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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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Archive for the ‘Burma’ Category

Burma uses China investment to harass opponents

Posted by Author on November 8, 2010


by Sue Lloyd-Roberts in Mae Hong Son, telegraph.co.uk, Nov. 8, 2010 –

Dam construction has seen thousands of Burmese villagers driven out of the country in a strategy that prepared the way for the first nationwide election in two decades on Sunday under a new constitution designed to bring military backed political parties to power.

Refugees from Burma flock across the Thai border in motley groups with bags on their backs and babies in their arms. At a refugee camp outside the town of Mae Hong Son, the numbers of ethnic Karen displaced are growing at a faster rate than at any time since military rule began in 1962.

“They are emptying villages faster than we can cope,” said Khu Htebu, the welfare officer. “They are destroying hundreds of villages. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Asia, Burma, China, News, Politics, World | Comments Off on Burma uses China investment to harass opponents

Burma’s Child soldiers and the China factor

Posted by Author on September 13, 2008


By Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch, September 12, 2008-

(Published in International Herlad Tribune)

Myin Win was 11 years old when he was first recruited into Burma’s national army. He was picked up by soldiers while selling vegetables at a railway station and sent to a military training camp. He weighed only 70 pounds, or about 32 kilograms, and said that the guns were so heavy he could hardly lift them.

He was able to escape, but was recruited a second time at the age of 14. This time he tried to negotiate. “I’ll give you money,” he said to the lance corporal. The recruiter replied, “I don’t want your money.” Myin Win said, “I’ll call my mother and she can vouch for me.” The soldier told him, “I don’t want to see your mother or father and I don’t want money. I want you to join the army.”

Myin Win was sent to training again and, while still only 14, deployed into ethnic minority areas where he was ordered to burn down houses and capture civilians. “We were ordered that if we see anyone, including women and children, then we must approach and catch them and take them to our officers for interrogation,” he said. “If they try to run, shoot them.”

Burma’s military regime may have the largest number of child soldiers in the world. Thousands of children serve in Burma’s national army, swept up in massive recruitment drives to offset high rates of desertion and a lack of willing volunteers. The United Nations Secretary General has identified the regime as one of the world’s worst perpetrators of child recruitment, citing it in six separate reports to the UN Security Council since 2002.

Two years ago, the Security Council created a special working group specifically to address abuses against children in armed conflict. The group is empowered to recommend arms embargoes and other targeted sanctions against violators, like Burma, that repeatedly recruit and use child soldiers.

But in Burma’s case, the Security Council has shamefully squandered its responsibility. After a formal review of Burma’s violations, the working group’s recent report fails even to acknowledge that Burma’s army recruits children. Far from considering well-justified sanctions, the working group repeatedly welcomed the regime’s “cooperation” with the UN.

The approach to Burma is in stark contrast to the Security Council working group’s tough – and effective – approach to other perpetrators like Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Last year the Security Council threatened sanctions against the Tamil Tigers for the group’s use of child soldiers during Sri Lanka’s two-decade-long civil war, and gave a six-month deadline for action. It worked. Reports of child recruitment by the Tamil Tigers dropped from 1,090 in 2004 to 26 in the first six months of this year.

In other cases, the Security Council has also obtained results. In Ivory Coast, it pushed government and rebel forces to adopt action plans to end child recruitment; the practice has now been abandoned in that country. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it referred information on violations to sanctions committees and urged the arrest and prosecution of commanders responsible for child recruitment. Although some child recruitment continues in the country, an estimated 30,000 child soldiers have been released or demobilized since 2003.

So why is the Security Council giving Burma a free pass? In a word, China. A stalwart ally of Burma’s military regime, China tried to prevent the Security Council from discussing Burma’s record of violations against children. According to diplomats, China’s representatives (often backed by Russia and Indonesia) have consistently rejected all efforts to pressure Burma to address its use of child soldiers – including proposals for a more detailed action plan on the issue from Burma’s government, access by UN personnel to Burma’s territory to verify Burma’s claims that it has no child soldiers, or even a follow-up report on progress.

Despite all eyes being on China during the recent Olympic Games, this obstructionist behavior provides another sad illustration of China’s failure to uphold basic human rights standards, including protections for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

One diplomat said, “China’s position was that we must build a relationship of trust with Burma, and to do that, we must accept whatever they say.” Including, apparently, the fiction that Burma has no child soldiers.

Without credible pressure from the Security Council, UN officials in Burma – already doing little to engage the military regime on its use of child soldiers – are unlikely to demand concrete action. And unfortunately for Myin Win and thousands like him, the regime has even less incentive to end the routine recruitment of children into its military ranks.

