PARIS — After being asked by The New American magazine for an interview about the ongoing United Nations COP21 climate summit, an agent of the Communist Chinese dictatorship was caught taking photographs of TNA's reporters in the media room. This magazine has been exposing the regime's crimes and barbarity for three decades. Beijing, of course, has a long history of intimidating activists, journalists, dissidents, and Chinese exiles — even outside of its borders, and especially at UN functions. But at the climate summit in Paris, at least, French and UN police officials, while sympathetic and very kind, said they were still unable to act other than taking an official report. They suspect it was intimidation.
The saga began on December 10 when two journalists for The New American magazine, including this writer (shown at left in photo), stopped by the Communist Chinese regime's booth at the COP21 climate summit. After asking several Chinese employees for an interview on the dictatorship's negotiating positions, we were led to an apparently higher ranking official. His name, according to another Chinese official working nearby who was asked for the man's name after the incident so it could be included in the police report, is Zhao Chenxin. The agent at the booth, who was wearing a UN summit badge indicating his affiliation with the Chinese regime, smiled, took a business card, and finally said he would contact us if an interview could be arranged.
Instead of following up with either an approval or denial of the requested interview, the regime's agent decided to take pictures of The New American's reporters. About an hour after the request, this writer and TNA videographer David Lewis were working on the computer in the media center at the UN conference. Upon turning around, I saw the same man — supposedly named Zhao — snapping pictures of us. He was standing no more than three meters (10 feet) away. When we made eye contact, he slowly turned and pretended to be snapping pictures of various other things as well. This continued for a few more seconds before he walked away. Lewis saw the same thing.
Shaken, considering the totalitarian nature of the Chinese dictatorship, this reporter immediately went to the French police post, located just outside the conference center, and asked to file an official report. After explaining what happened to the officers, they expressed genuine concern and promised to take a report, but explained that the UN summit was officially UN “territory” and that there was nothing they could do as French police. They also contacted UN police, who arrived and also expressed genuine concern. Because The New American was not able to get the Chinese agent's name, French authorities asked UN police to escort me back in to the conference center, locate the man, and identify him for the official report.
After chatting for several more minutes with UN and French officers while waiting for another UN police officer to escort me, the armed UN cop arrived. Unfortunately, UN police do not have the authority to request the Chinese agent's name, he said in a very kind and genuinely concerned way. Speaking in his personal capacity, the UN officer praised the work of journalists and recommended contacting the U.S. embassy to see if they could use “diplomatic channels” to raise the issue with Beijing. He also recommended filing a complaint with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to see if they might be able to help. The Chinese agent did not appear to be trying to seriously conceal his activities, which led police authorities to unofficially conclude that it was likely a case of intimidation.
Afer filing the official report, The New American returned to the Chinese regime's booth later in the day to ask Zhao why he was photographing us to give him an opportunity to respond prior to publication. One of his colleagues said he had left for the day. The next day, we returned to the regime's booth and again asked if we could speak with Zhao. This time, though, the reaction was different. Within seconds, multiple Chinese surrounded us. At first, they said Zhao had returned to China. Then they said they did not know who he was. Later, a woman suggested he may have just been taking pictures of other things. After that, she asked whether he had photographed us during the interview, which of course never took place despite our requests.
Throughout all of this obfuscation and lying, another Chinese agent took out his phone and began speaking with somebody. He examined this reporter's UN media accreditation badge, and said “The New American magazine” into the phone. It was not immediately clear whom he was speaking to — perhaps a superior or UN security officials. Finally, to avoid any confrontation, The New American left another business card and respectfully requested that Zhao contact us as soon as possible to explain why he was photographing us. As of press time, we have not heard back. If and when we receive a response, it will be posted below this article.
The New American, of course, has been exposing the crimes, mass-murder, espionage, subversion, and brutality of Beijing for decades. This writer has written dozens of articles (see below) exposing the Chinese regime and its ruthless persecution of its enemies (dissidents, human rights activists, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, democrats, journalists, and others), forced abortions, harvesting organs from political prisoners, the massive global espionage apparatus, China's brutal labor camps, and its ruthless oppression of the Chinese people. In fact, in 2011, this reporter shed light on precisely the sort of thuggish intimidation used by Beijing's agents even outside of China.
