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Whither The Party-state in China Abroad and At Home? Speech by David Kilgour

Posted by Author on October 2, 2007

Excerpts from an address by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D, Speakers Series, St. Mary’s University College, Calgary, (Canada), September 27, 2007-

WHITHER THE PARTY-STATE IN CHINA ABROAD AND AT HOME?

Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Calgary, September 27, 2007David kilgour

We Canadians respect and like the people of China for many reasons, including their courage, success with agriculture, culture, hard work and love of education. It is no accident that more than one million Canadians of origin in the Middle Kingdom are reportedly our most highly-educated cultural community. It was an honour to represent those of them living in southeast Edmonton in our national Parliament for about 27 years.

Our differences are with the unelected government of the PRC and its international and domestic policies and not with the human values of the vast majority of Chinese nationals. Paradoxically, it is the friends of the Hu-Wen government who are the China bashers today as they fail to differentiate that government from the real China. The Chinese deserve the right to elect their governments in fair and free elections.

Roles Abroad

Canadian and other media outside China have begun to focus on Beijing’s destructive roles in a number of countries. Thanks to books such as James Mann’s The China Fantasy, key components of the longtime consensus among many Fortune 500 executives, sinologists, politicians and diplomats are being ‘mugged by reality’.

Mann concludes that the party-state in China undermines human values abroad wherever it can get a foot in a door. In the case of Zimbabwe, for example, he reminds readers that it gave Robert Mugabe a honourary degree, economic aid and helicopter gunships despite heading a most brutal regime. For Uzbekistan, when President Karimov ordered a murderous crackdown on protesters, Beijing supported him.

With Russia, during the 1991 coup attempt by military and intelligence officials against Mikhail Gorbachev, China’s government-owned media gave extensive and positive coverage to the plotters, barely mentioning Boris Yeltsin or his democratic allies, and was disappointed when the coup attempt failed.

‘Bloody Burma’

Many Canadians are watching with horror the unfolding situation in Burma. The Nobel Peace laureate and democracy advocate Aun San Suu Kyi has reportedly now been thrown by the generals into prison after spending most of eighteen years under house arrest after she and her National League for Democracy won a fair and free election. Seven unarmed persons were killed last night; more than a hundred were injured; two hundred were arrested. Buddhist temples are being ransacked and monks beaten.

Permit me to focus briefly here only on the various attempts by the government of China to oppose the most recent effort by the peoples of Burma to achieve the rule of law, democracy and national reconciliation. Its efforts to shore up the generals’ junta have included:

Using its permanent veto at the UN Security Council to keep the ongoing Burma tragedy away from the Security Council agenda for more than 15 years. When it finally reached the Council last November, the China representative worked hard to remove it quickly, while providing no help to the long-suffering peoples of Burma;

In January, it vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on the generals to cease persecuting minorities and opposition leaders;

This week, it managed to prevent the Security Council from imposing sanctions of any kind on the junta or even condemning the use of force in Rangoon, allowing the Council only to express “concern”; and

Having its diplomatic envoy in Burma say after meeting the Foreign Minister there recently that Beijing wants “a democratic process that is appropriate for the country.” The current government of China clearly opposes democracy in any country.

As another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jody Williams, pointed out yesterday, Beijing’s longstanding support for the military junta includes modernizing their army and providing weapons valued at $1.4 billion. Its concern about what is happening in the country currently is really about how its role there might affect its Olympic Games.

In addition to the “Genocide Olympics” in respect of Darfur and the “Bloody Harvest Games” because of its treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, the world now has the “Burma Junta Olympics” to ponder in deciding if it really wants to attend those games. What else will arise between now and next August?

Darfur

The government of China’s interference at the Security Council in respect of Burma is similar to its ongoing efforts there in respect of shielding another military regime in Khartoum. The modus operendi is the same: feign concern about the ongoing loss of civilian lives out of real concern about possible negative fall-out for the Olympic Games, while ensuring that as little as possible is done to block the ambitions of two bloody regimes with which the government of China does much business and has much in common.

Over the past decade, the government of China has provided Sudan’s Bashir government with more than $US 10 billion in commercial and capital investment, mostly for oil investments, with crude oil comprising virtually all of Sudan’s exports and much of it going to China. Approximately seven percent of China’s oil imports currently come from Sudan. According to one source within Sudan, up to 70 percent of the Sudanese government’s revenues from oil are spent on arms, a good deal of them from China. Nick Kristof of the New York Times has reported that the government of China has built four small arms factories in Sudan.

