Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin—Chapter 17

Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin—Chapter 17
(Luis Novaes/Epoch Times)

Jiang Zemin’s days are numbered. It is only a question of when, not if, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party will be arrested. Jiang officially ran the Chinese regime for more than a decade, and for another decade he was the puppet master behind the scenes who often controlled events. During those decades Jiang did incalculable damage to China. At this moment when Jiang’s era is about to end, Epoch Times here republishes in serial form “Anything for Power: The Real Story of Jiang Zemin,” first published in English in 2011. The reader can come to understand better the career of this pivotal figure in today’s China.

The full series is available here

Chapter 17: Jiang Toots His Own Horn With “Three Represents”; a Staged Immolation Masks an Appalling Scheme (2000-2001)

1. The “Three Represents”

In early March 2003, the state-run People’s Daily newspaper ran an editorial unveiling a new doctrine called the “Three Represents,” which consisted of three sentences. This was the first time the doctrine was promulgated as “Jiang Zemin Theory”—as it was called—on a national scale. The wide promotion of the doctrine quickly amounted to a joke.

Inventing a Theory

How did the phenomenon of the Three Represents come about? No outsiders knew at first. That would change, however, when at the height of the doctrine’s promotion Wang Huning couldn’t keep a secret: it was he, in fact, who had authored the doctrine. Understandably, the revelation proved shocking. Back when Jiang Zemin was Party Secretary in Shanghai he used to recite paragraph upon paragraph of Wang’s articles. Later, after Jiang took his post in Beijing, Zeng Qinghong and Wu Bangguo repeatedly entreated Wang to assist Jiang and brought this up many times with Jiang. Wang thus was transferred to Zhongnanhai.

It was on the afternoon of Feb. 25, 2000, that Jiang first put to use Wang’s new doctrine. The setting was a meeting with Guangzhou provincial leaders at the Zhudao Hotel in Guangzhou. Jiang brought out the freshly crafted Three Represents, stating, “The Communist Party must always represent the requirements of the development of China’s advanced productive forces; the orientation of the development of China’s advanced culture; and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China.”

Later Wang added a few more sentences for Jiang. On May 14, at a meeting in Shanghai on developing the Party, Jiang declared that, “Always maintaining Three Represents is the basis of our Party’s existence, the foundation of our political power, and the source of our strength.”

Scour all of the official reports in China’s media if you will, and you will discover that not a single person—including Jiang himself, it would seem—can explain in clear terms what the “three represents” are. Of course, nobody in the lower echelon of government is about to dig very deeply into the matter. The droves of corrupt officials are instead preoccupied daily with thoughts of food and drink, women, gambling, graft, pleasure, and property. When they’re told to promote something they follow along; little do they care about what it is they are promoting.

The theory of Three Represents amounts to little more than a few empty words. A person with good judgment wouldn’t venture to boast about such a thing. But the theory is just too important to Jiang, for a doctrine, Jiang knows, is necessary for lasting power. Jiang had long been anxious to mark his achievements and had considered most every possible way to match up with predecessors Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. He needed to solidify his image as “the Third Generation [communist] theoretical authority.” So it was that an empty doctrine, at Jiang’s instruction, was raised aloft by state-run media. Jiang exhausted his wits trying to find a way to introduce the doctrine into the Party Constitution and that of the nation. And the aftermath of Jiang’s efforts can still be felt. Hu Jintao, China’s current General Secretary, chairman of the state, and head of the Central Military Commission, is obligated to uphold the Three Represents. Similarly, most any speech that an official makes must be anchored by the doctrine.

Mixed Reactions to “Studying”

Despite Jiang’s thinking to the contrary, despite all the propagandizing by media outfits, and despite countless meetings to study and implement it, the theory of Three Represents wasn’t something people took seriously.

As study of the Three Represents doctrine in China peaked, [1] CCTV held special programs on a daily basis. One feature of the programming was staged interviews with citizens about the theory. One older-aged farmer declared, “Our village built a bridge—thanks to the Three Represents.” A woman said, “My daughter-in-law gave birth to a chubby son—thanks to the Three Represents.” Some asked that first-class public restrooms be built in the name of Three Represents. On the wall of one rural village a sign was posted, emblazoned with the words: “Use the Three Represents to guide our work of butchering [livestock].” Canned comments of every sort could be seen.

Wang Bin, a Beijing-based reporter for The Epoch Times newspaper who spent three hard years in a CCP prison (for his candid reporting), told the following story. While he was in prison authorities set things up so that prisoners would help the authorities turn a profit. Some prisoners were assigned the task of assembling and making pornographic literature, which was then sold to the public. At that time the Three Represents were the buzzword in the politically-sensitive legal system, and everything had to be connected with the theory somehow. When prisoners produced the lewd materials in quantities beyond a set quota, they would say that their vigor was the result of “guidance from the Three Represents.”

One provincial party secretary remarked, “We have scheduled time to study [the doctrine]. We all have to put on a good show and fulfill our obligations to our superiors. Failing that how can I keep my post as a party secretary? Everybody should cooperate.”

Someone asked a pointed question in reply, “But is the notion of Three Represents going to create cutting-edge science and technology, resolve unemployment problems, and solve the issue of having hundreds of millions of surplus laborers in the countryside?” The answer was obvious, for the theory had little bearing on the practical, immediate, and real challenges people faced.

A leader in one provincial party school asked, “If we achieve something due to the theory of Three Represents, then how are we to explain problems and failures in our work? Would they be owing, in turn, to problems with the doctrine of Three Represents?”

Others furthered the line of questioning, asking, “Why don’t we arrange to have those who’ve excelled at learning the Three Represents to attend international sporting events? They’d be sure to reap gold medals, right?”


