Thursday, April 28, 2011

Irony of Western human rights agenda

The following link points to an opinion piece that appeared in China Daily recently and authored by an American "investigative journalist"

The author argues that America's constant haranguing of China over it's human rights record is "ironical" in as much as, he argues, the US's record relating to human rights both within it's own borders and internationally reads far worse than China's.

The question of human rights, of who is the sinner and who is the saint, is unanswerable. There appears, in my mind, to be no qualitative or quantitative criteria on which to judge. There are so many variables, so many imponderables.

History, culture, economics, environment, education, religious values et, el. A veritable blackhole to peer into and fathom the depth and measure of the issues at hand.

There is no beginning and no end, it has to be, and always will be, a work in progress, a journey not a destination.

Yes, I can put on one hat and argue that China is the devil incarnate. I can change hats and argue similarly about the US and any other country or regime in the world.

The question about human rights is; have we witnessed progress over time?

Are we seeing a China that is different now than it was a short ten years ago when I first started looking at this issue of human rights?

The answer to me is an emphatic yes. There has been great leaps forward made by China and that is what we should be looking at.

We should be using what the Chinese themselves use to such great effect the "carrot and the stick"

In other words we in the west should offer the carrot first and only produce the stick as a last resort.

Also, we should not mix human rights issues in every instance of our relationship with China.

How many times have I read of some delegation or other going to China on some mundane issue, say of bi-lateral horticultural talks, to hear the western delegates being quizzed on how they will raise the issue of human rights, or a delegate saying "we will discuss wheat germination but only after we raise Tibet."

Let us pursue the issue of human rights wherever and whenever they are impinged, but let us do it sensibly in a spirit of co-operation on what is a never ending jouney for all countries and all of us..

Link: Irony of Western human rights agenda

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

China Coal Mining - A Dangerous Occupation

According to the linked Yahoo! News item

A total of 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China in 2010, officials say, but labour rights groups have long maintained the actual death toll is likely much higher.

China's mines are among the deadliest in the world due to lax regulation, corruption and inefficiencies.

Eight trapped in flooded China mine: state media - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chinese Diplomatic Faux Pas

With the upcoming dialogue meeting on Human Rights between China and the United States an article appearing recently in the China Daily is interesting to consider on a couple of points.

The Peoples Republic of China conducts diplomacy on several levels; official and back door. The article linked to below falls into the latter category.

The China Daily is very much a mouth piece for the PRC. In this so called "opinion" piece the PRC, through the reporter, sets out it's view of it's recent human rights record.

The interesting things from my point of view are, firstly, how the Chinese government uses such media to gets it's point across or to set the stage, so to speak, pre the scheduled dialogue. Much can be understood about China's mindset by reading the "unofficial" organ of state diplomacy ie, The China Daily and official one The Peoples Daily

The second point of interest regarding this "opinion" piece is that China's argument as to the great leaps forward in human rights change that it has achieved is well presented with a nice touch of mea culpa to boot . There is an attempt to reasonably point out that China has unique problems and can not, therefore, be judged against western first world values. And I have to concur to a degree with their argument.

The other very surprising point of interest and one that really flawed me was the cartoon which has been included with the piece.

Totally uncalled for and takes away much from the merit of what had been said.

Human rights progress enjoyed by all China DailyApril 21 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Western democracy no panacea for the world

I have long held the belief that the democratic system of government as exists in many western countries can not be easily transferred to others such as China.

I have also held the belief that it may not be beneficial for the likes of China to go down this route.

Western style democracy has taken hundreds of years to evolve. During that evolutionary period there has been an ongoing education process of the populaces. They have over time learnt the mores, the conventions if you will, of how to function and interact in such an environment.

To expect this learning process to be fast tracked in so populous a place as China with a cultural history so different to that of the west has always seemed to me to be naive at the very least.

The article in the attached link looks at this issue and whilst I take some things that are said with a grain of salt such as the willingness, desire and capability of the Uyghur people to escalate separatism to such a drastic level essentially it's basic precepts hold true.

Democracy is not a panacea. The likes of China can make great leaps forward in terms of human rights and economic growth and prosperity without going anywhere near being a western style democracy.

If this can be generally understood by the west than a lot of the angst concerning western and Chinese diplomacy can be alleviated.

Western democracy no panacea for the world - GlobalTimes

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Police block Beijing Easter Service

In China there are officially sanctioned churches and there are unofficial or what are called underground churches. For example there is an official Catholic church and there are underground Catholic churches the difference being the former do not offer allegiance (open at least) to the Papal system and are acceptable to the communist regime.

Herein lies the problem. The west criticize the People's Republic of China for generally lacking rule of law however in this instance there is rule of law. Unofficial Churches are illegal in China and therefore services are illegal.

Whether we in the west like it or not, whether we cry religious intolerance, or, limitation of a basic human right to worship as we choose, we can not criticise the PRC officials from taking the action as set out in the attached link in terms of legality or rule of law.

Thus we are caught between a rock and a hard place. We can only criticise the intent of the law not the letter.

Church: Police block Beijing Easter service -

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dalai Lama To Receive New Honor

Congratulations to the dalai lama on his latest award. The Dalai Lama is seen by millions of people as a shining example of how to live life and he has done great things for the Tibetan cause whilst at all times recognising the reality of the political situation vis a vis China.

I see the Dalai Lama kindly but I also understand that he has benefited personally from his position, living quite a reaonable and, some may say, pampered existance. Nonetheless the world is a better place for him being in it.

Dalai Lama To Receive New Honor - To Do

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Activist says China cracks down on ethnic Uighurs

The Chinese government has always, and will always, increase pressure on the Uygur minority anytime there is Muslim unrest around the world.

With a population of somewhere between ten and fifteen million and given their strategically sensitive location in Xinjiang north western China, the Chinese government will never allow any sparks to flare.

Activist says China cracks down on ethnic Uighurs - SFGate


Several years ago I ran a website and a blog named uygurWORLD and China Letter respectively. uygurWORLD was concerned with the history and culture of the Uygur minority of China whilst China Letter was an on going commentary concerning general human rights issues in China, particularly regarding the Uygur people, but also, the terrible situation relating to the level of injuries and deaths that is accepted in the Chinese mining industry. I would like to think both were of some importance and provided some, albeit minor, input to the understanding of the topics explored. I know that, at least, I made many lifetime "pen pals" on the Internet through it.

Circumstances conspired, as they say, for me to leave off these pursuits but this morning during a walk on a beautiful sunny Sydney day and having rekindled many friendships recently that had their genesis in those times I decided that I would like to do something similar again though not to the extent as previously. So for what it is worth (other than my own self aggrandisement I suppose!) I am now going to make the occassional commentary on these issues from these pages. I hope they may be of some interest to someone in which case I will have deemed it to be a success.

All comments, criticisms and suggestions are most welcome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

China urges care on exile's visit to Australia

China urges care on exile's visit to Australia - Yahoo!7 I used to blog a lot on China and the Uygur people from Xinjiang in north western China. The Uygur are a Turkic, mainly Muslim, people numbering probably 15 million people. As with the Dalai Lama, Uygur international personalities like Ms Kadeer are hounded by the Chinese government despite the fact, that, as in this instance, both are openly not for a split with China just a recognition of human rights for their minority peoples. To all my Uygur friends Xierinay and Ali in particular "Rhamat".

Stephen's Letter

Steve's Just updated Blogger going to start using it again