A key service provided to Bashir’s government is using China’s permanent veto at the UN Security Council to protect the Sudanese regime from any robust peacemaking initiatives while the slaughter in Darfur continues. Only following Mia Farrow’s op-ed piece in March, 2007, which accused the government of China of assisting in genocide, did China’s UN representative join in the Security Council initiative to send 26,000 police and soldiers to Darfur.

The specifics of UN Security Council resolution 1769 passed this summer demonstrate how well Beijing continues to protect Khartoum: The hybrid UN/African Union force will have no authority to seize weapons from belligerents, thus probably making it impossible to control the Janjaweed and other militias that have been slaughtering African Darfurians; there is no provision for sanctioning the government in Khartoum in the probable event that it refuses to comply; the watered down command-and-control provisions will inevitably create problems between the African Union commander on the ground in Darfur and the UN Department of Peacekeeping in New York… (to be cont’d)


WHITHER THE PARTY-STATE IN CHINA ABROAD AND AT HOME? (cont’d)

Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Calgary, September 27, 2007

Oppression within China

According to Freedom House, fully half of the world’s populations living in “not free” conditions are in China. Free countries are defined by Freedom House as ones where “there is broad scope for open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civil life and independent media…Chinese citizens do not have the ability to democratically elect their leadership or to participate in any political activity outside what is prescribed by the Chinese government. Basic civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion and even personal autonomy are highly restricted.”

The same study notes that the government of the PRC imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world over the past eight years. Only last year, Hu Junta’s government silenced the media with new regulations, which jailed outspoken writers and restricted coverage of breaking news. The media across China are now barred from criticizing senior party leaders or their policies, and ones who do not play along on party news content are harassed, fired or jailed. As someone noted, the only thing readers can believe in most dailies in China is the date.

The government of China spends huge sums of money and deploys tens of thousands of police to block citizen access to websites and in monitoring their emails. The foreign companies and consultants who assist them in building and maintaining this “Golden Shield” are violating many of the principles of free speech and corporate social responsibility.

The Chinese penal code currently prescribes capital punishment for 65 offences, including “undermining national unity”. The official number of executions in 2005 was 1770 persons- 81% of the known world total. It was probably much higher in number. One must, however, give credit to the government for directing in 2006 that all death penalty appeals must be heard in open court. I’ll come shortly to another kind of execution in China for Falun Gong prisoners of conscience-virtually none of which are ever convicted of any offence or go near any court.

Tibetan Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and practitioners of other religions face harassment and much worse. The religious freedom recognized in the constitution is given little heed in practice, with only party-managed spiritual groups being fully tolerated. In Tibet, for example, photos of the Dalai Lama can lead to imprisonment; only boys who sign declarations denouncing him can become monks. In Xinjiang, the predominant Muslim Uighur people have been severely persecuted on the pretext that some are terrorists.

Thousands of North Koreans have fled into China to escape food shortages, religious persecution and the terrible conditions of large forced labour camps. The government of China, however, forcibly repatriates such refugees, well-knowing that they face prison, torture and possible execution because it is a capital offence to flee the Hermit Kingdom. This violates a 1951 UN Convention and its 1967 Protocol that guarantees protection for refugees, both of which were signed by China.

Recently, I saw a photocopy of the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, done by the Canadian John Humphreys in 1946. The adopted version, also accepted by China, outlines each individual’s right to freedom of assembly, speech, thought and other rights. Until all the citizens of China enjoy these basic dignities, all thoughtful persons must continue to protest. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The number of public demonstrations by aggrieved Chinese citizens is growing. The public security ministry admits that that there were 87,000 “public order disturbances” in 2005, up from 74,000 in 2004 and 58,000 in 2003. Their major cause, as Freedom House notes, is the “confiscation of land without adequate compensation, often involving collusion between local government and developers…Environmental destruction as a direct result of rapid development has also been a source of mass protest.” I might add an obvious point here that China’s use of coal and other energy sources is highly inefficient: for every thousand units of energy, China produces only US$ .70 in additional GDP whereas Japan in contrast adds US$ 10.50.

