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陈凯/通往自由的路 Journey toward Freedom

in 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由,毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:49 am
by fountainheadkc • 1.387 Posts



Journey toward Freedom

Journey to Freedom:

An Athlete’s Struggle for Dignity
Chinese basketball player Kai Chen’s story—part one

By Helena Zhu
Epoch Times Staff Dec 9, 2008

ABOVE THE RIM: Kai Chen, former Chinese national team forward (in the air), against Romania’s national team in 1975, in Bucharest, Romania. (Kai Chen)

Kai Chen, arguably the best forward on China’s national basketball team in the late 1970s, quit the team at the peak of his career because he wanted to be free of control from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“I loved basketball, but my love for the sport was held hostage by evil forces against me,” said Chen. “They wanted to make me a cog in a giant machine—a tool and a slave.”

Chen’s professional basketball career began in early 1970, when the ruling regime set out to use sports to break China’s isolation. The national sports authorities sent coaches all over China to look for sports talent and the 16-year-old Chen, with his 6-foot 7-inch frame, was instantly selected for a training camp in Beijing.

Up until then, however, Chen wasn’t exactly a favorite of the Chinese authorities.

Born in Beijing, Chen’s family was considered problematic with its Kuo Ming Tang (KMT) past and numerous Taiwanese relatives. In his childhood, Chen and his family were exiled from Beijing to Tonghua, a small city bordering North Korea.

After graduating from middle school during the Cultural Revolution, Chen was once again sent to the countryside—as were all students in China at the time—to be “re-educated as peasants.” He worked in a grain depot and joined the depot’s basketball team, although professional sports were banned throughout the country.

“There was nothing to look forward to,” said Chen. “There was no indication whatsoever that I could achieve something through basketball. But indeed I kept practicing basketball all the time… I realized later that through basketball I could find a passionate expression of my own existence. I could feel that I was still alive.”

After completing training camp, only Chen and his best friend, Chen Bangxiao, were picked—Chen for the national basketball team and Bangxiao for the national track and field team. However, Bangxiao was kicked off the team within a year because his father, who had once served in the KMT army, was accused of hiding a weapon.

Tools for the Government

As for Chen, once the authorities discovered his KMT links he was not allowed to represent China abroad. Then, he too was dumped from the national team.

“I realized the evil side of all this,” said Chen. “To the communist authority, all athletes in China are only tools for the government. You can be abandoned at will by them with any excuse, at any time.”

Chen went on to play with numerous provincial and municipal basketball teams, but none were suitable. Later he was drafted by the Shenyang army team and sent to a combat unit for “re-education.” But due to the harsh conditions there, he was unable to play basketball and was hospitalized.

However, he was determined to return to basketball as he “vaguely sensed” that there was a mission to complete, both for Bangxiao and himself. So after recovering he joined the “August 1st Team,” the country’s top military team, and made his first trip abroad to Pakistan.

He helped the team win several national titles and was said to be the best forward in the country. But he was still shut out of the national team.

It was around this time, while playing against a U.S. team in Mexico, that Chen first encountered Americans, who he found to be “very different.” He was highly impressed by the personality and skill of these “very unique individuals” with their “rare vitality.”

“I was moved deeply by the simple fact that the American bench players cheered for the starters. I had never seen such a phenomenon in China. I was amazed that in the world there was indeed such a society in stark contrast to China. In that society, human beings sincerely wished others well.”

Chen’s basketball career peaked in 1978. He dominated his opponents in every game during the national championships that year.

“My defense was impenetrable. No one could do what I was able to do on the basketball court.”

Suddenly the authorities, conveniently forgetting that they had labeled him “a dangerous element,” offered him promotions and membership in the CCP. After the World Military Championships in Syria, Chen was allowed to return to the national team.

However, he refused to join the CCP and assimilate into the authorities’ rank—a rank that once treated him as an enemy. Nevertheless, numerous athletes surrendered to what Chen calls the “evil camp” of the Party.

In that society, he said, people “had to give in” because the authorities pressured people using their family as leverage. If one did not obey the authorities’ orders, living quarters would not be assigned for one’s wife and children.
“You could not maintain your integrity anymore. When I detected this insidious trap, I decided that I had to leave. I made a great moral choice at that time. At the peak of my basketball career, I decided to quit.

“Exactly because I truly loved basketball, I had to quit. All your life you wanted to do only one thing. You wanted to prove to yourself that you are indeed free. Freedom does exist, happiness does exist, truth does exist.”

Chen faked a heart problem, detached himself from the national team in 1979, and enrolled in the Beijing Institute of Physical Culture to fulfill his dream of completing his education. This is where he met his American wife, Susan.

