‘Did We Stand on the Side of Tank Man?’: An Interview with Teng Biao

Teng-Biao

Mr. Teng rose to prominence more than a decade ago for taking on civil rights, religious freedom and other cases that eventually drew the ire of Chinese authorities. 

Felicia Sonmez writes: At a U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing in Washington on the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown this week, prominent tank-man-appeared-on-the-cover-of-time-19-june-1989Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao presented his listeners with a choice.

“They arrest the journalists, then the journalists who speak out for the arrested journalists, then the lawyers who defend the arrested journalists, and then the lawyers who defend the lawyers who defend the journalists.”

“History will require us to answer one question: Did we stand on the side of the ‘Tank Man,’ or on the side of the tank?” Mr. Teng said Wednesday, referring to the iconic photo of a lone man blocking a convoy of military vehicles during the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.

Mr. Teng isn’t from the generation that marched in Beijing and other cities 26 years ago; at the time he was a high school student at a county in northeastern China.

A Chinese protestor blocks a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Changan Blvd. June 5, 1989 in front of the Beijing Hotel. The man, calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way.

A Chinese protestor blocks a line of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Changan Blvd. June 5, 1989 in front of the Beijing Hotel. The man, calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way.

Mr. Teng rose to prominence more than a decade ago for taking on civil rights, religious freedom and other cases that eventually drew the ire of Chinese authorities. His law license was revoked in 2008; authorities have not publicly given a reason. He was harassed and in 2011 was detained for more than 70 days in an unknown location, with officials again declining to publicly address his treatment. He left the mainland in 2012 for Hong Kong.

[See the interview here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

A year ago, the normally soft-spoken Mr. Teng delivered a forceful speechin Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, declaring at a vigil commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown: “You can’t kill us all.”

“They arrest the journalists, then the journalists who speak out for the arrested journalists, then the lawyers who defend the arrested journalists, and then the lawyers who defend the lawyers who defend the journalists,”  he said at the time, describing a tightening of Beijing’s grip over civil society in China. Read the rest of this entry »


Asylum Fraud in Chinatown

chinatown-nyc

F.B.I. agents outside 2 East Broadway in Chinatown, an office raided in December 2012 during an investigation into immigration fraud. More than 30 people have been charged. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

An Industry of Lies

For the  NYTimes report:  A Chinese woman walked into a law office in New York’s Chinatown and asked to see her lawyer. She had applied for asylum, claiming that she had been forced to get an abortion in China to comply with the country’s family-planning laws, and she was anxious about her coming interview with immigration officials.

She had good reason to be worried: Her claim, invented by her lawyer’s associates, was false.

But the lawyer, John Wang, told her to relax. The process, he said, was straightforward, and as long as she memorized a few details, everything would be fine. “You are making yourself nervous,” he said in Mandarin. “All you would be asked is the same few rubbish questions.”

“Just make it up.”

…the lawyer added. The conversation, in December 2010, was secretly recorded by federal officials conducting a wide investigation of immigration fraud in New York’s Chinese population. The inquiry has led to the prosecution of at least 30 people — lawyers (including Mr. Wang), paralegals, interpreters and even an employee of a church, who is on trial, accused of coaching asylum applicants in basic tenets of Christianity to prop up their claims of religious persecution. All were charged with helping hundreds of Chinese immigrants apply for asylum using false tales of persecution.

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East Buys West: Wealthy Chinese Buyers Soak up California Housing, Cash is King

Zhang Pen | ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

Zhang Pen | ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

  writes:  At a brand new housing development in Irvine, Calif., some of America’s largest home builders are back at work after a crippling housing crash. LennarPulteK HovnanianRyland to name a few. It’s a rebirth for U.S. construction, but the customers are largely Chinese.

“They see the market here still has room for appreciation,” said Irvine-area real estate agent Kinney Yong, of RE/MAX Premier Realty. “What’s driving them over here is that they have this cash, and they want to park it somewhere or invest somewhere.”

Yong’s phone has been ringing off the hook, with more than 5,000 new homes slated for the nearby Great Park Neighborhood. Most of the calls are from overseas, but prospective buyers are not looking solely for financial returns on the real estate.

“We are seeing a lot of Asians who are buying as an investment, but their kids are going to school here, so kids live in the home. They are looking at it more as an investment in education,” said Emile Haddad, CEO of Fivepoint Communities, developer of the Great Park Neighborhood.

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How Jimmy Kimmel’s China Joke Became an Issue for the White House

Randy Holmes/AP Photo/ABC

Randy Holmes/AP Photo/ABC

It’s one thing for late-night comics to make jokes about the White House. But Jimmy Kimmel managed to offend so many people with a joke about China that the Obama administration is now officially compelled to respond.

On Oct. 16, Kimmel aired a segment of his Kids Table, where he asks small children to address complex issues. The subject was China and how the U.S. could solve the $1.3 trillion trade imbalance. “Kill everyone in China,” answered one laughing 6-year-old.

Some viewers were so upset that they took their anger to the White House’s “We the People” online initiative, where citizens petition the administration to comment on various issues — and are promised a response if at least 100,000 people sign on during a 30-day period.

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