Americans and allies are too dependent on Chinatech, as demonstrated by recent revelations that our Chinese-manufactured credit card machines are sending data back to China for no good reason.
The U.S. Treasury Department says that millions of Chinese point-of-sale (POS) devices, the credit card machines found at check-out counters, could be sending customer data back to China for no good reason.
Treasury Department lab tests show that the data is encrypted and sent to unknown third parties in China. The transmissions are “superfluous to normal payment transaction processing,” according to a letter from the Treasury’s Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection (OCCIP), as quoted in Bloomberg News. The China-bound data transmissions are larger and more frequent than the transmissions of normal payment transactions.
“Treasury’s preliminary assessment is that data transmission by these devices indicates the possibility of risks to customer data confidentiality,” a Treasury spokesperson emailed to Bloomberg.
A subsidiary of the Chinese company, PAX Global, claimed that the security concerns were just “rumors.” The company’s headquarters are split between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China. PAX has manufactured 57 million terminals that operate in 120 countries around the world, according to its own claims.
On Oct. 26, the FBI raided PAX offices in Jacksonville, Florida. And two days later, the company’s senior vice president of security and services quit her job.
A British security agency is also investigating the Chinese POS device manufacturer.
Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs reported that the FBI raid was not only linked to the discovery of “unusual network packets” from the company’s terminals, but to reports that the PAX systems could be linked to cyberattacks, hacks, and illicit data collection on U.S. and European Union organizations.
Financial company FIS Worldpay, a Florida-based payment processing company, has for security reasons been forced to replace its PAX terminals with machines from American and French manufacturers. A FIS spokesman explained that the reason FIS is replacing PAX terminals is because FIS “did not receive satisfactory answers from PAX regarding its POS devices connecting to websites not listed in their supplied documentation.”
The likely compromise of American and allied financial data by Chinese-manufactured POS credit card machines is the tip of the iceberg of vulnerability to China tech. Other China-linked companies, like Zoom, TikTok, and computer and cell phone manufacturers, have hundreds of millions of global users who are vulnerable to data loss to China.
Zoom was downloaded 485 million times in 2020, and continues to have serious security issues. In 2020, the FBI issued a security warning about Zoom, and the Department of Defense forbade its affiliates to use the video-conferencing application. Zoom’s encryption keys were available to the Chinese regime, and its international meeting traffic routed through Chinese servers.
Yet in 2020, 90,000 schools in 20 countries made the wrong decision and utilized Zoom. Skype and Google provide better video calls, but the Zoom craze has gone dangerously viral.
The high rate of usage among naive Zoom users, many of whom are children, is not due to lack of warning.
“Zoom was found to be sending unauthorised data to Facebook,” according to a recent article in the Business of Apps. Its past hoarding of data and sub-standard encryption, identified by academic researchers, is well known. “Zoom saw itself banned by governments for official business (Canada and Taiwan), numerous organisations (SpaceX and Nasa) and school boards (New York and Taiwan),” according to the article.
As late as September 2021, Zoom software allowed remote code execution, that is, hacking of user machines over the internet. Zoom supposedly found and fixed the vulnerability, which is why we know about it. But with a lagging track record on security over the years, which is often only fixed when Zoom is caught with its hand in the digital cookie jar, who knows what remains. Prudence should be the order of the day. Stop using Zoom.
TikTok is even closer to China, and was downloaded 850 million times in 2020, and over three billion times overall. Twenty-eight percent of TikTok users are under the age of 18, and 59 percent are female. North America had 105 million users in 2020.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing.
Due to national security concerns, India banned the app in June 2020. Two months later, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring either the divestment of Bytedance from TikTok, or an American purchase of the app. However, the Biden administration unwisely revoked the order.
In April, the Beijing regime doubled down by taking a 1 percent stake in a key Bytedance management company, and one of its three board seats, according to The Information.
In response, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rightly blasted the Biden administration, which he said “can no longer pretend that TikTok is not beholden to the Chinese Communist Party. Even before today, it was clear that TikTok represented a serious threat to personal privacy and U.S. national security. Beijing’s aggressiveness makes clear that the regime sees TikTok as an extension of the party-state, and the U.S. needs to treat it that way. President Biden must take immediate action to remove ByteDance and TikTok from the equation.”
Rubio rightly went beyond just a whack-a-mole approach. “We must also establish a framework of standards that must be met before a high-risk, foreign-based app is allowed to operate on American telecommunications networks and devices,” he said.
