to them
for up to four years with no hearing and no appeal by simply getting
their police to sign an order.
The propaganda phase of the persecution, begun in mid-1999 against a
then estimated 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners across China,
demonized, vilified and dehumanized them in Party-controlled media.
Many Chinese were thus persuaded to think of the community tragically
as even somehow less than human. The phenomenon recalls a similar
media campaign unleashed by another party-state in Rwanda against its
minority Tutsi community prior to the genocide there between April and
The former UN Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, concluded
following his own visit to China more than a year ago that two thirds
of the persons being tortured across the country were Falun Gong
Why is it that in only one of the eighty or so countries where Falun
Gong practitioners now live are they persecuted? Their growing
popularity among the Chinese people generally during the 1990s was
clearly one major reason.
The Chinese Medical Association has now agreed with the World Medical
Association that 'organ tourists' will obtain no more transplants in
China. Whether this is anything more than public relations cant
intended to benefit the Beijing Olympiad remains to be seen. Another
concern is that organs seized from unwilling "donors" across China,
including Falun Gong practitioners, will now go to wealthy Chinese
patients instead, with the grotesque commerce thus continuing in the
None of these deaths would be occurring if the Chinese people as a
whole enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the
intrinsic worth and dignity of each one of them. Human lives generally
across China appear to have no more value to the party-state there
than does the natural environment, work safety, health care and social
programs for all Chinese, or Buddhist monks in Tibet and Burma. In my
view, it is the toxic combination of totalitarian governance and
'anything is permitted' capitalism that allows this new form of evil
in the world to persist.
4. Sudan: "Genocide Olympics"
A number of the world's most brutal dictatorships have fallen under
Beijing's sway during its scramble to acquire as much as possible of
the earth's natural resources. I'll discuss here only Sudan-Darfur as
a representative case study, but I'd ask you to consider how any
regime which is complicit in terrible abuses of human beings in Burma,
Tibet, East Turkestan, Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the world could be
trusted to host an Olympiad?
Consider a largely forgotten incident in the Nuba mountains in central
Sudan. On February 26, 2002, the town of Nahibloiu was wiped out,
killing approximately 3000 of the 10,000 residents, to make way for a
Chinese oil well that now operates in nearby Leal. In Sudan's Darfur
province, since April, 2003 an estimated 400,000 additional African
civilians have been murdered by bombs, bullets or swords of the Bashir
military regime in Khartoum, or died of related causes, such as
starvation and disease. The killing, raping and burning pattern in
Darfur is essentially the same one used by Khartoum earlier in the
Nuba mountains and across South Sudan.
The respected New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, wrote some
months ago in a piece headed " China's Genocide Olympics": "Just a few
days ago, Sudan appointed Musa Hilal, a founding leader of the Arab
militia known as the janjaweed, to a position in the central
government. This is the man who was once quoted as having expressed
gratitude for 'the necessary weapons and ammunition to exterminate the
African tribes in Darfur'."
The ongoing role of China's party-state across Darfur is clearly not
the conduct of a responsible member of the international community.
Looking at Taiwan's immediate future, like many others around the
world, I welcome the recent signs of good will expressed by the
governments of China and Taiwan towards each other and would urge the
party-state in Beijing to seize a golden opportunity to improve
cross-strait relations sustantively. Four ways of doing so would be:
- Respect the status quo of cross-strait relations and put the
sovereignty issue over Taiwan on hold,
- As the new Taiwanese government has given its pledge to adhere to
the principle of "no unification, no independence and no use of
force", China's government should scale down and then withdraw all of
the more than 1300 ballistic missiles still targeted at Taiwan,
- The party-state in Beijing should begin good faith consultations
with Taiwan's government over its international space and wish to play
a constructive role in the world community, seeking a possible
cross-strait peace accord, and
- Pledge that the future status of Taiwan will be resolved by
peaceful means in accordance with the will of the 23 million residents
of the island.
Democracy is much more than full and free elections periodically; it
includes an independent civil society and checks on every government
in every national capital. The people of Taiwan should keep a close
eye on the Ma government-as with all others- to ensure that a hard-won
democracy and the dignity of all Taiwanese are strengthened over the
next four years.
Taiwanese-Canadians and their many friends should continue to
advocate closer relations between Taiwan and Canada. It is vital for
the future of Taiwanese democracy, but also for Canadian interests in
the Pacific, to keep Taiwan in the democratic column. Any
international isolation of Taiwan, combined with Party courtship of
some KMT leaders, could well have just the opposite effect. The KMT
needs rewards to entice it to maintain the sovereignty of the Taiwan
(even under the KMT-cherished name of Republic of China).
All success to you all. Thank you.