By John E. Carey, Mort Kondracke, James Kennedy Olds, and Richard McDermott
Peace and Freedom
First posted online on June 18, 2007
Last updated August 10, 2007
The headline reflects a status report to President Hu Jintao of China from his government one week ago. Last Monday was June 11. With the Beijing Games about a year away, the big communist Leader had instructed his staff to give him a complete status report on China’s readiness to host this huge world event.
Monday, June 11, Hu Jintao, seated at the head of his vast conference table, readied himself to hear the details, the good news and the bad news of China’s preparation on many fronts, to host the finest Olympics ever.
Seated next to President Hu was one of his most trusted advisors: former Ambassador to the United States and now Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Yang speaks perfect English. More importantly, he understands the west perfectly. Americans might say, “he gets it.”
President Hu wants all the world to see how modern, enlightened and glorious his nation really is next summer.
Of course, President Hu’s lackey communist stooges gave him exactly what they thought the Leader wanted: A Happiness Report! Everything these days in the communist government of Beijing is Happiness!
Beijing had an entire day set aside to train the populace on how to line or queue up for trains and busses. “You mean we can’t just swarm into the door like a hive of bees on acid like we always do?” Not during the Olympics.
Beijing has had a no spitting day. Just practice for the Olympics. Mostly the old guys spit in the face of that one so a repeat is scheduled.
China is reviewing all signs written in English to ensure grammatical correctness, clarity and “that western thing.” Gone are some of my most favorite signs, like “Deformed Man,” (outside toilets for the handicapped) or the more sublime on park lawns, “Show Mercy to the Slender Grass.”
And would you believe that plans are in place to relocate 20 million migrant children? Yup. There are 200 million migrant workers in China and they leave their children behind. Beijing will be without homeless, migrant of other “street people” for one time only: During the Happiness Olympic Games 2008 Beijing!
As President Hu Jintao heard all his deputies report all he could think of was delightful Happiness!
Not really. Hu Jintao is no idiot.
At the end of a day of briefings, President Hu turned to Foreign Minister Yang, and said, “What do you think?”
Foreign Minister Yang said, in an unmistakable tone of seriousness without much tact: “If we do not change our way on Darfur, Mister President, Hollywood will force nations to boycott our Olympics. We have much work to do. We need to clamp down on pirates who copy movies and music. And we may need to make some grand and obvious human rights changes to impress Europe and the Americans.”
Yang really does get it.
Just to make sure the Chinese have a good starting list of topics to look at, we at Peace and Freedom sent out our own team of status seekers so President Hu would have a complete idea on some of the things that still might need a tad of attention before the Beijing Games in 2008.
Here’s the short, preliminary list of things that may need just a touch of management attention before the Beijing Games Begin. But, often, and sadly, fixing with a touch often requires a wand or magic dust.
Darfur. China is Sudan’s biggest business partner. In exchange for all sorts of aid and perks for President General Omar Bashir, China has humbly agreed to pump Sudan’s oil out of the African ground and sending it to China for refining. Because President General Bashir is a buddy of President Hu, China has agreed to be completely oblivious to what President Bush and others in the world community call the genocide in Darfur.
You see, President General Bashir has decided to eliminate however many millions of those intolerable people in Darfur he needs to in order to achieve his own Happiness.
There are a few small glitches, though, in President Hu’s current “Blindness to Darfur” strategy. The U.N. condemns it. The E.U. condemns it. NATO condemns it. Everybody condemns it. Both the Canadian Prime Minister and the King of Sweden and his PM spoke to Hu about it in the course of ten days in June 2007. But President Hu, being “who” he is, can probably blow off the entire world, which he has been doing. One small fly in the ointment: Hollywood stars that are starting to refer to Beijing 2008 as the “Genocide Games.”
By the end of last week, China had convinced Sudan to allow a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping force to come into Darfur. This is a terrific and major breakthrough. But China has more to do to convince the west that the killing and starvation in Darfur is over.
