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Chinese Construction Workers in Saipan Still Fighting for Their Wages

China Change, May 25, 2015

 

 

 

The struggle continues for Chinese workers who labored on the Imperial Pacific casino project. This morning, as captured in this video, over 20 workers are protesting in the streets of Saipan chanting “pay my hard-earned wages, I want to return home.” Below is a letter issued by the protesting workers describing their long hours, low pay, and inhumane treatment. They are demanding to be paid in accordance with U.S. minimum wage and overtime laws as well as seeking compensation for injured workers.

These workers were employed by a variety of Chinese construction companies helping construct the casino, including Beilida, Gold Mantis, CMC Macao, and the state-owned enterprise MCC. As the New York Times noted, several of the companies see their work in Saipan as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” project.

IMG_4327Earlier this month, after a series of protests, over 90 undocumented Gold Mantis workers received compensation pursuant to a U.S. Department of Labor settlement. However, Gold Mantis never compensated workers injured on the job, despite calls for them to do so by a previous OSHA official and other advocates. And some Gold Mantis employees still have not been paid.

One of the protesting workers, Gui Lin Zhang, worked for both MCC and Gold Mantis. He had to pay US $1,000 in cash to the Gold Mantis boss to get that job. Before he was paid his salary of $910 for his one month of work, another $300 “management fee” was deducted. He has not received any pay from the U.S. Department of Labor settlement. Further, after leaving Gold Mantis, he was then injured while working at MCC, pulling muscles in his back. The company refused to take him to a doctor or provide any compensation.

Describing his work in Saipan, Zhang stated, “In terms of emotional stress, working 6 months on the casino project was equivalent to working 20 years in China. The managers frequently cursed at us. They treated us like we were not humans.”

At least one of the workers for CMC Macao had worked for over a month but not received any wages at all.

Take Action

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and other allies have called on Imperial Pacific to tell its contractors to compensate workers.

The workers ask allies to tell Imperial Pacific via email (groupmarcom@imperialpacific.com) or phone (+852- 3968-9800) that all exploited casino workers must receive the pay and compensation to which they are entitled.

 

2017.5.25 - Worker Protest Letter - CN (cropped)

2017.5.25 - Worker Protest Letter - EN (cropped)

 

 

 

 

One Belt, One Road, Total Corruption

Chang Ping, May 18, 2017

“Corruption is not just the result of money being misused, but the lack of a fair and transparent mechanism itself.”

 

OBOR_gold bridge

 

God said: “Let there be light,” and then there was light. Xi Jinping said: “A ‘Project of the Century’ must be undertaken,” and then there was “One Belt, One Road.” At the just-completed summit in Beijing, Xi Jinping announced that China will invest hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars in 60 countries to lead in the construction of bridges, railways, ports and energy projects. This venture is known as “One Belt, One Road,” and involves more than 60 percent of the world’s population. It’s projected to transform the global political and economic order, and can be said to be the largest overseas investment project undertaken by a single country in history.

Where does such an unprecedented, magnificent, and spectacular plan come from? How many Chinese were aware of it in advance? Was it critically evaluated? And what was the outcome of the evaluation? Other than Xi Jinping, there is probably no one who can answer these questions. And no one knows if he himself has carefully thought about it. People can at least learn about almighty God by reading the Bible. But the “One Belt, One Road” plan of renewing the world only consists of a few pages of empty speeches and some conference documents. According to Chinese media descriptions, the whole world is heralding the birth of a new savior.

‘One Belt, One Road’: Don’t Ask Me Where I Came From

It’s been 500 years since Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, but in China a corrupt “church” still monopolizes everything. Rational Europeans cast a suspicious eye. German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not attend the forum and “join in the festivities,” and the German Minister for Economics and Energy, Brigitte Zypries, who attended the event, criticized the unclear source of capital in China’s acquisition of German companies. Minister Zypries should also see that the lack of clarity does not just apply to the origin of part of the capital, but the whole “One Belt, One Road” project.

