Dispelling the Lies: ChinaAid Calls for the Truth about Gao Zhisheng
ICC Note: China Aid releases response to Chinese government’s official statement that Gao is alive and in western China.
2/18/10 China (ChinaAid) —“This is nonsense!” Gao’s wife Geng He furiously refuted the rumor which first broke out on February 12, 2010. In response to the San Francisco-based think tank Dui Hua Foundation’s request for information about Gao Zhisheng, the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. said that Gao Zhisheng was alive, working happily in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, more than 1,800 km from Beijing. Around the same time, a Chinese informant then posted photos of Gao Zhisheng online in a Chinese report, claiming he worked in the same company as Gao Zhisheng. He said that Gao was a talkative, even funny man, who had allegedly become a successful operational manager, talking about his wife and family and even “whistling a happy tune” daily.
On February 14th, the story broke to western media, leading to speculation as to whether the reports were valid. One American legal expert Chinese government’s disclosure a “step in the right direction,” but has called the Chinese government’s treatment of Gao’s case highly irregular. Gao’s wife, Geng He has denounced the claim as false, greatly frustrated by the lack of communication and deception. “I am in America now. I have no contact with Gao.” Neither she nor Gao’s brother or sister have been able to contact him, much less acquire “useful information” about his whereabouts and condition.
On February 15th, China Free Press agency Canyu released an article exposing the fake photos and highlighting an interview with Geng He. Tell-tale marks of tampering in the photos include the discrepancy of the time of year, based on Gao wearing a summer shirt while sitting beside a Uyghur man in a winter jacket, as well as striking similarities between the images allegedly taken of Gao very recently, and a set of photos taken before his arrest and torture in 2007.
President of ChinaAid Bob Fu anticipates a more sinister angle to the false reports: “With no evidence to suggest otherwise, this appears to be a ploy by the Chinese government to confuse people and cover up the truth. By telling reporters and advocacy organizations that Gao is in Xinjiang, it will keep them from hunting around Beijing for answers. The Chinese government is just playing games now.”
There has also been evidence to suggest that Gao’s wife and children continue to be held under close surveillance by the Chinese spy network while living in the United States. In the Chinese informant’s report, he referred to Gao’s son accidentally eating a pesticide pallet, and becoming ill. No reports of the event had been recorded prior to that, and Geng He herself only mentioned it in a phone call conversation some months ago. Other details of Gao’s daughter’s recent hospitalization and emotional troubles indicate the informant had access to inside information, which could only be obtained by close monitoring of the family.
The Gao family is not alone. One recent report, released on February 9, 2010, used the stated number of informants in Kailu County, Inner Mongolia, to estimate the number of Chinese spies at nearly 3% of the Chinese population, a low estimate considering other regions like Xinjiang and Beijing have higher security threats. It has been a stated goal of the Chinese government to use punishment as a preventative measure, relying on paid and unpaid informants to provide timely inside information to preserve stability.
For the Gao family, the danger is very real. Gao Zhisheng has still made no personal contact with them, and the Chinese government continues to withhold verifiable information about his condition and whereabouts.