There is also a difficult dynamic normally overlooked in the situation between Sudan, China, Darfur and the U.S. Sudan’s President General Bashir is helping the U.S. with the war on terror: even as he himself terrorizes the refugees in Darfur. As the British say, “A bit sticky.”
|Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir|
Tibet. We’ll just quote Mort Kondracke who spent the early part of his summer vacation in Tibet:
“Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans — along with an estimated 30 million Chinese — died in Mao Zedong’s maniacal collectivization campaign the “Great Leap Forward.” In Tibet, the Chinese caused mass famine by trying to change the dominant crop from barley to rice, which does not grow in high altitudes.”
“Tens of thousands more Tibetans were killed when the Chinese put down a nationalistic revolt in the late 1950s and almost all Buddhist temples were sacked and burned during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.”
“In the past 30 years, the level of violence is down, although last year Chinese border guards killed a young Buddhist nun trying to escape the country. Rather, China is simply dominating Tibet economically and politically — and the presence of huge military bases emphasizes the futility of resistance.”
China is currently forcing Tibetan nomads to move from their Yak herding areas to the cities. They have no jobs or city skills.
China says the Tibetan herders are overgrazing the Yaks and destroying the eco-system. This is laughable to anyone familiar with China’s record on respect for the eco-system. This is also laughable to anyone who has ever seen the vastness of Tibet juxtaposed to the small numbers of nomads and Yaks. It doesn’t look a thing like a Texas cattle drive. It looks more like a few lost Yaks leading a handful of nomads around.
We don’t mean to make light of this nasty human rights disaster. People who resist the Chinese are killed and those that relocate are never the same: they have lost their centuries-old way of life and they are lost in the villages without skills, money or prospects.
Herders have been forced to slaughter herds of yaks, sheep and goats and communist officials have paid minimal compensation and failed to protect Tibetans’ legal rights, Human Rights Watch told us. HRW said tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of people have been impacted.
China Arming Iran, Iran Arming Terrorists. Although this story has not yet received must traction in the national mainstream media, The Washington Times stands by its sources that have told two different reporters that Chinese arms have been track from China to Iran and then from Iran into the hands of terrorist targeting U.S. forces.
Philip Smucker, reporting from Kabul, wrote on June 5th that “Sophisticated new weapons, including Chinese anti-aircraft missiles as well as items made in Iran, are reaching Taliban forces in Afghanistan, according to government officials and other sources.”
Mr. Smucker continued, “A set of photographs was provided [the The Washington Times] depicting Taliban insurgents showing off new supplies of Chinese-made HN-5 shoulder-fired missiles [in Afghanistan].”
On June 15th Bill Gertz reported that “New intelligence reveals China is covertly supplying large quantities of small arms and weapons to insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, through Iran. U.S. government appeals to China to check some of the arms shipments in advance were met with stonewalling by Beijing, which insisted it knew nothing about the shipments and asked for additional intelligence on the transfers. The ploy has been used in the past by China to hide its arms-proliferation activities from the United States, according to U.S. officials with access to the intelligence reports.”
Certainly if China is supplying arms to terrorist through Iran there will be additional confirmation which will undoubtedly disrupt relations with the United States.
Slavery and Child Labor and Abuse. A slave labor scandal erupted in China during May and intensified in June. Hundreds of teenagers were found working under arduous conditions in work such as mining clay and brick making. The children reported to aid worker that they had been held against their will for a year or more and fed just meager amounts of noodles and steamed bread (like a Chinese dumpling). Some said they had been fed only food and water. All were dirty, disheveled and malnourished.
Slaves released in China after more
than a year of forced labor.
Amnesty International estimates that China has 20 million homeless or otherwise uncared for children. A large number of these children are the result of unions between China’s estimated 200 million migrant adults.
China said it would take immediate and forceful steps to end the practice of slave workers or exploitation of children living without protection. But this is another one of China’s ingrained, centuries-old “dirty little secrets.” Slavery is the worst human rights violation, but it springs forth from wide ranging tolerance of child labor abuses. We have not addressed child labor abuse as a separate issue here but as a subset of the same thought process that brought us this slavery crisis.
The Chinese National Olympic Stadium, also known as the ‘bird’s nest’, designed by Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei has said he will not attend any Olympic events, even the opening in the stadium he designed, because of China’s poor record on human rights.