Joerg Wuttke, President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said in a recent interview: “I hope China is actually embracing the world and opening up to foreign trade instead of just reaching out.” Risk analyst Andrew Gilholm said: “I don’t think many people are buying the spin that this is all in the name of free trade and global prosperity.” Siegfried O. Wolf, Director of Research at South Asia Democratic Forum in Brussels, was even more candid: “At present there is a lack of an effective platform for ‘One Bridge, One Road’ cooperation between Europe and China. If China is reluctant to build this bridge, and is unwilling to move toward multilateral mechanisms and disregards the values of the European Union based on good governance, rule of law, human rights, and democracy, then European skepticism of ‘One Belt, One Road’ will continue.”

Countries outside Europe aren’t irrational either. U.S. President Donald Trump, a businessman, has adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward China’s Creation Project, and only sent National Security Council Asia Director Matthew Pottinger to attend the meeting. Australia rejected China’s invitation. India boycotted the summit, saying that the “One Belt, One Road” project ignored “core concerns about sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Many of the leaders attending the summit are autocrats who don’t care about the questionable origin of China’s funding, and know the Chinese government doesn’t care how the investment is actually used once it’s given.

Buy One, Give Two Away: Corruption and the Deterioration of Human Rights

Many Chinese believe that Xi Jinping is leading a fight against corruption. What is corruption? Corruption is not just the result of money being misused, but the lack of a fair and transparent mechanism itself. In this sense, the lack of democratic supervision of “One Belt, One Road” is a mechanism for corruption. As with all large projects in China, there is no restriction on power, and this inevitably results in the criminal activities of corruption, rent-seeking, giving and taking bribes and money laundering.

While the Chinese media was obediently singing the praises of “One Belt, One Road” and its benefit to all mankind, a Chinese netizen posted the comment: “Some people lamented that overnight we’ve returned to the Song Dynasty [translator’s note: Song is a homonym for “give away” in Mandarin]. Others asked: the Southern Song Dynasty or the Northern Song Dynasty? Answer: No, it’s not ‘Southern Song Dynasty or Northern Song Dynasty,’ it’s the ‘Eastern Song [Give-Away] Dynasty’ and ‘Western Song [Give-Away] Dynasty!” Without public oversight, an unelected leader can take hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars in taxpayers’ money and give it to authoritarian states. The only thing that taxpayers can do is sneer at and mock it. Can a sane person believe that this is a good thing?

In the process of cooking up “One Belt, One Road,” China’s human rights situation has significantly deteriorated and threatens the whole world. Can all these—the kidnapping of Hong Kong booksellers, the coerced confessions of journalists, NGO workers, dissidents, and activists on China Central Television (CCTV), the disappearance of a Taiwanese human rights worker, and the cruel torture suffered by a large number of Chinese human rights lawyers—make you believe that such a government, which is expanding its economic and political clout through the “One Belt, One Road” program, will bring a New Gospel to mankind?

 

长平_DWChang Ping is a Chinese media veteran and current events commentator now living in political exile in Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a Deutsche Welle column. Translated by China Change.  

 

Also by Chang Ping:

China’s ‘Freedom’ Cage, by Chang Ping, 2015.

We’d Be Satisfied With Any Government!, October, 2015.

Chinese Students Studying Abroad a New Focus of CCP’s “United Front Work” , June, 2015.

Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government, July, 2014.

 

An interview with Chang Ping:

The Fate of Press Freedom in China’s Era of ‘Reform and Opening up’:  An Interview With Chang Ping, December 15, 2016

 

 

Injured Chinese Workers in Saipan Demand Compensation From Employer

May 11, 2017

 

 

 

Related:

Workers Stranded in Saipan Without Pay Wrote Letter to Chinese Consulate, May 1, 2017.

U.S. Investigates Work at Pacific Island Casino Project With Trump Ties, New York Times, May 4, 2017.

