VII. ANALYSIS OF THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
This chapter looks in some detail at two important features of the Chinese leadership's response to Falungong. It examines first of all the reasons Beijing decided almost immediately following the April 25, 1999 demonstration outside Zhonganhai to eradicate Falungong rather than coopt and regulate it, a strategy the government continues to employ effectively in dealing with the five religions it regards as legitimate. Secondly, the chapter examines the Party's decision to craft a series of laws, decisions, explanations, and interpretations to justify and implement the crackdown. The calculated use of a so-called rule of law campaign to further the anti-cult crackdown has much to say about the Party's manipulation of the legal system in China at present.
Two political considerations appear to have underlain the decision of the Chinese leadership, led by President and Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin, to mount a full-fledged campaign to eradicate Falungong and to allocate the necessary manpower and financial resources. One such consideration was the alleged danger posed by Falungong to social stability and thus Communist Party power, both already eroded by urban unemployment, widening income disparities, rural poverty, and corruption. The other was Jiang's preoccupation with his own political influence and his historic reputation after he steps down as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CCP at the 2002 Party Congress and as president of China in 2003.
We need to improve public order through comprehensive measures and crack down on criminal activities that pose a threat to social order and national security. We must crack down according to law on ethnic separatist activities, religious extremist forces, violent and terrorist activities, cults, and illegal activities carried out under the guise of religion. We need to continue our campaign against the Falungong cult, and further expose and condemn its antihuman, antisocial and anti-science nature, and its reactionary feature of letting itself become a tool used by domestic and overseas hostile forces to oppose our socialist government. We need to mete out severe punishment in accordance with the law to the small number of criminals while making unremitting efforts to unite, educate and rescue the vast majority of people who have been taken in.59
President Jiang, discussing Falungong in general and Hong Kong in particular, said: "I have to make it very clear the Falun Gong is an evil cult... Stability is overriding. Any countries or societies will have no prospects if they have no stability. Only stability will make the economy develop and prosper."60 The message was clear: Falungong membership impedes China's growth and modernization; patriotic Chinese will avoid any and all ties to the organization and will assist in its demise.
In contrast to earlier campaign-style crackdowns, Chinese leaders have justified their campaign against Falungong by citing their determination to advance the "rule of law" in China and to strengthen the Chinese system of "socialist democracy."70
The constitution and laws of our country have explicitly stipulated that the state must strengthen the building of socialist spiritual civilization and oppose capitalist, feudal and other decadent ideologies. Citizens must observe public order and social ethics. Any action of undermining and disrupting social order must be banned. However, Li Hongzhi has disregarded the basic principles and stipulations of our constitution and laws by concocting the so-called Falun Dafa, establishing an illegal organization, and wantonly propagating feudal, superstitious and anti-scientific false reasoning and heretical ideas. He has brazenly formed an illegal association, assembled a crowd to make trouble, and illegally sold books and journals, audio-visual products and other propaganda publications, which propagate the Falun Dafa, to seek exorbitant profits, harm people's health, and severely disrupt social order. All these have constituted a heinous crime. Therefore, our struggle against Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong organization manipulated by him is not only a serious ideological and political struggle, but also a struggle between rule by law and anti-rule by law. We not only must ideologically understand the illegal nature of the Falun Gong, but also take legal measures to resolutely punish the crimes of Li Hongzhi and his illegal Falun Gong organization. We must apply laws as weapons to win a victory [in] the struggle against the Falun Gong.72
Officials emphasized that Falungong followers were punished not for being practitioners, but for violating Chinese law. Some of the laws and regulations used against Falungong were in place when the crackdown began; some were newly enacted or reinterpreted and applied ex post facto. Some new legal standards were specifically directed at Falungong; others, in particular new restrictions on Internet usage, could profitably be used to curb Falungong's communications network even though they were designed with a larger target population in mind.
