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China behind Christian persecution in S.E. Asia

Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily roving international correspondent
Anthony C. LoBaido has been reporting in Southeast Asia for several
months, and filed this report on the Christian persecution taking place
in communist Laos.

By Anthony C. LoBaido

© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com


LUANG PRABANG, Laos — The West is well aware of the brutality of
communist China. Issues like forced abortion and sterilization, forced
organ harvesting of prisoners, Protestant and Catholic priests in gulags
(sometimes working to make toys and machine tools while standing in vats
of acid), the rape of Tibet, the gendercide against female babies as old
as two years of age — most of these atrocities have made headlines

Add to that the bullying of Taiwan, the export to the West of massive
amounts of heroin, and even the threatened launch of nuclear weapons
against the U.S., and Americans have much to be concerned about with
respect to China.

Yet, there is one more chapter in the China book the West has not yet

According to Western diplomats based in Laos, Communist China
controls, orchestrates and directs the crackdown against Christians in
Stalinist Laos, in Vietnam, in Burma — indeed, throughout most if not
all of Southeast Asia.

China directs the ongoing genocide against the Hmong hill tribes of
Laos and Vietnam (known as “Montagnards” in Vietnam — the French word
for “Mountain people”), according to the sources. Additionally, China is
reportedly arming the fascist Burmese regime in its genocidal campaign
against the Christian Karen hill tribes of eastern Burma.

As first reported by WorldNetDaily,
the Vietnamese Montagnards must trek over a thousand kilometers to
escape the machine guns of the communist Vietnamese government. These
Montagnards are ethnic Hmong hill tribes who are currently turning to
Christianity in droves.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen traveled to
Vietnam in an effort to seek “engagement” with its military, which
almost exclusively controls the Vietnamese economy.

Not unexpectedly, Cohen said nothing in defense of the persecuted
Christian Hmong of Vietnam.

Much to the chagrin of the Clinton administration, the U.S. has
virtually no influence in the Indochina region — better known these
days as the “Greater Mekong Subregion.” One of the last unspoiled,
natural habitats on earth, the region is currently being carved up by
Japan, China and the European Union while America sits on the sideline.

“In the past, America bravely fought against communism in Vietnam,
Laos and Cambodia. Today, the Marxists and communists in those
nations are still in power and are consolidating that power,”

said Ray Billingsly, a former British SAS officer who served in

“It’s ironic that the pro-communist Vietnamese types like Clinton
have their hands tied now when it comes to influencing Indochina.
Europe, China and Japan never opposed communism in Southeast Asia, and
thus they are welcomed by the communist nations as economic partners.”

In Stalinist Laos, the ethnic Hmong hill tribes have suffered a
horrendous genocide at the hands of the ruling Pathet Lao government.
This genocide, which continues to this day unabated, includes the use of
Russian-made and exported biochemical weapons, forced repatriation of
Christian Hmong from refugee camps in neighboring Thailand, and the
imprisonment of Hmong citizens engaging in simple Bible studies.

Reminiscent of past genocidal nightmares, the Pathet Lao have bashed
the heads of Hmong babies against trees, impaled women and thrown them
off high cliffs and other horrible acts too terrible to recount.
Incredibly, all of this has happened under the nose of the United
Nations and the U.S. State Department, which deny the existence of
these documented atrocities.

China’s crackdown begins

“I first noticed China’s involvement in controlling dissent in Laos
after the U.S. bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in April of 1999,”
said a Western diplomat in a secret interview with WorldNetDaily. The
diplomat asked that his name not be used, in fear that it would hinder
his ability to help persecuted Laotian Christians in the future.

“About 1,500 Laotians protested the bombing in front of the U.S.
Embassy here in Vientiane. The Pathet Lao ordered a media blackout of
the event, at the request of the Chinese government. You would think
that China would be happy about the protest. But they weren’t. The
Chinese thought it might be a stamp of approval for all sorts of public
expression. That would destabilize their puppet regime here in Laos.”

The diplomat then explained the next massive crackdown, which
occurred on October 26, 1999. During WorldNetDaily’s first investigative
journalism trip to Laos, this reporter, along with other foreigners in
Laos, witnessed a grand celebration of the culmination of Buddhist Lent
held on the shores of the Mekong River.