The China Youth Daily called the slavery a “shocking disgrace” exposing officials’ failure to enforce labor laws.
“When a law is massively undercut in its implementation so that it becomes a worthless piece of paper, then it’s necessary to rethink the law itself,” the paper said.
In both the cases of slavery and child labor abuse, the children work long hours averaging thirteen or fourteen hours per day, receive maybe one third the normal minimum wage , live togethter in hovels and receive poor diets.
In early June reporters discovered that merchandise bearing the Beijing Olympics 2008 logo was being manufactured and assembled by scores of children working long hours for meager pay.
Pollution. China is on course to overtake the United States this year as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide producer, according to estimates based on energy data provided by China.
China’s emissions rose by about 10 percent in 2005, a senior U.S. scientist estimated, while Beijing’s data indicates that fuel consumption rose more than 9 percent in 2006, At these rates China will easily outstrip the United States this year, long before previous forecasts predicted.
The sun rises over eastern Beijing’s developing skyline in April 2007. Mobile air quality testing stations will be set up during next year’s Beijing Olympics so athletes and coaches can monitor pollution levels first-hand, the city’s vice mayor said Thursday.
This data indicates that China’s energy consumption is growing at a striking rate as consumers buy more cars and heavy electricity consuming appliances.
Approximately one new major factory opens in China every day, adding markedly to pollution.
China is exempt from the pollution standards of the Kyoto Treaty because China is considered a “developing country.” India, another growing polluter, is also considered a developing country and therefore exempt from Kyoto.
The standards of the Kyoto Treaty only would apply to nations such as the United States which is a “developed country.” This is why the United States refuses to acknowledge the treaty.
According to Chinese government reports and statistics, more than 70 percent of China’s waterways and 90 percent of its underground water are contaminated by pollution.
China is consuming vast quantities of natural resources. Oil, metals and other resources are now being removed from Africa. At home, China is consuming its own resources at a prodigious rate.
Intellectual Property Right (IPR) Violations. The term IPR violations is just a high handed way of saying copyright, trademark and other legal measures that prevent the theft or exploitation of finished work are violated by counterfeiters or pirates.
These violators of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in China cost U.S. artists and businesses billions of dollars owed to patent and trademark IPRs.
China accounted for about 80 percent of the 14,775 shipments of counterfeit goods seized at U.S. ports last year, said W. Ralph Basham, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
For decades China has been awash in fake Rolex watches, Oxford English Dictionaries that cost $300 in England available in Beijing for $30, and pirated recorded music and videos at unbelievably low prices. Just the day after the blockbuster motion picture “TITANIC” debuted on U.S. theater screens, pirated VCR copies of the film were on sale on the streets of Beijing for just a few dollars. In this computer age, the practice of copying and bypassing the registration and licensing fees of products like Microsoft “Windows” has become a crisis for the owners of the IPRs.
Late in May Microsoft and Vietnam signed an agreement saying that all Vietnam government offices would use only licensed Microsoft products and all associated licensing fees would be paid by Vietnam. This is a huge step forward in the anti-piracy campaign of the United States. Before this, Microsoft products were available on the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for about 50 cent U.S. each.
China has yet to make an agreement on computer operating systems.
But progress in the IPR dispute is apparent. On June 15, the United States and China announced a breakthrough in this long-time contentious issue between the two powers.
Under a memorandum of cooperation signed on June 15, U.S. Customs will provide China with information on the source of seized goods, and Beijing will report back within 90 days on the status of efforts to track down the counterfeiters, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Basham said.
Food Safety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused 257 shipments of food from China in April 2007. Here are some of the products rejected and the reasons they were not accepted into the U.S.
– Pesticides in frozen eel, ginseng, and frozen red raspberry crumble
– Banned antibiotics in frozen catfish
– Sardines and scallops “coated with putrifying bacteria”
– Monkfish containing the deadly toxin tetrodotoxin
– Most commonly, simply “filth”, a generic term for decomposition and gross contamination, which FDA agents found in salted bean curd cubes in brine with chili and sesame oil, dried apple, dried peach, dried pear, dried round bean curd, dried mushroom, olives, frozen bay scallops, frozen Pacific cod, sardines, frozen seafood mix, and fermented bean curd
More recently, the following tainted products have been in the headlines:
– Toothpaste laced with deadly diethylene glycol
– Dog and cat food containing fatal melamine mixed with wheat glutin
In the past year, the FDA rejected more than twice as many food shipments from China as from all other countries combined.