 

 

 

Wife: How I First Learned About Xie Yang’s Torture

Chen Guiqiu, May 8, 2017

 

Over the weekend, ahead of the trial of human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳) on Monday, his wife Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋) published an article detailing, for the first time, how she first learned about her husband’s torture during the 6-month “residential surveillance at a designated place” and then in the Changsha 2nd Detention Center. Xie Yang, during the three-hour show trial for subversion and disrupting court order, denied being tortured as part of an apparent deal with the government. He looked gaunt in photographs. He was represented by a government appointed lawyer, and no witnesses were called. A handwritten statement by Xie Yang on January 13, sealed with red wax thumbprints, foretold this unfortunate “denial”: “If, one day in the future, I do confess — whether in writing or on camera or on tape, that will not be the true expression of my own mind. It may be because I’ve been subjected to prolonged torture, or because I’ve been offered the chance to be released on bail to reunite with my family. Right now I am being put under enormous pressure, and my family is being put under enormous pressure, for me ‘confess’ guilt and keep silent about the torture I was subject to.” — The Editors

 

On March 2, 2017, in a nearly 12 minute segment, CCTV-4 published a report about the torture of Hunan human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳). The report, using numerous strands of evidence, purported to comprehensively prove that “Xie Yang did not suffer torture.” It said that the claim that Xie Yang had been tortured was a “conspiracy,” “engineered” by myself and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇). Included in the report was footage of Jiang Tianyong — under secret detention since November 21 last year — confessing guilt, and a so-called “independent investigation” by the Hunan Procuratorate, as well eyewitness description by the reporter upon visiting Xie Yang in the detention center.

Xie Yang’s defense lawyer, Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), produced an exhaustive, professional, and meticulous transcript of Xie Yang’s descriptions of the torture he suffered during meetings last December and on several successive days in January this year. These were published on January 19, 2017. A mass smear campaign in March also hinted that Chen Jiangang’s torture transcripts were a fabrication. Chen has already provided detailed and potent rebuttals of these ludicrous claims (here and here).

From early March to now, I’ve been silent for over two months. Today, I’m breaking that silence. First of all, I’d like the world to know how I came to gain news of the torture of Xie Yang beginning in August, 2016. With this, as well as Chen Jiangang’s transcripts and Xie Yang’s own handwritten statement, people can decide for themselves whether Xie Yang’s torture is real, and who is lying.

I.  In late July, 2016, Hunan security police arranged for lawyer Zhang Zhongshi (张重实) to visit Xie Yang, for the purpose of persuading him to confess. Xie Yang had been in detention for a year by then, six months of which was under residential surveillance. After that he was held in the Changsha 2nd Detention Center. The meeting was extremely short. Xie Yang hurriedly recounted to Zhang some of the torture he suffered. He said that he was tortured to give a confession, and that he had at one point screamed out for help. He also told Zhang that over the past few days the detention center had locked him up in the same cell as a death row prisoner. The latter deliberately provoked him with lit cigarettes, and that after Xie Yang fought back against the bullying, the death row prisoner seized the opportunity to beat Xie Yang with his hand manacles. He sustained head injuries from this.

II.  In August 2016, someone called and texted me multiple times at 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., saying that a man was calling for help from the second floor of the retired cadre guesthouse of the National University of Defense Technology on Deya Road in Changsha. The cries for help included my telephone number, name, and work unit. I went to visit this brave caller to verify what he told me. He said that the blood-curdling cries for help were terrifying in the extreme. Later, the interviews of Xie Yang by Chen Jiangang corroborated this incident. Xie Yang was indeed, while suffering an illness and trying to deflect the blows raining down on him, screaming for help out of the window of the cadre guest house.

III.  On November 21, 2016, lawyer Zhang Zhongshi was able to formally hold a conference with Xie Yang for the first time as his defense lawyer. He heard Xie Yang, on his way to the meeting room, cry out at being slugged by the disciplinary officer Yuan Jin (袁进), and he touched Xie Yang’s swollen, bloody head. Zhang and I then exposed this incident to the media.

