Friday, September 1, 1995

China's View of Harry Wu

When we formed the Concerned Citizens for Rational Relations with China, it was to make a public plead that the bilateral relations of two major nations should not be put in jeopardy by the actions of one private individual. An open letter was sent to Congress along the lines similar to those of outlined by Senator Dianne Feinstein (AW, Voices, September 1, 1995). Since that letter was distributed to the media, Harry Wu has been released. To his supporters and, thanks to the English language press coverage, a large part of the general American public has embraced him as a hero of extraordinary courage and conviction. On the day a mortar shell killed over thirty innocent civilians in Sarajevo, the front page of the San Jose Mercury News disclosed that Harry Wu lost a few pounds as result of his incarceration. The news on Bosnia was buried somewhere in first section. Clearly, Wu's cause for human rights carries much weight.

Our open letter did receive significant coverage and response from the Chinese American community was particularly high. One of the responders sent us a reprint of the August 25, 1995 article from China's People's Daily on the Harry Wu case. Since ours is a democratic society where issues are openly debated, we believe that the American public is at least entitled to see what the other side have to say about this case.

So far, I haven't seen any specific reference to China's official position in the English language press and the People's Daily article is much too long to translate and reprint in full. Presented below are the salient points from that article without embellishments:

The Chinese court accuse Wu of the following major criminal offenses:

On June 16, 1991, Wu accompanied by a Ms. Chen, on the pretense of visiting friends, went to the jail in Huozhou, Shanxi to take photos of the prison and security measures. Next day, Wu took Ms Chen to Yangchuan No. 2 jail for the same purpose. On July 29, Wu returned to this jail where he found two persons tot take him inside and where he used a video camera hidden in a bag to take video of the prison and surroundings. Wu unlawfully gave these material to outside organizations.

On the afternoon of June 18, Wu pretending to be an American businessman and accompanied by Ms. Chen visited a factory in Shanghai on the pretext of wanting to buy certain products from that factory. Using the noisy environment as excuse, he went to the director's office, and when unobserved he stole confidential documents from the desk top. On next day afternoon, Wu again pretended to be a businessman and visited another factory in Shanghai, again on the pretext discussing business. On departure he stole confidential documents from the chief engineer's office using the same approach.

On early August, 1991, Wu wore a police uniform and assumed the identity of a police officer to enter a jail in Qinghai to take video with a hidden camera. The material was unlawfully given to outside organizations.

On March 12, 1993, Wu in Hongkong paid a Mr. Feng (or Fung) $4000 to film and take pictures of provincial and municipal jails in Zhejiang, Hubei and other provinces. Wu indicated that the funds came from an Anti-China's Laogai Funds that he had organized.

During the latter half of April, 1994, Wu and Ms. Chen met with a Mr. Zhang, a retired worker from Shanghai prison to take secret photographs of the Shanghai jail

When questioned by the court, Wu admitted that all of the above were true and factual.

The court also presented a confession handwritten by Wu on August 9. The main contents are as follows:

In the summer of 1991, he did returned to China twice for the purpose of taking video, photos and secret documents for the purpose of helping CBS produce an anti-China TV program. Doing business was used as cover and he also used old acquaintances to get into laogai for videos and photos. He also used the collected material to present to the U.S. Congress.

In 1994, with BBC's support, Wu again returned to China and took BBC personnel to China to visit laogai in Xinjiang, Sichuan and elsewhere to take secret videos for the anti-China program, "Condemned Criminals' Organs."

Results of the Court Examination

During the court hearings, Wu was accused of resorting to various underhanded means to steal China's secrets for the purpose of damaging China's reputation. Wu was also accused of using fabrication to achieve the same goal.

In April, 1994, Wu accompanied by a woman reporter from BBC entered China on the pretext of visiting China's Silk Road. The actual purpose was to collect material for two BBC programs, one on prison made goods and the other on organ transplants from executed prisoners.

