Before the North Korea nuclear crisis showed any sign of resolution, a Chinese general stunned the world with threatening talk that China would not withhold its nuclear weapons in case of a conflict with the United States over Taiwan. Already, the United States is at odds with China over issues like the recently failed bid by CNOOC for Unocal, the currency exchange rate, intellectual property piracy, textile exports and the ever-expanding trade imbalance, but such a statement sent shockwaves of an entirely different nature across the Atlantic. After all, who would have expected the prospect of a nuclear war with a business partner?
No one can say for sure how real the threat of a nuclear showdown is at the moment, but those who are familiar with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) don’t find the claim very surprising. The CCP has a long track record for breaking promises and placing little value on human life. Indeed, such a statement is quite telling about how the CCP operates. A closer look at its domestic dealings often reveals a clue for its international behavior.
At any given time, the top priority for the CCP is to maintain control at any cost. One long-standing strategy has been to periodically establish an enemy—either domestic or international—in order to consolidate power or silence critics. In doing so, the CCP usually uses violence as an integral part of the strategy, even if it means killing its own citizens in large numbers or resorting to war if necessary. The war in Vietnam in 1979 and the killing of its best and brightest in the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 are striking examples.
Most recently, the CCP has been committing another gross human rights violation—the persecution of a peaceful spiritual group called Falun Gong. Initially, when former Chinese President Jiang Zemin ordered the persecution, it was meant to be a quick kill. But after six years of relentless suppression that has failed to snuff out the spiritual movement, the CCP is faced with an unprecedented dilemma. Fearing international indignation at its brutality, the CCP has largely turned the persecution underground, but because of an effective grassroots campaign of raising public awareness by Falun Gong practitioners all over the world, the CCP is more afraid than ever that the persecution will fail and that the world eventually will not tolerate such a government. Under these circumstances, throwing out the nuclear threat may divert attention away from its domestic problems such as this one.
In this issue, we publish a documentary report about Falun Gong from its inception to its ongoing effort of peaceful resistance. We also provide articles analyzing friction between China and the United States on the issue of trade.