Wednesday, 8 August 2007

It's Time to Get Tough on the Chinese Communist Party's Human Rights Record Ming

I've noticed that Jonathan Calder at Liberal England has criticised at least the ghost writer for this article on the Comment Is Free part of the Guardian Website.

Here's my commentary on the article for what it is worth.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

"In a year's time the Olympic torch will enter the newly constructed Beijing National Stadium to the roars of 80,000 excited onlookers and the 2008 games will be underway.

"In the so-called Bird Nest arena, one of a staggering 31 Olympic venues in Beijing alone, the world will watch the world's best sportsmen and women and cheer on their own teams, but also get a unique opportunity to see China in its modern garb; 21st century China, an economic superpower, comfortable with staging the world's greatest sporting event".

LL2 - China has an appalling construction health and safety record and I wonder how many workers have been killed and injured building the stadium and what, if any, compensation the families of the killed and injured have received?

"Like millions of others next year, I shall be glued to the television screen soaking up these weeks of sporting excellence. It's a mouth-watering prospect. How is the British team going to perform? Who will be the great world stars of 2008 that we can expect to see back here in London in 2012? Whatever my work commitments I won't be able to resist setting aside some time to watch the athletics in Beijing, particularly the sprints. I myself competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and it was a totally unforgettable experience. Medals, world records, personal bests, the sense of representing your country but appearing on the world stage, all of these things come together at the Olympics. It is simply the most amazing sporting occasion the world has ever created. But, it's also more than that".

LL2 - Good to remind people of your Olympic past Ming but perhaps you are missing the point abit here.

"When, back in 2001, Liu Jingmin, the vice-president of China's Olympic bid committee, argued that the games should go to Beijing - and not Toronto, Paris, Istanbul or Osaka - he vowed that "by allowing Beijing to host the games you will help the development of human rights."

"There, in simple terms, is a pointer to what the Olympics can also encapsulate. An opportunity for countries to take important strides toward ideals of equality, freedom and human rights".

LL2 - Given that China's human rights record has worsened under Hu Jintao perhaps we've all been conned? There are NO measures I can think of where freedom and human rights have improved for Chinese citizens. The Chinese Communist Party (CPC) point to improvements in the living standards of many but this should not cloud the core issue here. Basic human rights are denied to over one billion of our fellow world citizens. This flies in the face of the Olympic ideals.

"Let's not mince words. China's record on human rights is poor. Whether it's the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, the harassing and imprisoning of lawyers and local activists, censorship of the media including the internet, the use of "evidence" extracted by torture, secret trials and wide-scale use of the death penalty, the situation is dire".

LL2- "Poor"?!? It is abysmal, nay shocking. "Poor" is being nice. Jonathan Calder is absolutely right when he accuses the ghost writer or Ming of mincing their words.

"According to Amnesty International, the situation is currently getting worse, not better, as the Olympics countdown continues apace. In fact there's even evidence of the targeting of the very activists who have tried to draw attention to the plight of those evicted from their homes as a result of Olympics-related construction projects".

LL2 - Now, that is more like it and this should set the tone for the rest of the article....

"China would win no medals for human rights. But things are still fluid, and there are hopeful signs in a mixed picture. China has promised to be more open and to put in place greater safeguards over its use of the death penalty. It has promised to reform its use of "re-education through labour" camps, a process of administrative detention used on a massive scale".

LL2 - The ghost writer then kicks the ball over the crossbar (groan). It promised this in 2001 and NO progress has been made. The Communist regime promises one thing and does another year after year.

"And on the world stage, last week's United Nations resolution over a peacekeeping force for Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur region saw the Chinese supporting the international community's efforts in a constructive move forward".

LL2 - After blocking resolutions for a long time and allowing the situation to get dire beyond belief in the interests of "protecting the national sovereignty of Sudan". The Communist regime has frequently blocked international action to prevent genocide because it is frightened that it will one day be used as justification for intervention in Tibet and Xinjiang Province.

"Another example is the welcome decision by the Chinese authorities to lift reporting restrictions on international journalists who will cover the games next year. But, the easing of restrictions only applies until 17 October 2008. Why should it not stay that way after the games? And why are domestic reporters to be censored in their reporting, both during and after the games"?

LL2 - The fact that there are restictions at all should be seen as an odious disgrace. The BBC News part of the website still continues to be blocked in China.

"Some argue that sport and politics should never mix, but I think this misses the point. I for one welcomed the news that China would host the games precisely because I hoped and believed that this, among other influences, could lead to an opening up, a strengthening and modernising of this great nation. It still can".

LL2 - Time is running out (364 days no less). More pressure has to be exerted on Beijing to mend it's ways by the IOC and Western Governments. Ming is too optimistic. In fact, with the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party due this year human rights abuses will worsen, not improve in the name of "security" around this event.

"If hosting a major sporting event helps accelerate China's movement toward the mainstream international community, then that has got to be a further reason to celebrate the power of the Olympics. This is not about "bringing politics into sport" but recognising that no international sporting event operates in a politics-free vacuum".

LL2 - The right sentiments. The big question is, has the Olympics made that much difference in bringing China into the mainsteam? Has China taken a more Liberal Internationalist approach to international relations as a result of winning the Olympic Games? I don't think so.

"More fundamentally, Beijing 2008 is a once-in-a-life opportunity for China to clear the bar that it has itself raised to a higher level".

LL2 - Nice use of metaphor but the real conclusion here should be that so far it has knocked the bar off every single time (if indeed, it has been bothered to jump).

"On top of world-class facilities in the capital city and beyond, a legacy for the Beijing games should be a freer, fairer China".

"Let's enjoy this countdown to next year's Olympics, but let's keep our eyes on that other goal. The goal of a China that respects freedom, equality and human rights".

LL2 - Warm words. Very nice, now WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

I'm very concerned that the Liberal Democrats really don't have a coherent and strong policy towards the Chinese regime on it's human rights record if this article is anything to go by.

Softly, softly, isn't making a damn of difference and Hu Jintao and his colleagues must be quietly laughing themselves silly that they have got the international prestige of hosting the Olympic Games without having to pay the price of implementing political change in China. The great danger is that the Olympics finish and everything continues for Chinese citizens as it has since Tiananmen.

I also wonder what Hong Kong Democrat Martin Lee (an individual member of Liberal International due to the law in Hong Kong which forbids political parties from affiliating to international political organisations) would have to say about this article? I would love to know.

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