One of the scenes of BBC's program purported to show a street outside Xinjiang's No. 2 Prison full of stalls with goods for sale that were made in the prison. During the cross examination, Wu admitted that the street scene was actually taken in Wulumuqi, Xinjiang's capitol, that no such street exists outside of No. 2 Prison and that the goods displayed had no relationship with the prison. Wu admitted that splicing the two scenes together was wrong.

The same program also showed a scene of burial grounds indicating that it was where executed prisoners were buried. Wu admitted that he knew at the time of filming that it was actually a local civilian cemetery.

The Source for the BBC Program on Prisoner Organ Transplants

On April 12, 1994, Wu and the BBC reporter, pretending to be husband and wife, visited the Urology Department of No. 1 Hospital near Chengdu's West China Medical College. Wu represented himself as an university researcher from the U.S. with an uncle suffering from acute renal failure and seeking a kidney transplant. He even presented a falsified medical history on his "uncle." He asked to tour the hospital's operating and recovery room facility.

Next day the couple visited operating room no. 15 where the patient was undergoing an open heart surgery for repair of the mitral valve. While Wu engaged the host in conversation, his "wife" surreptitiously took the operating scene which later became the so-called organ transplant from prisoners scene. Surgery was actually performed on Chen Zuchuan, a civilian patient on bed No. 29 of the thoracic surgery ward. During the cross examination, Wu admitted that he had no uncle, the medical history was false and no doctor from the hospital ever discussed kidney transplant from executed prisoner with him.

The BBC program indicated that the hospital was full of patients from Hongkong, Taiwan, Europe and the U.S. seeking organ transplants. Wu admitted that while he was there he did not see one foreigner.

In his confession, Wu admitted that he utilizes distortion and fabrication in order to satisfy BBC's request for material for the Condemned Criminal Organ program. He accepted responsibility for all of the action in connection with the BBC program.

Wu's History in China

Wu was born in Shanghai in 1937 and after graduating from university was sent to Beijing on a work study assignment. [*Note: Work study assignment, sort of like an internship, is a frequent precursor to actual full time job.] He was caught stealing money from office colleagues and sentenced to three years in laogai. From May, 1961 to May 1964, Wu spend his time at Qinghe and then Tuanhe prison farm to receive reform through labor. His first assignment after release was at a coal mine in Hou Xian, Shanxi. [*I am guessing that Houzhou where he visited one of the laogai is a city inside the Hou Xian (county).]

While working at Wuhan Geology University, Wu was severely criticized for repeatedly using falsified receipts and was criticized before the entire school for forgery of authorized signatures to obtain travel expense reimbursements. [I have been told that China uses different degrees of severity of criticism and censure to deal with lesser crimes.]

While working at Shanxi Finance College and at Wuhan Geology University, Wu received internal disciplinary censure for seducing women students.

Some Questions for Mr. Wu

Since the People's Daily is the official organ of China's Communist Party, the reaction of some Americans will be to dismiss the contents without further ado. Since Wu upon his return has already publicly admitted that he would do anything to expose China including using aliases, masquerading as a police officer and other pretenses, he would no doubt disown the confession as one of convenience made under duress. Nevertheless the article from China does raise some interesting questions.

(1) In his campaign to "expose" China, just how far does he go? Does his approach include fabrication and falsification to satisfy his sponsors as the trial contend? The article calls it "yi hua jie mu," i.e., moving the flower to another tree.

(2) Now he is free again, how much of the BBC program will he admit as factual and how much as not? How does he now explain the apparent video sleight of hand described in the People's Daily?

(3) According to China, Wu started his career as a common criminal, not as a political prisoner. When and how did Wu become a human rights activist?

(4) No doubt, Wu will contend that the People's Daily article is a complete fabrication. It seems to this writer that China went to a lot of trouble to make up a case full of details. Perhaps, Wu would be more convincing on his own behalf if he would care to rebut some of the details in full.


Unknown said...

Is this article "August 25, 1995 article from China's People's Daily on the Harry Wu case" available?

Can you kindly post it or provide a link?

George said...

I probably have the original article in Chinese in a hard copy in my fairly extensive file on Mr. Wu. If you wish, send me a private email explaining your reasons for a copy. If I can find the motivation to dig up the article, I will make a copy and send it to you.