Gao Zhisheng and family

There are many families who should be mentioned when individual cases arise concerning the dismal state of human dignity across China, but in view of Goa’s recent re-arrest in Beijing permit me to identify him and his wife as genuine national heroes. David Matas and I have nominated him for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize as a figure in the Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Vaclev Haval and Aung San Suu Kyi tradition.

Gao’s recently-published outside China, A China More Just, is as interesting as it is courageous. His parents were so poor that they lived in a cave in rural China. After his father died, Gao had to fend for himself from the age of fifteen. After serving in the army, he studied law by correspondence and managed to pass the practice examination. From the start, he donated part of his time to helping clients fighting injustices and was later named as one of China’s best lawyers. When, however, he attempted to defend a Falun Gong practitioner, the government closed down his office and swarms of police began to harass him, his wife and two children constantly.

In August 2006, Gao was arrested and he was eventually convicted of “subversion”, bringing a three-year sentence suspended for five years and a suspension of political rights for one year ( i.e. until after the Games are over next summer). Earlier this month, he released a statement (available at david-kilgour.com under ‘Gao solemnly denies all charges’) in which he explains why he signed a confession. Perhaps even more disturbing than what the police did to him to obtain it is what they did to his wife and two young children. On Sept. 22 nd, Gao released a statement to members of the American Congress (also available on the website.)

Falun Gong

Following an independent investigation, David Matas and I concluded to our horror that since the latter part of 2000 the government of China and its agencies have murdered thousands of Falun Gong practitioners across China without any form of prior trial and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money often to ‘organ tourists’ from wealthy countries.

If any of you doubt the weight of the cumulative evidence in our report, you can access the revised version at david-kilgour.com. Most who have read are convinced of the dismaying validity of our conclusion. Some in national governments of varying political colours, who are no doubt privately persuaded, unfortunately choose to say otherwise in public because to concur that such crimes against humanity are continuing in China would presumably require some different bilateral policies with the party-state in Beijing.

None of these deaths would be occurring if the Chinese people as a whole enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the intrinsic worth and dignity of human beings. Most lives in China have no more value to those in power than does their natural environment, work safety, consumer protection, health care for farmers, or the lives of African residents in Darfur or Burmese nationals. In my judgement, it is the toxic and lethal combination of totalitarian governance and virtually ‘anything goes’ capitalism that allows this situation to continue across the Middle Kingdom today…

Conclusion

Challenging the government of China over its partnership roles in Sudan, Burma and elsewhere probably offers the best hope to save civilian lives internationally. The key task is to inform widely about the government of China’s actions.

What would happen, for example, if Canadians of varying ages and backgrounds were to demonstrate in front of the Chinese consulate in Calgary, declaring with banners and placards that the government in Beijing must be held accountable for its complicity in the Darfur genocide and violence in Burma? What if such demonstrations are continuous, and grow, and spread to China’s missions in other countries? What would happen if everywhere Chinese diplomats, politicians and business people travel they are confronted by those who insist on making it an occasion for highlighting China’s destructive roles internationally and at home? To succeed, the campaign must be creative and focused. It must take advantage of every means offered through electronic communications.

The general lack of effective advocacy initiatives has not been lost on Khartoum’s génocidaires. Despite the enormous and consequential successes of the American-led divestment campaign, pressure must be ratcheted up even more. Other Canadian and European companies should follow the lead of Germany’s Siemens and Switzerland’s ABB Ltd., who have both suspended operations in Sudan. Let’s demand the same thing for Burma? Why would the government of Alberta agree recently to sell blocks of oil sands land to a Chinese oil company with close links to the government? The task is daunting but fully achievable, given the moral passion and creative energies of the Darfur and other advocacy communities.

Finally, the last words of the preface from The New Chinese Empire ( 2003) by Ross Terrill of Harvard University, who has spent his life studying and writing about the country: “One day the Communist regime in Beijing will pass away, in part for the reasons Suharto fell, in part for the reasons the Soviet Union collapsed, and we should be prepared…for the dangers and opportunities of that moment. The War on Terrorism has sharpened the issue of democracy in world affairs. Ultimately, terrorism is the antithesis of freedom and accountability. In between lies dictatorship. The 21 st century seems likely to be less kind to dictatorship than was the 20th century.”

Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Calgary, September 27, 2007

Original article from David Kilgour’s website

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