Skip to comments.'You Betrayed The Motherland' (China)
Posted on 07/31/2002 11:48:38 PM PDT by maui_hawaii
Earlier this year, freelance journalist Jiang Xueqin was deported from China after filming worker protests. Here, he reflects on his arrest, his videotaped 'confession,' and on the Communist Party's continuing deep suspicion of the media
ON JUNE 3, I was arrested while secretly filming a worker protest in the northern Chinese oil city of Daqing. For 48 hours I was held in a neat, tidy hotel somewhere in the vast countryside outside the city. The police would not release me until I had made my videotaped confession.
"Because I am young and stupid, I broke China's very important national laws meant to protect the sensitive secrets of the Chinese people," I said before the camera, reading from my confession. "I have betrayed my own blood, and hope the ever-generous and tolerant Chinese people can forgive me."
"You were also reporting in China without accreditation," the police chief said.
"Yes," I said, nodding my head.
"Say it," he ordered. I did.
Earlier that day, a clunky train had taken me into Daqing, a Stalinist metropolis of gleaming skyscrapers and wide avenues. I was there to help make a documentary for American television about the huge worker protests that the city has witnessed this year. Back in March, a reported 50,000 workers gathered in the large park outside the tall, white headquarters of PetroChina.
"It's over now, and we've lost. Only about 1,000 workers come now," Yang Haiping, a laid-off worker, told me as we sat near a fountain in the park. "The officials said they had no money, but they're corrupt," continued Yang, who spent two weeks in jail for his involvement in the March protests. "We workers can't pay the doctor. We can't send our kid to school. And they take our retirement money and build empty skyscrapers and new roads."
I walked over to a group of middle-aged men in boots, jeans, and baseball caps who had come to protest. I tried talking to them but they didn't reply. I walked down the clean street lined with trees, and saw a frail old man sitting on the pavement. I asked him a few questions.
"I don't know anything but go over there," the old man said, pointing his finger at a group of people. I walked over and before I knew it three large men had jumped on me from behind, twisting both my wrists. I tried to resist. Two of them punched me. One ran to hail a taxi, which they bundled me into. I continued to kick and punch as they held me under the back seat, easing up only when we reached a large white police van. Five more policemen jumped out of it. Hoping to prevent another beating, I told them I had a Canadian passport. "We policemen don't beat up people," one of them told me.
As the van made its way into the countryside, past peasants cutting rice stalks, it struck me that the old man must have been a police spy (a suspicion later confirmed by junior police officers). I reflected also on how the policemen had arrested me: Even in Tiananmen Square, where the police are on high Falun Gong alert, they asked to look at my identification first. But the game is hardball in this desolate northeastern region so far away from Western eyes. Only a year ago officials used sweet promises to lure protesting workers from the streets. But now the police have been let loose, jumping on anyone suspicious or anyone who dares to speak in public, like Yang Haiping. With a prodigious supply of hungry young thugs and police informants, it seems that the Communist Party believes that only brute force can quell rising discontent.
"So how much did the CIA pay you to spy?" asked one of the policemen in the van, a young man with dark sunglasses and a large grin. It's a typical question in China, where people are often led to believe that all Western journalists work for the Central Intelligence Agency, and talking to one is a betrayal of China.
The provincial police from Harbin drove into town to interrogate me at the hotel. Queasy from lack of sleep and hungry, I sat on a large oval table in the hotel's conference room. A lanky man came in with a stern face and deep voice. "You're Overseas Chinese, so we'll be nice but you'd better tell us the truth," he said, shaking his finger at me. "Why did you do it?"
"What's wrong with letting the world know about these Daqing workers?" I replied.
"Don't you know that these workers got generous packages?" he said. "If they have complaints they can write letters, that's their legal right. But they don't have the right to go and block traffic, break into offices and disrupt work. These workers are lazy, and in the past did nothing but expected everything. Now the world's changed, and society only rewards those who contribute to its economic development. Isn't that only fair?"