The theory of the Three Represents has, despite all the promotion behind it, met widely with criticism—both from within and outside the Party.

The Ideology Division of the Qiushi Journal, the official periodical for the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, and the Theoretical Research Institute of the Central Committee’s Party School expressed confusion about the origin of the Three Represents, as it was unknown in the Party’s inner circle—an unusual occurrence indeed for an ideology at a national level. Some at the forum shared the opinion that the doctrine was simply to prop up Jiang’s image and prestige. Others commented that the hoopla of “studying” and “implementing” the theory within the Party was a self-deceiving exercise that accomplished nothing of value; it was merely like checking things off on a list of chores.

The former director of the Political Systems Reform Research Institute of the CCP’s Central Committee, Bao Tong, commented that the Three Represents encapsulated the folly and worthlessness of those who promoted them, since to “always represent all the people of China” is empty talk, to “always represent advanced culture” is a lie, and to “always represent advanced productivity” is to basically equate government officials with private business owners.

Scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences argued that Three Represents was empty, passé, and dogmatic, and said that local Party committees and governments were mostly just going through the motions when they were promoting and studying the ideology. They asked, “After three years of ‘implementing’ the doctrine, how many problems had it solved? The dogmatic undertaking is harmful to the country and detrimental to the people.”

Some said that the theory’s “advanced culture” and “advanced productivity” were a reference to the so-called cultural elite—a motley collection of scholars who have sold out their integrity, proponents of dictatorship, officials who profit from illicit roles in commerce, and unscrupulous entrepreneurs—the very same capitalists CCP theory attempted to supplant early on). As for “the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China,” this is flat out deceit. Many of China’s farmers survive by the most desperate of means, such as selling their blood and organs and going into prostitution. After many have been infected with AIDS nobody has given them support. [2] As for the working class, the “older brothers”—as the CCP often calls them—at least 30 million have lost their jobs in recent years, but never did Jiang make any effort to represent them.

Plans to publish a volume of Jiang’s alleged writings—Selected Writings of Jiang Zemin on Military Thought—prior to the 4th Plenary Session met with obstacles. A dozen or so army generals—among whom were Zhang Zhen, Hong Xuezhi, and Yang Baibing—wrote a letter opposing the plan, saying that Jiang was positioning himself inappropriately. Yang even stated publicly that the Three Represents was garbage.

In 2002, the holding of the 16th CCP National Congress was delayed. According to internal sources, one key reason for the delay was the considerable diverge of opinion within both the Party and government as to what to make of the Three Represents and how, if at all, they could be acted on.

The Butt of Jokes

Dark humor surrounding the Three Represents has circulated widely in China. Before the recent U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, a political joke could be heard in China that had Bush inviting Putin and Jiang to discuss by how to bump off Osama Bin Laden. Bush expressed a wish to use missiles; Putin said he would opt to use beautiful women, seducing Bin Laden; Jiang said he would use the Three Represents, so as to bore him to death.

In another joke, Mao Zedong sees from the netherworld that Jiang has started forming a personality cult of his own, so Mao was a little jealous. Mao asks his ghost compatriots how many volumes does the Jiang Collection of theory have, to which they answer, “There’s not even enough material to fill one volume—there’s only three speeches.” Mao then asks, “How many representatives of the people are on Jiang’s side?” To which they reply, “We counted and recounted, but could only find three represent(ative)s.” [3]

Evident was it that the Three Represents had become the laughing stock—something ridiculed, rejected, and disliked—of the nation.

The sweeping promotional blitz that was to bolster the shallow theory thus failed to bring Jiang the glory of being “great, visionary, and extraordinary” as he had hoped. One can’t help but recall the words of a bygone Chinese poet, who wrote, “Though some may carve their names in stone, hoping for immorality, their names rot faster than their corpses.” Jiang’s thin theory, the butt of jokes far and wide, was in the end however—at Jiang’s insistence—added to the State Constitution and the Party Constitution. It became another comical chapter of the CCP’s history, and perhaps this was the only real impact of the Three Represents.

2. Self-Immolation on Tiananmen Square

Challenges Mobilizing the Masses

By this time almost a year had passed since Jiang launched his persecution of Falun Gong. Things weren’t going as Jiang had pictured, however (i.e., people condemning Falun Gong en masse.) Many a lie had been spread, many a scathing critique had been written, and countless the “study sessions” that had been organized, yet people just weren’t buying into it. They had seen too many mass political movements before; they know what Jiang was up to. Many people were of the belief that: “If Jiang did not like Falun Gong, then let him go through all of that—just don’t get us tangled up in it.”

With the exception of a few regions that implemented Party policies closely, leaders in many regions—including even 6-10 Office staff—were none too enthused. One former 6-10 officer who was in charge of the Hangu District in Tianjin City has described the situation at that time saying:

To be honest, the people who were in charge at the local level didn’t like to do this [kind of persecuting], as the police there lived in close proximity to ordinary people. For example, maybe you would live right next door to me, and we would see each other all the time. How could I arrest you, then? And this was Hangu—a small place by the sea with only four police stations. Whoever you arrested was bound to be an acquaintance. A police officer’s wife might work together in the same work unit as the wife of the person he arrests, for example. The police at the police station may live on the same street that they’re in charge of, with the person they arrest living right downstairs below them. We were all neighbors and acquaintances. If people like that don’t do anything corrupt or violate the law, could you have the heart to arrest them? [4]

Ordinary people watched how members of the Politburo’s Standing Committee responded to Jiang’s suppression, and they could see that none of the group actively supported Jiang. Zhu Rongji and Li Ruihuan were especially notable for their reticence on the matter.

