Silicon Valley titan Chamath Palihapitiya doesn’t care about the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights violations because they happen in China.
“If you want to talk about the human rights of people,” Palihapitiya recently said about the genocide China is perpetrating against its Uyghur citizens, “I think we have a responsibility to take care of our own backyard first. And then we can go and basically morally tell other people how they should be running their own countries.”
The problem with this is that China's communist regime is perfectly willing to extend its human rights abuses far beyond China’s borders — even right into our own backyard.
According to a new report published by Safeguard Defenders, a Spanish nongovernmental organization, the regime of Chinese leader Xi Jinping has reached into more than 120 countries to return nearly 10,000 Chinese citizens back to China involuntarily since 2014.
These involuntary returns are accomplished through three methods. Type 1, as Safeguard Defenders calls it, involves threatening, harassing, or punishing family members in China and then communicating that family turmoil to the fugitive abroad until he or she returns.
For example, in 2021, while studying in Dubai, Wang Jingyu searched online for the death toll of a June 2020 border clash between India and China. Within a half-hour, Chinese agents were searching his parents' home in Chongqing and took them to the police station. His parents were held until midnight and released, only to be summoned the next day when they were detained all day again. Chinese agents told Wang’s parents to call him and ask him to come back to China and surrender. When the Voice of America published Wang’s story, his parents completely disappeared. Their phone number is now out of service, and Wang has since applied for asylum in the Netherlands.
Not everyone can withstand such family pressure, and the vast majority of involuntary returns are accomplished through this method.
The regime also is known to send agents overseas or employ nonstate actors in foreign countries to harass and intimidate targets. Safeguard Defenders calls such action a Type 2 involuntary return. This could come in the form of face-to-face threats, notes left at a fugitive's home or place of business, or the harassment of friends and family also overseas.
Former export agent Qiu Gengmin was evicted from two apartments in the United States after his landlords were threatened by thugs hired by China. The harassment only ended after Qiu sought help from U.S. authorities. But such threats often work.
Type 3 involuntary returns (that is, kidnappings) are rare in Western countries, but they are far more common in countries with strong economic ties to China, such as Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam. In 2005, Lan Meng, the son of a former mayor accused of corruption, was allegedly drugged while in Australia, placed on a fishing boat, and then picked up by a Chinese cargo vessel in international waters.
China claims that these are all “anti-corruption” cases and that they are pursued by the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which was created to rid China of corruption. But the “anti-corruption” campaign launched by Xi is about far more than an honest government. It is also a tool to enforce party loyalty and discipline. They are the Communist Party's thought police.
Palihapitiya and other big-tech billionaires have enriched themselves for far too long by doing business with the Chinese communists and their related corporate enterprises. Neither the Chinese regime nor the Communist Party respects U.S. laws or sovereignty. It is far past time for Congress to explore ways to decouple the U.S. economy from that of China.
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