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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Mountains Move Easier Than the Chinese Communist Party

Posted by Author on August 30, 2007

By Frank Ching, Special to The China Post, Taiwan, August 29, 2007-

There’s a Chinese saying that says “It is easier to move a mountain than change a person’s nature.” This is similar to the English expression that a zebra cannot change its stripes.

Time and again, the Chinese authorities through their actions have confirmed the truth of the saying. They just did it again a few days ago when they stopped the wife of a blind activist serving a prison term from leaving the country.

The activist, Chen Guangcheng, who has been blind since childhood and studied law on his own in order to help farmers with grievances to file court cases, is in prison after he documented cases of forced abortions and other abuses by officials in Shandong province.

He was jailed on what appeared to be trumped-up charges of damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic. In recognition of his “irrepressible passion for justice in leading ordinary Chinese citizens to assert their legitimate rights under the law,” Chen was chosen to receive the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership.

Since he was behind bars, his wife, Yuan Weijing, decided to go to Manila to receive the award on his behalf. However, before she could board the plane, police apparently barred her passage from Shandong’s Linyi region, removed her baggage from the plane and confiscated her passport.

These officials did not provide any reason for denying her the right to travel. No doubt they did not want her to publicize the case of her husband, which would only further embarrass the provincial authorities.

But they do not seem to realize that by doing so, they will bring international opprobrium down on China — not just Shandong province. By trying to shield themselves, they are hurting the nation, showing the world that China is not a country where the rule of law is respected.

This behavior is consistent with China’s treatment of other individuals in the country who have distinguished themselves. In 2004, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service was given to Dr. Jiang Yanyong in recognition of “his brave stand for truth in China, spurring life-saving measures to confront and contain the deadly threat of SARS.”

While the SARS virus was spreading in China in late 2002 and 2003, the Chinese government was covering up the severity of the epidemic. It was Dr. Jiang who leaked the information to Western news agencies. When Western countries put pressure on China, Beijing fired the minister of public health and took steps to deal with the epidemic, preventing it from reaching pandemic proportions.

Needless to say, Dr. Jiang was prevented from leaving the country to receive the justly earned award. China did not want the world to be reminded of its cover-up, an act that led to the deaths of hundreds of people outside the mainland.

The elderly physician Gao Yaojie, now 79 years old, has had an even worse experience. She embarrassed authorities in Henan province by exposing how HIV was spread in the province through illegal blood sales. In 2001, she was awarded the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, but was put under house arrest and prevented from receiving the award. In 2003, she was honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service and again prevented from receiving it.

This year, she was chosen by Vital Voices Global Partnership, a nonprofit group, to receive its 2007 Global Women’s Leadership Award for Human Rights. Again, the provincial authorities put her under house arrest.

It was only after Senator Hillary Clinton intervened that Beijing allowed Ms. Gao go to leave the country to receive the richly deserved award. At the time, she said that the situation in China was improving, since for the first time she was actually allowed to receive an award.

However, with the latest incident involving the wife of Chen Guangcheng, it would appear that the situation in China has not improved. Local officials are still doing everything possible to keep embarrassing information from coming out, and are willing to go to great lengths to achieve this, embarrassing the country as a result.

In the meantime, the central government is simply sitting on its hands by allowing local officials to abuse their power and punish upright citizens, the cream of Chinese society. This is a sad commentary on China, its ruling Communist party, and on the sense of values (or lack thereof) on the part of the Chinese government.

– original report from China Post: Mountains move easier than China

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