The problem is not only China-linked software, however, but also the American and allied dependence on China’s manufacture of computers, tablets, and phones. Ninety percent of computers, and 70 percent of cell phones, are manufactured in China. All of this hardware, therefore, includes a higher level of security risk.
The world’s electronic device manufacturing processes are largely controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which has proven to be unscrupulous in its pursuit of power. We tend to ignore the attendant perils for reasons of convenience and budget, but we do so at our own grave risk.
The U.S. Treasury Department has hinted that technology from China should be rejected because of the higher risk it entails.
“OCCIP encourages stakeholders in the U.S. financial system to adopt a risk-based approach to protecting the confidentiality of their customers’ data, the integrity of their networks, and the availability of their services,” the Treasury Department said in this month’s letter about the PAX investigation. “Banks and financial service providers should apply this risk-based approach to their supply chains.”
While such warnings are welcome, they are entirely insufficient. We need laws and executive orders that mandate and provide for a fully secure technological environment for America and our allies. Our information security depends upon U.S. and allied control and protection of all information technology, from seed investment, to ownership, hardware manufacture, and the writing and operation of software that gives life to our networks. Nothing else will do.
It is unconscionable that U.S. and allied governments continue in their failure to protect our democratic communities from unscrupulous China-linked technology manufactures, including software like TikTok and hardware like computers, phones, and credit card machines, at the expense of American and allied privacy, workers, and the diversity of our industrial ecosystems, and those of our allies.
Our democratic governments must get smart fast, or the loss to China will be irreversible, and ultimately entail the loss of democracy itself.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Anders Corr has a bachelor’s/master’s in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming in 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”
China’s tech behemoths are handing months of profits to the regime in Beijing to demonstrate loyalty to the Communist Party. Popular actors have been erased from internet history with their devoted online fan groups disbanded. Young gamers now are allowed no more than three hours of playtime per week.
Across Chinese classrooms, 147,000 newly minted inspectors have been deployed to oversee the national dissemination of the ideology of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping.
Be it e-commerce, entertainment, education, or gaming, few areas of Chinese society have been left unscathed amid Beijing’s torrent of regulatory activity in recent months. As authorities clamped down on the offending actors, stock markets tumbled with hundreds of billions wiped out, while companies and individuals have scrambled to assess the new rules, lest they tread on the regime’s toes.
The cascading crackdowns have been swift and puzzling, with some likening the Party’s attempts at social engineering to that which occurred during the Cultural Revolution, a decade-long period from 1966 when the regime’s first helmsman, Mao Zedong, sought to reassert his control within the Party by launching a mass campaign to destroy traditions, beliefs, and social mores.
A “profound revolution” is underway in China, declares nationalist essayist Li Guangman, a former editor for an obscure state newspaper. In a recent commentary quickly promoted on prominent Chinese state media websites, he hailed the regime’s campaign as a “return to the original intent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) … and the essence of socialism,” and offered up two potential targets: housing and medicare.
As with past measures, the Chinese regime has framed the series of actions as necessary for the public good. But the pace of the activity has been dizzying, with a thoroughness unseen in China’s recent memory.
It looks like the “opening days” of a cultural revolution, said June Teufel Dreyer, a political science professor at the University of Miami.
To Robert Atkinson, economist and founder of Washington-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, some of the measures mark the latest efforts by Beijing to curb freedom of expression. He cited the ban on “effeminate actors” and gaming restrictions as examples.
“You get the sense that what Xi is saying is, ‘No, we don’t want a society that’s individualistic. Your job as a Chinese citizen is to support and follow the state,’” Atkinson told The Epoch Times.
“The goal of Chinese society is not to make people happy, it’s to make the state powerful,” he said.
The “straw that broke the camel’s back” goes back to last October, according to Dreyer, when internet giant Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma made a blunt speech criticizing China’s regulatory system. For his outspokenness, the entrepreneur went missing for three months. Overnight, regulators pulled the plug on what was meant to be the world’s largest initial public offering by Ant Group, Alibaba’s sister fintech firm.
The regime is “trying to prevent wealthy, vested interests like Jack Ma from … winding into the political decision-making process,” Dreyer said.
The punishment of Ma appears to be the lightning rod that set off a sweeping overhaul engulfing virtually all facets of society. Since then, regulators have pulled apps for alleged data transfer violations, shunned “misbehaving” celebrities, disciplined thousands of “self media” accounts for “badmouthing the financial market,” and barred paid private tutoring on core school subjects.