IV.  In the year that Xie Yang was held in the detention center, several former detainees personally gave me extremely detailed accounts of the torture and inhumane treatment he was put to. They said he was put in solitary confinement, denied the use of money placed in his account by family, and denied toothpaste and toilet paper. He also described to them the numerous forms of torture applied against him during residential surveillance at a designated place. I have audio recordings of these accounts. I will make them public at an appropriate time.

V.  During my contact with the state security police and public security forces, a number of people told me the news that Xie Yang had been tortured in custody. I also made audio recordings of these statements.

VI.  These varied sources corroborated each other. I cannot reveal the names because they would be subject to violent reprisal for telling me. They include individuals in the security police and the public security system whose conscience has not been lost, and kind-hearted people who have suffered like me. When the state terrorists behind these acts have fallen from power, I will let you know who these heroes are.

Before Chen Jiangang’s interview transcripts were published, the news about Xie Yang was revealed by myself and his previous defense lawyers, covering two periods of time: when Xie Yang was being held in residential surveillance (July 11, 2015 to January 8, 2016) and after he was placed in the detention center (January 8, 2016 to the present). Every piece of evidence we gathered can be verified.

The torture details we learned from the above channels were verified in their entirety by Chen Jiangang’s transcript.

I know in my bones that in China the public security officials, the public prosecutors, and the courts, are one colluding family, and that the judicial system is unjust and has no transparency.  According to Chinese law, during the time that Xie Yang has been detained, a video recording should have been kept 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the torture is fake, the authorities simply need to produce the video evidence to show it. This would constitute the most persuasive, primary evidence. Why have they never produced it? Clearly, all the “evidence” they keep speaking about are all lies.

 

Chen Guiqiu
May 6, 2017

 


Related:

Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (1) – Arrest, Questions About Chinese Human Rights

Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (2) – Sleep Deprivation

Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (3) – Dangling Chair, Beating, Threatening Lives of Loved Ones, and Framing Others

Transcript of Interviews with Lawyer Xie Yang (4) – Admit Guilt, and Keep Your Mouth Shut

 

This is an excerpt of Chen Guiqiu’s article, translated by China Change.

 

 

 

Urgent Statement by Chinese Lawyers Concerning Lawyer Chen Jiangang Who Was Detained by Yunnan Police Along With Family and Friends

May 4, 2017

 

img_3310

Lawyer Chen Jiangang

 

We have learned that, around 1 pm on May 3, 2017, Beijing lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), his wife and two young children, as well as their friends Zhang Baocheng (张宝成) and his wife, were forcibly taken into custody by local police while the company was on a tourist trip in Jinghong, Yunnan province (云南景洪). In doing so, the police did not present any legal warrant. Lawyer Chen Jiangang and the company have now been in custody for over 19 hours, and their belongings have been confiscated. [As of the publication of the translation of this statement, they have been detained for over 30 hours.]

We are acutely aware that lawyer Chen Jiangang has riled the authorities for revealing the torture of his client, the Hunan-based lawyer Xie Yang, and we hope that his detention in Yunnan is not intentional retaliation against lawyer Chen Jiangang by the relevant organs. We’d also like to stress that free movement inside the borders of China is a natural, as well as a legal, right of each and every Chinese citizen.

Based on the international standard that lawyers shall not face reprisal or be persecuted for practicing their profession, and also based on citizens’ natural and legal rights to travel freely in the country, we issue the following urgent statement:

1. Yunnan police must immediately and unconditionally release Chen Jiangang, Zhang Baocheng and others traveling with them;

2. We have been paying close attention to the situation and will continue to do so. We will provide all legal assistance to lawyer Chen Jiangang and others on the same trip who have been controlled by police.

