18 November 2011 – Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) held a hearing on “China’s Censorship of the Internet and Social Media: The Human Toll & Trade Impact.” Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Commission, convened the hearing by thanking victims of China’s repressive policies for speaking out on behalf of those whose voices have been muzzled.
Smith noted that Chinese internet users must, “weigh their choices each time they click a button,” which is true for the father of the first witness, Alex Li (download testimony below). His father, Li Yuanlong, was a reporter who began to write articles about sensitive social issues and government policies. He was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for posting four articles on blocked websites. At the time, Alex was only 17 years old, but the police took him away and interrogated him about his father’s actions without notifying his parents. Alex told how the police used his family computer’s Microsoft licensing information to track their IP address. He posed the question, “how could the public security officers be able to track my father down if it weren’t for advanced technologies provided by companies like Cisco?”
The second witness, Pastor John Zhang (download testimony below), came to the U.S. after being persecuted for his involvement in both the Tiananmen Square democracy movement and in China’s underground Christian house churches. He has helped to bring several dissidents and their families to the U.S., and so he was able to share the heartbreaking impact of censorship related persecution.
Pastor Zhang related the experiences of 14-year-old Chen Qiao, daughter of the prominent dissident writer Liu Xianbin. Liu spent 11 of the last 14 years in prison, which meant he has become like a stranger to his own daughter. He is currently serving his third prison sentence, again for posting articles on overseas websites. Gesturing to Chen Qiao who was seated in the audience, Pastor Zhang lamented that Liu will not be there for his daughter for the next 10 years - her adolescent years, a critical time in any child’s life. (Chen Qiao's testimony can be downloaded below)