The Tragicomedy of the Overseas Chinese Democratic Movement

Normally, the ESWN site takes no interest at all in the overseas Chinese democracy movement whatsoever.  Once upon a time, when Sun Yat-sen worked to overthrow the Manchurian dynasty, he had broad support among the Chinese Diaspora (in Hong Kong, Japan, the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia).  Today, though, the overseas Chinese democracy movement just does not have that level of support in the Chinese Diaspora.  Who is to blame?  Less about the Communist Red Terror than the democratic activists themselves.  The following is the translation of an interview with one retired activist who seemed willing to speak his mind.

Is this interviewee trustworthy?  It does not matter, really.  You can talk to any of the other people in the long cast of characters.  They will probably give you a completely different spin as to who the heroes and villains are, but the essential descriptions of the environment will be the same: a small number of democratic activists, maybe as few as 100 in total around the world; a confusing number of organizations (note: I kept think back to the Judean People's Front vs the Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea in Monty Python's Life of Brian); manipulation and control by governments, intelligence services and organizations (China, Taiwan, United States, a certain religious cult); the primacy of procuring resources over all other goals and objectives; internecine backstabbing; deceptions and betrayals; fighting for media coverage; etc.

A reading tip: Do not try to keep track of the persons and the characters, because it is not worth the trouble.  Instead, stay focus on the question: What has any of this got to do with promoting democracy in China?

(6Park) An interview with Lin Qiaoqing (林樵清), who was a very famous member of the overseas Chinese democracy movement, being the founder and leader of a number of organizations.  All this time, he had been an agent of the Taiwan intelligence service.  He is now retired.

Chen Bai (陈 白):  The changes in the political situation in Taiwan affects the overseas democratic movement.  Since the Democratic Progressive Party (民进党) assumed power, Wei Jingsheng (魏京生) was ignored by Taiwan, while Wang Dan (王丹) and Cho Changqing (曹长青) got lucky and received large amounts of funds.  How do you see it?

Lin Qiaoqing: It was inevitable that Wei Jingsheng would go out of favor.  Although he supports Taiwan independence, and he even said "Even Shandong province can become independent," he is too egotistical and unreliable, and therefore impossible to work with.  We worked so hard to get funding for the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (联席会议).  But he took all the money for himself and then he kicked us out in order to cohabitate with Huang Ciping (黄慈萍).

Chen:  It is said that Wei Jingsheng has no friends anymore in the overseas democratic circle.  The Taiwan National Security Bureau characterized him as "lacking ability to do things" and he only has "propaganda" value.

Lin: Anyone whom he does not like, he calls them "Communist spies", including Xu Wenli (徐文立), Wang Cizhe (王希哲), Bao Ge (鲍戈), Wang Juntao (王軍濤), Wang Dan and myself.  Later on, he even loudly condemned Xue Wei (薛偉), Ni Yuxian (倪育賢) and Qi Mo (齊墨) as "Taiwan dog spies."  Huang Ciping is not having a good time right now, and her eyes are often red from the constant crying.

Chen: The US National Endowment for Democracy refused to fund Wei Jingsheng, and now they have cut off funding to Wang Dan and Wang Juntao's Press Free Guide.  What is the deal here?

Lin: Wei Jingsheng' organization -- Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition -- was too politicized, and that is why the Americans don't want to publicly support it.  The reason why Press Free Guide has it funding cut off is probably because Wang Dan and Wang Juntao had been hooking up with Taiwan to foster independence over there.

Chen: Wang Dan and Wang Juntao claimed that Press Free Guide is a platform formed by more than 100 Chinese media workers in the United States to pursue the ideals of democracy and freedom after June 4.  The Americans should not have cut off the funding just to save money.

Lin: The funding stoppage had nothing to do with the NED wanting to save any money.  In recent years, the budget for the NED has grown a lot.  They only give Press Free Guide some tens of thousand of US dollars per year, just enough to pay for the editor Wu Renhua (吳仁華)'s salary.  Of course, the so-called "more than one hundred media workers" is obviously false, and they have no more than a handful of people.

Chen: Wu Hongda (吴弘达)'s Labor Reform Foundation (劳改基金会) and Observe China (中国观察) website, Tan Jingchang (譚競嫦)'s Human Rights In China and Huaxiabao can get hundreds of thousands of US dollars from the NED.  It is a big difference.