“It’s about sending a message that says to the capitalist class that … you as a businessperson are under the thumb of the state,” Atkinson said.
Paralleling the moves is Beijing’s renewed emphasis on “common prosperity,” a slogan the Party has touted since its early days as the end goal of socialism.
Xi’s recent pledges include redistributing wealth to close the yawning income gap—likely to drum up popular support as he mounts his bid for an unprecedented third five-year term late next year.
The targeted sectors have been racing to align with the Party’s decrees. Dozens of actors have signed statements supporting Beijing’s campaign. The embattled Alibaba on Sept. 3 vowed to spend 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of the common prosperity drive.
Behind the avalanche of changes is Xi’s vision for a grand national “rejuvenation,” a term he invoked more than two dozen times as he spoke from the balcony atop Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on July 1 to mark the CCP’s 100th birthday.
But the rejuvenation campaign has hit some domestic roadblocks.
China’s workforce has been shrinking for years, in part due to the decades-long birth policy allowing each household to have one child only. Even as Beijing moved to a two-child limit in 2016, the costs of raising children in urban China have deterred would-be parents. China, now encouraging a third child, has called off tests for first- and second-graders and banned for-profit tutoring firms, blaming them for adding a financial toll on families. Hotlines have been set up to catch violators.
Such measures haven’t necessarily been embraced by Chinese parents, who are known for expending large amounts of time and money on their child’s education to ready them for the hyper-competitive university entrance exams.
“This is the system’s flaw, and students and parents shouldn’t be asked to bear the consequences,” Amy Ma (a pseudonym), a primary school teacher in central China’s Hubei Province who has taught for 30 years, told The Epoch Times, adding that the education policies would do little to ease parents’ anxiety about their child’s future.
For most Chinese families, the education system is “the last chance to change their children’s fate” when “the Party has monopolized all resources in society,” she said.
To boost their academic performance, Chinese kids would now have to turn to in-home tutors, Richard Zhang (a pseudonym), a division chief for a city-level education bureau, told The Epoch Times. With the tutor pool slashed as a result of the new regulations, the cost of such services could become prohibitive, he said. Thus, ultimately, it may only be rich families who can give their children a competitive edge.
A lack of enthusiasm from Chinese millennials also is hindering the regime’s prosperity drive. A new counterculture movement called “tangping,” or lying flat and doing nothing, is catching on with young people, who are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the exacting demands of professional and social life.
Labeled as “disgraceful” by Chinese state media—while praised as a silent form of resistance by some others—the “lying flat” approach to life adopted by many young Chinese is the exact opposite of what Xi needs to back Beijing’s ambition, Dreyer said.
“He wants to see a highly competitive society in which everyone works hard and therefore the Chinese country nation is able to eclipse the United States,” she said. “He’s not going to get it if people are going to lie flat.”
A pressing cash problem is also forcing Beijing to turn on the rich, according to Antonio Graceffo, an analyst of China’s economy and Epoch Times contributor who has spent more than two decades in Asia.
The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19—which spread to half of China in August—has continued to challenge Beijing’s costly strategy of shutting down cities and quarantining every positive case, which has disrupted travel and dented tourism, a once booming industry contributing to roughly a tenth of China’s economy in 2019.
Sales growth and factory output in August both hit a one-year low as authorities toughened social restrictions to curb surging virus outbreaks. China’s overall debt meanwhile grew to about 270 percent of its GDP in 2020, a jump by about 30 percent over one year.
Monthly data from August showed that one in every seven young urban workers—those aged 16 to 24—have failed to find employment. The move against the private tutoring industry has put some $140 billion at stake and triggered waves of layoffs.
Such signs suggest “the brink of an economic crisis,” Graceffo told The Epoch Times. “The money has to come from somewhere.
“I think that Xi Jinping is reaching for anything to make money.”
Attempts to stimulate growth will be further frustrated by the CCP’s practice of embedding Party branches in companies, which puts another strain on economic freedom.
“They’re not going to be making decisions based on profitability—they are making decisions based on government leaders and giving them to the Party,” he said.
Alongside such domestic challenges, the regime is facing strong headwinds from the West.
In the past year, Beijing has aggressively pushed back as Western criticism rises over the regime’s human rights record, militarism, the lack of transparency on COVID-19 origins, and its consistent efforts to cast the blame on the outside world.
