Editor’s note: Harry Wu survived 19 years in the slave labor laogai gulag system of mainland China (1960 – 1979) and has since become the world’s foremost human-rights dissident.
Wu is the executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation and a research fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. He has testified before various United States congressional committees, as well as the British, German and Australian parliaments, the European Parliament and the United Nations.
Wu is the author of three books. “Laogai: The Chinese Gulag,” published in 1991, is the first book to address the systematic abuses of the laogai. “Bitter Winds,” published in 1994, is his memoirs of his time in the camps. His latest book, “Troublemaker,” was published in 1996. It tells of his clandestine trips back into China to gather evidence on the laogai and his detention by the Chinese government in the summer of 1995.
VIENNA, Va. – Famed human-rights dissident Harry Wu, in an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily, says China’s newfound patriotism is an ancient ethos fueled by a 3,000 year history of dynasty-ism, state-control and tyranny.
“The majority of the Chinese nation has historically been dominated by the idea of rule by emperors,” Wu told WND. “If you opposed the emperor then you were considered a traitor and condemned by everyone. The emperor was the nation.
“After the communist system was installed in China the people thought that socialism was the best system for everyone – with no private ownership. The Communist leaders used the emperors of old as an example. They (the new elite) were the new ‘gods,’ so to say. (The people were told that) they only needed one brand.”
Continued Wu: “The greatest-selling book in the world is the Bible. The second-greatest-selling book is ‘The Red Book’ of Chairman Mao. If you have problems with a difficult birth or a harvest, all of the answers are to be found in ‘The Red Book.’ Here we see emperor-ism and communism mixing with nationalism at the core. Back at the time of the formation of communism in China, socialism sought to control all of life’s sources. You would obey or die. But after 30 years, the people of China learned that communism could not bring them anything – like in the Soviet Union or North Korea.
“Deng Xiaoping allowed for capitalism to come back along with foreign capital. He thought capitalism would allow people to have rice and vegetables. This would be better than a family starving on the street.”
Capitalist changes were seen as a part of the new nationalism in a new dispensation, “along with Taiwan, birth control and other issues,” said Wu.
“The idea was, ‘You have to be loyal. You have to love the country. If you love the country and you are loyal (to the regime) then you fall in line (on the major issues of the day).'”
Harry Wu would not fall in line, however.
“I received the title of ‘traitor.’ (Yes) I am a traitor. What am I a traitor of? I am betraying communism, and everyone in China should join me in this. The country of China belongs to the people of China, not to the Communist government.”
Like many Americans, Wu is puzzled by the cozy relationship the U.S. and the Western transnational elite have with the harsh rulers of Beijing.
“Think of Americans protesting Castro and Ho Chi Min (of North Vietnam fame),” said Wu, who pointed to the anti-communism and anti-Marxist-Leninism of the average American during the Cold War.
“Former President Bill Clinton welcomed the Communist Chinese leadership with open arms. Chinese-Americans also welcomed the Communist Chinese leaders when they visited the U.S. They thought, ‘China is my native land, whether this guy (the visiting dignitary) is a good guy or a bad guy.’
“So you had the blood-stained dictator of China ringing the opening bell of the stock market on Wall Street, standing next to the Republican governor of New York, George Pataki.”
Wu was referring to former President Jiang Zemin, who in 1997 took Wall Street by storm. During this trip, Jiang made a special pilgrimage to IBM’s Madison Avenue offices to view that company’s most advanced technology. It was there that IBM CEO Louis Gerstner, a devote Catholic and graduate of Chaminade High School on Long Island, N.Y, greeted Jiang in perfect Mandarin.
“Lao pengyou, ni hao,” Gerstner said, meaning in English, “Old friend, how are you?”
Continued Wu, who is also a devout Catholic, “(Historically) America hasn’t rolled out the red carpet or held banquets to honor Communist dictators. So then why (now) single out China? The answer, of course, rests in China’s huge market and cheap labor force.”
“When I testified before the U.S. Senate, I said to Senator Hollingsworth, ‘Why do you want to move (China) from PNTR (Permanent Normal Trade Relations) status to MFN (Most Favored Nation) status? Do you think China is a normal country?’
“American business is comfortable in China because there is (strong) control by the Chinese government. There are no unions allowed. There are no strikes allowed. The workers are told in effect, ‘You don’t need unions, the government will care for you.'”
Wu said that in the 1980s Chinese workers who worked for American companies weren’t allowed to disclose that seemingly innocuous information.
