Zhang Hongbao in Blast Furnace
---- A documentary on how the outstanding spiritual leader transformed to a political leader
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Excerpt from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: (ChinaDnn.com) Feb.25, 2001
The World Sees Zhang Hongbao in the Sino-US Political Whirlpool
From New York Times Message Board
News of Trends in China: On Feb.19 "Frankfurt Guidance" of Germany (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) published an article of interview taken by its correspondent in Japan Anne Schneppen. With the title "the Zhang Hongbao in the Sino-US political whirlpool", the article reads:
Guam, Feb.18. Guam, an island in Pacific Ocean, sink into a whirlpool of international politics before nobody was aware of it. In the prison of Guam, there is a person kept there under the surveillance of the INS officers. His destiny is to be decided by the governmental top level of the US and China through diplomatic negotiations. The longer his application for asylum has been pending, the more strongly people backing him up would feel that he is a sacrifice of the pro-Beijing Clinton Administration and a political prisoner of the United States. The explosive nature of this case could have been covered up in the remote island of Guam. However, Washington now is facing a danger that Zhang Hongbao has gained great fame, which is of course embarrassing. On one hand, a group of Chinese dissidents in the US are proactively taking actions; on the other hand, they hired the lawyer star Robert Shapiro, who has successfully handled the case of O.J.Simpson, as the defend lawyer for this "disturbing" Zhang Hongbao from this February.
Compared with the hundreds of Chinese from Mainland China, the same with Zhang Hongbao, who is now 47 years old and came from Haerbin of China, is that he does not have valid identification either. He reached this American territory Guam and started to apply for asylum one year ago. The Guam Island is south to Japan, 3 hours flight away. Different from those ordinary refugees is that he was a well-to-do entreprenuer in his hometown, yet first of all he is the leader of Zhong Gong, which is one of the biggest Qi Gong organizations of China. Like Falun Gong, Zhong Gong is regarded as "evil cult" in China and so is being persecuted and suppressed there. Chinese authority in Beijing required the US authority to extradite Zhang Hongbao back to China as an "ordinary criminal". To them, this organization is a political disaster, and its unfathomable methodology is a threat to internal stability.
"Jiang Ze Min fears of the strength of Zhong Gong, and he especially fears of our capability of gathering people." said Zhang Hongbao in the prison of Guam, where he has been detained since early last year. "Zhong Gong has suffered persecution by CPC. About 600 Zhong Gong members were arrested, around 3000 enterprises and practising centers of Zhong Gong were shut down by force and all our properties were confiscated. CPC openly target me as an enemy." Zhang Hongbao founded Zhong Gong organization in 1987. Its financial source was the currently disbanded corporate empire---Kylin Group. As known to all, this group was mainly marketing "health food" and materials that convey and spread theory of the respectful "Master" such as books and videotapes. It hired 100,000 employees all over the country.
Mostly Zhong Gong is similar to Falun Gong. It is also a kind of Chinese traditional meditation (Qi Gong), which is a mixture of breathing technology and gym skills under the control of spirit. As per Zhang, this kind of Qi Gong can help people to build up both physically and spiritually so as to preserve health and prolong life. Zhong Gong has attracted 38 million disciples yet more people are coming to join. But on one point, Zhong Gong is totally different from Falun Gong. Zhong Gong does not draw as much public attention as Falun Gong because its members avoid openly demonstrating or challenging. Instead, they run the business secretly and so the Chinese authority stopped cracking down on them in a big way. Actually, Zhang is reluctant to compare Zhong Gong with Falun Gong. He said: "Zhong Gong is not and has never been religion." Nevertheless, there is a letter from him you could read at the web site of Zhong Gong giving us a different interpretation. It reads: "We took another line. Falun Gong is like lightning with a thunder, while Zhong Gong shall be silent yet long-lasting light. Besides, people do not know Zhong Gong as much as Jiang Ze Min does. It is just because he has known too much that I would encounter such a difficult situation here in Guam."
If it is true, according to this fascinating master, several years ago in Hubei Province, President Jiang Ze Min had willingly and specifically received therapy of a Zhong Gong therapist that some local CPC official arranged for him. At first, CPC could tolerate Zhong Gong, and many Zhong Gong members were officials in high position. In the past decade, his Kylin Group has tried to prosecute CPC. The establishing principle of Zhong Gong is essentially opposite to Marxism. "Systematic crack down" on Zhong Gong started from August of 1999 when Zhong Gong organized an underground campaign to protest CPC's persecution over Falun Gong. In that campaign, Zhong Gong members, through the thousands of their coordinating offices located in everywhere of the country from Beijing to the far borders, distributed letters to public security departments and armed police protesting Jiang Ze Min's persecution on Falun Gong.
Investigation of this susceptible case by the State Department of the United States:
In a country like China where lack qualified fracture facilities and the whole information system is under the control of Chinese Communist Party, some secret information from underground would especially appear sentimental. Jiang Ze Min has personally sighted their powerful strength, Zhang said. Since 1994, he would only stop by China for short period. He was then living in Southeast Asia, and was thought to have disappeared in China. On Jan.29 of last year, he came to Guam by holding a fabricated passport. Guam is an island that Japanese like to go during vacation as well as a strategically important military base for the US. Zhang said: "Coming to Guam is rather a decision for the sake of Zhong Gong than for myself. America is an icon for democracy and human rights to the world. That's why it is my first choice."