The FDA inspects about 1% of imported goods. The remaining 99% of the above products and others like them made it safely into the US and into your home.
The issue of diethylene glycol in toothpaste and other products if not a joking matter. Diethylene glycol is poisonous and has und in Chinese made products for more than a decade. In 1997, diethylene glycol from China killed dozens of Haitian children, The FDA was unable to trace the chemical back to its manufacturer. In years past, the appearance of diethylene glycol in products for people has been a persistent problem yeat China has been unwilling or unable to assist the FDA and other organization in identification of the source — known to be inside China. Now diethylene glycol has been found in toothpaste for sale inside the U.S.
Many experts maintain that poisons are used in food and other products in much of Asia due to ignorance, a lack of proper training and cultural factors.
“The people who do this want to make money. And if they’re stupid and greedy, this is a bad combination,” said Gerald Moy, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization in Geneva. “It’s the wild West.”
China announced August 9, 2007, less than a year from the start of the Summer Games, that it will, for the first time ever, set down sanitation and cleanliness rules for restaurants.
China’s Typical Crisis Response. Faced with tainted pet food followed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) releasing data on a host of products from China rejected at U.S. borders and then the revelation that tainted Chinese toothpaste had been found in the U.S., China responded. On Tuesday, June 12, 2007, China’s number two envoy in Washington DC went on the assault to explain the rigor China uses to police and ensure the safety of all products including food.
The Washington Times carried the story on page one; which probably delighted the Embassy of China in Washington DC. The headline: “Chinese envoy warns of toothpaste panic.”
Chinese Embassy Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission Zheng Zeguang said “certain isolated cases” should not be “blown out of proportion” to mislead the American public into thinking that all food and drugs from China are unsafe. He reiterated that all products coming from China were safe.
Meanwhile, the Chinese charm offensive continued in Beijing.
Vice Minister for the State Administration for Industry and Commerce Li Dongsheng took more than 100 reporters from the international media on a tour of a government facility that houses seized fake products.
Fake, tainted or adulterated products from soy sauce to chewing gum were on display.
Mr. Li said, “Yes, there are now some problems of food safety of Chinese products. However, they are not serious. We should not exaggerate those problems.”
Mr. Li said “very good, very complete methods” are used by China to regulate product safety.
“We are very concerned about food safety in China and very concerned about protecting the rights of consumers,” Mr. Li said. “But we do not want to cause panic among the people.”
The problem was that everything they said was premature. The Chinese wanted to get the food/toothpaste scandal behind them as soon as they could. So without waiting for the facts, they went into a mode of denial and charm.
The afternoon that the page one story “Chinese envoy warns of toothpaste panic” was published, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of some “Thomas Train” toy items. They were painted in China using lead paint which is toxic.
The very next day this was the headline in American newspapers: “More Toothpaste Revelations: Imported Chinese Toothpaste Marked as Colgate is Toxic.”
Congratulations ladies and gentlemen of the People’s Republic of China. By trying to rid the world of the food and hygiene safety story prematurely, your nation looks inept and worse, crooked.
Often, China’s government looks and acts like a fourth grader caught in the act of smoking a cigarette who then says, “What cigarette?”
A case in point: in 2003, China faced an epidemic of a disease called Severe Acute Reparatory Syndrome (SARS).
Three things happened when China realized it had an epidemic on its hands. In Phase One, China covered up the problem and denied it existed. The diseases persisted and worsened. Phase Two was a flurry of activity to impress the international community that China was on top of the situation. Most of this was for show and didn’t contribute a thing toward ending the epidemic. During this phase other nations like Vietnam and Singapore, that had admitted the problem as soon as it was discovered, eradicated the disease. Finally, China launched Phase Three: a show and charm offensive to convince the world that it did a great job solving the problem.