Clad in a gray Maoist suit during the Party’s centennial, Xi warned that foreign forces would figuratively get their “heads bashed” if they dared to bully China.
The regime’s recent policies give off a sense of growing wariness toward Western influence.
Gone are English-language tests from Shanghai’s primary schools; in is a new course on Xi Jinping Thought—mandated from grade school through college nationwide.
Beijing is setting up a third stock market that some analysts read as a move to financially decouple with the West. A new data law, applying to Chinese and foreign companies alike, expressly prohibits the transfer of domestic data into foreign hands and threatens to retaliate against any country using “discriminatory” measures with respect to data.
Social media channels have been purged for “reposting overseas reporting or commentary that carry distorted interpretation of China’s financial trends.”
“You don’t want people thinking about anything except the Party and how to serve the state,” Graceffo said.
According to Dreyer, the regime has decided to make a “trade-off”: Cutting English studies and private tutoring could throw millions out of work, but it also means students have more time to study Party ideology.
“Less English instruction, more indoctrination, in the long run is what China needs,” she said.
But given China’s share of global trade—nearly 15 percent in 2020, and third only to the European Union and the United States—keeping out Western influence entirely may be impossible, Dreyer said.
“You can’t divorce the technology completely from the society that produced it,” she said.
“He’s simply trying to resist,” Dreyer said, referring to Xi. “The future is not preordained, it never is.”
Coming: to a country near/around you! (Only there may not be an other country to which you can flee.) mrossol
Aug 13, 2021 by Guardian Reporter
Residents fearing China’s tightening grip are departing in droves, not knowing if they will be back
It was a heartbreaking scene. A family get-together on a Sunday morning, not for a leisurely lunch at a traditional Chinese restaurant, but for a tearful farewell at the airport.
Amid the Covid pandemic, Hong Kong airport is quiet except for twice a day, when long queues form at airlines desks for London-bound flights. Friends and families turn out in droves to see them off – grandparents hand out “lucky money” in red envelopes to grandchildren, aunts and uncles joke with children to lighten the otherwise melancholic mood. With tearful eyes, many stop for a final hug and pose for one last photo with their loved ones before passing through the departure gates. The waving continues long after they have disappeared from view.
Wearing a yellow face mask – the colour symbolising resistance in the city’s 2019 pro-democracy movement – one young woman, who gave her name as Charlie, was among those waving goodbye to her friends. She said she was going to the UK to study to be a psychologist, and was unlikely to return.
“With speech freedom under threat, I would have limited opportunities in Hong Kong. I might be implicated under the [national security] law,” she said.
Victor, a 28-year-old IT professional, likewise blamed the worsening political environment for his departure. “I have no faith in Hong Kong – it is going downhill. I want to be somewhere where there is democracy,” he said.
They are among the tens of thousands of people taking up the British government’s offer of a route to citizenship, after China imposed the draconian national security law on its former colony a year ago. The Home Office expects up to 153,000 people with British national (overseas) status and their dependents to arrive in the UK in the first year, and up to 322,000 over five years. According to Home Office statistics, 34,300 people applied in the first two months after applications for BNO visas opened at the end of January, with 20,600 from outside the country.
The exodus intensified in the run-up to 1 August, when an immigration law allowing the government to bar people entering or leaving the city came into effect. Net outflows of residents in July regularly exceeded 1,000 a day, according to government figures recorded by the former investment banker David Webb.
Hong Kong’s population declined by 1.2% in the past year, including nearly 90,000 more residents departing than moving to the city, government figures released on Thursday showed. The population decrease to 7,394,700 continues the largest fall since the city began keeping comparable records in 1961.
A surge in withdrawals from the city’s mandatory pension fund due to permanent departure also suggested many were leaving for good. According to official figures, in the first quarter of this year, Hong Kong residents planning to leave permanently applied to withdraw HK$1.93bn (£180m) from their MPF accounts – a surge of 49% year-on-year.
China’s intensifying control over Hong Kong in recent years had already prompted many people to contemplate leaving, but the crackdown on the 2019 pro-democracy protests, in which more than 10,200 people had been arrested, and the national security law aimed at halting the movement were the final straw. Nowadays, casual conversations between friends and families often lead to a discussion of not whether they plan to leave, but when.
A changed city
Beneath the usual hustle and bustle, Hong Kong has changed dramatically since the introduction of the law. It enabled the authorities to crack down on almost any form of opposition to China’s rule and undermined a wide range of civil freedoms previously taken for granted. Expressions of dissent can be punished with up to life in jail, with the possibility of being sent to mainland China.