Public Security Departments Get Into the Act

As the way of the world has it, when there are those who are passive there are always those who are active. One man saw in the persecution a chance to please Jiang: Luo Gan. From the very start Luo put in a lot of effort. Originally Li Peng’s protégé, Luo’s responsibilities had him in charge of politics and law. For some time he had been trying to use suppression of Falun Gong as a means to favor with Jiang. Luo saw Jiang’s campaign as his ticket to membership in the elite, elusive Politburo.

Luo has been on the go ever since Jiang launched the persecution. He ordered his followers in the public security bureaus (PSB) and throughout the legal system to devote all of their energy to “the Falun Gong problem,” with a primary focus being the falsification of evidence.

At a provincial level leadership meeting in the public security system, an officer from the Beijing Public Security Bureau shared the following on how false “evidence” is generated:

At the beginning of 1999, the public security system decided to “modify” existing feudalistic and superstitious activities into “evidence” to be used against Falun Gong. The approach guided a great deal of the work done, mislabeling all kinds of feudalistic and superstitious activities as “Falun Gong activities” … but since there wasn’t enough time to manufacture evidence, the public security personnel had no answers when suspicion arose about their work, so their work was impeded to a certain degree.

This officer further explained that some challenges had arisen due to a delay in expected objectives being reached. For example, persons who personally received qiqong medical treatment from the founder of Falun Gong and were healed of their ailments, or those who experienced the positive effects of Falun Gong, were hard to convert. Thus the PSB had to use the method of imprisonment and limiting such persons’ freedom so as to prevent the truth about Falun Gong from quickly spreading.

One such person is Jing Zhanyi, a former Falun Gong practitioner who was forced to give false testimony.

On Nov. 5, 2003, CCTV’s program “Focus Interview” did a special episode titled “Behind the ‘Patent’,” in which a man named Jing Zhanyi—a Falun Gong practitioner and General Engineer at Handan Steel Company—denied the incredible phenomena he experienced practicing Falun Gong. [5] It was aired in many regions through various state-controlled media outlets. The CCP made Jing’s statement out to be “evidence” that Falun Gong is a pseudoscience.

One former 6-10 official who recently broke from the CCP and defected to Australia, Superintendent First Rank Hao Fengjun, revealed to the media how CCTV’s program was put together. In 2003 the Public Safety Bureau and National Security Bureau in Tianjin City received a special case. The leader of the First Team of the 6-10 office, together with four or five police officers, then went to Shijiazhuang City of Hebei Province to handle the case. When the group returned, Hao saw in the interrogation room a white-haired man who was in shackles. Hao later learned that man was Jing. Later a CCTV reporter came to the National Security Bureau. He had been assigned to “interview” Jing and get footage of a senior leader who had “repented” after practicing Falun Gong; the footage was to be played around the world. That day’s interview was conducted under the careful arrangement of the National Security Bureau. Hao was right outside the interview room. He heard the deputy head of the National Security Bureau, Zhao Yuezeng, telling Jing that if he followed the script provided to him his sentence would be reduced. Doing otherwise, Jing was told, would get him charged with treason atop other alleged crimes, and he would be sentenced to life in prison or secretly executed. Acting under pressure, the poor, elderly Jing complied with the demands. Soon he was seen on television everywhere denying the miraculous bodily phenomena he experienced in Falun Gong; he was even forced to criticize the practice. Jing was later sentenced to an eight-year prison term.

Hao Fengjun saw all of this from outside the interview room. He couldn’t help but blurt out loud, “Isn’t this a lie, though?” Hao didn’t realize that a CCTV reporter was standing next to him at the moment. Several days later Hao was called in to his boss’s office. He knew he was in trouble, but he directly asked, his conscience clean, why they had threatened Jing. His boss, the deputy head of the National Security Bureau, grew angry and pounded his desk, saying, “What’s the meaning of this—are you turning on us?” Afterwards Hao was locked up for more than 20 days in an isolation cell; the cell, though in a northern China jail and the temperature below freezing, had no heat.

Jiang Falls Ill

At the 5th Plenary Session of the 15th CCP National Congress, held Oct. 9–11, 2000, in Beijing, several members of the CCP’s Central Committee called into question the persecution of Falun Gong. They asked for an explanation of the campaign.

Among the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, four members—more than half—namely, Zhu Rongji, Hu Jintao, Li Ruihuan, and Wei Jianxing, opposed continuation of the persecution of Falun Gong. Meanwhile the former head of the People’s Congress, Qiao Shi, expressed that he was disturbed by the killing of innocent Falun Gong adherents. He returned from some distance to Beijing and went to Tiananmen Square to see firsthand the beating and arrest of adherents that he had heard about. The Premier of the State Council, Zhu Rongji, went in person to the fifth department of the Beijing Public Safety Bureau and urged public safety officials, “Don’t make it any harder than it already is for Falun Gong practitioners!”

Jiang began to grow worried, with depression even setting in, reportedly, upon seeing that things were no longer favorable for him. On the last day of 2000, Jiang Mianheng, Jiang’s oldest son, then in Shenzhen, received an urgent notice from the CCP’s central office asking him to return to Beijing asap. It happened that at 9 p.m. that night Jiang had experienced a heart attack and had been taken, after his doctor’s appraisal, to the emergency room of Hospital 301.

Jiang’s medical problems seemed to give opposition a small window of opportunity. Immediately following Jiang’s admittance to the hospital the Politburo convened a meeting. On Jan. 2, the Politburo met to discuss political system reform and the matter of Falun Gong. At the meeting a tense exchange took place between reformers and conservatives, only to have the two sides end up in stalemate. The window of opportunity was thus missed and Jiang’s program of suppression continued.