“One of the top priorities of Chinese espionage efforts — foreign and domestic — is monitoring and disrupting dissidents, according to defectors, experts, and official documents,” explains a 2011 article written by this writer. “In the crosshairs overseas are Chinese democracy activists, Tibetans, the exiled Uighur community, Falun Gong practitioners, supporters of Taiwanese independence, and countless others — essentially anybody who disagrees with the regime or paints a negative image of it abroad.”
The documented evidence of Chinese agents spying on and persecuting individuals outside of the regime's borders is massive. A few years ago, a Chinese agent was convicted in a German court for spying on Falun Gong practitioners. In Sweden, a Chinese agent was convicted of spying on an Uighur refugee. In Canada, authorities had to expel a senior Chinese regime diplomat for spying on and harassing dissidents. Even in the United States, Congress has condemned similar activities by Beijing on multiple occasions.
“First is the issue of the penetration of agents of an alien Communist regime right here inside the United States to wage a campaign of repression against US citizens,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), then the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, citing examples and noting that Chinese agents were “persecuting American Falun Gong practitioners in our own country.”
In August, even Obama, who has hardly been a serious critic of Beijing's bloodthirsty activities, blasted its “secret agents” and warned Chinese dictator Xi Jinping about their lawless operations in the United States. Apparently the Chinese agents involved in “Operation Fox Hunt” are trying to “persuade” Chinese nationals to return to China. The New York Times reported that it was part of a global campaign waged by the dictatorship.
Separately, David Kilgour, Canada’s secretary of state for Asia-Pacific in 2002 and 2003, slammed the Chinese tactics. “The espionage and intimidation the party-state deploys against Falun Gong abroad is outrageous,” said Kilgour, co-author of the book Bloody Harvest exposing the regime's organ harvesting, calling the repression abroad an extension of the “very severe persecution” within China. “It’s unconscionable for a repressive government to use the freedom of a democracy to project abroad its persecution of its chosen victims.”
More recently, there have been numerous well-documented instances of Communist Chinese agents photographing and intimidating dissidents at UN functions, even those aimed at exposing the regime's crimes. In October, Reuters reported that a senior Chinese diplomat was photographing a Tibetan dissident who fled China ahead of his testimony at the UN Human Rights Council (which the regime also sits on). “Beijing is blunting scrutiny of its rights record at the venue created to protect victims of state repression — the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva,” Reuters said. “Its success is evidence of China’s growing ability to stifle opposition abroad.”
Last year, meanwhile, UN Watch, a non-governmental organization, reported: “Security officers inside the UN human rights council yesterday caught a Chinese agent surreptitiously taking photographs of a Canadian rights activist and her computer screen, one day after she testified of her dissident father's plight in a Chinese prison.” In that case, UN security officers removed the agent from the venue, but only because he was there under the guise of an “NGO” rather than an official. As The New American has documented extensively, even “journalists” with the regime's pseudo-news propaganda outlets such as Xinhua serve as spies for Beijing.
French and UN police were made well aware of the intimidation tactics deployed against The New American. All of them were clearly uncomfortable about it, and very sympathetic. But they insist that even in France, a country that values free speech and freedom of the press, they are powerless to do anything about it. According to the National Police of France, the UN conference, which is taking place at the Le Bourget airport for private jets in Paris, is not considered French territory for the duration of the conference. An official police report was filed with the Ministry of Interior nonetheless. UN police, while sympathetic and concerned, also said they could do nothing except offer recommendations and promise that we were safe at the summit.
It is unconscionable that the Chinese dictatorship would try to intimidate journalists even outside of its borders, at UN functions, and in what remains of the Free World. It is equally outrageous that the UN and Western governments are doing so little to put a stop to it. With American taxpayers providing the largest single source of financing for the UN, it is time for Congress to demand an end to such lawless and totalitarian tactics both at the UN and in the United States. It is also past time to stop filling the upper ranks of the UN and its agencies with Communist Chinese operatives. The New American will keep readers updated on the situation.
Photo of TNA reporters Alex Newman (left) and David Lewis near Communist China's booth at UN Summit: The New American