Thursday, August 31, 2006
Human Right Community Condemns PRC’s Guilty Verdict and Spy Accusation of Straits Times Correspondent
(Los Angeles) The Visual Artists Guild joins human rights supporters to condemn PRC’s prison sentence of five years - and charges of espionage - for Hong-Kong based Ching Cheong, a foreign correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times.
Ann Lau, Chair of the Visual Artists Guild stated: “Just one day after the New York Times reported how the United States is busy encouraging China to become more active in its role with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China’s crackdown on journalists is undermining any trust the international trading community could possible have with the PRC. How can PRC official think they will build pre-Olympics relations with the international community while their paranoia against Taiwan and international reporters is unceasing? Not only does this verdict send a chill throughout everyone in the journalist community, but throughout all researchers in any kind of discipline. It will certainly put a cloud over any future academic exchanges.”
The Visual Artists Guild joins those who wonder how Ching Cheong, who worked for a Taiwanese think tank which has maintained close contact with high level PRC party members and scholars inside China, could be considered a spy for that organization while their other contacts remain unscrutininzed.
When Mr. Ching Cheong, tried to obtain a manuscript more than one year ago by the late Zhao Ziyang, an opponent of the PRC’s 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre of students, he was arrested and remained in prison uncharged for 16 months. After his trial two weeks ago, the Beijing Intermediate People's Court No. 2 sentenced him to five years in prison for selling “top secrets” to Taiwan. He was also fined him HK$300,000.
Ching Cheong is the second journalist employed by a foreign news organization to receive a prison sentence during this past week, and the third major sentencing story from China this month. Last week, Zhao Yan, a researcher for the New York Times was accused of revealing "state secrets" and was given three year sentence for fraud charges. On August 24, 2006, Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison after recording complaints of PRC’s brutal forced abortion policy in Shandong province.
The Visual Artist Guild reminds democracies throughout the world – including the United States – that while many permit and encourage greater involvement for economic development and partnership with China, time after time we are shown how any unfavorable inquiry about the PRC by any journalist can result in jail and imprisonment. The Visual Artists Guild will continue to monitor this situation and attacks on journalists as the 2008 Olympics approaches.
For further information, please contact Ann Lau at 310/539-0234