The Collusion of Jiang and Luo

Even in his hospital bed Jiang was thinking about one question: how to turn the public’s sentiments against the so-called “evil cult” of Falun Gong and incite widespread hatred.

Jiang racked his brain to come up with ways to set Falun Gong up as an “evil cult.” On Oct. 25, 1999, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Jiang referred to Falun Gong for the first time as an “evil cult” (xiejiao). That same year at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, Jiang personally handed the president of the United States and other leaders booklets attempting to discredit Falun Gong. He even seized upon the opportunity of an interview with CBS’s Mike Wallace to libel Falun Gong, claiming, misleadingly, “Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have committed suicide.” Media in mainland China didn’t dare to report this specific part of the interview, fearing Jiang would be seen through and ridiculed.

Jiang thus summoned Luo Gan for many a secret meeting, plotting how to incite public hatred toward the still-popular meditation group.

Back in May 1999 when the persecution of Falun Gong was still in its preparatory stage, Jiang and Luo on one occasion planned a chilling “special action.” First the Central Committee’s General Office issued a document claiming that 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners were planning to commit “group suicide” in Xiangshan, Beijing’s western suburb. The document was then purposefully leaked to overseas media for dissemination. Then local police, plainclothes police, and infiltrators spread the word to Falun Gong adherents that there would be a large “gathering” in Xiangshan. Along with this army troops were dispatched to Xiangshan, and armed riot police were positioned there in hiding. The whole thing was an elaborate trap. Falun Gong practitioners were meant to be lured to there, to Xiangshan, where they would be murdered. The scene would then be portrayed in state-run media propaganda as a tragic “collective suicide” or “failed suicide.” Jiang would then have grounds to label Falun Gong an “evil cult,” and efforts to frame and suppress the group could expand with ease. But as it turned out, not a single Falun Gong practitioner went to Xiangshan. Three times between May 1 and Sept. 9 police and plainclothes police changed the “gathering date” they passed on to Falun Gong practitioners, hoping for better results. Nothing came of the ploy in the end.

Collective acts of cult suicide are well known, of course. But the teachings of Falun Gong are very specific in forbidding killing of any form, suicide included. Followers of Falun Gong in China were clear on this principle, despite that Jiang’s regime had banned all books and materials related to the practice (even confiscating and destroying millions of items) and blocked off all websites related to Falun Gong. Enticing adherents into collective suicide just wasn’t going to work.

After repeated failures to entrap Falun Gong practitioners, Jiang sought out Luo Gan several times to secretly discuss ways to create a bombshell that would demonize Falun Gong. Luo gave Jiang a guarantee that this time, he would succeed.

Luo started off by sowing some seeds of misinformation. On Dec. 29, 2000, the government-run Xinhua News Agency ran—acting on directives from the Central Committee’s 6-10 office—an anonymous news story that told of a “failed group suicide” by Falun Gong members. The vague report failed to disclose the names of any persons allegedly involved, the details of the event, or even its location. The report claimed that the adherents had been “instigated” and plotted a collective suicide sometime near New Year’s Day. The report was meant to prepare readers for what was to come.

A Bizarre “Self-Immolation”

Jan. 23, 2001, was New Year’s Eve in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, a day of celebration. Thousands of families busied themselves hanging lanterns and calligraphy welcoming the first spring of the new century.

But on Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the nation, clouds of smoke suddenly billowed that day. Something was on fire. Or someone. What unfolded was a bizarre tragedy the likes of which hadn’t occurred before: several people were ablaze on the Square. A man and four women reportedly from Henan Province had doused themselves with gasoline and set themselves afire.

Within a minute of the fires breaking out one woman was reportedly dead; the flames engulfing the other four figures were said to have been extinguished within “a minute and half.” Police vans were seen “rushing to the scene like lightning” and carrying off the four charred figures for emergency rescue. Less than two hours later the state-run Xinhua News broadcast around the world—in English, notably—news that all five persons involved were Falun Gong practitioners. The group had allegedly attempted “self-immolation” on the Square.

Right on the heels of that broadcast, CCTV aired the several scenes from the event. The first involved a dazed-looking 12-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman who had supposedly listened to “demonic instructions” and “stupidly burned themselves in an evil fire,” as the Chinese media put it. The little girl, badly charred, had wanted to “elevate to heaven,” the news explained, showing her face covered with blisters. Footage showed the girl calling out in agony for “mom.” Even as she lay in her hospital bed she extended her little hand, fingers charred by the fire, and said that she wanted to “go to heaven.”

Once broadcast, the disturbing, tragic scenes stirred up tremendous anger in China. Animosity toward Falun Gong surged, with most people quickly forgetting all the good they had come to see in the practice and its practitioners. People forgot what they had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves, as if the government’s claims were more reliable. Such was the emotional power of the images CCTV put together. The state’s propaganda machinery had now emerged from its period of lull with a vengeance. Personalities of every sort appeared on state-run television to condemn Falun Gong. As they spoke CCTV would insert periodically, for added effect, a chilling scene or two from the immolations.

Jiang could finally let out a long sigh of relief at seeing all of this. But he wasn’t about to let down his guard; he wanted an absolute victory. Jiang ordered media to keep up the propaganda blitz and keep the topic hot.