It’s hard to decide whose actions are more shameful – Burma’s exploitation of children as soldiers or the Security Council’s failure to condemn the practice.

Jo Becker is the Children’s Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch and co-author of “Sold to be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma.”

– Original: Human Rights Watch

Posted in Asia, Burma, Children, China, military, News, People, Politics, Social, World | Comments Off on Burma’s Child soldiers and the China factor

China Intelligence at the Heart of the Burmese Crisis

Posted by Author on October 12, 2007


It’s not only natural gas and Myanmar’s other energy wealth that interest China. In spite of several recent reversals, Beijing has preserved its hold on a whole essential segment of Burmese defense in the strategic domain of communications interception bases. Interests that will weigh heavily in Beijing’s choice whether to suggest repression or negotiation with civil society to the Burmese junta.

In October 1989, General Than Shwe, the present boss of the junta, led a delegation to China to negotiate a framework agreement for the exchange of intelligence between the two regimes. Its main objective: surveillance of India.

One and a Half Billion Dollars for an Interception System

Four months after the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, the Chinese leadership was highly motivated to aid the Burmese, concluding a contract for one and a half billion dollars of material, notably radar and communications systems, and providing for the launch of six Hainan class patrol boats equipped with Electronic Warfare (EW) material.

Later, the agreement continued to spawn new offspring, with the establishment of signal interception bases (Sigint) and communications interception bases (Comint), on the coast of Coco Island, on the Ramree, Hainggyi and Zadetkyi Kyun (St. Matthew’s) Islands, not forgetting the station at the Monkey Point naval base in Rangoon.

These stations are directed at India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and, of course, at maritime traffic, including the ships of the American fleet. China has invested massively in this technical cooperation and in the installation of numerous less important antennae. Thousands of advisers from the Chinese Popular Liberation Army (PLA) have given the Burmese a hand in this domain, including in the setting up of mobile Sigint units to fight the minority Wa, Chan, Karen, and other guerilla movements.

Tsunami Setback: A Base Destroyed on Coco Island

Author of a recent book of the story of Sigint in Burma, “Burma’s Military Secrets” (White Lotus Press, Bangkok), Australian specialist Des Ball, whom I met the beginning of this year in Canberra, is even more specific:

“An important dimension of Burma’s new capacities in Electronic Warfare is its ability to collect electronic naval intelligence (Elint) thanks to the material loaded on the Chinese Hainan class patrol boats. Which allows them to intercept, identify, and locate radar activities in their operational areas of interest, for example, on the coast, but also at the northern entry to the Strait of Malacca.”

Which is to say that significant resources greatly benefit the Chinese, who assure their co-management. Nonetheless, Beijing suffered a setback in December 2004 because of the tsunami: Coco Island’s Sigint base – 50 km north of the Andaman Islands, which belong to India – was destroyed. It has not been repaired since then.

At the time, General Qiu Rulin, then head of the Third Department of the PLA’s General Staff (in charge of interception questions) did not succeed in obtaining that station’s restoration. Meanwhile, in October 2004, the head of military intelligence (Defense Service Intelligence) and Prime Minister, General Khin Nyunt, had been dismissed from power. Now he had been at the heart of the Chinese-Burmese intelligence exchange apparatus and, at the time, the Chinese officials involved did not hide their concern. All the more so as, somewhat later, overtures in India’s direction began to loom.

Muted Struggle Between China and India

General Thura Shwe Mann, Head of the Interservice General Staff and the junta’s Number 3, was dispatched to Beijing to reassure the PLA’s strategists. In 2006, he officially met with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. He is considered “Beijing’s man” and just recently, in May, according to Western intelligence sources, he made a secret trip to China to seal Chinese-Burmese cooperation.

In Beijing, they also feared that the junta’s assistant chief, General Maung Aye, rather favorable to opening towards India, might become the “Number One.” So this half-Chinese was invited to a discreet meeting in Kunming (in China) at the end of 2006. During that meeting, the Chinese generals were guaranteed that their apparatus in Burma would not be threatened should the man who had provoked the fall of their friend, General Khin Nyunt, be promoted. In particular as far as their vast technological espionage apparatus – now under the control of intelligence head and regional military boss for Rangoon, General Myint Swe (also nephew to Than Shwe, the junta leader) – was concerned.