Since its introduction, police have arrested at least 128 people for related alleged offences and targeted opposing politicians and activists, media outlets and employees, churches, schools, and unions.
The knock-on effect is obvious. Street protests have been categorically banned by the authorities, citing the pandemic. A man who allegedly booed the Chinese national anthem while watching an Olympic event at a shopping centre was arrested.
Dozens of civil society groups have closed while many political commentators have quietly left. Official censors have been authorised to ban movies that breach the national security law.
Patricia Chiu, a businesswoman who recently fled Hong Kong for the UK, said it was the loss of the city’s former way of life that broke her heart. Chiu, who had supported young protesters and campaigned for pro-democracy politicians – some of whom are now in custody – feared she too would be arrested if she stayed.
“No one wants to leave, but the situation is worsening all the time,” she said. “Since the passing of the national security law, I’ve been suffering from anxiety. Every day, I worried about [the police] knocking on our doors – the fear was constant.
“I miss the old Hong Kong, the good old days when we were free. We had no democracy but had the rule of law, the freedom of speech and assembly. But now, I don’t think I will ever be able to go back.
I covered Hong Kong for decades. Now I am forced to flee China’s ‘white terror’
“Before I left, I looked at everything and thought that might be the last time I saw them. The Hong Kong that we knew is fast disappearing – the good life we had, the spirit, the culture of Hong Kong. It’s the city where I grew up.”
Chiu said since she might not be able to return, one of her biggest worries was that she might never see her son again.
“I dread not being able to see him again,” she said.
Carol Poon, an accountant who recently left Hong Kong with her young family, also does not anticipate being able to go back. She and her husband decided to move after the introduction of the national security law. “It’s a catch-all law that has no limits … how can we accept it?
“It’s not the same Hong Kong any more. How can we expect our kids to grow up in this environment, where you have to lie or be two-faced to survive?
“When we said goodbye to our parents the night before our departure, we thought it might be the last time we saw one another. We shed a lot of tears. Would we see them again? Can we return? If we go back, can we leave again?”
She said although she wanted her children to integrate into UK culture, it was also important for them to maintain their Hong Kong identity.
“We want to them to remember where they’re from,” she said. “The authorities will call the pro-democracy movement a riot, but we have a responsibility to preserve our memories and our Hong Kong identity. We must live to tell why we had to flee.”
Editor’s Note: Some of the accounts in this article contain graphic and disturbing details of torture and other forms of degrading treatment.
Founded in July 1921, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has wreaked death and destruction on the Chinese populace for a century.
Armed with the Marxist ideology of “struggle” as its guiding principle, the CCP has launched scores of movements targeting a long list of enemy groups: spies, landlords, intellectuals, disloyal officials, pro-democracy students, religious believers, and ethnic minorities.
With each campaign, the Party’s purported goal has been to create a “communist heaven on earth.” But time and again, the results have been the same: mass suffering and death. Meanwhile, a few elite CCP officials and their families have accumulated incredible power and wealth.
More than 70 years of Party rule have resulted in the killing of tens of millions of Chinese people and the dismantling of a 5,000-year-old civilization.
While China has advanced economically in recent decades, the CCP retains its nature as a Marxist-Leninist regime bent on solidifying its grip on China and the world. Millions of religious believers, ethnic minorities, and dissidents are still violently repressed today.
Below is a summary of some of the major atrocities committed by the CCP in its 100-year history.
Anti-Bolshevik League Incident
Less than a decade after the Party’s founding, Mao Zedong, then the head of a communist-controlled territory in southeast China’s Jiangxi Province, launched a political purge of his rivals known as the Anti-Bolshevik League Incident. Mao accused his rivals of working for the Anti-Bolshevik League, the intelligence agency of the Kuomintang, which was China’s ruling party at the time.
The result was that thousands of Red Army personnel and Party members were killed in the purge.
The one-year-long campaign that started in the summer of 1930 marked the first in a series of movements helmed by the paranoid leader that only grew bloodier and broader with time. The mass carnage lasted until Mao’s death in 1976.
While there’s no record showing exactly how many CCP members were killed during the campaign, Chinese historian Guo Hua wrote in a 1999 article that within a month, 4,400 of the 40,000 Red Army members had been killed, including dozens of military leaders. Within a few months, the CCP committee in southwestern Jiangxi had killed more than 1,000 of its non-military members.