 

May 4, 2017

 

Stated by lawyers:

Jiang Yongji, Gansu (蒋永继,甘肃律师);Wen Donghai, Hunan (文东海,湖南律师);Cai Ying, Hunan (蔡瑛,湖南律师);Zhang Jinwu (张金武,山东律师);Chang Weishan, jiangsu (程为善,江苏律师);Li Yuzhen, Shandong (李玉真,山东律师);Zhu Shengwu, Shandong (祝圣武,山东律师);Huang Hanzhong, Beijing (黄汉中,北京律师); Liu Zhiqiang, Shanxi (刘志强,陕西律师);Yu Quan, Sichuan (于全,四川律师);

DingbXikui, Beijing (丁锡奎,北京律师);Chen Jinxue, Guangdong (陈进学,广东律师);Qin Yongpei, Guangxi (覃永沛,广西律师);LAN Zhixue, Beijing (兰志学,北京律师);Chang Boyang, Henan (常伯阳,河南律师);Ji Laisong, Henan (姬来松,河南律师);Hu Linzheng, Hunan (胡林政,湖南律师);Zhou Yinchang, Shandong (周云昌,山东律师);Ma Wei, Tianjin (马卫,天津律师);Liu Shuqing, Shandong (刘书庆,山东律师);

Liu Weiguo, Shandong (刘卫国,山东律师);Zhao Yonglin, Shandong (赵永林,山东律师);Zhao Hexu, Shandong (赵和绪,山东律师);Xiao Yunyang, Guizhou (萧云阳,贵州律师);Shu Xiangxin, Shandong (舒向新,山东律师后);Ge Wenxiu, Guangdong (葛文秀,广东律师);Chen Jinhua, Hunan (陈金华,湖南律师);Wang Qingpeng, Hebei (王清鹏,河北律师);Yu Wensheng, Beijing (余文生,北京律师);Lu Siwei, Sichuan (卢思位,四川律师);

Huang Zhiqiang, Zhejiang (黄志强,浙江律师);Situ Yiping, Shandong (司徒一平,山东律师);Li Jinxing, Shandong (李金星,山东律师);Zheng Xiang, Shandong (郑湘,山东律师);Luo Lizhi, Hunan (罗立志,湖南律师);Yang Xuan, Hunan (杨璇,湖南律师);Chen Yixuan, Hunan (陈以轩,湖南律师);Zou Lihui, Fujian (邹丽惠,福建律师);Fan Biaowen, Guangdong (范标文,广东律师);Lu Fangzhi, Hunan (吕方芝,湖南律师);

Wang Haijun, Hunan (王海军,湖南律师);Zhang Junjie, Henan (张俊杰,河南律师);Wen Yu, Guangdong (闻宇,广东律师);Wei Shuiping, Guangdong (魏水平,广东律师);Zhai Yuan, Sichuan (瞿远,四川律师);Zhao Shaohua, Guangdong (赵绍华,广东律师);Pang Kun, Shenzhen (庞琨,深圳律师);Wang Huanan, Shandong (王化南,山东律师);Fang Yining, Beijing (房一宁,北京律师);Ma Wannian, Ningxia (马万年,宁夏律师);

Xu Hongwei, Shandong (徐红卫,山东律师);Xu Guijuan, Shandong (许桂娟,山东律师);Chen Nanshi, Hunan (陈南石,湖南律师);Zhang Zhongshi, Hunan (张重实,湖南律师);Wang Zhenjiang, Shandong (王振江,山东律师);Li Yongheng, Shandong (李永恒,山东律师);Meng Meng, Henan (孟猛,河南律师);Tang Jitian, Beijing (唐吉田,北京律师后);Ren Quanniu, Henan (任全牛,河南律师);Liu Wei, Beijing (刘巍,北京律师后);

Wen Haibo, Beijing (温海波,北京律师);Liu Yan, Shandong (刘彦,山东律师);Ling Qilei, Beijing (蔺其磊,北京律师);Liu Jianjun, Beijing (刘建军,北京律师);Li Weida, Hebei (李威达,河北律师);Li Jinglin, Beijing (李静林,北京律师);Xie Yanyi, Beijing (谢燕益,北京律师);Zhang Lei, Beijing (张磊,北京律师);Sui Muqing, Guangdong (隋牧青,广东律师);

