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Scientist Facilitating Open Internet Access in China Attacked in the United States

Dr. Peter Yuan Li, a computer engineer pioneering the work to break through the Chinese communist government’s information blockade, became the latest victim of the regime’s criminal activity in the United States. 

Peter Yuan Li, a United States citizen and key figure in the Falun Gong efforts to bring uncensored information to China through the Internet, was attacked and beaten in his home in the U.S. The attack took place just days before the U.S. Congressional hearing on the Chinese communist regime’s Internet censorship, held on February 15, 2006.

On the morning of February 8, according to Dr. Li, four Asian men stormed into his house in Duluth, Georgia. The intruders bound, gagged, and brutally attacked him. They ransacked the house, taking two laptop computers, his wallet, home telephone, and files from a locked cabinet that they pried open. No valuables, such as jewelry and other costly electronics, were touched. Dr. Li needed 15 stitches to close the wounds on his face.

Dr. Li holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University. He is a Falun Gong practitioner and Chief Technology Officer of The Epoch Times, a newspaper that published a highly critical series of essays titled the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. The Nine Commentaries has been banned in China, yet reportedly has been widely distributed within China through underground channels. The mere possession of the booklet has led to several years of imprisonment for more than a few people in China. The Nine Commentaries and its public campaigns have urged Communist Party members to renounce their Party affiliations on a specially designed website maintained by The Epoch Times. As of mid-February, over eight million Communist Party and Youth League members have renounced their allegiances on the website as a result of the Nine Commentaries campaign.

Dr. Li maintains both The Epoch Times website and the related Nine Commentaries and Communist Party renunciation websites. He ensures that, through proxy technologies, hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese are able to access the site and post their resignations. The Epoch Times website receives over one million hits from China per day.

Internet access to websites outside of China has become a tit-for-tat battlefield. As Dr. Li and his fellow Falun Gong colleagues work tirelessly to ensure that those in China can access The Epoch Times websites, the Chinese communist regime has been trying to counter these efforts with the technologies and services of Western firms that provide the nuts and bolts of China’s Internet. Cisco Systems, Google, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo! are all reported to have assisted the Chinese regime in arresting or otherwise persecuting those who speak up against the Chinese Communist Party or seek access to certain websites in the West. At the February 15th Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on the regime’s Internet censorship, these companies testified that compliance with Chinese authorities’ requests is required to stay in business in China. {mospagebreak}

The first man who knocked on Dr. Li’s door said he was a water deliveryman. Once Dr. Li opened the door, another man immediately appeared and helped his cohort push their way into Dr. Li’s home in the Atlanta suburb. The two were armed with a knife and a gun and spoke Korean, according to Dr. Li. As he called out for help, the two men knocked him to the floor, kicked him, and hit him on the head with the butt of the gun. After they had taped his eyes and bound him, he said he heard another one or two men enter his house. One of them spoke to him in Mandarin Chinese and demanded to know where he kept his documents. The men ransacked the house and forced open locked file cabinets. After the men left, Dr. Li was able to escape into the street, where a neighbor saw him and called the police. Fifteen stitches were needed to close the gashes on his face.

There have been many reported incidents of Falun Gong practitioners getting harassed or threatened while on U.S. soil. The New York City apartment of Falun Gong spokeswoman Gail Rachlin has reportedly been burgled five times since 1999. In April 2002, Falun Gong practitioners filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., against the Chinese communist government to protest these activities. Last year, for example, the San Francisco home of Mr. Youzhi Ma, an editor for The Epoch Times who finances and manages reporters inside China, was repeatedly broken into. His laptop computers were also stolen.

In October 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Con. Resolution 304, which recognizes that "the Chinese government has attempted to silence the Falun Gong movement and Chinese pro-democracy groups inside the United States." The resolution urges the U.S. Attorney General to "investigate reports that Chinese consular officials in the U.S. have committed illegal acts while attempting to intimidate or inappropriately influence Falun Gong practitioners or local elected officials."

Peter Yuan Li’s case is still under investigation. The police have not unearthed any evidence that ties the break-in at Dr. Li’s home to the Chinese communist government, nor has the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., issued a comment on the incident.