In Beijing, the Popular Liberation Army must weigh in heavily in favor of a muscular form of intervention in Rangoon, while the more political leaders clearly see the danger that a violent repression would represent one year away from the Olympic Games. Preaching calm, they nonetheless also feel that the peaceful surge of Burmese demonstrators may give ideas to Tibet, or even to Beijing, where the Falun Gong Sect could once again get itself noticed as it did during the big peaceful demonstration of April 1999. A real brain-teaser for President Hu Jintao and the new class of generals he promoted this summer.

Original report from rue89.com

Posted in Asia, Burma, Business, China, Economy, military, News, Politics, Social, Technology, Trade, World | 2 Comments »

China Voices Opposition Again to UN Sanctions Against Burma

Posted by Author on October 10, 2007


VOA News, 09 October 2007-

China has voiced its opposition to sanctions against Burma, as the U.N. Security Council considers a response to the military government’s recent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday any action adopted by the Security Council should be prudent and useful, and not involve sanctions.

The council is considering issuing a statement condemning the crackdown.

China is a close ally and major trading partner with Burma. It has veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council, and has blocked action against Burma in the past……. ( more details from VOA News)

Posted in Asia, Burma, China, News, Politics, World | 1 Comment »

Storm Over Burma Could Spell Beijing Olympic Boycott

Posted by Author on October 3, 2007


By NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT, Staff Reporter of the Sun, New York Sun, September 27, 2007-

After Burma’s military junta yesterday shot dead eight pro-democracy protesters, including five unarmed monks, a growing chorus of Western voices is beginning to question whether the Chinese government’s failure to restrain its Burmese client state should result in a boycott of the Beijing Olympics next summer.

In an unprecedented personal intervention, first lady Laura Bush urged the Burmese regime to give up power peacefully and allow the elected leader, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to govern the country. “I want to encourage the generals to start the reconciliation, move aside, and let a democracy build,” Mrs. Bush said yesterday on the Voice of America.

In one of the strongest condemnations of the Burmese junta, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican of California, warned in Congress that unless the military dictators showed restraint, they would be treated as war criminals. “If you slaughter the monks and those calling for democracy, when your regime falls, and it will fall, you will be pursued to every corner of the globe like the Nazi criminals before you,” he said in the House on Tuesday evening.

After a private briefing from Burma experts in the State Department, Mrs. Bush let slip that it was thought the Chinese communist leaders may be pressing their allies in Rangoon to show restraint. “We hear, but it’s not substantiated, that China is urging the regime not to react in a brutal and violent way against the protesters. I hope that’s the case,” she said, before calling on the Chinese government to use all its influence to prevent a massacre.

There was little evidence, however, that the Burmese dictators were in any mood to give ground on the ninth day of widespread protests led by thousands of saffron-robed Buddhist monks. At least five monks were killed yesterday, Zin Linn, the information minister for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, the country’s government in exile in Washington, told the Associated Press.

Dissatisfaction is growing among American and European lawmakers with the Chinese leadership, which for decades has financed and armed the Burmese regime. Burmese exports to China, mainly timber and gems, have soared in recent months and China has built oil and gas pipelines between the two countries.

Mr. Rohrabacher firmly laid blame for the violence at China’s door. “I urge all Burmese soldiers, do not kill your own people for the greed and corruption of those who have sold out your country to the Chinese. You are not a state of Beijing.”

Those already advocating the boycotting of the Beijing Olympics in August next year because of the Chinese government’s indifference toward the genocide in Darfur and China’s poor human rights record, believe the violence in Burma will add fuel to their arguments.

America and the European Union already have sanctions in place against the Burmese regime, and China’s insistence that Burma should not be subject to U.N. Security Council pressure only serves to encourage a more direct approach……. ( more details from New York Sun: Storm Over Burma Could Spell Olympic Boycott)

Posted in Asia, Boycott Beijing Olympics, Burma, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, USA, World | 1 Comment »

The heroism of the Burmese, the shame of China

Posted by Author on October 2, 2007


Rosemary Righter, The Times, UK, October 1, 2007-

When China joined Russia last January to veto a fairly mild United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Burma to free political prisoners and improve its abominable human rights record, Beijing’s Ambassador at the UN helpfully explained that “no country is perfect” and that “similar problems exist in other countries”. Including, as he of course did not say, China.

The parallels may not seem all that obvious this week. Leaving aside the contrast between China’s boom economy and the misery inflicted on all Burmese by the military regime’s cruelty and incompetence, political repression in China these days stops short of organised mass rape and (outside China’s vast lao gai “reform by labour” camps) systemic forced labour. Yet the “problem” on the Chinese leadership’s mind, then and more acutely now that the desperate courage of Burma’s defenceless citizens has been on international display, is the containment of popular discontent in the age of the internet and, beyond that, the question of political legitimacy.

