Wednesday, February 20, 2002
The Wall Street Journal's Claudia Rosett has praise for Santee Mayor Randy Voepel and nothing but scorn for the repressive Chinese Communist regime. It seems that China is attempting to export their abuse and oppression abroad. The Chinese government is now making it a practice to approach American cities that issue, or are considering issuing, routine proclamations in support of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Typical is the experience of Santee, Calif., a city of 58,000 on the outskirts of San Diego County. A little over a year ago, Mayor Randy Voepel received a letter from the newly arrived Chinese consul general in Los Angeles, Lan Lijun. Mr. Lan's letter began with a cheery greeting and rolled right along to describe the Falun Gong movement as a "doomsday" cult that creates "a panic atmosphere" and if left unchecked in America could end up "jeopardizing your social stability." Noting that China would "like to establish and develop friendly relations with your city"--and implying this would require complying with China's wishes--Mr. Lan's letter went on to urge that "no recognition and support in any form should be given to the Falun Gong" and urged banning them from registration as any kind of official organization.
Not so typical was Mr. Voepel's reaction. A Vietnam War veteran, he wrote back: "Your letter personally chilled me to my bones. I was shocked that a Communist Nation would go to this amount of trouble to suppress what is routinely accepted in this country. . . . I have the greatest respect for the Chinese people in your country and everywhere else in the world, but must be honest in my concern for the suppression of human rights by your government as evidenced by your request." Mr. Voepel then issued a mayoral proclamation commending the Falun Gong.
Voepel's response was the right one. Unfortunately, it's one that many other mayors have not followed. Rosett reports that the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Baltimore have all caved to Chinese pressure. Every American should stand up for freedom. Elected Americans have a greater responsibility to do the same.