Chinese tycoon in NYC to help immolation victims
By David B. Caruso, AP
January 9, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
NEW YORK -- A business tycoon who bills himself as China's No. 1 philanthropist told reporters in New York that he has brought two women to the U.S. to undergo surgery for disfiguring burns they suffered when they set themselves on fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 2001.
Chen Guangbiao, who made his fortune in recycling, introduced the two women to U.S. and Chinese reporters at an unorthodox and sometimes tense news conference Tuesday at a hotel near Central Park.
Inside a hotel ballroom, Chen began by singing a song he wrote himself, which included the soaring lyric, "The whole world will witness my Chinese dream!"
Then he talked of having a plan to buy The New York Times. He has said the paper, which has published investigations into the enormous wealth amassed by the relatives of Chinese leaders, should be "more authentic and objective" in its coverage of China.
He also warned Americans not to trust the government of Japan, which is involved in a territorial dispute with China over several remote islands.
Finally, Chen had the two women display their horrific burns, which seared off their hands and left their faces masks of scarred flesh.
Outside in the cold, dozens of practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement picketed the event, saying the two burn victims were propaganda tools of the Chinese government.
The women, Hao Huijun and her daughter Chen Guo, were among a group of people who set themselves on fire in the square amid the Chinese government's brutal crackdown on Falun Gong practitioners. One woman and her 12-year-old daughter died.
Months later, the survivors were paraded before reporters by Chinese authorities to denounce Falun Gong as a cult and say they had been deceived into a suicide attempt. The Tiananmen Square incident became the centerpiece of a campaign by Chinese authorities to justify oppression of Falun Gong practitioners.