His arsenal of rhetoric led me to think that he must be the leader. "You're Chinese in blood, and you betrayed the Motherland," he told me. "You came here to take footage so Americans can mock our economic development. What would your parents think if they knew what you did?"
Then I had heard shouting in the next room: "How could you talk to a Canadian!" I then realized that they had arrested the worker Yang, and were interrogating him. I felt guilty for involving him, because I knew that one way the police deal with Western journalists is by harassing the Chinese they interview. Knowing the game was up, I agreed to confess.
At around 2 o'clock in the morning, the police were finally satisfied, and they permitted me to sleep on the floor. On June 5, the police put me in a black Audi and sent me with escorts to Harbin airport. The leader waved me off with a final message: We will keep at Yang. On the plane to Beijing, I was afraid that police in the capital would repeat the interrogation I'd already been through. Instead, upon arrival three police sedans escorted me to a Boeing 747.
I was leaving China.
On the Air China flight to Vancouver, I tapped my knee and thought about how my time in China had come to such an abrupt end. Three years earlier, I had returned to China for the first time since my family emigrated when I was still a child. After teaching for a year, I had decided to become a journalist, hoping to report on how this seemingly dynamic country was remaking itself. But instead of dynamism, I found only tales of corruption. In Beijing, I interviewed tenants who told me about how they had been forcibly evicted by police to make room for the city's soaring new skyscrapers. My well-off Chinese friends were unimpressed: "They're lying scoundrels, always trying to get more money than they deserve," they reassured me. "The government wouldn't throw people out on the streets like that."
My faith shaken, I decided to travel into China's heartland. On one of my trips, I spent a month in Zhengzhou, the industrial-wasteland capital of central Henan province. The department stores with their red "50% off" sales signs were virtually empty, and the sidewalks at night were packed with vendors trying to hawk trinkets. "There are more people selling than buying things," they told me.
Just outside city hall, a small crowd of angry protesters faced a disciplined line of police officers. "Return our blood and sweat," shouted the elderly protesters, victims of a pyramid scheme sponsored by the provincial government that came crashing down in 1999.
Walking around Zhengzhou's factory district I spoke to unemployed workers playing cards under the shadow of their dilapidated apartments. "The managers are stealing the factory," the workers said indifferently. "They strip the factory clean, and then pocket the proceeds." It was the same in the countryside around Zhengzhou, where I spent a week bicycling around, talking to peasants whose land--and livelihood--was confiscated by corrupt officials. (I wrote about some of these issues for the REVIEW.)
Wherever I travelled the stories were the same, and I became disillusioned and angry with China's upwardly mobile for turning a blind eye. "Do you really believe China is growing at 8% a year when there's so much unemployment, corruption and poverty in this country?" I once said to some Chinese friends over dinner at a restaurant. "Before, Chinese intellectuals stood for the truth, and now they're participating in a lie."
"Let's change topics," said a director friend.
But then it came to my turn . . . When the Daqing interrogators directed that camera at me, and asked me to make my confession I took a deep breath. This masquerade was only a bad Chinese counterfeit of Stalin's show trials, I thought to myself. And I read the script, and contributed to the masquerade. Even though I never felt that I was in real danger (unlike Yang), still the Chinese genetic flaw of fatalism flowed through me: "Why bother? I can't do anything."
I believe we make such rationalizations because the party dangles a choice in our faces: A Chinese reporter can go to news conferences and receive red envelopes to pay for his mortgage, or he can risk his job by writing about the peasant who has just lost his land. A Western reporter can stay in his air-conditioned luxury apartment, cull the Chinese newspapers for stories and attend a cocktail with China's bold and beautiful in the evening, or he can venture out on dirt roads into villages where peasants--fearful of retribution--will keep their door closed and their mouth shut.
And then, of course, there are always the state's tried and trusted ultimate sanctions: When I arrived home in Toronto I immediately called my wife in China, who is a Chinese national. She was crying because the police wanted to interrogate her. When I called her the next day she told me that the police had interrogated her for five hours, and would call her again for another interrogation. The police were sending a signal to me. It came across the ocean, loud and clear.