57 Vivien Pik-kwan Chan, "China's Leadership Pushes for Unity," New York Times, March 9, 2001;"New phase in fight against sect," South China Morning Post, February 13, 2001.
58 "China Opens Annual Legislative Session, Falun Gong Attacked," Agence France-Presse, March 3, 2001; "Falun Gong ban attacked," South China Morning Post, March 3, 2001; "Li Peng Says China to Continue Work Against Abuse of Power, Falungong," FBIS, March 9, 2001, from Xinhua, March 9, 2001; Vivien Pik-kwan Chan, "Law chiefs get tough on state graft," South China Morning Post, March 11, 2001.
59 "Report on the Outline of the 10th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development," Xinhua, March 16, 2001, in "Comparison -- Full Text of Zhu Rongji's 10th Five-Year Plan Report," FBIS, March 16, 2001.
60 "President Jiang Zemin said yesterday Beijing would leave dealing..." South China Morning Post, March 6, 2001.
61 "AFP Reports on Worker Discontent in China's Shandong, Sichuan, Shaanxi," FBIS, April 3, 2001, from Agence France-Presse, April 2, 2001; "Workers Block Roads in Protest Over Unpaid Benefits," Agence France-Presse, March 26, 2001; "Thousands of Chinese Miners Clash With Police Over Layoffs," Agence France-Presse, March 9, 2001; "Farmers Recruit Urban Laborers," FBIS, March 1, 2001, from Xinhua, February 28, 2001; "Workers Block Railway Over Pay," Reuters, December 5, 2000; "Angry Workers Besiege City Hall," Reuters, May 17, 2000. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security admitted on April 30, 2001, that the "reemployment rate for retrenched workers in China hit a historic low in the first quarter of the year." See "What's News," South China Morning Post, http://www.scmp.com/, May 2, 2001, from China Central TV. To further complicate the employment picture, some three million laid-off workers reclassified as unemployed in June 2001 had their monthly stipends reduced. In August, Xinhua reported that job searches were becoming more competitive with 2.2 million people registered at employment centers and only 1.54 million jobs available. See "What's News," South China Morning News, http://www.scmp.com/, August 24, 2001, from Xinhua; Vivien Pik-kwan Chan, "Looming danger of the `newly' jobless," South China Morning Post, June 5, 2001; "China's Premier Zhu says reforms to slow," Reuters, June 8, 2001; Clara Li, "More jobs lost than created, says expert," South China Morning Post, June 29, 2001. Endemic corruption, benefiting officials and enterprise managers at the expense of rank-and-file workers, continued to be another destabilizing factor. See Chan, "Law chiefs get tough...," South China Morning Post; Mark O'Neill, "Dismal story of Hua Lu's asset-stripping finally revealed," South China Morning Post, April 16, 2001.
62 "Major Event Affecting General Situation of National Economy," People's Daily Online, http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200103/23/eng20010323_65808.html, March 23, 2001; "Wen Jiabao On Importance of Lightening Peasant Burdens," FBIS, September 29, 2000, from Xinhua, September 27, 2000; "UN says graft foils eradication of poverty," Reuters, April 7, 2000; "China Fails to Raise Farmers' Incomes Threatening Stability," Agence France-Presse, July 18, 2001.
63 "Cadres strike hard at peasants' pockets," Associated Press, June 5, 2001; "Ringleaders jailed over riot against levy," Agence France-Presse, June 14, 2001; "Tax increase stirs banana farmers' fury," South China Morning Post, November 16, 2000; "20,000 farmers riot over taxes," South China Morning Post, August 30, 2000; Jasper Becker, "Hidden rural income crisis set to strike home, experts warn," South China Morning Post, June 30, 2001; "Seven Types of Actions Involving Agricultural Prices and the Collection of Fees Specified as Illegal," Xinhua, July 14, 2001, in "7 Types of Illegal Agri-Related Fees To Be Cleaned Up in 2d Half of 2001," FBIS, July 17, 2001; Daniel Kwan, "Premier's rural tax experiment falters," South China Morning Post, July 23, 2001; "Chinese Premier Urges Steady Progress on Rural Tax Reform," People's Daily Online, http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/20017/23/eng20020723_75575.html, July 23, 2001; "China's Premier Zhu says...," Reuters, June 8, 2001.
