Experiences in Shanghai Shatter Zhang Yuxuan’s Chinese Dream (Part 1)

Zhang Yuxuan, a young Taiwanese man who was persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party.
Zhang Yuxuan's experience of persecution and torture by the CCP shattered his belief in the 'Chinese Dream,' revealing the stark contrast between the propaganda and the harsh reality faced by many under the regime. (Image: Chen Guanjun via The Epoch Times)

One evening, around 9 o’clock, a young Taiwanese man named Zhang Yuxuan was scrolling through his mobile phone in his rented apartment in Shanghai when suddenly, he heard a crashing bang, and the front door was smashed open. Several public security officers of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) barged in, grabbed a hold of him, forcefully pinned him to the ground, handcuffed his hands behind his back, covered his head with a hood, and dragged him back to the police station.

Inside a secret room, after the hood was removed, Zhang Yuxuan was horrified to discover several people with their hands tied who were suspended from the ceiling. Most of them were unconscious.

Witnessing and receiving firsthand experience of the CCP’s hospitality and their ‘Chinese Dream’

The public security officers removed his handcuffs, made him sit on an interrogation chair, and coldly asked: “Do you know what you have done?” Filled with surprise and fear, he replied: “I don’t know.”

The officers then shouted: “Are you a spy sent by Taiwan?” Zhang Yuxuan was shocked and vehemently denied the accusation. The officers then tied his hands to the ceiling and began electrocuting his head and body, continuously questioning if he was a spy. In this way, he was detained and tortured in the interrogation room for three days, without being allowed any food.

Accused of being a spy, Zhang Yuxuan was detained at the police station where, for three days, officers interrogated and tortured him.
Accused of being a spy, Zhang Yuxuan was detained at the police station where, for three days, officers interrogated and tortured him. (Image: Coatchristophe via Dreamstime)

During the intermittent breaks, Zhang Yuxuan tried to talk to the people hung up in the cell around him. Some of them were unconscious, and the ones able to talk could only moan. He discovered that they were either Tibetans or Uyghurs, as they did not speak Chinese.

Amidst the excruciating pain of the interrogation, Zhang Yuxuan thought: “I must not plead guilty according to the public security officer’s demands, otherwise I could be locked up forever with little chance of ever getting out again.”

Thinking of Taiwan provided faith and hope

During this period, the belief that kept him going was: “I must return to Taiwan, and when I get back to Taiwan, I will be safe.” At that moment, “Taiwan” no longer just meant home, but also faith and hope.

Three days later, the public security officers dumped him outside the police station. Physically and mentally weakened, he staggered back to his residence in Shanghai. This was one of the instances of persecution Zhang Yuxuan faced while he lived in Shanghai in October 2022.

Once a ‘Little Pink’

Now 26 years old, Zhang Yuxuan, who has a slight speech impediment, was deeply traumatized by the experience, which exacerbated his speech disorder.

Due to family factors and background, Zhang Yuxuan had been a pro-communist since he was a child, what is commonly known as a “Little Pink.” He believed in everything that the CCP propagated and only watched news from CCTV, the CCP’s official mouthpiece.

He had participated in several tours to China, arranged by the New Party Youth, visiting skyscrapers and historical sites related to the CCP.

He summed up his mentality at the time: “I thought everything was better in China! I thought China was the strongest! I felt proud of being Chinese and thought that one should not criticize China. Anyone who criticized China was my enemy.”

Rude awakening to the CCP’s totalitarian tyranny in Shanghai

In 2022, despite the ongoing pandemic and chaotic lockdowns in China, Zhang Yuxuan believed that the situation in China was great and decided to live in Shanghai, hoping to make a fortune. “I thought with China’s 1.4 billion population and being the second-largest economy, there would be many opportunities to make a lot of money.”

However, he was quarantined for over 20 days upon arrival, which made him start questioning the situation in China. After the quarantine, he found a job as a waiter in a café through a friend’s referral, with a monthly salary of 4,000 Yuan (US$551). He couldn’t help but feel that even in China’s most prosperous city, life was still tough.

Witnessing the shocking lockdown tactics

What shocked him the most was the tragic situation under the CCP’s lockdown policy during which he witnessed people who tested positive for the coronavirus being immediately covered with a hood and forcibly dragged into a car by the epidemic prevention personnel. He also saw people being beaten with batons by public security officers for protesting on the street.  

A facemask sits on a map of China.
What shocked him the most was the tragic situation under the CCP’s lockdown policy. (Image: NGSpacetime via Dreamstime)

At the same time, he also met sober-minded people who shared the real situation in China with him. One person’s house, which was originally a shop, was demolished by the government. Although initially promised compensation of around 100,000 to 200,000 Yuan (US$13,777 to US$27,555) they didn’t receive a single penny after the demolition, forcing them into poverty.

Finally discovering the truth

One evening while drinking coffee and watching the night view over the Shanghai Beach area, Zhang Yuxuan met a Falun Gong practitioner who told him the truth about the CCP’s persecution of practitioners; after listening to this, he was very impressed that despite the CCP’s suppression, there is still a group of people who maintain their faith.

These experiences made him start questioning the CCP, and his former “Little Pink” mindset began to waver. He shared these experiences on Weibo, and it was then that the public security officers started to come after him.

Translated by Chua BC

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  • Michael Segarty

    Careers in Web Design, Editing and Web Hosting, Domain Registration, Journalism, Mail Order (Books), Property Management. I have an avid interest in history, as well as the Greek and Roman classics. For inspiration, I often revert to the Golden Age (my opinion) of English Literature, Poetry, and Drama, up to the end of the Victorian Era. "Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait." H.W. Longfellow.