Part two: Chen moves to the United States, writes an autobiography, becomes involved in human rights causes, and initiates the Global Olympic Freedom T-shirt Movement.

Last Updated
Dec 9, 2008



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RE: 陈凯/通往自由的路 Journey toward Freedom

in 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由,毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:50 am
by fountainheadkc • 1.387 Posts

Lighting the Path to Freedom/on Kai Chen (part II)

FREEDOM: Kai Chen, former Chinese national basketball team forward, runs for hope at his Global Olympic Freedom T-shirt Movement in Washington D.C. last year. (The Epoch Times)

Lighting the Path to Freedom:

An Athlete Runs for Human Rights Chinese basketball player Kai Chen’s story—part two


By Helena Zhu

Epoch Times Staff Dec 14, 2008 Share: Facebook Digg del.icio.us StumbleUpon
Related articles: Sports > Basketball

Kai Chen, possibly the best forward in China’s national basketball team in the late 1970s, quit the team at the peak of his career to break free of the Chinese authorities’ manipulation. However, his love for basketball never diminished.

In 1981, after his marriage in Beijing to Susan, an American exchange student, Chen moved to Los Angeles. He had yearned to visit the U.S. ever since he had played against the American team in Mexico in the summer of 1975.

“Before I knew there was a country called America, America had already saved me, because America invented basketball. So I am always grateful to America. My connection to America started with basketball,” he said.

He graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles with a bachelor in Political Science and published an autobiography about his life in China, “One in a Billion—Journey Toward Freedom”

“I really wanted to rethink and reinterpret the entire struggle I went through in China,” said Chen, now a real estate investor with two grown daughters.

In August 2007, Chen launched the Global Olympic Freedom T-shirt Movement in Taipei, Taiwan, to “express the true spirit of the Olympics—the spirit of freedom.” Between then and the start of the Beijing Games a year later, he ran in ten cities on four continents, including New York, Berlin, Sydney, and Vancouver.

“The Chinese regime wanted to use the Beijing Olympics to legitimize themselves. The Chinese torch was an offensive by the regime onto the world’s conscience, basically to confuse the world and to intimidate the world. And at the same time to unite Chinese nationalists around the world, which is what they did.”

After reaching the stadium in Berlin where Hitler held his 1936 Olympics, Chen ran six miles from there to the Berlin Wall to symbolize freedom from tyranny.

When the Chinese regime crumbles just like that of East Germany, said Chen, he hopes a “Chinese Holocaust Memorial” can be built to remember those who have been “persecuted and murdered” by the regime, just like the one to commemorate the Jews beside the stadium in Berlin.

“I want all people in the world to know: One day, human beings will eventually progress from despotism and tyranny to reach freedom. When that day comes, I will go back to a free China and also run a freedom run. I believe that day will come—and it will come soon.”

In the run-up to the Beijing Games, Chen also took part in the Human Rights Torch Relay, a global grassroots campaign that began in Athens and covered more than150 cities.

Journey to Freedom: An Athlete’s Struggle for Dignity


Chen has now set his sights on Mao’s Kitchen, a restaurant with locations in Venice and in Los Angeles. Mao’s Kitchen sells T-shirts with Mao’s image and inside the restaurant symbols of the Cultural Revolution, a flag of the red guards and slogans such as “Down with Americans” are displayed.

On December 26, Boxing Day, which also happens to be the anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birthday, Chen has planned a protest against Mao’s Kitchen.

“I think it’s a very important issue to be addressed, because I think Mao’s image in China now is what the Chinese communist regime depends upon to survive. They think Mao’s image represents power—the power to kill, the power to do anything the regime wants.”

Chen said that while the Holocaust has been well documented and the Nazi regime discredited, the “many atrocities” committed since the communist regime took power in China are not widely known in the world.

“Land Reform, the Anti-Rightist movement, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the first Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1976, and the second Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.... These atrocities and crimes, which led to millions upon millions of lives lost, have never been fully documented.”

The regime’s ongoing crimes today include the persecution of the spiritual group Falun Gong and the illicit harvesting of their organs, the imprisonment and torturing of Christians and the suppression and killing of Tibetan Buddhists, Chen said.

“But the worst harm the Chinese communist regime has done to human beings was not physical, but moral and spiritual.”

Chen said he will never stop striving to make a difference with his abilities and talents. He hopes to inspire people with the sense of freedom and conscience that he has come to understand through his own experiences.

“I hope people will never give up their struggle for freedom, will never give up their yearning for a better future. Pursue your own dream with courage, and don’t be afraid of paying the necessary price. You will not be disappointed when you have achieved your dream.”

Read Part I here: Lighting the Path to Freedom: An Athlete Runs for Human Rights



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