Promising Sydney Author Takes Time out for Queensland Visit
By Sandra Hattingh
Sydney-based Chinese-Australian author, Jennifer Zeng, recently paid a visit to Brisbane. Her book, Witnessing History, continues to expose the atrocities behind closed doors in China’s detention centres.
Ms Zeng spoke at five separate functions attended by writers, artists and celebrities, and the fast-paced Queensland visit included book signings, meetings with politicians and interviews with journalists. Included in her trip were various activities on the Sunshine Coast.
Her controversial Allen & Unwin publication, rapidly gaining in popularity, has gone into its second reprint in only the second month since its release in March. It tells the horror story of her detention in a forced labour ‘re-education’ camp in Beijing, the city where she had previously studied, lived and worked as a successful young scientist-turned financial consultant.
In 1999 the Chinese government’s persecution of Falun Gong saw her arrested four times and illegally sentenced to hard labour for one year.
Ms Zeng spoke, often in tears, of the torture, brainwashing, sleep deprivation and extended days of enforced labour, producing goods for export to overseas Western markets for no pay. She stated that with the new trade deal between Australia and China, this market would only increase, and the exploitation of ‘slave’ labour or laogai would intensify. ABC Asia-Pacific last Sunday aired a program, during which Ms Zeng and several others who had undergone Chinese government labour exploitation and exported state terrorism in other countries, were interviewed.
The Brisbane visit included a visit to a primary school where the author spoke for several hours to diverse groups of children. She implored them to discuss this topic with their parents and friends in order to raise awareness of the ongoing torture and exploitation currently taking place in China. The children were treated to a demonstration by the author of the meditation pose featured on the front jacket of her book. Donations of the book were made, not only to the school library, but to at least five local politicians.
Further visits to Brisbane are planned later in the year, including a proposed social justice forum.