Laogai Research Foundation

December, 1995 Newsletter



Commentary

During the two months that Harry was held in China last year, I was frequently asked by the media why Harry had risked his life to return to China. Now that Harry has safely returned to our home, he continues to be asked if he will ever go back there. Just recently, he was bombarded by the press during his trip to Hong Kong in early January in which the main topic was the question of any future trips to China.

In answer to all of these questions, Harry’s answer has always been an unequivocal "yes". I believe that this answer is very difficult for many people to understand. Why would Harry risk freedom and his personal safety by returning to China?

For Harry, the reasons are deeply personal ones. Although he is an American citizen, China will always be Harry’s homeland. The graves of his parents, brothers and sisters, and friends rest there, and he still feels a strong cultural and emotional bond with the people of China. When I married Harry in 1991, I left my homeland of Taiwan. Most likely I will remain in the United States for the rest of my life but I will forever remain ties to the culture and history of Taiwan. I am lucky now to have two homelands.

Above all, Harry cannot forget about his fellow Laogai prisoners in China. he especially cannot forget those who perished in the camps during the nineteen years he endured as a prisoner. When his friend Chen Ming died right before his eyes in Qinghe labor camp in 1961, Harry vowed not to forget about him or the others. He vowed to try and change society so that Chen Ming’s life would not be meaningless. Harry wanted everyone’s life to have some value.

Returning to China would not only be a way of memorializing those who have suffered and died in the camps, but it would be an attempt to prevent these abuses from continuing. The Laogai system has not changed since Harry was in prison for nineteen years. Millions of people are still forced to undergo labor rehabilitation and to suffer the most brutal of abuses. We estimate that over 25 million people are interned at this moment in one of the 1000 camps in China.

China is undergoing a miraculous economic change. We often are told that China’s new economic policy will lend to democracy and freedom. But few are willing to look at the dark side of China’s policies. It has reached its present state of economic well-being by stepping on the backs of its own people. The Laogai system in particular generates a huge source of income for the country.

Because of the tremendous economic opportunities that China now offers to the West, only a handful of people are willing to investigate the abuses in the Laogai system. They are consequently not welcomed with open arms by the business community in the West and rarely by government officials.

Harry is one of the few who feels the responsibility to expose this dark side of China. He strongly feels that he owes this to his friends like Chen Ming who died and to those who are imprisoned now in the Laogai system.

Each time Harry has gone to China, he has brought back hard evidence to show what the Chinese government is doing to its people. He has brought back videos and photos to prove to the world that horrific human rights abuses still occur on a regular basis in China.

He has visited many of the labor camps to prove that they are exporting products to the West by using slave labor. On a recent trip, he exposed the practice of executing prisoners in exchange for organ transplants to the West.

Without these trips, Harry would not have been able to convince the world about these abuses. Who would have believed him if he had simply issued a report from his home in Milpitas, California? The abuses are so outrageous that only visual evidence would convince other of their existence. Harry’s trips to China have provided the legitimacy and accuracy to his claims.

With such hard evidence, Harry has been able to present his case to leaders around the world, the foreign press and the citizens of many different countries. After so many years of secrecy about the Laogai system, Harry has managed to expose China’s secret to the world. He would not have been able to achieve this without going into China to gather the vital evidence.

Above all, Harry has fulfilled his promise to his deceased friends in the camps to not forget about them and to give meaning to their lives.

Yes, Harry will someday return to China to gather even more evidence about the vast range of abuses in the Laogai system. He has promised himself that he will continue to go back until the Laogai system has been abolished. He once stated: "In my mind, the question is ‘Who will go?’ And the answer that always comes back is ‘If I don’t go, who will?’"


 

For more information about the Laogai Research Foundation, please contact:

The Laogai Research Foundation
P.O. Box 361375
Milpitas, CA 95036-1375
U.S.A

or send e-mail to sdchina@aol.com