Chen Pokong

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Chen Pokong
Chinese: 陳破空
BornDecember 1963 (age 55)
Santai, Sichuan, China
ResidenceUnited States
Other namesChen Jinsong (birth name)
EducationHunan University, Sun Yat-sen University, Tongji University, Columbia University
OccupationAuthor, Commentator, Activist
Known forChinese political and international affairs commentary

Chen Pokong (陳破空 aka Chen Jinsong 陳勁松), born December 20, 1963, is a Chinese author and political commentator. He played a key role of leadership in 1989 China Democracy Movement (a nationwide Tiananmen Square Protests). He was imprisoned for several years by the Chinese government, and subsequently exiled to the United States. As a prolific writer, Chen has published a number of books. He currently provides commentary for Radio Free Asia and is one of the most frequent guests on Voice of America’s weekly "Pros and Cons" show, as well as other Chinese-language TV programs. Chen is also one of the most popular overseas Chinese YouTubers.

As an author of many books and numerous articles, in print and online, Chen Pokong has gained an extensive worldwide readership. His books include Machiavelli in Beijing (Thick and Black in Zhongnanhai), One Hundred Basic Facts about China, If the US and China Were To Go to War, and Trump vs. Xi: Duel or Deal, among others.


Born in Sichuan Province of China, Chen is a graduate of Hunan University and Tongji University in China, and Columbia University in the United States. As a postgraduate student in 1985, he submitted a joint letter calling for political reform to former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang. Chen Pokong, as one the most prominent student leaders, then co-organized the massive 1986 students movement in Shanghai calling for democracy.

In 1989, Chen Pokong initiated and organized a large-scale democracy movement in Guangzhou. After establishing a "democracy salon" in Sun Yat-sen University in January, on April 22, 1989, Chen Pokong joined Chen Wei, Yu Shiwen and other student leaders in launching student protests in Guangzhou Province in support of the student protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. [1] The nationwide protests for democracy lasted for about two months, Chen was wanted and arrested by Chinese government for his prominent leading role in the movement. He spent the years between 1989 and 1993 in prison and forced labor. In 1994, he furnished evidence to the United Nations and other international bodies that China was exporting goods produced in labor camps for sale, a contravention of international law and a breach of human rights. Chen came to the United States in 1996, where he attended Columbia University as a visiting scholar and later obtained a master's degree.

In the U.S., Chen Pokong regularly appears as an analyst on Chinese current affair programs, including Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, New Tang Dynasty Television, SET Taiwan,Radio Los Angeles 1300, and others.[1] He frequently writes political columns for Radio Free Asia, Hong Kong's Open Magazine, and other publications. He is also an author of a number of books on Chinese political culture and international conflicts, mostly published in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, including “A Hundred Points of Common Sense on China," "A Thick Black Theory of Zhongnanhai," "If the US and China Go to War," "The Unwelcome Chinese," and others. In 2007, Chen was awarded the "Prominent News and Culture Award."[2]

Chen Pokong was invited by The Oxford Union to join a debate on June 1, 2017. The subject of the debate was This House Welcomes China's Impact Overseas. As a speaker in opposition, Chen Pokong pointed out: "While China exerts influence beyond its borders, I do not believe that China is interested in benefiting the world, but instead in China’s own self-interest, especially that of the Red Elite. ""As the world’s second-largest economy and newest superpower, China’s overseas impact is growing by the day. However, its methods, processes, and results all show that, generally, China’s overseas impact is not constructive, but rather destructive; and that China is not contributing to world peace, but rather introducing danger and risk to the world. "Oxford Union

Chen Pokong was invited by The Cambridge Union to join a debate on May 3, 2018. The subject of the debate was This House Believes The Future Belongs To The East. As a speaker in opposition, Chen Pokong pointed out: "China’s single-party totalitarian government has killed the creativity of its people. Most of China’s technology has come from plagiarizing, pirating and stealing technology from the West. Other technology has come from acquiring Western companies together with their core technologies. It is shameless for Chinese government to show off its so-called “Great Technological Leap”, because almost all of China’s technology comes from the West.""One of the prerequisites for free trade is the free flow of information. How can other countries expect China to lead free trade when it closes itself off from free information? Establishing the Great Firewall to isolate Chinese people from the rest of the world is extreme isolationism. ""For China, being prosperous and powerful, this is not the first time nor the last. In the history of thousands of years, there have been many times. However, because the political system has never changed, dictatorship, dictatorship, then dictatorship, power has never been constrained, finally resulting in unavoidable official corruption. Each time, a prosperous and powerful China had become a cloud of smoke. Today’s China, continuing to reject democracy and the rule of law, will certainly repeat the failure of history."[2][3]

Chen Pokong currently resides in New York City, and he is served as a principal of an international institute.


