- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

Accidentally, China finds a golden opportunity to yet again play some dirty politics in the wake of the Sept. 11 ter-

rorist attacks on New York and Washington. It was invited by the Bush administration to join in the fight against terrorism. It is quite understandable that the United States needs to form a global coalition to combat terrorism. But China's gleeful jumping onto President Bush's bandwagon merits some serious questioning.

Because China has never been on the U.S. side since the Communist regime took power some 50 years ago, its policy towards the United States has always been like this: To be against all that is sponsored and supported by the United States. In recent years, China strongly condemned each and every one of U.S.-led military campaigns against the rogue nations such as Iran, Iraq and Libya.

Just two years ago when the Kosovo fighting erupted, China nearly mobilized all its propaganda sources to scold the U.S.-led bombing of Belgrade. It forcefully fanned an anti-American sentiment and skillfully cultivated a much distorted sense of victimhood among its people over NATO's accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. All of that spawned the unbelievable gloating of the Chinese over the devastation of New York and Washington.

China is only in the war on terrorism to serve its own agenda.

Beijing's main political agenda is to use this newly launched global war on terrorism to reframe its own repression of all its opponents inside and out of China. Under the newly-found camouflage of anti-terrorism, China can conveniently lump all its enemies, dissidents and separatists of Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang into one ready category of terrorists so that its brutal crackdown on these people in the future is justified.

China already portrayed itself as a victim of terrorist attacks shortly after Mr. Bush launched the war on Islamic-based terrorism. This is China's very well calculated move to blur the line between insidious terrorism and justifiable protests. The fact of the matter is China only received some insignificant backlash amid its vicious oppressions of the Uighurs in Xinjiang who fought to flee the Communist regime. And yet, China has cried to the international society to not use "double standards" toward terrorism.

But China does have a different understanding of terrorism and China does administer different brands of horror to its own people and the world. China tends to view all that hold different social, political and religious stances as its enemy, therefore a threat, a terrorist kind, to its tyrannical control. China's own brand of terrorism is political terrorism. Over the past 50 years, 30 million to 50 million people were persecuted for having different political views. Next to the Soviet Union, which committed terror against the Russians for more than seven decades, China has been in the terror business for over five decades.

Just two weeks into agreeing to join Mr. Bush's coalition to fight terrorism, China put four young intellectuals on trial. Their crime? To form an interest group via the Internet to discuss Chinese political issues. The official charge against them was rendered as "attempting to subvert the government." If convicted, they could face between 10 to 20 years in prison.

Under the same charge, an attorney-turned dissident was sentenced, just a couple of days before the trial of the four young intellectuals, to a three-year prison term for, as stated on his conviction, "forwarding articles to local friends from foreign internet web sites" articles that criticize Chinese government. According to Chinese law, the crime of "attempting to subvert the government" is a serious offense, often drawing a life sentence. It is a new rendition of the notorious "counter-revolutionary" crime used to put tens of thousands of Chinese dissidents to death since the Communists took power.

Reports of arrests, trials and sentences of this nature can be heard nearly everyday, not to mention the 295 confirmed deaths of Falun Gong followers at the hands of Chinese police. This is a typical act of, in a Chinese old saying, fishing in muddy water taking advantage of a chaotic situation. The Chinese see very clearly that there has been a priority shift in Mr. Bush's policy toward China. Before Sept. 11, Mr. Bush had adopted a tough stance on China calling it "strategic competitor." But, the terrorist attack has changed everything China is emerging as a potential partner in the war against terrorism. China wakes up smiling, Sept. 12 and on, at the windfall of the U.S. war on terrorism. It must be very thankful to Osama bin Laden.

But the Bush administration should not be fooled by China's jumping onto the bandwagon of anti-terrorism. The Chinese are only in the anti-terrorism war to serve their own interests to divert the attention of international society on its continued human rights abuse; to draw closer to the United States in exchange for more economic interests; to distance itself from the rogue states suspected of having involved in the terrorist attack only to conceal its dirty businesses with these terrorist thugs. It is all about face or face-value for China, not China's about-face in its stance on terrorism.

The Bush administration should not loosen up due vigilance on China's continued abuse of human rights, its crackdown on religious freedom, its suffocating of free exchange of ideas, its persecution of political dissidents.

Mr. Bush should not be fooled by China's superficial prosperity, especially when he is shown the dressed-up windows of the Pu Dong District in his trip to Shanghai. While craving for foreign investment and building an image of a progressive China, the Communist government has never stopped the political oppression of its own people since it took power.

The Bush administration should not compromise human rights in exchange for China's support for its fight against terrorism. It is very important that the United States does not fall into China's trap of quid pro quo when seeking China's cooperation.

With spy charges being overused, China's next move in rounding up scholars and dissidents from overseas would be to charge them as "terrorists." That would give the United States and the rest of the world no excuse to rush to the rescue of those detained. This time, the Chinese have really learned how to play the hostage game in a new environment. It is very likely that China will use this newly discovered shield to cover up new forms of human rights abuses.

China is truly a quick learner and smart chameleon. It really knows how to adapt to the ever-changing political climate of the world in order to keep its dirty business going.

Americans and the world must be aware of that.

Gao Zhan, an American University scholar, was released from prison in China earlier this year.

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