Police Arrest Activists Heading to Biden’s University Speech
audience of 400 at Sichuan University in the southwestern Chinese city of
Chengdu on Aug. 21. As Biden calls on the communist regime to expand human
rights in China, Chinese police arrested rights activists and petitioners who
wished to attend his speech. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)
When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stood at the podium and spoke about human
rights at one of China’s best universities on
Sunday, he probably had no idea how relevant and timely his remarks were.
The American Embassy in China had
told the Chinese public that everyone was welcome to “get up close”
Chinese police arrested and disappeared residents in Chengdu with different
political views who were trying to attend, and erected a phalanx of restrictions
to stop everybody else.
Li Zhaoxiu, for example, came under the
authorities’ watch when she complained about a government-forced eviction. She wanted to make a short trip with a few friends
from nearby Shuangliu County to Sichuan University on Friday, where Biden was speaking, but was
blocked on the way by a dozen regime personnel, and then stuffed into a police
car and driven away, according to a friend interviewed by Sound of
Hope Radio Network.
It was a bitter example of what Biden told an
audience of around 400, including about 100 Peace Corps volunteers: that “the
“biggest difference” between the United States and China is “what we refer to as
Other human rights activists in Chengdu, including Wang
Binru, Liu Qiong, and Ren Hengquan, were also planning to attend Biden’s speech,
but were arrested at a tea house on Friday. They were slapped with the creative
charge of “collective gambling” and would spend two weeks in detention.
Huang Qi, who runs the Tianwang Human Rights Center from his Chengdu
home, said in a typed interview on Skype with The Epoch Times that he and his
staff members have been receiving hundreds of calls a day recently, most of them
regarding Biden’s Chengdu visit.
“It was quite a disaster for rights
activists and petitioners who merely wanted to go to Sichuan University to
listen to Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi Jinping discuss human rights, democracy, and
legal issues,” said Huang, who himself is not
long out of jail on political charges.
“But instead of learning
democracy, they learned the opposite, which is tyrannical autocracy. Petitioners
were imprisoned, relocated, or just disappeared. As for the ordinary residents,
they had to deal with a lot of hassle. Many residents couldn’t stay in town,
walk on the streets as usual, even the traffic was quite a problem,” he
An elderly woman surnamed Feng, who graduated from Sichuan
University and has lived there in a residence hall for more than five decades,
said that even though Biden was just speaking in a nearby lecture hall, she did
not even bother to go.
“Even if I went, I wouldn’t be able to get in,”
Feng said in a phone interview. “There were many regulations over who could
attend and who couldn’t. The security was very tight.”
In a speech on China-U.S. relations that lasted nearly
an hour, Biden told his Chinese hosts, including the next anointed leader of the
Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, that they should ease trade restrictions,
continue to invest in U.S. Treasury bonds,
and respect human rights.
“In the long run, greater openness is a source
of stability and a sign of strength, that prosperity peaks when governments
foster both free enterprise and free exchange of ideas, that liberty unlocks a
people’s full potential, and in its absence, unrest festers.” Biden firstname.lastname@example.org
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