Tang Jiaji, Guangxi (谭家骥,广西律师);Zhong Jinhua, Shanghai (钟锦化,上海律师);Wang Zongyue, Guizhou (王宗跃,贵州律师);Yang Mingkuai, Yunnan (杨明跨,云南律师);Ma Lianshun, Henan (马连顺,河南律师);Ge Wenxiu, Guangdong (葛文秀,广东律师);Xi Xiangdong, Shandong (袭祥栋,山东律师);Zeng Yi, Yunnan (曾义,云南律师);Lu Tingge, Hebei (卢廷阁,河北律师);

Li Fangping, Beijing (李方平,北京律师);Liang Xiaojun, Beijing (梁小军,北京律师);Liu Shihui, Guangdong (刘士辉,广东律师);Wu Kuiming, Guangdong (吴魁明,广东律师);Ji Zhongjiu, Zhejiang (纪中久,浙江律师);Teng Biao, Beijing (滕彪,北京律师);Zheng Enchong, Shanghai (郑恩宠,上海律师);Jiang Yuanmin, Guangdong (蒋援民,广东律师);Luo Qian, Hunan (罗茜,湖南律师);Liu Lianhe, Tianjin (刘连贺,天津律师);

Liu Zhengqing, Guangdong (刘正清,广东律师);Cui Xiaoping, Guangdong (崔小平,广东律师);Tong Chaoping, Beijing (童朝平,北京律师);Wang Qiushi, Heilongjiang (王秋实,黑龙江律师);He Wei, Chongqing (何伟,重庆律师);Zhang Jinhong, Henan (张锦宏,河南律师);

 

Co-signitories:
Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), wife of 709 lawyer Xie Yang; Li Wenzu (李文足), wife of 709 lawyer Wang Quanzhang; Jin Bianling (金变玲), wife of 709 lawyer Jiang Tianyong; and Wang Qiaoling (王峭岭), wife of 709 lawyer Li Heping.

 

We continue to ask more lawyers and other concerned parties to co-sign this statement. Please send your information via WeChat or text to 18093643144, or communicate your intent to any of the above signatories.

 


Related:

Breaking: Lawyer Chen Jiangang, With Family and Two Friends, Seized by Armed Police in Yunnan, May 3, 2017

‘In the Event That I Lose My Freedom’: A Statement by Lawyer Chen Jiangang, March 3, 2017.

 

 

 

A Long Journey to Visit My Husband Zhang Haitao in Shaya Prison, Part Two

Li Aijie, April 29, 2017

This is the second and last installment of Li Aijie’s account of her trip. Zhang Haitao was sentenced to 15 years in prison on January 15, 2016, for “inciting subversion of state power” and 5 years for “providing intelligence to foreign organizations.” He’s currently imprisoned in Shaya Prison in remote western Xinjiang. He believes that he is innocent, and has retained an attorney to represent him for a petition for retrial (申诉). — The Editors

 

Li Aijie, 沙雅胡杨2

Euphrates poplar groves in Shaya. Photo by a netizen on a driving tour.

 

On April 22, 2017 I took a train from Urumqi, and arrived in Aksu on the morning of April 23 at around 8:00 a.m. Human rights volunteer Huang Xiaomin (黄晓敏) was already waiting at the train station. After breakfast the four of us—Huang, attorney Ran Tong (冉彤), a driver and I—drove in the cold drizzle. We arrived in the Shaya county seat soon after 5:00 p.m.

After we arranged accommodation, on the morning of April 24 we set off for Shaya Prison. Because we weren’t familiar with the road, we went the wrong way and had to turn back midway. At about 10:30 a.m. we finally arrived at the prison gates. My uneasiness and insomnia due to worrying whether the meeting would take place made me even more exhausted and nervous.

