A day after The Wall Street Journal published an exclusive report detailing a behind-the-scenes “clash” between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and their departments from people familiar with the matter over disagreements regarding a recent executive order barring Americans from investing in companies tied to China’s military complex, both stated Friday afternoon that there is no clash.
Both high-ranking Cabinet officials, in tweets posted one minute apart, wrote that that no clash exists between them and that they and their respective departments are working together on this executive order. On top of that, both tweets had near-identical messaging.
“There is no disagreement between @SecPompeo and me regarding the implementation of the President’s Executive Order,” wrote Mnuchin. “We are coordinating closely on an interagency basis.”
“There is no clash between Secretary @stevenmnuchin1 and me,” tweeted Pompeo a minute later. “We are simply working to resolve interagency mechanics of an important executive order.”
Starting back in November, the White House prohibited American investors from investing in 35 Chinese companies that the Pentagon has classified as aiding China’s defense, intelligence, and security apparatus.
“The U.S. government,” according to the Thursday Journal report, “is at odds over whether the blacklist should include subsidiaries of the companies. Another battlefront is over whether affiliates should be included. The question affects how much teeth the ban will have.”
State and Defense Department officials want the executive order to have the widest reach possible, whereas the Treasury Department wants the blacklist to only include the companies specifically flagged by the Pentagon, and not affiliates or subsidiaries, people familiar with the matter told The Journal.
As a result, this situation created by these disagreements pitted Pompeo and Mnuchin, as well as their respective departments, against each other. Particularly, the funding of Chinese state-tied companies by U.S. investors, Pompeo has said for a long time, threatens national security.
For more details about the dispute and the executive order, read the full original WSJ report from Thursday here.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent
China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.
But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”
The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients. According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”
Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.
The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.
Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.
The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”
Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.
According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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