Burma’s monks are its people’s truest representatives, symbols of all they hold in reverence. By corralling them in their monasteries and brutally clearing their supporters off the streets, General Than Shwe’s junta has handed China a terrible foreign policy dilemma, even harder to handle than the nuclear roguery of North Korea.

Neighbouring Burma puts to the test, far more sharply than China’s cosseting of more distant Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Sudan and Iran, the pledge, implicit in Hu Jintao’s “peaceful rise”, that China will use its power responsibly. In Burma, China has influence that it is under intense international pressure to use. Yet Burma’s popular uprising is a strong reminder of its own “crowd control” problems; for Beijing is annually confronted by tens of thousands of local protests, some violent.

China’s discomfort and irritation with the Burmese regime concern methods, not objectives. The Burmese junta’s settled conviction that only the military can run the country has its mirror image in the Chinese Communist Party’s obsession with preserving its monopoly on power. To grasp how Beijing would react to long columns of cinnamon-robed monks on its own streets, calling for change to the political order, think only of its iron repression of the equally peaceable, quasi-religious Falun Gong movement.

China may genuinely wish, as it finally said yesterday, for “domestic reconciliation” and “development” in Burma; it is acutely worried that the regime’s stubborn refusal of all dialogue will lead to its downfall. But for all their lip-service to “democracy” as a desirable Burmese development, China’s leaders have not the remotest interest in an outcome that might encourage China’s own democracy activists, above all in the run-up to the Olympics. If democracy is good for Burma, after all, why not for China?

Hence China’s continued insistence that it does not intervene in Burma’s “internal affairs”. This is hogwash. Burma is not just China’s neighbour; it is a heavily dependent client state that is close to becoming a virtual Chinese province, so heavily are large swaths of the country and the economy becoming sinicised. Burma’s problems are, increasingly, a Chinese “internal affair”.

China’s hegemonic thrust into Burma is not merely, or even primarily, driven by its worldwide quest for minerals, oil and other resources. The two regimes have been partners in crime since the late 1980s, when both were in the international doghouse for massacring thousands of people demanding democracy, Burma in 1988 and China in 1989. At friendship prices, China has sold Burma rocket launchers, guns and other military hardware; Burma has reciprocated by providing China with listening posts and, soon, a naval base on the Indian Ocean.

This does not mean that Beijing is not interested in Burma’s natural wealth, far from it. It is actively exploiting Burma’s timber, bamboo and furniture, rubber, tea, mining and fisheries and China’s actual or planned investments include 40 hydroelectric projects, 17 oil and gas concessions, major upgrading of its roads and a £1 billion, 1,000-mile oil and gas pipeline from the Bay of Bengal to China’s Yunnan province. An estimated million Chinese farmers, construction workers and businessmen work and live in Burma and, particularly in the north, many towns and cities are more Chinese than Burmese in character, using Chinese currency and dominated by billboards in Chinese characters. China reportedly agreed recently to rebuild the old British road connecting southern China with northeast India, bringing in 40,000 Chinese construction workers.

What all this amounts to is a merging of the two economies, a takeover that serves two Chinese goals. The first is to develop its own southwestern regions by making Burma to all intents and purposes an extension of China. The second is to thread Burma securely into China’s “string of pearls”, the network of alliances, westward into Central Asia and south into the Indian Ocean, through which it aims to extend its strategic reach.

China has bones to pick with Than Shwe, over heroin trafficking, his dalliance with North Korea, and above all his deal with Russia to build a light-water nuclear reactor; but he is a willing salesman of Burma’s birthright. If the junta fell, or even if Than Shwe were ousted by younger officers, Burmese nationalism could reassert itself and the southern strand of China’s string of pearls might snap.

With an eye on the Olympics, China is reluctantly talking the talk about reform in Burma. It is sufficiently alive to the disgust the regime inspires that it has hedged its bets, meeting repeatedly with members of exile opposition groups and even half-heartedly supporting the release of Burma’s great figurehead of freedom, Aung San Suu Kyi. But so long as India and Burma’s South-East Asian neighbours play softball with the junta – in large part, ironically, because of their worries about China’s slow-motion takeover of Burma – Beijing has no need to walk the reform walk.

These countries must stop covering China’s back. If the unbelievable bravery of the Burmese gets them nowhere yet again, China will take the blame. It will underscore China’s denial of freedoms to its own people. But the shame will be “civilised” Asia’s to share.

Original article from The Times

Posted in Asia, Burma, Business, China, Commentary, Economy, Human Rights, Law, News, Opinion, Politics, Report, Social, World | 2 Comments »

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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