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China carrying out brutal vendetta against Epoch Times

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has accused Chinese authorities of a "brutal vendetta" against independent journalism and media following the destruction of the offices of one of its leading critics.

ASSAULTED: A picture of Chinese newspaper Epoch Times Chief Technical Officer Li Yuan, who demonstrators say was attacked in his home at Atlanta, US, , is shown during a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo February 15. Li was severely beaten by a gang of Chinese men who stole only his work-related computers. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao)

The Hong Kong office of the English-language newspaper, The Epoch Times, on Tuesday was broken into by four unidentified men, who smashed a glass door at the entrance of the building and wreaked havoc in the offices, including entering the computer room in the print shop and wrecking office machines and computers. The newspaper is affiliated to the Falun Gong movement, which is outlawed in China.

"China's authoritarian leaders are maintaining a systematic policy of intimidation and censorship directed against dissident voices and independent media, both inside and outside of the country," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "This latest vandalism is part of a brutal vendetta that cannot be tolerated."

According to the Epoch Times' spokesperson, Wu Xueer, the print shop, located at Quanwan, has recently printed large amounts of the Nine Commentaries, a series of editorials published by the paper and which has so far, the newspaper claims, inspired 7.8 million Chinese to renounce all ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xueer believes that the Chinese authorities were trying to stop her paper's ability to print the Nine Commentaries in Hong Kong.

In the last four weeks, according to IFJ, Epoch Times staff members have been the target of a series of threats and harassment. On February 8, IT chief Yuan Li was attacked in his home in Atlanta, Georgia, US, and severely beaten by a gang of Chinese men who stole only his work-related computers. This was the first time that a journalist working for the paper had been targeted and attacked outside of China.

Local police in Georgia declined to comment on the attack on Li. FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett told the Associated Press that the bureau was looking into the attack as a possible civil rights violation, but did not comment on whether the Chinese government was involved.

GALA EVENING: Dancers from the National Taiwan University of Arts at the 2006 NTDTV Global Gala. On February 9, the home of the Paris manager of the newspaper which has supported a New Year Gala organised by the independent satellite channel New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) was broken into and all ticket receipts for the gala were stolen. (Epoch Times)

Chu Maoming, press officer at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) subsequently that the allegations of Chinese government involvement were "totally a rumour fabricated by the evil cult. Falun Gong has been outlawed by the Chinese government because they are an evil cult, anti-society, anti-humankind and anti-science. Please be aware of the essence of the evil cult. You don't know what's going on."

On February 9, the home of the Paris manager of the newspaper which has supported a New Year Gala organised by the independent satellite channel NTDTV was broken into and all ticket receipts for the gala were stolen. Nothing else was touched. In addition, the Epoch Times in Malaysia has been blocked from publication due to the Chinese regime's interference and Epoch Times offices in Sydney and Toronto have received suspicious envelopes via mail that are suspected of containing toxic materials.

The IFJ affiliate in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, has joined IFJ in calls for the international community to speak out against the "dirty war" campaign being waged against the Epoch Times.

"Since the end of 2004, Chinese Communist Party officials have hunted down the Epoch Times staff inside and outside mainland China, systematically confiscating newspapers, intimidating advertisers, and threatening the families of staff members," said White. "This is a vicious witch-hunt aimed at crushing the voice of dissent."

CPJ has documented the imprisonment in mainland China of three journalists, Zheng Yichun, Zhang Lin and Yang Tianshui, for writing critically about the government in the Epoch Times and other banned news websites. Zheng was sentenced in 2005 to seven years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion," Zhang was sentenced to five years on the same charge, and Yang, detained in December 2005, has not been tried.

AT THE RECEIVING END: Epoch Times staff watch as Hong Kong police search for evidence in the office which was ransacked by four hammer-wielding youths on February 28. The four men shattered and then stepped through the Epoch Times office's glass front door when staff were still in the office. (Epoch Times)

Other US-based editors for Epoch Times have been threatened. An executive and editor at the newspaper's San Francisco branch, Alex Ma, told CPJ that unknown individuals broke into his house on two separate occasions in 2005. Days after the first break-in, family members in China called to warn him to stop his "activities," he said. Ma said he believed that state security agents issued the warning after he had organized forums in San Francisco to discuss the "Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party," an extremely critical and controversial Epoch Times series on the practices of the Party.

Huang Wanqing, New York-based vice president of Epoch Times and former news editor of the website, told CPJ that his family in China was also visited several times in the last two years by state security agents, who said that Huang's activities in the US were under surveillance by Chinese agents. Huang's family told him that state security agents knew private details about his life in the US, including his bank account information. Chinese embassy officer Chu said that he was unaware of these cases.

Date posted: March 3, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 12