Yet not far away, only a few blocks in fact, an equally impressive
display was unfolding as the Laos Secret Police Intelligence Unit was
arresting a group of anti-Stalinist protesters in front of the
presidential palace.

The Vientiane-based Western diplomat told WorldNetDaily, “The Pathet
Lao’s secret police had arrested at least 50 protesters, some of whom
are still in prison, including 10 students,” as of this writing.

“Then there is the well-documented arrest of Christian missionaries
from America, France and Thailand,” he added, referring to the 44
Christians imprisoned in Laos in 1998 from the Evangelical Church of
Christ. Most of the 44 were members of the Little Rock, Arkansas-based
“Partners in Progress” group. Those imprisoned in this case were
officially charged with “creating social division.”

“What concerns me more is that China has ordered the Pathet Lao to
increase the amount of time that government employees must spend in
communist political indoctrination training. You see, it is totally
inevitable that more persecution is coming against Christians. And also
inevitable that more protests of the government will erupt due to Laos’
failing economy.”

Other diplomats and sources interviewed by WorldNetDaily in
Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Ponsavan said that 46 Christians are being
held in Laos without trial. Most of those imprisoned are being held in
very harsh conditions.

A European diplomat told this reporter, “There is a connection
between the 1997 Asian meltdown and the current crackdown against
dissent in Laos. The Pathet Laos saw the protests against the
governments in South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand after the ’97 crash.”

“The Pathet Lao fear massive protests against their regime. The
crackdown on Protestant Christian groups appears related to religious
crackdowns in China and Vietnam, which are close allies of the communist
leadership in Laos,” he said.

“Certainly the Pathet Lao keep a special eye on these events
[protests and religious meetings] and are briefed by the Chinese secret
police, PLA and also the Vietnamese government at special bilateral
meetings on controlling Christians.”

Why are Christians so hard to control?

“Because they have a long-term view of life, believe in heaven and
freedom and they are not afraid to die for their faith,” says
Intelligence analyst Don McAlvany in his McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.

Keeping score on the persecution

A representative of a Bangkok-based non-governmental organization,
or NGO, told WND that 11 Christians are currently being held in Attapeu
province in Laos. Three Christians are currently in jail in Luang
Prabang (WorldNetDaily had the chance to visit them), 15 in
Saavannakhet, four in Udomsay, seven in Xieng Khouang and six in

The source believes the persecution of Christians in the southern
Laotian city of Savannakhet began in November and December of 1998. At
that time, Nouhak Phoumsavan, the ex-president of Laos, visited the
region and declared it to be a “Christian-free zone.”

Phoumsavan ordered the arrest of Evangelical Church leader Pa Tood,
who had been arrested twice previously. Pa Tood’s relatives told
WorldNetDaily he had been “kept in solitary confinement day and night,
with his legs in a wooden stockade. The Pathet Lao offered him bail if
he would only renounce Jesus Christ as the Son of God and say that Jesus
had no healing powers, and never did rise from the dead.”

The Pathet Lao government’s charges against the groups, shown to
WorldNetDaily by European diplomats, said the Christians had been
detained because they had a “belief in Jesus religion,” and “tried to
use the Bible as a means of propaganda for conversion against the
[Communist] Party.”

Most of those detained belong to the Lao Evangelical Church. These
Christians are farmers from the Hmong ethnic hill tribes, although Oy
and Bru hill tribes are also represented in those currently in prison
for their faith.

The Loatian foreign ministry denies the detentions, especially those
of a religious nature.

A top-level Japanese trade official in Vientiane told WND,
“Christians may well be made the scapegoats for Laos’ economic problems.
I am not a Christian, but I am saddened to see any peaceful group
persecuted. It’s a terrible thing. But this is the world we live in. And
today the world revolves around trade and money. Everything else is just

And the Chinese involvement in the crackdown?

“Between 1990 and the October 26th incident of 1999, there was not a
single incident of protest against the Pathet Lao. I can tell you why.
In 1990, three ex-government officials in Laos passed around a petition
calling for economic reform. The officials were all imprisoned at the
request of the Chinese government. The officials were sentenced to 14
years in prison. One of them died while in custody. After that, the
people in Laos knew that civil disobedience in even the smallest respect
was impossible.”