At Jiang’s instruction all media outlets in China, large or small, thus launched a new campaign of criticism targeting Falun Gong. The general office of the CCP’s Central Committee issued a notice declaring that a nationwide political movement be launched to “further expose and criticize the true face of the Falun Gong evil cult.” In the four days following Jan. 23 (the day of the immolation), Xinhua News Agency and China News Agency published online 107 and 64 articles, respectively, criticizing and condemning Falun Gong. State-run media claimed that “the public” in at least 14 provinces, municipalities, and regions had come forward in droves to denounce the Falun Gong. Leaders in the Party, government, and military along with civic groups of every variety were required to show support for the Central Committee’s “wise decision.” Local-level organizations were required, meanwhile, to organize “criticism meetings,” big and small, to condemn “the unspeakable crimes of the evil cult.” Daily CCTV broadcast interviews with people from various walks of life who showed support, replaying the segments often enough to ensure no eyes or ears were missed. The goal was to have everyone come to hate Falun Gong.

Many Suspicious Features

From the day when news of the immolation broke, overseas media and Falun Gong websites called into question the veracity of the incident and Chinese media accounts.

One analysis was particularly revealing. It featured a slow-motion replay of immolation footage in which was clearly visible a police officer dealing a crippling blow to the head of Liu Chunling, the woman who died on the scene; a heavy object was in the officer’s hand. The widely viewed video titled, Self-immolation or Deception? took CCTV’s footage of the incident and analyzed it with the help of slow-motion technology. A subsequent documentary False Fire, produced by New Tang Dynasty Television (January 2002), received an honorary award at the 51st Columbus International Film Festival. Falun Gong practitioners inside China made use of the revealing analyses and clandestinely tapped into China’s television programming to air the truth. Jiang was terrified of these programs and ordered that no effort be spared to block them from coming into China. On the evening of March 5, 2002, Falun Gong adherents in Changchun City intercepted the signals of eight television channels and broadcast 45 minutes of the programs. Jiang reacted violently and quickly, even as Kuhn tells it in his biography; to this we will return in Chapter 19.

The documentary Self-immolation or Deception? offered the following points in its analysis. We cite them here in full, owing to their poignancy.

  1. If we analyze state-run CCTV’s video footage in slow motion, we discover that immolation victim Liu Chunling was not in fact burned to death but murdered on the scene.
  2. Xinhua News claimed that Liu Chunling burned to death. But with the help of slow motion we can see that while Liu was flailing about, on fire, someone hit her over the head with an object. Liu fell to the ground instantly, and an object bounced ricocheted off the back of her skull; the object flew several meters and landed heavily. What killed Liu then? If we freeze the film we can see an arm swinging close to Liu’s head—the arm of a man in a thick police coat. It was he who hit her with the object, and after the blow we can see his outstretched arm, still in place.
  3. As for the object that flew off from the back of Liu’s head, some said it was the deadly weapon, some said it was Liu’s hair, and still others Liu’s clothing. But all the same, the item did not come forth from the gas emitted from the fire extinguisher being used at that time; in fact it flew up into the air in the direction of the policeman who was holding the fire extinguisher. This indicates that the object did not come from the fire extinguisher, but instead was some type of object that ricocheted off of Liu’s head after it was dealt a blow. The fact that we can see that the object appears to be bent as it flies through the air suggests just how heavy was the blow to Liu’s skull and how forceful the assailant’s attack. We can even make out Liu’s left hand instinctively reaching toward her head, where she was struck, as she falls to the ground.

Twelve days after the incident The Washington Post ran a front-page story titled, “Human Fire Ignites Chinese Mystery: Motive for Public Burning Intensifies Fight Over Falun Gong.” The article detailed the findings of the Post’s reporter Phillip Pan, who traveled to Kaifeng, China—the hometown of the slain immolator Liu Chunling. Pan found, surprisingly, that “None ever saw her practice Falun Gong.” Then what really was at work in the immolation?

First we should note that the CCTV’s footage of the immolation was riddled with inconsistencies. Beyond the matter of Liu being struck by an apparent policeman, one finds the following.

  1. There were at that time no fire extinguishers present on Tiananmen Square, and police did not then as a practice carry fire extinguishers while on their patrol. How, then, in the span of but a few minutes could a dozen or more fire extinguishers and a fire extinguishing blanket suddenly arrive on the scene? That is, unless they knew in advance…
  2. The words shouted out by Wang Jindong at the time of his immolation and aired on CCTV was recorded so clearly that the recording distance had to be within 10 meters. Unless cameras were ready and in place before the incident, the sounds and details couldn’t have been captured so perfectly, as the whole episode lasted no more than a minute or so from beginning to end, according to official reports.
  3. The severely burned young girl, Liu Siying, reportedly had to have a tracheotomy performed as a result of the damage her respiratory tract suffered. But after the supposed operation a CCTV reporter interviewed her for the station’s “Focus Interview” program and Liu, miraculously, could speak normally and even sang for the camera. This would be medically impossible following a tracheotomy.
  4. In the CCTV’s program Wang Jindong, who shouted out the strange remark on Tiananmen Square while seated, clearly had a plastic Sprite bottle in his lap; the shot was filmed after the flames that had consumed him were extinguished. In the footage Wang’s clothes were singed, head to toe, and yet the plastic bottle on this lap—supposedly filled with gasoline—was not even slightly deformed or damaged from the heat of the raging fire that had only moments before engulfed him.

These and other inconsistencies have led people to suspect that the whole affair was in fact choreographed by Chinese authorities.

Shortly after it happened that while a female reporter for CCTV’s “Focus Interview” program was interviewing people at the Tuanhe Labor Camp about the self-immolation, one Falun Gong prisoner of conscience there, Zhao Ming, raised the matter of the Sprite bottle. The reporter, named Li Yuqiang, responded to the quirk candidly, saying, “We shot that scene after the fact. If it looks suspicious we’ll stop showing it.” What was CCTV doing shooting scenes “after the fact”? Why would Wang Jindong—someone supposedly so crazed and zealous as to set himself on fire as an act of defiance—cooperate so fully with CCTV’s wish to re-shoot the scene? This again points to some form of conspiracy at work.