Jiang Xueqin has been an occasional contributor to the REVIEW since 2000. He is currently based in Toronto, where he is working on a book about his experiences in China.
And the middle class too...
It is every American's responsibility for wanting the cheapest products no matter the human cost, and for pricing our own products out of the market with excessive taxation and excessive government mandated regulation. It is everyone's responsibility when we elect people who say nothing to China about human rights out of fear of blackmail or because they eally need some of that campaign cash from those 'monks.'
That said, communism will collapse in China just as it did in Russia. While they recover, Americans will probably stupidly increase the amount of socialism just as the Europeans have done.
No doubt! America is becoming more communist as we speak while China is trying to become more capitalist. Laying off workers from state-owned industries is an essential step in China's move to capitalism. Some Americans, though, would prefer that China stick to a communist economic system and not lay off any workers at inefficient, state-owned, centrally-planned, communist industries at all!
There are no checks and balances in China, there is no press to report on companies or on the government, and even if there were, the government is not designed to correct itself since it is designed to entrench itself even further. There are no real elections at the national level and no competing party, so there is no self-policing going on, no appeals for poor decisions. This is NOT capitalism.
The market value of one's company or other property in China really is unverifiable. So long as the government is content to play, everyone thinks they own something but they are never going to be sure of just how valuable are the holdings. How do you know when to sell when the government can arbitrarily change the rules and devalue your stocks to '0' in order for party official 'A' to get a good deal, and you have no legal recourse for an appeal? If the government changes arbitrarily to a copy of North Korea's or Cuba's systems of flaming red idiocy, all is lost, with little or no warning. Instant wealth redistribution can occur at the drop of a hat.
Property rights are meaningless if you have no way of determining the true worth of what you own- and it is even more meaningless if the government can take those rights away, as China can do with absolute ease. Its system is not one of checks and balances. The corporations that are there are there entirely at the whim of a few men at the top who, incidently, answer to no one, except someone who is able to unseat them by force.
This forced confession, "I have betrayed my own blood...." says it all.
The ChiCom view is a Nazi world view based on blood.
AIG is a liar and distorter. His forst post here is complete distortion and lies.
He's disruptor of the most basic type trying to 1) fool by lies, 2) waste people's time by making us re-invent the wheel over and over and make the same arguments over and over to their ludicrous, distorted dishonest propaganda.
Ann Coulter describes the methods so well in Slander
See China's disguised failure for a concise review. It includes these very descriptive comments:
Many foreigners think, mistakenly, that China is capitalist. In fact, China's system is exactly what its leaders call it: socialism with Chinese characteristics. In practice, that means a large state sector, party committees even in private enterprises, corporate boards that are unable to fire managers, no market for corporate control and massive changes in economic policy (such as consolidation of the motor industry) dictated without consultation.
Now, see. I've already taken time out to address a lying ChiCom propgandists lies.
That is what a disruptor does.
A Chinese reporter can go to news conferences and receive red envelopes to pay for his mortgage, or he can risk his job by writing about the peasant who has just lost his land. A Western reporter can stay in his air-conditioned luxury apartment, cull the Chinese newspapers for stories and attend a cocktail with China's bold and beautiful in the evening, or he can venture out on dirt roads into villages where peasants--fearful of retribution--will keep their door closed and their mouth shut.
Tall - AIG/latourette will never learn...they just keep playing the 'same old song'.
Yes, let's start a world-ending nuclear war, rather than waiting a few years for Communism to collapse. Better yet, let's just MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS!!!
Maybe you should spend less time displaying your astounding ignorance here and more time learning English.
If he hadn't, he probably wouldn't be around to mention this incident.They then went on to interrogate his wife for 5 hours.Sheesh.What a fascinating look at China. Just another glaring example of a Communist Dictatorship in action.Unfortunately,this story will not and could not appear in any Major US Newspaper either.
Does he ever answer and is he a reincarnation of someone we know?