At the end of the movement, the Jiangxi CCP committee reported that 80 to 90 percent of the CCP officials in the region had been accused of being spies and executed.
Family members of senior officials were also persecuted and killed, the report said. The torture methods inflicted on CCP members, according to Guo, included burning their skin, cutting off females’ breasts, and pushing bamboo sticks underneath their fingernails.
Yan’an Rectification Movement
After becoming Party leader, Mao kickstarted the Yan’an Rectification Movement—the first ideological mass movement of the CCP—in 1942. From the CCP’s base in the secluded mountainous region of Yan’an in the northwestern Shaanxi Province, Mao and his loyalists employed the familiar tactic of accusing his rivals of being spies in order to purge senior officials and other Party members.
All told, about 10,000 CCP members were killed.
During the movement, people were tortured and forced to confess to being spies, wrote Wei Junyi in a 1998 book.
“Everyone became a spy in Yan’an, from middle-school students to primary school students,” Wei, who was then editor of state-run news agency Xinhua, wrote. “Twelve-year-olds, 11-year-olds, 10-year-olds, even a 6-year-old spy was discovered!”
The tragic fate of the family of Shi Bofu, a local painter, was recounted in Wei’s book. In 1942, CCP officials suddenly accused Shi of being a spy and detained him. That night, Shi’s wife, unable to cope with her husband’s likely death sentence, took her own life and that of her two young children. Hours later, officials found her and the children’s bodies and publicly proclaimed that Shi’s wife had a “deep hatred” toward the Party and the people, and thus deserved to die.
In October 1949, the CCP took control of China, and Mao became the regime’s first leader. Months later, in the regime’s first movement, named Land Reform, Mao mobilized the nation’s poorest peasants to violently seize the land and other assets of those deemed landlords—many of whom were just more-well-off peasants. Millions died.
Mao, in 1949, was accused of being a dictator and admitted to it.
“My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are,” he wrote, according to China File, a magazine published by the Center on U.S.–China Relations at Asia Society. According to Mao, communists in power should be dictatorial against “running dogs of imperialism,” “the landlord class and bureaucrat-bourgeoisie,” and “reactionaries and their accomplices,” who were associated with the opposition Kuomintang.
Of course, the communists decided who would qualify as a “running dog,” a “reactionary,” or even a “landlord.”
“Many of the victims were beaten to death and some shot, but in many cases, they were first tortured in order to make them reveal their assets—real or imagined,” according to historian Frank Dikötter, who has painstakingly chronicled Mao’s brutality.
The 2019 book “The Bloody Red Land” chronicles the story of Li Man, a surviving landlord from southwest China’s Chongqing. After the CCP came into power, officials claimed that Li’s family had stashed 1.5 metric tons of gold. But this wasn’t true, as the family had been bankrupted years earlier due to Li’s father’s drug addiction.
Having no gold to give to the CCP, Li was tortured to the brink of death.
“They took off my clothes, tied my hand and feet to a pole. They then tied a rope around my genitals and tied a stone to my feet,” Li recounted. He said that they then hung the rope on a tree. Immediately, “blood gushed out from my belly button,” Li said.
Li was ultimately saved by a CCP official who sent him to the home of a doctor of Chinese medicine. Even after suffering severe injuries to his internal organs and genitals, Li still counted himself as lucky. Another 10 people who were tortured at the same time as Li all died. Over the next few months, Li’s close relatives and extended family would be tortured to death, one after another.
As a result of the torture, Li—who was 22 years old at the time—lost his manhood. During the CCP’s subsequent movements, Li would be tortured several more times, costing him his eyesight.
Great Leap Forward
Mao launched the Great Leap Forward in 1958, a four-year campaign that sought to push the country to exponentially increase its steel production while collectivizing agriculture farming. The goal, as Mao’s slogan goes, was to “surpass Britain and catch up with America.”
Peasants were ordered to build backyard furnaces to make steel, leaving farmland in severe neglect. Moreover, overzealous local officials who were afraid of being branded as “laggards” set unrealistically high harvest quotas. As a result, peasants had nothing left to eat after turning over the bulk of their crops as taxes.
What ensued was the worst man-made disaster in history: the Great Famine, during which tens of millions died of starvation, from 1959 to 1961.
Starving peasants turned to wild animals, grass, bark, and even kaolinite, a clay mineral, for food. Extreme hunger also drove many to cannibalism.