On Aug. 14, 2001, at a meeting of the United Nations the NGO International Education Development made a formal statement which declared, “The Chinese regime points to a supposed self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on Jan. 23, 2001, as proof to slander Falun Gong. However, we have obtained a video of that incident that in our view proves that this event was staged by the government. We have copies of this video here and those interested can pick up a copy.”

Soon after the immolation incident a popular novel that had been published 10 years prior, Yellow Disaster (Huang Huo), was, curiously enough, banned throughout China. It would seem the supposed self-immolation on Tiananmen Square bore surprising resemblance to an episode in Yellow Disaster. In chapter two of the novel someone pays off terminally ill persons to burn themselves, and then uses the incident to frame opponents in a politically-motivated persecution. Could Jiang and company have drawn inspiration from the incident in Yellow Disaster? Why the sudden ban?

We could count among the victims of the Tiananmen immolation millions of Chinese citizens, for through Jiang’s devious plot countless persons were fooled. Jiang planted hatred toward Falun Gong in their hearts, and cleared the path for killing Falun Gong practitioners. Using modern technology and propaganda techniques, Jiang deceived and incited hatred in millions of people—a shameful act the likes of which had probably never been seen before.

However, all that Jiang accomplished was the product of lies and deceit. And it is for this reason the immolation might ultimately prove his undoing. That is, when the intense emotions stirred by the immolation propaganda recede, people will be able to sift the facts out from amidst the falsehoods, and it might take as little as one flyer from a Falun Gong supporter to trigger the epiphany.

Jiang knew full well that should the truth come to light his treachery, cruelty, and cunning would be exposed. Nothing was more frightening to Jiang than this, and it was thus that he did his best to bury the truth. The Tiananmen immolation hence became Jiang’s Achilles heel. His carefully crafted “lethal weapon” had now become a time bomb. As an ancient proverb has it, “Man’s plans are no match for those of Heaven.”

3. A Short-Lived Anthrax Scare

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, counter-terrorism concerns became a priority in the West. Jiang hoped to take advantage of this.

For several consecutive years, however, Jiang had been named “an enemy of the press” and called a “human rights scoundrel” by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. It seemed just about whatever Jiang did was criticized and every time he traveled abroad he would meet with protest. When Jiang saw that the West was keen on fighting terrorism, he reasoned that if he could brand those groups he didn’t like—such as Falun Gong—”terrorist” organizations, his quashing of them would jibe with the Western world. Who could oppose him, then?

Soon after 9-11 an anthrax scare occurred in the U.S. when powder containing the deadly virus was sent via postal mail. Jiang figured that an opportunity had arrived. Falun Gong practitioners by that time were sending large quantities of informational mailings throughout China exposing Jiang’s unlawful suppression (including the self-immolation incident). This was perhaps Jiang’s biggest headache, and so he hoped that by linking Falun Gong with things “terrorist” he might in effect stop the informational mailings.

Thus on Oct. 18 of the same year (2001), the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sun Yuxi, claimed at a press briefing two days prior two envelopes had been mailed to China that were suspected of containing anthrax. While Sun didn’t reveal any details, he did suggestively drop word of one of the envelope’s supposed contents: Falun Gong informational materials.

Jiang’s Mouthpiece, Mingpao

The Hong Kong-based newspaper Mingpao was the first to cover the alleged anthrax mailing. On Oct. 17, Mingpao reported that Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Sun had said at a routine press briefing the previous day that China was taking active measures to stop anthrax from entering the country. According to the Mingpao report, Sun said with total confidence, “About anthrax, we’ve made an investigation and not found any cases of it. In the event of an incident relevant government departments will enhance those preventive measures already in effect.”

The CCP had its reasons when it fed Mingpao the scoop on the matter. Mingpao had nearly 50 years of history in Hong Kong and had established distribution outlets in Canada and both the east and west coasts of the U.S. As such people normally wouldn’t associate the paper with the bidding of the CCP. But the reality is, Mingpao has long had close relations with the CCP. One need look back no further than one year ago for evidence. On April 28, 2004, when the west coast edition of Mingpao was launched in the U.S., the Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, Peng Yuke, attended the ceremony and gave a congratulatory speech.

As soon as Mingpao‘s report came out, many persons living outside of China began to wonder what Sun was implying. Was Sun implying that if anthrax were to appear in China, it would have to have come from abroad? The hunch was right. The very next day Sun said China had found anthrax that “originated overseas.” Mingpao promptly reported this.

The next day, Oct. 18, Mingpao published an article, titled “China confirms two suspicious pieces of mail found, one envelope sent to Chinese employee at U.S.-based company.” Sun didn’t reveal the name or location of the company, however, nor did he explain from where the envelope originated.

The news was odd in many regards, not the least of which was its lack of basic news elements. The reason for this, sources have said, was that Jiang Zemin, Zeng Qinghong, and Luo Gan—who were behind the whole affair—hadn’t figured out a number of details, such as which country, were they to allege it was the source of the anthrax, would give them the least trouble; which U.S. company was the safest to identify; and who should be pinned as the alleged recipient of the mail and least likely to expose the hoax.

Days passed and yet still no information of any detail surfaced.

Taking Aim at Falun Gong

The Mingpao report did say, “Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Sun Yuxi said the suspicious material sent to the U.S. company was found inside a Falun Gong booklet, and the Chinese government is paying much attention to this and has exercised cleaning and quarantine measures. The Ministry of Health has also started an investigation.”

The real motive behind the news was clear: to by means of an anthrax scare escalate the framing of Falun Gong from that of a suicidal group to that of murderers. The hope was that not only would the general public dislike Falun Gong, but furthermore fear it and refuse its informational materials out of safety concerns.