Lin: When the NED administrator evaluates the proposals for funding from overseas democratic proponents, they often consult with Wu Hongda and Liu Qing (刘青).  Neither Wu nor Liu want to see anyone else get money, so they always erect some obstacles.  The Chinese Development Alliance (中国发展联合会) and Dacankao (大参考) were hoping to get some funding, but Liu Qing and Wu Hongda barred them.

Chen:  Supposedly, Liu Qing and Wu Hongda have split away from Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan.  In the battle between the two sides, Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan lost and so Liu Qing and Wu Hongda won the fight for the "resources."

Lin: The greatest tragedy of the overseas democratic movement is that your "own people" are often your most deadly enemy.  China Spring (中国之春) once had large amounts of secret funds from Taiwan.  Xu Bangtai (徐邦泰) and Wu Fan (伍凡) seized the money and refused to hand it over according to procedure, so the organization was split up.  Afterwards, Wu Fan and Wang Deyao fell out with Xu Bangtai and revealed Xu's corruption problems.  Taiwan wanted no part of any of this, and they cut off the funding altogether.

Chen: When Taiwan cut off the funds, they could no longer continue.  So they had to accede to Taiwan's demands on reorganization in order to get funded again.  Actually, this is one way for Taiwan to resolve the fights among overseas democracy organization.

Lin:  Yes.  The DPP government in Taiwan used this method to elevate Zhang Weiguo and Wang Dan to become the "publishers" of China Spring and Beijing Spring (北京之春) respectively.  At the moment, Taiwan is nurturing three major projects: Xue Wei (薛伟) and Wang Dan's Beijing Spring, Tan Jingchang and Hu Ping (胡平)'s Human Rights in China and Wang Juntao and Chen Pokong (陈破空)'s Friends of Constitutional Politics (宪政之友).

Chen: In the United States, the Falun Gong and the Tibetan independence movement are far more powerful than the overseas Chinese democratic movements  The Falun Gong started the "Resign from the Party" movement, and seems to have overtaken the overseas democratic movement.  Taiwan is definitely counting on the Falun Gong, and have set up appropriate projects to fund them.

Lin: There are not many people in the overseas democratic movement.  It adds up to only 100 people around the world, but somehow there are forty to fifty different organizations.  Whenever they attack each other, they label the other as "Communist spies" and this gives Taiwan a headache.  There is no such problem with Falun Gong.  Tang Baiqiao (唐柏桥) is very smart, and he jumped ahead of Xue Wei and Liu Qing to collaborate with the Falun Gong.  No wonder Liu Qing must let Ni Yuxian oppose Tang.

Chen: The bottom line is that the internal fights within the overseas democratic movement are always about 'resources'.  You can only get financial support if you prove that you are the "mainstream" while everybody else is not, and then you can protect your own interests.

Lin: Liu Qing is a master in this.  He inserted Wei Quanbao (魏泉宝) inside the Justice Party (正义党) and Chen Pokong with Wang Dan first and later with Peng Ming (彭明), Wang Juntao and Wang Dan to serve as spies and agent provocateur and then caused them to fold completely.

Chen: Xu Shuiliang (徐水良) had classified the overseas democratic movement into: "hooligan democratic movement", "proper democratic movement", "spy democratic movement" and "mainstream democratic movement."  He also said that many overseas democratic organizations are led by the Chinese communists and that more than half of these people are "Communist spies."  Is that an exaggeration?

Lin: If you say that someone else is a spy, then you mustn't be a spy; if you say that someone else is a hooligan, then you must be proper; if everybody else has problems, then you must be the "mainstream" or "core" of the overseas democratic movement.  That was probably Xu Shuiliang's logic.  Of course, Xu Shuliang was being exploited by Liu Qing and Xue Wei most of the time.

Chen: Liu Qing and Xue Wei were brilliant in using Xu Shuiliang's voice to smear any number of famous people.  Sometimes, Liu Qing uses Chen Pokong while Xue We uses Zhang Qing (张菁) to slander and smear other people.

Lin: Actually, Liu Qing and Xue Wei have never treated Xu Shuiliang as a 'friend.'  When Xu became the president of the Chinese Alliance for Democracy as well as a "democratic movement theoretician", he was not admitted into the Beijing Spring group, so he could not even get his name listed in the organization's publication.  Also, Human Rights In China and Civilian Political Discourse (公民议政) will not admit him either.  Anything that pays in terms of money and fame is out of bounds for him.