“But by the 1990s there were so many Chinese working for U.S. companies that it was impossible to keep this a secret. The government then told the workers to identify themselves as Communists and that would be fine. By 2005, Communist Party (CP) regulations stated that anywhere there are three members of the CP you have to set up a CP branch. Now, think about how many CP members work for General Motors. They are supported by their managers. They have offices to hold meetings, and they can use the computers.”
Wu questioned the role of American business interests in China.
“There’s a real problem here,” he said. “Is the Chinese government using all of its newly gained money to improve the lives of human beings? Is it opening up to democracy? No, rather it is upgrading its nuclear submarine capability – three new nuclear subs and one new aircraft carrier. New fighter jets purchased from Russia. China has huge U.S. cash reserves. They own a large portion of America’s debt.
“Think of the KGB before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Were we working to give the old Soviet Union MFN status? Why are we preserving the tyranny in mainland China today? They are not using their wealth toward the goal of freedom. I am not sure that ‘prosperity’ will open the door to freedom in China. But freedom will open the door to prosperity. China being a tyrannical country is not good for the people of China. It is not good for the world. North Korea would collapse tomorrow if only China were to withdraw support.”
Wu repeated his long-standing call for sanctions against the regime in Beijing.
“When I bring up this subject people tell me, ‘This is going to hurt the common Chinese person and/or worker. You (Harry) are a traitor.’ But think of South Africa. Bishop (Desmond) Tutu spoke of anti-apartheid sanctions and said, ‘I know (sanctions) will hurt (black South Africans). There will be no milk or bread, but long-term we have to do it.'”
Wu nevertheless questioned the logic of sanctions against the formerly pro-West apartheid regime while embracing the dictatorship of mainland China.
“Why embargo Cuba? Why embargo the Soviet Union? China sees the Marxist regime in South Africa as ‘one of them.’ South African President Thabo Mbeki is a Soviet trained communist. South Africa abandoned Taiwan and has embraced mainland China.”
“The State Department recently reported that human rights are worsening in China,” said Wu. According to the Associated Press, the most recent State Department report on China criticized the regime for suppressing political, social and religious groups, as well as individuals. On the bright side, China has amended its constitution to protect human rights and has adopted legal reforms for monitoring the government. Yet the report also said, “It is unclear how or to what extent the constitutional amendment and other legal reforms will be enforced.” Wu counters that all the true state of China is crystal clear.
“There are more public executions in China than ever before. And more organ harvesting,” he said.
“Recently, North Korea had a public execution and it was big news in the U.S. media. Well, China has public executions all the time! Again, what about the organ harvesting of Chinese prisoners? Where are the New York Times and Washington Post on that?
“In 1996, China had 4,763 public executions. That was 80 percent of the world total for that year, which was 6,000. The nation with the next largest amount had 200. In 1999, I met with the Italians about abolishing the death penalty globally. I read over their materials but was disappointed to learn that much of their rhetoric focused on the U.S. Yes, the U.S. has some executions. But individual states in the U.S. usually decide on this. The total number of executions in the U.S. is relatively small. But who knows about the great number of state sanctioned executions in Mainland China?
“And what about population control? When you get married in China you need a certificate from the government in order to have a child. A second pregnancy is illegal. Have you ever heard of ‘an illegal pregnancy’ anywhere else in the world? Think of gendercide of the females in China. (It is also a problem in South Korea.) Think of forced abortion. And what do we do in America about all of this darkness? We welcome the Chinese leadership into the White House”
Wu says he believes that President Bush is concerned about free trade and capitalism when it comes to dealing with China.
“I know what I would say to President Bush. I would ask that America adhere to (its traditional) moral standards,” said Wu.
“We will have big problems with China in the future in terms of the issues of peace and national security. China’s economic status will make her a political and military giant in due course. And still, China will be a dictatorship.”
Advised Wu: “We need international relations to be based on principles of freedom, liberty, equality and fraternity. At the very core of this, of course, is Christianity. Every Sunday we go to church. But we are supposed to turn a blind eye to the human-rights abuses in China. There are 40 million in the underground church in China. About 25 million in the above-ground church. That is only a small percentage of the total population – about 8 percent. Roman Catholicism is illegal. Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, but he could not go to China. The presidents of the U.S. and France should say to China, ‘Why did you forbid the pope to visit China?’ The government of China puts Christians in jail and in slave labor camps where they make our Christmas toys, stained with the blood and tears of the saints.”
Wu once again questioned the morality of MFN status for China.
