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NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ last night carried a story about the death of former Chinese head of state Jiang Zemin.  The show presented Zemin as a flamboyant lovable toad, a “funny guy” with giant glasses who self-deprecatingly practiced his English with foreign reporters and who set the stage for economic growth in China.

The reality is quite different.  Jiang Zemin was a butcher, a human rights violator who created a huge problem with corruption.  He moved the country towards greater dictatorship and a police state, keeping a stranglehold on power from behind the scenes after he left office.  He took a hard line on the Tiananmen Square protesters, calling their liquefaction under tank treads ‘not a tragedy’ and supporting the death penalty for their leaders.

He is best known for religious persecution, for launching the nationwide onslaught against the spiritual group Falun Gong, a persecution campaign that continues today.  Falun Gong, which is derived from Buddhism, claims 70 to 100 million followers in China.  There were more Falun Gong practitioners than Chinese Communist Party members at one point.  To the communists, anything they think competes with their power – even if it’s not political – must be stamped out.  In 1999, Jiang Zemin created the notorious 610 Office to carry out an eradication campaign against the Falun Gong.  Government-sponsored hate messages became ubiquitous and millions were imprisoned and tortured in Chinese jails, forced labor camps, and psychiatric wards.  I’ve worked with one who finally got out and came to America to tell the world what was really going on in China.  I suggest NPR interview Jennifer Zeng and learn her story of what she saw in prison – Falun Gong shocked with electric batons, forced to squat for hours in a stationary position, beaten to give up their beliefs, and the rest of it.

But that’s only half the story.  Jiang Zemin also ordered that prisoners of conscience like Falun Gong be killed for their organs.  Forced organ harvesting is a multi-billion dollar business in China and the unapologetic practice of it on an industrial scale traces back to Jiang Zemin.  A 2016 U.S. House resolution cited evidence proving the Chinese government and military are engaged in forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong and other prisoners.   The resolution called for an independent investigation which China has never allowed.  China has never explained how it could possibly be performing a hundred thousand organ transplants a year, or how it can find so many exact organ matches so quickly, in a matter of days when people have to wait months for organ transplants in other countries.  China denies anything sinister is going on and points to its new official organ donation system, but China has been caught faking its data and its propaganda on the subject is shrill.  It attempts to discreditanyone who dares look into the matter and to blame xenophobic ‘anti-China elements’ in Western countries for stirring up trouble.  That’s laughable.

Forced organ harvesting in China has been called the perfect crime:  “They were in robust health when they were put on the operating table for doctors to carve out their organs. Many of them were still breathing. When the job was done, the bodies were tossed into the incinerator and burned, leaving no trace behind.”

The perfect crime – and Xiang Zemin had a lot to do with it.  None of this is disputed.  Funny NPR didn’t mention any of it.  NPR and other American media outlets really should stop romanticizing butchers and communist dictators. It’s not a good look.  And, oh, by the way, they should stop taking money from China in exchange for favorable coverage.  That’s not a good look, either.

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