There are recorded cases of people eating the corpses of strangers, friends, and family members, and parents killing their children for food—and vice-versa.
Jasper Becker, who wrote the Great Leap Forward account “Hungry Ghosts,” said that Chinese people were forced to engage—out of pure desperation—in selling human flesh on the market, and the swapping of children so they wouldn’t eat their own.
Across 13 provinces, there were a total of 3,000 to 5,000 recorded cases of cannibalism.
Becker notes the cannibalism in China in the late 1950s and early ’60s likely occurred “on a scale unprecedented in the history of the 20th century.”
Chinese historian Yu Xiguang in the 1980s found an archival photo from his hometown in Hunan Province. It purportedly showed a man named Liu Jiayuan standing beside his 1-year-old son’s head and bones. Liu eventually was executed for murder.
Yu later interviewed Liu’s surviving family members in the 2000s to verify the story. He wrote in a report: “Liu Jiayuan was extremely starved. He killed his son and cooked [the flesh into] a big meal. Before finishing his food, his family members found his crime and reported him to the police. He then was arrested and executed.”
As many as 45 million people died during the Great Leap Forward, according to historian Dikötter, author of “Mao’s Great Famine.”
After the catastrophic failure of the Great Leap Forward, Mao, feeling that he was losing his grip on power, launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966 in an attempt to use the Chinese populace to reassert control over the CCP and country. Creating a cult of personality, Mao aimed to “crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road” and strengthen his own ideologies, according to an early directive.
Over 10 years of mandated chaos, millions were killed or driven to suicide in state-sanctioned violence, while zealous young ideologues, the infamous Red Guards, traveled about the country destroying and denigrating China’s traditions and heritage.
It was a whole-of-society endeavor, with the Party encouraging people from all walks of life to snitch on co-workers, neighbors, friends, and even family members who were “counter-revolutionaries”—anyone with politically incorrect thoughts or behaviors.
The victims, who included intellectuals, artists, CCP officials, and others deemed as “class enemies,” were subjected to ritual humiliation through “struggle sessions”—public meetings where the victims would be forced to admit their supposed crimes and endure physical and verbal abuse from the crowd, before they were detained, tortured, and sent to the countryside for forced labor.
Traditional Chinese culture and traditions were a direct target of Mao’s campaign to exterminate the “Four Olds”—old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. As a result, countless cultural relics, temples, historical buildings, statues, and books were destroyed.
Zhang Zhixin, an elite CCP member who worked in the Liaoning provincial government, was among the victims of the campaign. According to an account reported by Chinese media after the Cultural Revolution, a colleague reported Zhang in 1968 after she commented to that co-worker that she couldn’t understand some of the CCP’s actions. The 38-year-old was then detained at a local Party cadre training center, where more than 30,000 staff members of the provincial government were being held.
While in detention, she refused to admit to doing anything wrong and stood by her political opinions. She was firmly loyal to the Party but disagreed with some of Mao’s policies. She was sent to prison.
There, Zhang suffered horrendously as officials tried to force her to give up her viewpoints. Prison guards would use iron wire to keep her mouth open and then push a dirty mop into it. They handcuffed her hands behind her back and hung a 40-pound block of iron from the chains. Provincial CCP officials even ripped out all of her hair, and guards would often arrange for male prisoners to gang-rape her.
Zhang attempted to commit suicide but failed, which caused prison officials to step up their control. Her husband was also forced to divorce her. By early 1975, Zhang had descended into madness. In April of that year, she was executed by firing squad. Before being shot, the prison guards cut her trachea to silence her. She died at the age of 45.
During Zhang’s detention, her husband and two young children were forced to renounce their relationship with her. Upon learning of her death, they didn’t even dare cry—for fear that they would be heard by neighbors who might report them for bearing resentment toward the Party.
The disastrous movement ended in October 1976, less than a month after Mao’s death.
The legacy of the Cultural Revolution goes far beyond the lives destroyed, according to Dikötter.
“It is not so much death which characterized the Cultural Revolution, it was trauma,” he told NPR in 2016.
“It was the way in which people were pitted against each other, were obliged to denounce family members, colleagues, friends. It was about loss, loss of trust, loss of friendship, loss of faith in other human beings, loss of predictability in social relationships. And that really is the mark that the Cultural Revolution left behind.”
In 1979, the regime launched the “one-child policy,” which allowed married couples to have only one child, in a campaign ostensibly aimed at boosting the standard of living by curbing population growth. The policy caused widespread forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and infanticide. According to Chinese Ministry of Health data cited by Chinese state media, 336 million fetuses were aborted from 1971 to 2013.
