September 18, 2011
By Xudong Joshua Li
Opinion article published by The Daily Progress
(Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)
In September 1999, I came to the University of Virginia for postdoctoral training.
Two months prior, the Chinese Communist Party launched the persecution of Falun Gong, a popular traditional meditation practice. My parents began practicing Falun Gong in 1997. It brought them tremendous health benefits that I could not explain from my professional medical background. Out of curiosity, I tried Falun Gong too and found myself enjoying its slow movement exercises. Its moral teachings center on “truthfulness-compassion-tolerance,” which is right in line with classical Chinese philosophy.
In the past, I always hoped to go back to China to work as an orthopedic surgeon, and help my countrymen with my expertise. But since 1999 the persecution of Falun Gong in China has escalated. Some of my friends have been arrested and some tortured to death for refusing to give up their faith. In 2000, the Chinese ambassador spread lies and slander about Falun Gong at an event at the University of Virginia. I confronted him, telling him my personal experience with Falun Gong and saying that he should not slander it. After that incident, I am almost certain that I’d better say away from China for some time, for fear I have been blacklisted.
My Chinese passport expired 2009 and I tried to renew it at the Chinese Embassy. As a “prerequisite,” however, the Chinese official asked me to condemn Falun Gong and submit a statement to repent for practicing it. I wrote that Falun Gong brought me great health, relieved stress and helped me stay energetic. My passport application was denied. I know several practitioners of Falun Gong who shared a similar experience trying to renew their Chinese passports.
As an orthopedic surgery resident, my dream is still to combine Western medicine, Oriental medicine and alternative treatment, like Falun Gong, to help and heal patients.
Last month, I obtained an U.S. citizenship after the oath ceremony. I felt very fortunate to call America my new homeland. No dream can ever come true without freedom.
For that, thank you, America.
With the experience of the “Arab Spring,” I think our America citizens should know that people in dictatorship countries are in great need of our moral support.
Yesterday, I emailed Virginia senators to urge them to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 232, a bipartisan resolution introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Tom Coburn that calls for the immediate cessation of the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign of suppression against the Falun Gong, and expresses solidarity with Chinese citizens who are peacefully pursuing freedom and dignity for themselves and their country. By making a specific, unequivocal statement opposing the persecution of Falun Gong, our United States government can enhance its credibility as a champion of justice and human rights in the world. Moreover, Resolution 232 is consistent with the foreign policy objective of engaging not only with foreign governments, but also with their people.
Although China’s leaders may not appreciate censure, the Chinese people — and posterity — will.
I hope our senators will consider co-sponsoring Resolution 232, and will send a strong, moral message that the American people will not stand silently by in the face of egregious human rights abuses.