How Code Pink became an opponent of human rights in China

How Code Pink became an opponent of human rights in China

The New York Times reports:

[Jodie] Evans, 68, was once a Democratic insider who managed the 1992 presidential campaign of the California governor Jerry Brown.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, she reinvented herself as an activist. She became known for pink peace-sign earrings and sit-ins that ended with her arrest.

She helped form Code Pink to protest the looming war in Iraq. The group became notorious for disrupting Capitol Hill hearings.

Ms. Evans has organized around progressive causes like climate change, gender and racism. Until a few years ago, she readily criticized China’s authoritarian government.

“We demand China stop brutal repression of their women’s human rights defenders,” she wrote on Twitter in 2015. She later posted on Instagram a photo with the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.

Since 2017, about a quarter of Code Pink’s donations — more than $1.4 million — have come from two groups linked to [Evans’ husband, tech millionaire, Neville Roy] Singham, nonprofit records show. The first was one of the UPS store nonprofits. The second was a charity that Goldman Sachs offers as a conduit for clients’ giving, and that Mr. Singham has used in the past.

Ms. Evans now stridently supports China. She casts it as a defender of the oppressed and a model for economic growth without slavery or war. “If the U.S. crushes China,” she said in 2021, it “would cut off hope for the human race and life on Earth.”

She describes the Uyghurs as terrorists and defends their mass detention. “We have to do something,” she said in 2021. In a recent YouTube video chat, she was asked if she had anything negative to say about China.

“I can’t, for the life of me, think of anything,” Ms. Evans responded. She ultimately had one complaint: She had trouble using China’s phone-based payment apps.

Ms. Evans declined to answer questions about funding from her husband but said Code Pink had never taken money from any government. “I deny your suggestion that I follow the direction of any political party, my husband or any other government or their representatives,” she said in a written statement. “I have always followed my values.”

Few on the American political left would discuss the couple publicly, fearing lawsuits or harassment. Others said that criticism would undermine progressive causes. But Howie Hawkins, the 2020 Green Party presidential nominee, said he had soured on Code Pink and others in the Singham network that presented themselves as pro-labor but supported governments that suppressed workers. “To defend that, or excuse that, really pushes them outside what the left ought to be,” he said.

Code Pink is not alone among left-wing groups in raising concerns about anti-Asian discrimination and tensions between Beijing and Washington.

But Code Pink goes further, defending the Chinese government’s policies. In a 2021 video, a staff member compared Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators to the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 that year.

In June, Code Pink activists visited staff members on the House Select Committee on China unannounced. In the office of Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, activists denied evidence of forced labor in Xinjiang and said the congressman should visit and see how happy people were there, according to an aide.

“They are capitalizing on very legitimate concerns in order to push this pro-authoritarian narrative,” said Brian Hioe, an editor with New Bloom, a progressive Taiwanese news site. “And their ideas end up circulating in a way that affects mainstream discourse.” [Continue reading…]

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