“During the MFN debate in the U.S. concerning China, 68 percent of Americans said they were against giving China MFN status because of the communism and tyranny of its government. Bill Clinton campaigned against President Bush Sr. in 1992 by saying Bush Sr. coddled Beijing after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Many people voted for Clinton based on his statements about China and human rights.
“However, by 1993 Clinton signed a presidential directive setting out conditions for China to achieve MFN status within one year. They included stopping the laogai production, releasing religious leaders from jail and Tibet-related issues. Of course, Bill Clinton then just decided to roll out the red carpet for the Chinese leadership.”
Wu told WorldNetDaily he was stunned when Clinton, through the LORAL corporation, armed the Communist regime in Beijing with sensitive missile and satellite technology that enabled the PLA to more accurately target U.S. cities with ICBMs.
Then in 1996 Clinton campaigned for re-election by continually repeating the phrase that nuclear weapons were no longer pointed at American cities or at American children.
“When Clinton came back from China in 1998 he said, ‘I have an agreement that we won’t target one another’s cities anymore with nuclear weapons.’ But think about this. Ten years before was such an agreement even necessary? No. Why? Because China did not have that kind of nuclear capability. India has nuclear weapons and ICBMs, but America doesn’t see that as a problem. A possible nuclear exchange with China is a problem, however. The CIA said in 1998 that we shouldn’t worry because America had a couple of thousand nuclear weapons and China only had 10 or so. But what will happen in the future? How many nuclear weapons will China have in 10 or 20 more years?”
Said Wu: “What LORAL did was against the law. The Clinton administration gave a green light for this deal to go ahead.”
Oversight for the deal was moved to the Commerce Department from the Pentagon to enable the transfer to be completed.
“But what angers me more is CISCO Systems. Since 2000, they have helped China’s police state with a project called ‘Golden Shield.’ This is a control mechanism in which state security inside China was upgraded. We are talking about public security, helping China’s police to save manpower, to equip the Chinese police with new software, fingerprint technology, a new data base … everything right down to more efficiently dispensing their patrol cars all around the nation. Though this is not machinery or biotechnology, it is direct cooperation with the Chinese Police Ministry.
“I want to go to court and sue CISCO Systems for aiding the Chinese police state. There is a joke that under former American sanctions against China you couldn’t sell them metal handcuffs. Well, now we’ve sold them electronic handcuffs.”
Said Wu: “Consider the Internet in China. People are put in jail for posting articles critical of the government. There is a branch of the police devoted solely to monitoring the Internet. In Shanghai, all the Internet cafes have to have a certain kind of software when they open up. This software allows the government to monitor what sites on the Web are being used.”
Wu pointed to the recent split between the EU and U.S. in terms of the EU selling arms to the regime in Beijing. The U.S. has successfully pushed Israel to cease selling high-tech, people-monitoring equipment to China. Now the U.S. is asking the EU to refrain from weapons sales to China.
“France and Germany are willing to sell China advanced military hardware,” said Wu.
“The French have always has this kind of idea that ‘We (France) are still kind of a superpower.’ That’s a part of French tradition. France and Germany have had economic problems, high unemployment. Their presidents want to upgrade their economic systems and sell more products anywhere in the world. They know that China is a huge market. The leaders of France and Germany try to tell themselves that China is not communist. Yet the power of the state in China remains (absolute).
“The European Parliament has lifted its ban on the sale of weapons to China. If we don’t focus on this issue, China will become even more powerful while Europe reaps the economic benefit. Remember, we have 100,000 soldiers in the Far East. So don’t tell me about the new hotels in China or the new highways. Yes, things have changed on a certain level. But how much has the political system changed? How much has the issue of democracy been advanced?”
Wu also spoke of the new political, military and defense paradigm emerging in North Asia.
Wen Jiaba, the prime minister of China traveled to India and announced those two nations of 1 billion people each would become the “two pagodas” of financial and economic dominance in the coming “Asian Century.”
The new strategic alliance deals with issues such as trade, a techno-military alliance, collaboration against Islamic incursion, joint space exploration and especially border security. India claims its new agreement with China will “reshape” the world order.
Russia and China have signed multiple defense pacts and treaties seeking to limit American hegemony and call for a “multi-polar world.” The two nations share a long and contentious border. China has unofficially begun colonizing in some parts of Siberia.
Japan “is stopping financial support for China. And Japan feels threatened by North Korea,” said Wu, once again citing the linkage between China and “The Hermit Kingdom” in Pyongyang.
