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G20 Leaders, Please Put People before Chinese Party-State’s Glory

By Yang Jianli & Han LianchaoOne of the main themes of the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit which China’s president Xi Jinping will chair next w  eek is to build an inclusive world economy. To achieve that goal, the Chinese organizer claims that “China is working with all parties to pull in one direction in the spirit of a win-win partnership and to help pool wisdom and form synergy.”

However, for 2.5 million Hangzhou residents, the upcoming summit put them in a lose-lose situation because the government’s preparation and policing for the event has become so unconscionably disruptive and abusive that the summit will be an embarrassing contradiction of G-20 principles
The government has sealed many Hangzhou’s residential districts or neighborhoods, and special passes are required to get in and out.

Ahead of the G20 summit, the Chinese regime reportedly spent over $100 billion in a face-lifting effort for the city. To carry out this massive construction and repair project, Hangzhou launched the “Zhengqian Qingling(征迁清零)” operation, a special action that the Government takes to expropriate land, relocate families and clear all holdouts, which has forced many residents to lose their ancestral homes to ruthless demolition.

According to victims’ reports, Hangzhou’s demolition teams armed with sledgehammers, bulldozers, blowtorches and cranes, abducted the residents, held them in hotels and demolish their homes at night, in the cover of darkness. The forced demolition has been carried out since the beginning of this year.
Additionally, to “create a safe environment” for G20 leaders the Chinese government has imposed a ban to close religious worship gatherings and other activities. It has launched a new round of more severe crackdown on many underground house churches in this coastal province that has been so notorious in its cross demolition campaign led by the party chief Xia Baolong, one of the Mr. Xi Jinping’s confidants, with over 1200 crosses forcibly removed.
The Government’s array of other draconic measures include: delaying all students from returning to their schools during the summit — even closing daycare centers; ordering all non-local permanent residents and those critical of official misdeeds, whom the regime deems “political dissidents” to leave Hangzhou; prohibiting passengers without national ID cards to take the subway; creating a food-cooking crisis by drastically limiting propane gas sales; and halting production of hundreds factories within 300 km radius of the city to crate a blue sky for the G20 leaders, causing huge economic hardship to the factory owners as well as workers.
All these measures have gone far beyond necessary and reasonable to protect G20 leaders’ safety. The obvious true intent for the harsh suppression and abuse is to create a positive image of today’s China under President Xi Jinping who will, for the first time, chair the Summit. Xi hopes that such an artificially pristine image of Hangzhou will help him continue to consolidate his power, to legitimize and glorify China’s one-party autocracy.
Moreover, the cruel impacts of the glorification campaign have now spread to the entire province and even neighboring provinces, causing a widespread general outcry from the distraught citizen victims. They manage to express their grievances in everyday conversations and on cyberspace, despite the regime’s strict censorship and information policing.
But the regime’s response simply has been to more harshly clamp down on the people’s voice. For example, Guo Enping, a local government worker in Taizhou district of Zhejinag Province, made a moderate criticism about the G20 summit preparation work’s the extravagant wastes, and the excessive burdens imposed on ordinary citizens. He was fired from his job, arrested, and charged with the crime of “creating a disturbance.”
Clearly, such blatant suppression of free speech, abuse of other human rights, damage of the local economy and enforcement of the de-facto martial law in Hangzhou will worsen as the G20 summit approaches, running completely contrary to the summit’s original intention and proclaimed principles which are to help, not hurt, the people of the G-20 nations.
In the past, many criticized the G20’s exclusivity, and its high cost and broad extent of summit-related security. But this time China’s cruelties and indifference to its own people have dwarfed the previous criticism and pose an unavoidable moral challenge to visiting world leaders. It is only right that the G20 leaders stand up to the Chinese regime and press President Xi and his local organizers immediately to allow Hangzhou residents to return to their normal life, restore local economic activities, lift bans on religious gatherings, and stop human rights abuses.
Should the Chinese regime defiantly continue these shameful practices, The G20 leaders, especially President Obama, who touts respect for human rights, should distance themselves from this disgraceful oppression, and boycott the Hangzhou summit by putting people before the Chinese Communist Party’s glory. That will spare the G20 organization, and leaders, the condemnation of this betrayal of conscience.
Dr. Yang Jianli is president of Citizen Power in China and Dr.Han Lianchao its vice president.
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