Xia Runying, a villager from Jiangxi Province who experienced forced sterilization, wrote in a public letter in 2013 that her family requested to postpone the surgery because of her poor health. The local official, however, said that they would do the surgery even if she had to be tied up with ropes.
She began to urinate blood and have headaches and stomachaches after the surgery. Later, she was forced to stop working.
The regime discontinued the one-child policy in 2013, allowing two children. On May 31, it announced that families could have three children.
Tiananmen Square Massacre
What started as a student gathering to mourn the death of reform-minded former Chinese leader Hu Yaobang in April 1989 morphed into the largest protests the regime had ever seen. University students who congregated at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square asked the CCP to control severe inflation, curb officials’ corruption, take responsibility for past faults, and support a free press and democratic ideas.
By May, students from across China and Beijing residents from all walks of life had joined the protest. Similar demonstrations cropped up all over the country.
CCP leaders didn’t agree to the students’ requests.
Instead, the regime ordered the army to quash the protest. On the evening of June 3, tanks rolled into the city and surrounded the square. Scores of unarmed protesters were killed or maimed after being crushed by tanks or shot by soldiers firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Thousands are estimated to have died.
Lily Zhang, who was head nurse at a Beijing hospital a 15-minute walk from the square, recounted to The Epoch Times the bloodshed from that night. She woke up to the sound of gunfire and rushed to the hospital on the morning of June 4 after hearing of the massacre.
She was horrified when she arrived at her hospital to find a “warzone-like” scene. Another nurse, sobbing, told her the pool of blood from injured protesters was “forming a river at the hospital.”
At Zhang’s hospital, at least 18 had died by the time they were carried into the facility.
The soldiers used “dum-dum” bullets, which would expand inside the victim’s body and inflict further damage, Zhang said. Many sustained grave wounds and were bleeding so profusely that it was “impossible to revive them.”
At the hospital gate, a critically injured reporter with the state-owned China Sports Daily told the two health workers who carried him that he “didn’t imagine that the Chinese Communist Party would really open fire.”
“Shooting down unarmed students and commoners—what kind of ruling party is this?” were his final words, Zhang recalled.
Then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who ordered the bloody clampdown, was quoted in a British government cable as saying that “two hundred dead could bring 20 years of peace to China,” a month before the massacre in May 1989.
To this day, the regime has refused to disclose the number killed in the massacre or their names, and heavily suppresses information about the incident.
Persecution of Falun Gong
A decade later, the regime decided to carry out another bloody suppression.
On July 20, 1999, the authorities began a wide campaign targeting the estimated 70 million to 100 million practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that includes meditative exercises and moral teachings centered around the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, a website for Falun Gong-related information, millions of practitioners have been fired from their jobs, expelled from school, jailed, tortured, or killed simply because they refused to give up their belief.
In 2019, an independent people’s tribunal in London confirmed that the regime had carried out forced organ harvesting “on a significant scale” and that imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners were “probably the principal source.”
He Lifang, a 45-year-old Falun Gong practitioner from Qingdao, a city in Shandong Province, died after being detained for two months. His relatives said there were incisions on his chest and back. His face looked as if he was in pain, and there were wounds all over his body, according to Minghui.org, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for accounts of the persecution of Falun Gong.
Suppression of Religious and Ethnic Minorities
To maintain its rule, the CCP regime transferred a large number of Han ethnic people to Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, where ethnic groups live with their own cultures and languages. The regime forced local schools to use mandarin Chinese as the official language.
In 2008, Tibetans protested to express their anger at the regime’s control. The regime, in response, deployed the police. Hundreds of Tibetans were killed.
Since 2009, more than 150 Tibetans have self-immolated, hoping their deaths might stop the regime’s tight control in Tibet.
In Xinjiang, the regime authorities have been accused of committing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, including detaining a million people in secretive “political reeducation” camps.
Last year, the regime in Beijing set a new policy that mandated Mandarin Chinese-only teaching in some Inner Mongolia schools. When parents and students protested, they were threatened with arrest, detention, and job loss.
The regime also uses a surveillance system to monitor ethnic groups. Surveillance cameras were set up in Tibetan monasteries, and biometric data are collected in Xinjiang.
Eva Fu, Jack Phillips, Leo Timm, and Cathy He contributed to this report.