But few are dumber than Jiang’s advisors. Overseas media immediately ran articles asking the rhetorical question that if the anthrax was sent inside a Falun Gong booklet, then isn’t it obvious that this was the work of someone who wanted to frame Falun Gong—and who (other than the CCP) would do something so foolish and shameful?

The Lie That Couldn’t Be Patched Up

Since Sun Yuxi’s remarks on Oct. 16 didn’t match up well with what Luo Gan wanted, things quickly turned embarrassing. At the routine press briefing on the 18th Sun tried to get back on track by saying, “Related departments discovered on Oct. 16 two pieces of mail suspected of containing anthrax, one of which was sent to an employee at a U.S. company. China’s State Postal Bureau sent an urgent notice on the 18th requiring that no material containing white power should be mailed in the near future so as to prevent anthrax from entering the postal circuit.”

The CCP’s mouthpieces in China quickly hopped on board and pitched in. On the 18th, Xinhua Net ran a story declaring, “To prevent anthrax from entering China, postal system forbids mailing of white powder,” and “State Postal Bureau decides no white power can be sent in the near future.” Major newspapers throughout China then ran similar articles. Sun Yuxi stated that, “The Chinese government is paying serious attention to the matter, and health and disease prevention departments have quarantined and sterilized those people and areas that came into contact with the suspicious powder.”

Curiously the supposed anthrax was discovered on the 16th, but the postal bureau was so negligent as to issue an urgent notice only on the 18th; that is, only two days later did the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reveal to the media and its trusted friend abroad, reported Mingpao. And only on the 19th did many Chinese media start to carry news about the matter. If true, this would have been a bombshell of devastating proportions, yet the CCP was very slow in its response—something in sharp contrast to the CCP’s usual style. For example news of the supposed self-immolation was publicized within a matter of a couple hours. According to information from CCP insiders, Luo Gan felt that it was impractical to continue to try to use anthrax to frame Falun Gong.

If what the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed about the anthrax had been true, several questions would have followed immediately. For example:

  1. As an incidence of terrorism, the matter should have been dealt with by the public security system. Why was it handled then by the postal bureau?
  2. If anthrax was discovered when mail was opened, whoever opened the envelope and discovered it would have been contaminated. In the U.S., the virus was discovered and verified after people displayed symptoms, but China had not acknowledged any cases of infection. Were they trying to say that it was a different strain of anthrax, one that was asymptomatic?
  3. Persons contaminated would be admitted to the hospital, and the hospital would be expected to immediately report the matter to the public security system. Why did we see only the postal bureau discussing the matter then?
  4. Media reported that no less than 36 people were infected by anthrax in the U.S., while other places around the world were living under the shadow of anthrax scare. With a virus as terrifying as this, any country that discovered a case would immediately implement emergency measures and have relevant media report on things. How come the CCP overlooked this critical step?
  5. Why did the CCP only mention that someone had discovered “mail suspected of containing anthrax” which was sent in “Falun Gong informational materials” and not explain more basic facts such as from which country it was sent, which employee opened it, and at what company?

An Embarrassing End

On Oct. 23, the Public Security Bureau had to announce that the two suspected envelopes did not, after investigation, in fact contain anthrax.

On Oct. 24, Sun Yuxi said, “About the suspicious mail, initially the white powder was found in envelopes and suspected of possibly containing anthrax. Now, after careful testing, it has been verified that the mail doesn’t contain anthrax. The company involved requested that we not report further on it. We respect their wishes. We can responsibly tell everyone that inside China we have not found anyone to have been infected by anthrax.”

Overseas print media and online news quickly accused the CCP of using the underhanded means of supposed “anthrax-tainted mail” to frame up Falun Gong.

According to sources inside the CCP, Sun Yuxi received a stern warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for he had “misspoke and could not remedy things in time, thus incurring negative consequences in terms of foreign relations.” Later Sun was sent off to Afghanistan to act as Ambassador shortly after the war there had concluded and there was still much unrest. Clearly officialdom was upset over his performance.

4. Overseas Falun Gong Practitioners Went to Tiananmen Square

Although Luo Gan didn’t do everything perfectly in the immolation farce and there were many flaws in it, Jiang was nonetheless quite satisfied. After all, when the audience is inside China, something like a problem or discrepancy was easy to fix once discovered. China’s citizens have been watching CCTV for decades, and had long since grown to trust what it says. Along with this fact, at the time of the immolation the CCTV had run a series of popular exposé-type programs. Little could people imagine that authorities would use a method as public, contemptible, and cruel as rigging up a self-immolation to frame Falun Gong. Before the immolation ordinary citizens didn’t know about the deep hatred Jiang felt toward Falun Gong and couldn’t have guessed that this was an elaborate plot to carry out a vendetta. Therefore, when the “self-immolation” incident first came out, the average person’s kindness was given a huge jolt by the tragic scenes, and the media propaganda only fanned it even more. The government’s “indignation” and “condemnation” of something it had actually orchestrated thus played well to people’s sympathies. The whole country seemed to have ignored the facts of the case, and many people passively accepted the “evil cult” label Jiang put on Falun Gong. People who didn’t know the truth of what had happened angrily joined the growing crowd of voices condemning Falun Gong.

But this state of affairs, so satisfying to Jiang, would prove short-lived.

At 2 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2001, as if coming from the sky, 36 persons of American and European descent from 12 different countries converged on Tiananmen Square, gathering 30 meters south of the square’s flagpole. They formed two rows, sat quietly on the ground with their legs crossed, and started to do the meditation of Falun Gong. Those in the back row then unfurled a large banner on which were emblazoned three words in both English and Chinese: “Truth, Compassion, Tolerance” (Zhen Shan Ren). The purpose of their trip was to “make a plea to China’s leaders and seek an end to the violence and terror they have waged against Falun Gong.”