Chen: Xu Shuiliang said that the World Journal (世界日报) is a Communist propaganda tool.  If that newspaper praises someone, that person must be problematic; if the newspaper disparages someone, that person must be a 'true friend.'  He condemned the World Journal for carrying information on Bao Ge and Xie Fangjun (谢万军) and the Justice Party.

Lin: Xu is a representative of the democratic movement.  But the World Journal published the news of his arrival in the United States very briefly.  By contrast, when Bao Ge's mother came to the United States, the World Journal repeatedly reported on her.  First, they reported how she got a passport,  Then Zeng Huiyan (曾慧燕) wrote a long report that Bao Ge's mother will be arriving.  Then, they published a report and a color photograph of Bao hugging his mother at the airport.

Chen: I can't quite believe that the World Journal is a "propaganda tool of the Chinese Communists."  Back then, when the Lee Tenghui (李登辉) government of Taiwan funded Wang Ruowang (王若望) to hold the meeting to merge the Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Front, the 80,000 US dollars was distributed by the World Journal in two separate payments.

Lin: Zeng Huiyan reported on Bao Ge being happy about Beijing winning the bid for the 2008 Olympics with a long article and a big headline, but she only made a brief mention of how Wei Jingsheng, Wu Honda and the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars in the US (学自联) opposed the decision.  But I think that the World Journal must have a reason to do this.  After all, news is their profession.  Zeng Huiyan is unlikely to be a "Communist spy."

Chen: Tang Baiqiao said in the Epoch Times that the World Journal is "friendly towards the Communists."  This reminds me of what Xu Bangtai once said -- "Without the World Journal, there would be no overseas Chinese democratic movement.  The overseas Chinese democratic movement is actually the 'World Journal democratic movement'."

Lin: The Epoch Times was obviously happy to use Tang Baiqiao to attack the World Journal.  But when the democracy activists do that, the result is that they lose a lot of sympathy from the neutral media.  Liu Qing, Zhang Weiiguo (張偉國), Hu Ping, Lin Baohua (林保华) and Zhang Xianliang (張先樑) are editors, consultants and columnists for the Epoch Times.  Why won't they speak out themselves?  There was no point in offending the World Journal.

Chen: After Xu Wenli came out of China, he started the Democratic Party In Exile (民主党流亡党部) and the Alliance of Chinese Democratic Political Parties (中国民主政党联盟), but he did not seem to have accomplished anything effective, and he has not been able to unite the overseas "Chinese democratic parties."

Lin: If you want to get money from Taiwan, you must build an organization and set up a project.  In order to get the resources, Xu knew that Xue Wei was a spy from Taiwan intelligence, but he still turned over control of the Alliance of Political Parties to Xue.  That is immoral, and he has sold out the Alliance.  Xue Wei wanted mainly to use the Alliance to neutralize Wei Jingsheng's Chinese Alliance for Democracy and that is why he got along with Xu immediately.

Chen: Logically, Xue Wei should be propping up Wang Dan.  So why is he working with Xu Wenli instead?  When Xu Wenli, Wang Youcai (王有才) and Qin Yongmin (秦永敏) were sentenced in China, the North American edition of Beijing Spring refused to feature their photographs on the magazine's front cover.

Lin: Neither Xue Wei nor Liu Qing want to see Wang Dan accumulate any influence.  The revelations about Wang Dan's homosexuality were forwarded by them to Taiwan's TVBS Weekly.  The process was identical to what Liu Qing once did to Wei Jingsheng -- Liu gave negative information about Wei Jingsheng to The Wall Street Journal, so that Wei ended up being regarded as a mental patient.

Chen: You supported Wei Jingsheng setting up the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition.  Furthermore, you were supposed to get along very well with Wei Jingsheng's younger sister Wei Ling (魏玲).  Do you still communicate with them?

Lin:  The overseas democratic movement has disheartened me.  I have decided to withdraw completely and live out my remaining years in peace.  There are some people whom I regarded as friends, but they stabbed me in the back; there are those whom I injured by mistake, but they were actually good people in retrospect.  Wei Ling and Wei Xiaopeng were closer to me.  But then, we were just work associates.