Jianli Yang’s speech at the XII International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy

Perugia, 15 April 2018

The human rights’ record in China under Xi Jinping is the worst since the Tiananmen crackdown. The situation for Chinese human rights activists is drastically deteriorating since 2012 when Xi Jinping took power.

Xi is convinced that the Chinese Communist Party is losing control over the Chinese people and the Chinese society, and particularly in the ideological front, despite numerous political campaigns to brainwash the Chinese people, particularly the young; Xi believes that the regime security is in a grave danger; all of these require the regime to take relentless and harsh measures to regain its control.

More than previous leaders before him, Xi perceives that the western ideas and bourgeois liberalization spread via the Internet eroded the minds of young people, and that the foreign reactionary forces’ peaceful evolution has become a real threat which has fundamentally undermined the Communist Party’s rule.

Therefore, Xi has taken a staunch position to resolutely oppose any Western ideals, such as “universal values” and “constitutional democracy,” which, according to Xi, “have consistently infiltrated China to slander its socialist path.” Under Xi’s reign, the regime’s growing sense of highly insecurity and deepening alienation from its ideology and politics among young Chinese is pushing the party to put the entire population under a total surveillance.

In the past, the Chinese regime often took a defensive position against democratic values and ideas, but today, Xi Jinping has forged a more offensive warfare with a grand strategy seeking to suppress any ideas that deviate from the CCP’s thinking. Xi’s recent suppression has become increasingly violent in order to keep every citizen in line with the regime’s ideology.

Xi targeted the country’s liberal-minded leaders, public intellectuals, and university professors, and, later, Xi sought after human rights lawyers, who were subsequently rounded up, forced to disappear, detained, arrested, sentenced, tortured, and sometimes even killed. There is an emerging pattern of deaths of activists in prisons and released on medical parole. Retribution is also handed out to activists’ family members. At the same time, Xi has launched a “content clean-up campaign” to remove and ban information the regime deems to be “harmful”. Xi’s repression against minority groups has also been ratcheted up. Today, there exists no space for dissenting voices or any rights advocacy NGOs in China.

While Xi is relentlessly repressing the dissent inside China, his offensive and overreach exceeds far beyond China’s border. The regime has been creating new international norms, such as “a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind core socialist values” and subverting UN efforts to protect human rights, with the aim of globally expanding the regime’s political and economic model.

China’s rising global presence and aggressive expansion of commerce, grabbing global natural resource, and rapid military deployment, has far-reaching implications for the post-cold war world order.

For example, China now bought and built 49 ports in 19 countries with critical geopolitical locations, which include Greece, Myanmar, Israel, Djibouti, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, and other countries.

China exports corruption worldwide to gain foreign political and economic influence. For example, former Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping was accused of offering bribes worth a total of US$ 2.9 million to prominent African leaders and ministers. A US federal court in New York He has brought corruption charges against him and he was arrested in January.

China has deeply infiltrated into the U.S. to influence American policies. Investigative writer Peter Schweizer revealed in his new book, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.

China is gaining influence over American policy maker by directly and indirectly funding thousands free congressional trips to China using the legislative loopholes, one of which is the exemption of foreign-financed cultural-exchange trips, making oversight of exchange trips for congressional staff falls into a bureaucratic no-man’s land. The regime often shows the congressional members and staff with gifts, crusine food, entertainments and more, while staying in luxury hotels.

Since the 1990s China has been secretly funding US political campaigns, perhaps much worse than Russia.

The Chinese regime gaining foreign influence by spying on the world. Examples include big data collected globally through Chinese companies, and a huge espionage network. French newspaper Le Monde reported that China donated the African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and also donated the AU’s computer network at the AU, but it allegedly inserted a backdoor that allowed it to transfer confidential data.

China’s global kidnapping campaign also shows its increasing global influence. This program has gone on for years under the disguise of anti-corruption. The regime has launched two programs code named “Skynet” and “Fox Hunt” supposedly to target on corrupt Chinese officials living broad, but in effect it aims at kidnapping the Chinese citizens that the regime doesn’t like.

The regime’s central commission on discipline and inspection reported to have repatriated more than 3,000 individuals since Xi Jinping took power in late 2012. In 2016 alone, the Skynet caught and took 1,032 Chinese back to China, among which 134 government officials, and 19 people on the Interpol red notice.

In order to insert its global influence, China has actively seeking leadership in many international organizations. For example, China has been politicizing Interpol and using it to kidnap and repatriate Chinese citizens in the name of anti-corruption and anti-terrorism. In the past, Interpol’s constitution has emphasized respect for human rights and the principle of political neutrality in its actions against suspected terrorists, criminals and fugitives. But politicized decisions in recent years have seriously damaged its credibility.

Interpol is helping Beijing’s dictators to repress and persecute political dissidents and human rights activists through issuing red notices, essentially international arrest warrants. Since Xi coming to power in 2012, Interpol has issued about 200 “red notices” a year at the request of Beijing, and many of these red notices requested by China are “politically motivated”.

In November 2016, Meng Hongwei, a deputy minister of China’s Public Security, a notorious human rights abuser, become the first Chinese president of the Interpol, allowing Beijing to further manipulate and abuse the system from within the organization. There is no due process for appeals and for accountability, and no procedures to prevent wrongful arrests and extradition.

NGO Fair Trials’ study shows that these politically motivated red notices have often led to the wrongful detention of many innocent victims, who are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Victims of red notices have lost their jobs or their assets and bank accounts, and face travel ban, greatly disrupting their life. However, Interpol’s Constitution prohibits any intervention or activities of a “political, military, religious, or racial character.”

If the international community continues to allow the Chinese regime to use Interpol as a repressive tool, the organization will lose all of its credibility. We must demand a reform of this much abused and politically motivated red notice system. Credible evidence must be provided when requesting a red notice, and fair process to challenge the red notice must be in place and accessible.

While Xi becoming the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, the country has fallen into one of the darkest and most expansionistic moments in its modern history.

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