Since then, the development of Zhang's case, as put forward by his lawyer in Guam Charles Kinnunen, is like plot of a detective novel. According to the lawyer, in last summer the woman judge who was in charge of this case had concluded that Zhang was legally eligible for asylum. The only thing left was to send his fingerprint to FBI for verification, which is also a normal judicial procedure. However, things after that could hardly be considered normal but postpones plus so-called accidents. Firstly, his fingerprint disappeared so that the case could not be finished. Thereafter announcement was postponed. It so happened that Chinese authority protested the US government to grant Zhang Hongbao asylum through its embassy in Washington and asked to extradite him back to China. In a package as thick as 98 pages, CPC accused Zhang of harassing quite a few woman disciples. Zhang reckons the accusations as rumor and conspiratorial frame.
His lawyer agreed with him: "the fingerprint disappeared in some proper way, which gave the time CPC needed to prepare the accusation documents and then transferred to us through Washington." Strange thing is the accused affair happened in 1990 as per the document, no matter what it was, while it has been ten years long that the first prosecutor brought the case against Zhang Hongbao. Zhang is not the only "politically unwelcome person" that Beijing authority tried to degrade his reputation with the charge of "rape".
Legal proceeings on court went through August of 2000 and then paused again. INS required some time reserved for the Stare Department to investigate this susceptible case. Through appraisal the State Department concluded that the accusations against Zhang came from no ground. INS again asked experts of the Congress Library to appraise those documents. The latter also concluded that those accusations were not convincible and there likely existed an "outstanding frame-up" behind the accusations. Besides, appraisers also confirmed that there did exist a time coincidence between the persecution on Falun Gong and the prohibition of Zhong Gong.
On September 21, after the Representative House passed the decision to grant China Permanent Normal Trading Relation, the court announced an abnormal decision to give Zhang Hongbao "Protection of exempt from cruel punishment" according to the Anti-Cruel Torture Treaty of the United Nations instead of granting him asylum. That is to say, this leader of Qi Gong organization is not guaranteed of permanent residency in US, but he has no risk of extradition to China either. This is a quite cautious decision, a diplomatic choice, and a compromise proposal, which suspended Zhang's destiny between asylum and extradition and tried to save faces for both sides --- Beijing authority and Zhang Hongbao. However, neither side of them would like to accept this decision. Right after the announcement, the Foreign Affairs Department protested on behalf of Beijing authority and asked the US government to correct their mistake and extradite "rapist" Zhang Hongbao back to China. Zhang's lawyer also lodged an appeal as well as a petition to strive for Zhang's release.
Like all the followers of Zhang, lawyer Jin Nuen believed that this was a political decision to a political case. It was made by the summit of the government, most likely based on opinions from the White House. Because Clintion's administration would not like such a controversial case of asylum to affect the more important affair of China's bid for WTO, which is of great significance to both countries. Even the INS would not bear such a decision.
Zhang keeps the court busy. It was firstly scheduled at the end of January and then postponed to early February to hold a hearing of the case in Guam. But finally the hearing is still pending. Zhang's newly hired lawyer that his subordinates in Zhong Gong International Headquarters located in Washington found for him could be a favorable turn. Lawyer Robert Shapiro is not only one of the most expensive lawyers in his field, but one of the few who understands well the relationship between Judiciary, Politics and Public media. Zhang Hongbao comments on his option on that tropical island at the other side of the globe that a better commander is needed when a battle will be enlarged.
It seems incredible to the outside that Zhang Hongbao is still being jailed up to date. The decision to give him "protection of exempt from cruel punishment" was announced five months ago, whereas, Zhang is not allowed to leave the prison as a dangerous prisoner to the public. His books have been checked. Only a few visitors are permitted to meet him at the open reception under the surveillance of the prison authority. The INS tried to defend themselves with the explanation that keeping Zhang in prison was for the safety of him. It is of course not convincible.
Zhang is getting more and more overseas supporting. Chinese democratic movement group in Japan and the US are paying close attention to Zhang's case. It is because of "common benefits", according to Zhang. He also said: " Nowadays Zhong Gong could have a little bit links with Chinese democratic movement groups. When I was in China, we could only talk about health issues. Suppose we had done something else at that time, we could have disappeared soon after." That suggests that CPC does not have self-confidence. "CPC is a criminal clique. Many officials inside the Party are corrupted. The masses are suffering. Under such circumstances, CPC is afraid that in case someone lit the sparks, it can start a prairie fire immediately." Said Zhang. On the little navy military island of Guam, three hours' flight away from Japan, a Chinese sink into a whirlpool of the international politics. He is not silent and unknown any more. Zhang Hongbao keeps practising skills in prison. He is thorough clear of the operation status of his Qi Gong. He is in close contact with his world outside. I have read a letter he wrote with the title "a letter to my students" dated September 27 of 2000 on internet. It reads: "History often repeats itself. In early stage of Christianity, founders of religion had suffered political persecution. In early stage of Buddhism, the founder Sakyamuni had suffered nine calamities... It is the same with our theory. There is almost no exception. Each kind of religion must suffer disaster during its growing".
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