64 "China's Farmers to Feel Full Force of WTO Entry," Reuters, August 7, 2001.
65 Mary Kwang, "A tough stand to show tough hand," Straits Times, July 24, 1999; Susan V. Lawrence, "China -- Jiang's Two Faces: Who is China's president? For all Jiang's courage in securing the WTO deal, his handling of Falun Gong suggests fear is getting thebetter of his appetite for political reform," Far Eastern Economic Review, December 2, 1999; John Pomfret, "Cracks in China's Crackdown; Falun Gong Campaign Exposes Leadership Woes," Washington Post, November 11, 1999.
66 "Jiang sets stage for eminence grise role,"Yomiuri Shimbun, October 18, 2001; Ching Cheong, "Jiang's legacy not assured ...yet," Straits Times, September 28, 2001; "DATELINE: CHINA: Shades of red," AsiaWeek, September 7, 2001; Bruce Gilley, "China -- Jiang's Turn Tempts Fate: The leader of the ruling Communist Party is encountering growing criticism from a revitalized left wing as he moves the party further to the right," Far Eastern Economic Review, August 30, 2001; "Beidaihe beach blues," The Economist, August 11, 2001; Hugo Restall, "Examining Asia: China's New Leaders," Asian Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2001.
67 See Chapter 2, "Freedom of Belief in China."
68 "Master Li's New Article: Dafa Disciples in the Fa-Rectification Period," Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2001/8/16/12965.html.
69 "Beyond the Limits of Forbearance," Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2001/1/2/6668.html.
70 "China: Cult ban in line with Democracy," World Reporter (TM) - Asia Intelligence Wire, from China Daily, November 24, 1999. See also "Highlight Rule of Law and Punish Cult: People's Daily," Xinhua, source: World Reporter (TM), October 30, 1999. A March 1999 amendment to the Chinese constitution stipulated, "The People's Republic of China shall be governed according to law and shall be built into a socialist country based on the rule of law." "Text of PRC Constitution Amendment," FBIS, March 16, 1999, from Xinhua, March 16, 1999.
It is important to note that the Chinese phrase, yifazhiguo, is variously rendered as "rule of law," "rule by law," and "according to law." Furthermore, the term's meaning varies with the speaker. Thus, it is important to look at what is actually happening under an yifazhiguo rubric. The term can refer to a system where law becomes a tool of governance (commonly referred to as rule by law), or to a system in which government is held equally accountable for its actions and which incorporates respect for internationally recognized human rights (rule of law). Evidence from the crackdown against Falungong indicates that Chinese officials are using it in the former sense.
71 "Applying Law as Weapon to Win Victory in Struggle Agaist Falungong," Xinhua, August 3, 1999 in World News Connection, August 3, 1999, source: World Reporter (TM); "The Socialist Legal System is Sacred and Inviolable -- On the Illegality of the `Falun Gong' Organization and its..." Legal Science Subgroup of the Chinese Academy of Social Science Comprehensive Research Group on the "Falun Gong" Phenomenon, Renmin Ribao, in "Renmin Ribao Lists Falun Gong Illegality," World News Connection, August 11, 1999,source: World Reporter (TM); "Cass Official Xia Yong On Falungong, Rule of Law," World News Connection, August 3, 1999, source: World Reporter (TM).
72 Xinhua, "Applying Law as Weapon to Win Victory in Struggle Agaist Falungong," in World News Connection, August 3, 1999.
73 "Chinese authorities will not permit opposition parties: Li Peng," Agence France-Presse, December 1, 1998.