For its part, while China’s demand that India surrender the teenaged
Buddhist Karpama Lama back to Beijing had made global headlines, away
from the limelight communist China has been increasing its persecution
of evangelical Christians.

For example, in December of last year, Beijing outlawed several major
evangelical organizations (whose membership reach as high as 3 million)
as “evil groups.” In that month alone, over 100 evangelical leaders were
arrested across China. In Hunan province, six evangelical Christian
leaders were sentenced to gruesome logai gulags for leading the “evil
cults.” Other Protestants have been sent to the gulags for simply
organizing a Bible study and/or posting the meeting on the Internet.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the chairman of a U.S. congressional
commission to monitor religious freedom and persecution around the
globe, has said of China’s increasing persection, “In the last few
months there has been a clear pattern of escalation.”

“China is the largest holder of America’s foreign debt. As such, they
are America’s bank. There is persecution and marginalization of
Christians in America going on right now, so we can’t expect the U.S.
government to help our brothers and sisters being persecuted in China
now, or in Laos and Vietnam,” says Eunice Xu, of the Hong Kong-based
China-Indochine Christian House. Xu was educated in France, and
maintains close ties with Christians in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam as well
as mainland China.

“If the West believes it can use money, trade and development as a
carrot to end the persecution of Christians in Asia, they are very
mistaken,” added Xu in an interview with WorldNetDaily.

An economic disaster

Laos was admitted over two years ago to the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations, or ASEAN, erected in the 1960s as an anti-communist
alliance. Yet today it includes Stalinist Laos, communist Vietnam,
Marxist Cambodia and fascist Burma.

According to the American Embassy in Laos, the Kip — Laos’ official
currency — has lost 87 percent of its value since July of 1997. June of
1997, some will recall, marked the beginning of the Asian economic
meltdown, which began in Thailand.

In September of 1999, Laotian finance minister Khamphoui Keoboulapha
instituted an International Monetary Fund plan to create an artificial
shortage of the Kip. This boosted the Kip’s value to 7,600 Kip to one
U.S. dollar. However, instead of going along with the IMF plan, almost
all Laotians switched to using U.S. dollars and Thai baht for their
everyday financial transactions.

Yet, the Laotian financial meltdown rolled on. Wages worth $100 in
July of 1997 are today worth no more than $30. Inflation is growing at
130 percent per year in the Stalinist paradise of Laos. Direct foreign
investment is down from a peak of $1.2 billion in 1995 to a mere $150
million today.

For its part, Thailand had given Laos almost 45 percent of its total
amount of foreign investment, but given Thailand’s economic meltdown,
that figure has shriveled considerably. Even the World Bank has cut back
its feeding orgy of the Pathet Lao. World Bank aid reached a high of $50
million in 1995, but has now been cut in half.

Having driven its Western-educated middle and upper classes abroad
since the 1975 communist takeover of the nation, the Laos government
suffers under gross macroeconomic mismanagement. The Politburo, led by
Khamtay Siphadone, is exclusively composed of communist military cadres
who have no training or education in market economics.

One German diplomat said, “We are scaling back our loans to the
Pathet Lao. The one-party system in Laos, Stalinist as it is, can’t
bring reform to the economy.” Germany has been the second largest
bilateral donor of aid to Laos, ranking just behind Japan.

“Inflation is now over 300 percent in Laos since the mid to late
1990s. This is the highest in all of ASEAN,” added the diplomat.

Prince Soulivong Savang, the 36-year-old exiled crowned leader of
Laos, currently residing in France (Laos’ former colonial ruler) has
repeatedly said that the “Pathet Laos are a human rights disaster.”

The prince has tried to get the U.S. to negotiate a return to
democracy in Laos.

“If I had a chance to go back to Laos, the first thing I would bring
is freedom. But this is not going to be an easy task. Democracy has to
be learned, and people have to learn their rights. In light of the
disastrous economic situation in Laos right now, and the fact that
Laotians abroad are successful, we can go back and help rebuild the
country,” said the prince, who has been trying to gain access to meet
with top officials at the U.S. State Department.

Unless a radical and totally unexpected transformation occurs in
Laos, it appears that economic depression, public outcries for political
and monetary reform, and religious persecution of Christians will
continue to go hand and hand for the next decade, and possibly into the
next generation.


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