Many North and South Koreans loathe Japan because of the war crimes Japan committed in Korea during the first half of the 20th century. Deforestation and forced prostitution were chief amongst them. The voluntary gendercide in South Korea of females (the men want sons to carry on the family name) means that in the future to preserve the Korean race, South Korean boys may have to marry North Korean girls. (Abortion is still officially illegal in South Korea but it is rampant nonetheless).
The West, including the U.S., is concerned that a reunited Korea would have an army of 2 million well-trained troops, cultural and racial unity as well as a vast array of biological, biochemical and nuclear weapons.
This fact has not been lost on the Japanese who have only begun to apologize to China, Korea and the rest of Asia for the actions of the Imperial Army before and during World War II.
In 1998, North Korea shocked the world by launching an ICBM over Japan. According to Wu, it is now believed that China and North Korea have the capability to strike at the heart of America with nuclear warheads, reaching everywhere “except the state of Florida.”
One Japanese legislator stood up in the Diet and suggested Japan might well build scores of nuclear weapons to deter North Korea and mainland China from a potential attack.
In spite of the animosity Japan faces in most of Asia, the yen has been proposed as a regional currency while China would head up a regional free trade zone. One such sub-zone, known as the “Greater Mekong Development Scheme,” seeks to unite all of Southeast Asia from Vietnam to Burma by air, sea, rail and land.
Burma, pushed into the arms of mainland China by sanctions promoted by the U.S. and UK, is a de facto colony of Beijing. The rightist junta in Rangoon sends China hardwood, rice, jade and opium for further processing and/or export. In the years prior of World War II, Burma was the third-leading exporter of oil in Asia. Several years ago, the United Nations offered the Burmese junta $1 billion to turn over control of the country to an interim government. That offer was refused.
However, the Burmese junta has announced that drug activity in the Golden Triangle will cease by 2015. This indicates that normal economic activity is on the agenda for the region. Drug wars, land mines and mercenaries rule the day on the Burma-Thai border as the Wa State Army, the world’s largest private military force, has turned that part of the world into a no-go zone. Caught in the middle are the Karen hill tribes, many of them Christians, who were strong British allies during the darkest days of World War II.
Wu told WorldNetDaily: “America will build a new military base in Australia. America has forces in South Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan.” He says the U.S. and the West have sought to check or contain China’s influence in the region. Wu also pointed to Thailand and Taiwan as nations outside China’s orbit. Countries like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma are now all closer with China than with the West.
Wu said China’s newfound patriotism received a boost from its recent manned space flight that made global headlines. China has also set up a space tracking facility in Marxist Namibia, whose ruling, terrorist SWAPO regime was assisted by China during its national liberation struggle from the now defunct apartheid regime in South Africa.
According to some analysts, this tracking station probably contains duel-use technology that could be used in a future anti-satellite battle in outer space. With this in mind, the U.S. has recently sought to beef up its anti-satellite warfare capability.
“China’s space program serves to show the masses that the ruling regime is powerful,” said Wu.
“In effect, the Communist government is saying, ‘We’re in good shape. We have intercontinental ballistic missiles. We have nuclear submarines. We will be hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. Don’t challenge our rule.’ The message to the masses is not to take any advantage and try to change the country to a democracy (or a republic).”
Continued Wu: “China tells the world and America that they see the U.S. as their No. 1 enemy. That is what they tell the Chinese people. Chinese students studying in America need not officially be government agents. Because of patriotic feelings they want to master American technology and bring it back home to the motherland.”
A look back
“I feel more stable and confident now as a free man,” Wu explained when asked if he forgives those who tortured and imprisoned him back in the days of the laogai.
“At my age, 68, I could be looking to take it easy. I have recovered from my nightmare in the laogai. I have a 6 and a half-year-old son now. I want to spend time with him. I want to be comfortable, travel, to go to Africa and see the wild animals. I want to enjoy life. But then I think that I must still press forward to address the issue of human rights in China.”
Concluded Wu: “I want to tell ordinary Americans they must know the truth about China and then in turn tell others the truth. We must address the human-rights situation. Write letters to the media and to your congressmen and senators. I think of Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and how she is on the board of directors for Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart were a nation it would be China’s fifth-largest trading partner. Other issues like China controlling the Panama Canal and her oceangoing merchant fleet, COSCO, should also be studied. Boycott products made in China by slave labor, especially at Christmastime. Start workshops on Chinese issues at your church. Most of all, pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters inside China.”