Chen Pokong was an assistant professor of economics at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, when the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations began in China. He co-organized the protests and was arrested in 1989. After nearly five years in prison on two separate occasions, Chen was exiled to the United States in 1996. There, he became a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and then obtained MPA from there. Chen later built a career in the United States as a principal of a business school located in Manhattan, New York.[4]

At the same time, he has been writing for Chinese pro-reform or pro-democracy publications, As a talented writer, he has published a number of influential books in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan:

Power Struggle behind Red Wall, 2014,[5]; Japan, US and China, Coming War in Asia, 2014 [6];Inside Story of Red Paper Tiger, 2013 [7]; If U.S., Japan, and China Go to War, 2013 [8]; Zhongnanhai's Thick Black Theory, 2010,[9]; One hundred points of common sense about China,2007,[10].

As a prominent critic and writer, Chen has been writing and speaking on a number of media, including Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Hong Kong Open Magazine, Beijing Spring,[3] and others; speaking at news conferences,[4][5] panel discussions,[6] and other events;[7] writing books;[8] and offering commentary to media.[9][10][11]

Topics of Chen's analysis include a range of contemporary issues involving modern China and its relationship with the US and the rest of the world. Other topics discussed include human rights, minority issues, official corruption, social instability, economic inequality, military expansion, and cross-strait tension.

Prison time[edit]

Chen Pokong was sent to prison or forced labor on two occasions:

  • In August 1989 he was arrested for his involvement in democracy activities, and charged in February 1990 with "carrying out counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement." On March 1, 1991, he was sentenced to three years in prison by the Guangzhou City Intermediate People's Court.
  • In October 1993 Chen was sentenced to re-education through forced labor for three years under the charges of "illegally crossing state borders," a sentence that was carried out without a trial, as is custom with the re-education through forced labor system in China.[12]

Chen had resumed political activities after his release from prison in July 1992, and was wanted by the government by 1993. He fled to Hong Kong and applied for political asylum, but was rejected. After being repatriated he was sent to forced labor.[12]

In a letter to the international community in 1994, Chen alleged that prisoners in the Guangzhou No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labor-Center were often beaten and "subjected to conditions which amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." Chen had the letter was smuggled out of the camp in the latter half of 1994, when it was reported on by international human rights groups. He said that production quotas force prisoners to work over 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, with only 3 days of holiday per year. Heavy labor is done during the daytime, including transporting and loading stones from a quarry to a boat. At night, prisoners were forced to make artificial flowers for export, according to Chen's letter. The food supplied by camp authorities was often insufficient and consisted of "coarse rice and rotten vegetables," according to Amnesty International.

Part of Chen's letter said: "Inmates who labour slightly slower are brutally beaten and misused by supervisors and team leaders (themselves inmates). Inmates are often beaten until they are blood-stained all over, collapse or lose consciousness (shortly before I was sent here, one inmate was beaten to death.)... Many inmates, including myself, their hands and feet squashed by big stones, stained with blood and pus, have to labour as usual. As a consequence, many inmates were crippled for life."[12] In his letter, he said the Guangdong No. 1 Reform Through Labor, Quarry 1, Company 9 in Chini Town, Hua County, Guangdong was the "most vicious," and that he was sent there so the Guangdong authorities could "vent their bitter hatred on me."[13]

In a House Congressional testimony on the subject of Chinese forced labor, Nancy Pelosi characterized Chen's letter as "a compelling appeal for help, relating the terrible tale of ill treatment and slave labor" in Chinese prison camps.[13] Chen was reportedly the first person to provide the United Nations with evidence that the Chinese government and its agencies used forced labor to manufacture products for sale overseas.[9]


Books, monographs, and studies which Chen has authored or contributed authorship of include:

  • If the U.S. and China Go to War: The Battle of the Senkakus 2016.[14]
  • If the U.S. and China Go to War: This is How a Bloody U.S.-China War Could Start 2016.[15]
  • Trump VS Xi: Duel or Deal 2017.[16][17]
  • The End of China's Prosperity, The Curse of Tiananmen Massacre 2019.[18]
  • Money, Spies and Jackie Chan 2018.[19]
  • To know China, Common Sense Doesn't Work 2016.[20]
  • 100 Basic Facts about China, 2016.[21]
  • All over the World Do Not Know Chinese, 2015.[22]
  • The Unwelcome Chinese, 2015.[23]
  • Power Struggle behind Red Wall, 2014.[24]
  • Japan, US and China, Coming War in Asia, 2014.[25]
  • Inside Story of Red Paper Tiger, 2013.[26]
  • If U.S.and China Go to War, 2013.[27]
  • Zhongnanhai's Thick Black Theory,(aka Machiavelli in Beijing) 2010.[28]
  • One hundred points of common sense about China2007.[29]
  • China’s economy: prosperity under a shadow
  • Toward the Republic: A Not-So Distant Mirror, 2003.[30]
  • Selective anticorruption in China, 2014.[31]
  • Selective anticorruption in China, 2014.[32]
  • China’s expansion, risky trajectory, 2013.[33]
  • Strong chain to contain dictatorship, 2013.[34]
  • Activist pessimistic on reform in China, 2012.[35]
  • Chinese dissident urges Taiwan to push democracy Tiger, 2012.[36]
  • IDissidents warn ‘Beijing Model’ could harm Taiwan, 2010.[37]
  • A Non-governmental White Paper on the June Fourth Massacre, 2009 (co-author).[38]
  • Chen Pokong Info.[39]
  • Book Review on The Unwelcome Chinese 2016.[40]
  • Chen Pokong Members Website 2018.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chen Pokong's appearances in Voice of America, Chinese edition. Accessed June 30, 2013
  2. ^ Chen Pokong biography and commentary, Radio Free Asia. Accessed June 30, 2013
  3. ^ Beijing Spring, Brief of No. 198, November 2009. Accessed June 31, 2013
  4. ^ Getty Images, Activist Chen Pokong speaks during a news conference, June 4, 2009
  5. ^ Human Rights in China, 17 prominent Chinese dissidents living in exile in the U.S. - demand the right to return to China, October 12, 1997
  6. ^ International Tibet Network, Implications of the Gongmeng Report on Tibet, June 25, 2009. Accessed June 31, 2013
  7. ^ PEN America, Bringing Down The Great Firewall Of China - Chen Pokong, 2008. Accessed June 31, 2013
  8. ^ Chen Pokong, Zhongnan hai hou hei xue, Xianggang: Kai fang chu ban she, 2009
  9. ^ a b Tzou Jing-wen, INTERVIEW: Chinese dissident urges caution on cross-strait ties, October 23, 2008. Accessed June 30, 2013
  10. ^ Louisa Lim, "China Leader's Absence Could Spell Political Trouble", National Public Radio, September 14, 2012. Accessed June 31, 2013
  11. ^ Matthew Robertson, "In Shift, Snowden Now Said to Reveal US Monitoring of China," Epoch Times, June 23, 2013. Accessed June 31, 2013
  12. ^ a b c Amnesty International, Chen Pokong (30) and other prisoners at Guangzhou No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour CenterAmnesty International information note on Chen Pokong, 7 December 1994, accessed June 31, 2013
  13. ^ a b Full text of Chen Pokong's letter, submitted by Nancy Pelosi, Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 143 (Wednesday, October 5, 1994), House, Chinese Forced Labor.
  14. ^ "If the US and China Go to War". The National Interest. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  15. ^ "If the US and China Go to War". The National Interest. Retrieved 2016-05-28.
  16. ^ "米中激突:戦争か取引か". 文藝春秋. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  17. ^ "川普對決習近平". 博客來. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  18. ^ "そして幻想の中国繁栄30年が終わる―誰も知らない「天安門事件」の呪縛". Business Sha. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  19. ^ "カネとスパイとジャッキー・チェン". Business Sha. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  20. ^ "Japan Business Sha". Business Sha. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  21. ^ "博大出版社". 博客來. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  22. ^ "全世界都不了解中國人". 博客來. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  23. ^ "田園書屋". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  24. ^ "赤い中国の黒い権力者たち|幻冬舎ルネッサンス". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  25. ^ "文春新書『日米中アジア開戦』陳 破空 山田智美訳 | 新書 - 文藝春秋BOOKS". 文藝春秋BOOKS (in Japanese). Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  26. ^ "赤い中国消滅|書籍詳細|扶桑社". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  27. ^ "香港二樓書店 > 假如中美開戰:二十一世紀的戰爭". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  28. ^ "中南海厚黑學 - 香港書城網上書店 Hong Kong Book City". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  29. ^ "《关于中国的一百个常识》 - 禁书网". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  30. ^ Chen, Pokong (October 2003). "Toward the Republic: A Not-So Distant Mirror" (PDF). Human Rights in China.
  31. ^ "Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  32. ^ "Selective anticorruption in China - Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  33. ^ "China's expansion, risky trajectory - Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  34. ^ "Strong chain to contain dictatorship - Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  35. ^ "Activist pessimistic on reform in China - Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  36. ^ "Chinese dissident urges Taiwan to push democracy - Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  37. ^ "Dissidents warn 'Beijing Model' could harm Taiwan - Taipei Times". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  38. ^ Feiyang Bookhouse, A Non-governmental White Paper on the June Fourth Massacre, 2009
  39. ^ "Chen Pokong | Radio Free Asia |". ZoomInfo. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  40. ^ "The Unwelcome Chinese - by Tienchi Martin-Liao". Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  41. ^ "陳破空會員網站". Missing or empty |url= (help)