Upon seeing our IDs and paperwork, the guard told us that more procedures were necessary. Attorney Ran Tong and Teacher Huang argued, negotiated, and mediated on the basis of reason and law. The prison guard told us that he needed to ask for instructions from his supervisor. We waited anxiously. After inquiring with his supervisor twice, the guard slowly walked toward us and said: “Your paperwork isn’t complete, and today isn’t a visiting day.” My heart leapt into my throat. He continued, “But we’ve taken into account that you came such a long way. Remember to bring complete paperwork next time.”

The stone hanging in my heart finally fell. I was excited, and silently said to myself: “Praise the Lord! Thank God!” My ardent morning prayer was answered.    

I was put on a prison bus with some visiting Uighur family members. Sitting on the bus, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears ran down my face just thinking that I would soon see my husband who I missed so much. The bus passed through an expanse of desert. Red poplar trees gave a sense of vicissitude and decay. Under the bright sunlight, they looked scorched and desolate.

About five or six minutes later, the bus stopped in front of a solitary white building. After we got off, men and women each formed a line and went through a strict security check that required removing our shoes. I took out my ID and money and stored the rest of my documents in a prison locker. I deposited 600 yuan, the maximum permitted, for Haitao. I sat on a stool waiting. The television on the wall was streaming the life of the prisoners.

A staff member led me to an office and explained some rules, such as that talking about politics would result in the termination of the visit, and the visit would only last 30 minutes. I was then taken out of the room. After going a short distance we entered another room.                  

zhang-haitao_wife-and-baby

Li Aijie and her new-born baby outside the detention center in Urumqi in 2016.

“Your man is in this room,” a police officer said, pointing to my left. Upon entering, I saw three police officers waiting. I immediately saw Haitao sitting on the other side of the glass partition, with two officers standing behind him. Excited, I quickly walked up and sat down opposite. “Husband, you’ve lost weight!” I said hurriedly. “Wife, you have, too!” Haitao said it with a smile. He looked in good spirits and his complexion was good. He appeared clean and calm, which also comforted me.

“Husband, how are you? How is life in here? Have your foot shackles been removed? Does your stomach still hurt?” I bombarded him with questions, concerned that I wouldn’t have enough time to say everything. “I’m not wearing foot shackles anymore. My stomach doesn’t hurt either. When I arrived at the prison I was given a physical exam at Shaya Hospital. Everything is fine. We have a regular routine here. Every morning we get up at 7:30 a.m. After washing, we exercise and then eat. After breakfast, we exercise for another ten minutes or so before we begin studying.” “What do you study?” “We study some traditional culture, such as the teachings of Confucius and Mencius.”

“Do you have a Bible inside? Can you read it? I brought you a Bible the Autumn Rain Church* gave you but I wasn’t allowed to bring it in.” “We’re not allowed to read it inside!” “But you need to pray to God for yourself, your family, friends, for this country, nation, even the police around you. You need to love yourself and love others, okay?” Haitao nodded.

He told me that for meals he has steamed bread, watery gruel, and some small side dishes. If they’re given soybean milk then they get no other dishes. He can have eggs, tofu, even chicken and rice pilaf when it comes time to “improve prisoners’ lives.” “I’m in very good health,” he said.

“Stand up then, walk around and let me see!” I wanted to see for myself. Haitao stood up and walked around. “Okay, not bad. You’re still full of spirit!” I felt relieved and sat back down. “Who accompanied you this time?” Haitao asked. “Huang Xiaomin and attorney Ran Tong. But they’re not allowed to come inside!” “Oh, that makes me feel better. Please thank them for me!” Haitao folded his hands in prayer.

“Before I left, friends all asked me to convey their concern and say hello to you. Sister Wang Yi and her husband Hua Chunhui, and many other friends. Even after I arrived in Shaya County there were still many friends who called to ask me to tell you to exercise, take care of your health, be strong, and hold on, that they’re sure that you will be free soon. We’re all waiting for you!”