“It was the most powerful and most solemn event I have ever witnessed in my life,” said participant Joel Chipkar. “What I saw was over 30 people simply trying to express themselves.”

Another participant, Alejandro Centurion, later described, “Within a minute police cars roared in and had surrounded us. The practitioners who were protesting were beaten, arrested, and dragged off by police.”

Although the protest lasted for only one minute before police arrived, the act stirred persons all around the globe. Major media quickly did a range of interviews and reports on the group and its participants. Many of the 36, now considered heroes by many for their courage, didn’t know one another. The way they set it up it was quite simple. The message went: “At exactly 2 p.m. on Nov. 20, we will meditate together south of the flagpole on Tiananmen Square. Anyone who wants to join can come.”

“I only knew a few people in the group,” said one participant of Israeli decent. “We really didn’t know how many practitioners would actually show up. When we arrived we began looking for others.”

“We wanted the Chinese people to know that Falun Gong is being practiced all around the world and that persecution is not acceptable. We wanted the Chinese people to know that practitioners from all over the world have come to help and to explain that Jiang’s government is lying to them.”

The Tiananmen demonstration by the group from the West was an enormous shock to Jiang. Although its scale wasn’t comparable to the public gathering involving 10,000 on April 25, 1999, the fact was that now Westerners from 12 countries had voiced their protest at the symbolic heart of China—the first and only time something of the sort was done in the CCP’s ruling history. Things were getting out of hand as Jiang saw it.

Jiang had at the time been hoping to extend his persecution of Falun Gong throughout the world. At the 1999 APEC Summit meeting, as mentioned, he personally gave booklets denouncing Falun Gong to the leaders of other nations. After the immolation Jiang had hoped he could disseminate the incriminating label of “evil cult” more widely.

But Western society, what with its freedom of the press, is an altogether different entity from autocratic China, where there is only one voice: that of the CCP. The group of 36 who gathered on Tiananmen quickly became the focus of media in a number of countries, but unlike the immolation victims, they were not acting under the CCP’s control. If they stayed in China longer, international media would keep their focus on China and the protest. If things dragged on even the masses in China would started to hear about it—something Jiang had tried to block via a media blackout on the event. If China’s people were to analyze and evaluate the persecution, as the protest might have spurred them to do, the effect of immolation—so carefully engineered by Jiang—would be spoiled. It could even be turned against him.

For example, the people of China might ask a number of questions. “The government says Falun Gong isn’t welcomed outside of China or is even banned, so how come these foreigners practice Falun Gong?” “The government says Falun Gong ‘endangers society’ and ‘harms human beings,’ so why aren’t Western nations concerned about this ‘threat’?” “Why is Falun Gong attractive to people of other races and cultures?”

The more Jiang thought about all this, the more scared he became. He thus quickly ordered the group of westerners expelled from China without even a day’s delay. Back during the gathering on April 25, 1999, Falun Gong practitioners had showed a high degree of self-discipline—something Jiang used as evidence that the event was “well-organized” and carefully planned. Similar to the April gathering, this time around the gathering in Tiananmen caught the National Security Bureau by surprise. This time, however, Jiang had no desire to probe the matter. After only 20 some hours of interrogation the group from around the world was deported and told they couldn’t enter China for five years. The state press published only one, extremely low-key story about the protest, saying that several Westerners were “making trouble” on Tiananmen Square and were “dealt with in a timely fashion” and deported.

This time Jiang’s fears were not groundless. The group’s gathering on Tiananmen sparked a round of interviews and stories detailing the CCP’s suppression of Falun Gong. Jiang’s dream of demonizing Falun Gong around the globe was shattered.

The Tiananmen demonstration enkindled in the West newfound concern over human rights in China. Fearing what was unfolding Jiang decided to change strategy: henceforth the persecution of Falun Gong would be covert, not overt. State reports condemning Falun Gong lessened, but behind the scenes cruel persecution only intensified. With time the persecution went fully underground.

The Tiananmen protest generated an enduring photo. The image was captured by Canadian Falun Gong practitioner Joel Chipkar using a hidden camera. Chipkar managed to safely leave the scene after taking the shot. The photo captured the group of 36 as they unfurled the banner, just before police arrived.

Later John Nania, another who participated in the gathering, said, “This photo is very interesting. I was surprised when a translator told me that at the center of the photo, behind the 36 practitioners who were born and who live in different countries, behind our “Truth, Compassion, Tolerance” banner, was the slogan that was written on the east side of Tiananmen, which said, ‘The Great unity of the people from the whole world.’ This was not by accident.”

Indeed it would seem too much for coincidence. Many feel that it won’t be long before the whole world’s people come together to oppose the persecution. In fact, this may have in fact begun.



[1] Meetings were arranged by Party officials at various levels—and attendance in some cases even mandated—for the explicit purpose of “studying” the doctrine and so-called “Jiang Zemin Theory.”
[2] That is, by selling blood to blood-bank operations that failed to practice hygienic means of collection and thus infected farmers. In many cases the government has not held responsible parties accountable or compensated victims.
[3] In Chinese the word for “represents” (as in “Three Represents”) is same as for “representative.”
[4] Li Hua, “Zhuanfang Hao Fengjun: 6-10 Ban Heimu Da Jiedi” (Exclusive Interview with Hao Fengjun: Unmasking the 6-10 Office). Epoch Times Chinese, June 14, 2005.
[5] Jing, for example, while meditating one day peered into the molecular structure of certain materials and afterwards, drawing on what he saw, patented his insights.

From The Epoch Times

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