ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — Some local Chinese are calling on the St. Louis China Hub Commission to address issues of human rights abuse in China.
In a strongly-worded letter, Peng Su, a spokeswoman for the local Falun Gong community, tells the commission that Christians, Buddhists and members of her group are being arrested for their beliefs. The letter argues that business and human rights are “not mutually exclusive issues.”
“Can we expect a regime that deprives its own people’s basic human rights to give its business partners all rights they deserve?” the letter asks.
Commission Chair Mike Jones tells KMOX that the issue of alleged human rights problems in China has never been broached by the commission.
“Because I’m not with the State Department, that’s one reason,” Jones said, “We have one set of business with the Chinese and that’s this. The people we’re talking to in China are not at that level. They’re in the airline business.”
Jones tells KMOX that any deviation from the mission of establishing a cargo hub, no matter how worthy the cause, would be “mission creep.”
But Su says the commission should raise some human rights issues within the context of the cargo hub.
“For example, I think they can raise, how can they make sure those products imported from China are not made in the labor camps where those innocent Falun Gong practitioners are kept and forced to do the slave labor?” Su said.
But Jones disagrees. “We have specific business with the Chinese,” Jones said, “The Chinese have a specific business interest with us. That is the scope of the relationship and that is the extent of it.”
Su, who left China in 1996 and became a U.S. citizen two years ago, says the commission should have a higher purpose than “getting the deal done.”
“I’m not against any trade or anything,” Su said, ” But I think they have to know who they are dealing with. Otherwise when they get more involved, there could be a lot of damage to themselves.”
KMOX obtained a copy of the letter sent to the Midwest-China Hub Commission:
May 13, 2011
Michael W. Jones
Chairman, Midwest-China Hub Commission
41 South Central Avenue, 9th floor
Clayton, MO 63105
Dear Mr. Jones,
As you are preparing for the hearing on the business deal of making St. louis an airhub for trade with China, we could like to bring to your attention the intensifying human rights abuses in China, as we believe they are not mutually exclusive issues.
As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine, “China’s human rights record is deplorable.” Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently intensified arrest of human rights lawyers, dissidents, Christians attending family churches, Tibetan Buddhists, even artists who are vocal on human rights.
Moreover, the CCP has been continuing its 12-year long brutal persecution against Falun gong. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and a moral philosophy centered in the tenets of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. The practice enjoyed meteoric growth in Mainland China in the 1990s, eventually attracting an estimated 70 million practitioners. Fearing its size and independent moral philosophy , in 1999 the Chinese Communist Party initiated a campaign to suppress Falun gong through propaganda, mass imprisonment, torture, and other coercive “re-education” techniques. Today, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong adherents remain imprisoned extra-judicially, facing torture and abuse in custody. Currently Falun gong practitioners constitute the largest groups of prisoners of conscience in the world.
The CCP not only has been carrying out this persecution in China, but also exporting it to the United Sates by Chinese embassy and consulates from spreading its propaganda of defaming Falun gong to undercut people’s sympathy, to supporting mobs in Chinatown to physically attack Falun Gong practitioners.
In St. louis alone several of us have either personally experienced this persecution in China, or have relatives persecuted in China for practicing Falun Gong. Here we are thankful not only to find a new home in St. Louis, but for our elected officials who speak up for those still suffering. In March, 2010, the U.S. House nearly unanimously passed a resolution condemning Beijing for the persecution of Falun gong in China. We are especially proud of Congressman Lacy Clay and Congressman Todd Akin who were among the 81 co-sponsors of this resolution.
Secretary Clinton, said in an interview with The Atlantic magazine published Tuesday that China was wrong if it thought it could hold off change in the wake of the pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world. “They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand,”
The change from her remarks in early 2009 that “our pressing on those issues (human rights) can’t interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis,” clearly indicates the administration has realized the danger and disadvantage of downgrading human rights in its China policy.
Indeed, can we expect someone who abuses his own children to be a good neighbor in the community? Can we expect a regime that deprives its own people’s basic human rights to give its business partners all rights that they deserve? As former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in the PRC, James McGregor said on his Op-ed titled “Time to rethink U.S. China trade relations,” on Washington Post on May 19, 2010, “American business has to figure out how to balance out today’s profits with tomorrow’s threat.”
We hope you can put human rights in perspective in your decision — a decision not only based on business interests, but also based on moral principals and humanity. That will give St. Louis its long term and genuine prosperity.
On behalf of St. Louis Falun Gong practitioners