Haitao became quiet for quite a while, hands folded in front of him. “Please thank everyone for me. I won’t get discouraged. Please tell everyone not to worry!”

Haitao told me that he will continue to appeal his case.

“I brought our son’s photos, but wasn’t allowed to bring them in. Our son is very naughty, he can’t stop kissing your picture. He also knows how to make calls and he ‘calls’ you. Next time I come I’ll bring him with me.” “Can he talk a lot? Are you all spoiling him too much, and that’s why he’s acting so naughty? Don’t pamper him too much. Can he stand such a long trip? If not, wait until he’s older,” he said, seeming calm. But I saw his eyes getting moist.

I asked Haitao if the prison allowed writing letters to family members. He said he’d mailed two letters. One of them was inspected and rejected by the prison authorities, but the other had been mailed. “You didn’t receive it?” He said he would send me letters every month.

“How are your parents? If you need anything ask my sisters, and tell them I said to do it.” “Okay,” I nodded emphatically.

Presently I heard an urgent voice from behind telling me that I had five minutes left. “Haitao, you must take care of your health. You owe me and our son a lot. When you get out you have to doubly repay us!” I said in a hastened and stern tone of voice.

Thinking that I would part with him soon, I couldn’t help letting my tears flow. A prison guard handed me tissues.

“Wife, I had a dream. It’s so clear I feel it’s real. You’re sitting at the small table where the phone is at home, and you can’t stop calling me. But all you hear is the message that no one is available at the number you’ve dialed. You keep calling, and the phone keeps saying the same thing.”

At this point Haitao was pulled up by two prison guards.

“You’ve gone overtime by almost five minutes!” the prison guard behind me said.

I stood up, putting my hands on the window. Haitao also stretched his hands out and put them against mine on the other side of the glass partition. “Yes, this is true. When you were just arrested I did call you non-stop like this. Husband, you must take good care of your health. Our son and I will wait for you. We will all wait for you!” I choked up with sobs, my tears falling like pearls from a broken thread.

The waiting room door opened. Haitao turned his head toward me, his hands shaking in prayer. Sunlight flooded in, making the whole room very bright, leaving only the corner dark.

I saw Haitao’s smiling face full of brightness and hope, and he was determined and calm. This greatly comforted me.

On my return journey, I thought of the poplar trees that can live for a thousand years. I believe that before long I will be walking freely hand in hand with Haitao.

I can’t help thinking of the suffering Mr. Gao Zhisheng experienced in this prison. It was the unremitting effort and resistance of him and others after him that improved the conditions Zhang Haitao is in now.

This was a long trip. Words can’t express how hard and mentally exhausting it was. A visit like this is also very expensive, something a family like mine can’t afford. I thank all my friends out there for the helping hands you extended to us. It’s your attention, love, and support that give me the strength to go forward. Without you it’s hard to carry on. I would also like to thank Huang Xiaomin for her company and support on this trip, and those who made contacts, arranged drivers and vehicles. Attorney Ran Tong also traveled with us the whole way and gave us free legal assistance. I, on behalf of my husband Zhang Haitao, thank all of you!

Next month I will take my son Little Mandela to Shaya Prison to visit his father whom he has never met. I respectfully invite my friends and people from all walks of life to continue to pay attention. My next visit will be May 25-26. However, the prison told us that we must contact them in advance.

Again, my deepest gratitude to everyone!**

 

Li Aijie
April 25, 2017

 

*The Autumn Rain Church (秋雨之福) is a large house church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

**A note from our translator: “At first it seemed a bit stilted but it grew on me and I found it affecting.”

 

 


Related:

A Long Journey to See My Husband Zhang Haitao in Shaya Prison, April 23, 2017.

U. S. Government Must Intervene in Zhang Haitao’s Case, November 21, 2016.

 

 

Translated from Chinese by China Change.