During the SARS emergency, the international media found out, for the first time, that China lacked sufficient medications, medical staff and hospital facilities to properly service their own population. Like many other things in China, the medical system was mostly a sham.
After graduating from medical school, the best educated medical professionals in China went to the west to work.
The World Health Organization estimated that only about 4% of China’s medical professionals were prepared for a disease like SARS. And the medical staff was severely undermanned.
Today, according to China’s own Ministry of Health (MOH), “In most countries, the ratio of the number of nurses to the total population is about 0.5 percent, but the ratio in China is only 0.1 percent.”
John Carey documented China’s response to the SARS epidemic in a Washington Times commentary under the headline “China’s Ham-Handed SARS Response: Omen of The Future In Disease Control?”
Recall the Bird Flu crisis? Phases One, Two and Three were used again. Hey, when you have 1.3 Billion people you can’t have a complicated play book. And forget about innovation. When an American football quarterback would call an audible for perfectly valid reasons; China is stuck. The only question China’s government leaders face is, what Phase do you think we are in?
In the current food and product safety crime, China is now launching Phase Three. Zheng Zeguang and Li Dongsheng are apparently two of the point men. The problem is, they didn’t wait for Phase Two to play out.
China launched Phase Three of the food safety scare early because there are other emergencies to handle.
Hollywood big shots are already calling the 2008 Summer Olympics the “Genocide Games” because of China’s intransigence and denial of the genocide in Darfur. China’s President Hu Jintao heard about it from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G-8 meeting and the next week from the King and PM during a state visit to Sweden.
China’s routine crisis response is unlike that of any other nation. It is always formulaic and usually, at least in part, dishonest.
One Child Policy. The government of China has decided that each couple may only have one child. This policy is in place to allow for the efficient use of resources, to ensure China can feed itself into the future, and to improve the economic standing of the entire nation.
But people have resisted the state telling them how to run their lives to this extent.
As people have become more affluent in China, they know they have the money to support more than one child in style: complete with a private education.
But the poor people who elect to have more than one child face the threat of fines or forced abortions and other abuses.
The “One Child” policy dilemma came to a boil at the end of May in the southern region of Guangxi.
Many of the people of Guangxi want more than one child, not because they are affluent. They are very poor. They want children so that someone will care for them when they are old. This is a common cultural tradition in China, Vietnam and other Asia nations: the parents end up being cared for by the children as they reach their final years.
China fines couples who have a second child $1300, a means of population control that represents an exorbitant sum in an area like Guangxi where most annual incomes are only $130.
The communist government of China decided to crack down on law breakers who have had more than one child. “The people who didn’t have money, they threatened to knock their houses down, or punch holes in the roof,” a resident said.
So at the end of May in the town of Yangmei, several thousand people ransacked the main government office, a local official said. Xinhua said official vehicles were set on fire. About 100 police were called in, and some protesters were injured or detained, said the official, who refused to give his name.
“The police looked like they were afraid,” one witness said of the clashes in his neighborhood.
Corruption. A few cases are illustrative of the “culture of corruption” in China.
One of our contentions is this: that China has a “culture of corruption” that often causes western business people heartburn.
Consider just a few cases:
–In June of 2006, the Communist government in China sacked the Vice-Mayor of Beijing. A western businessman accused him of soliciting a bribe. During the investigation, officials discovered the Vice-Mayor, who was overseeing the construction of Olympic venues for the 2008 Games, had built himself a pleasure palace filled with young concubines on the outskirts of the city.
Mr. Liu Zhihua’s colorful private life emerged after he was removed from his post after a foreign businessman reported him for extorting a bribe.
The Times of London reported: “Mr Liu’s sacking has triggered accusations of widespread corruption surrounding the Games, and highlighted a culture of graft that is said to trouble British and other foreign companies working as specialist contractors on Beijing’s Olympic sites.”
The newspaper also wondered why the mayor was not investigated because China has a history of protecting the top officials when making a show trial for more junior people.
–That same month, a bogus ambulance picked up an injured pedestrian in Beijing, charging him about $100 US, and then driving him not to the closest hospital but to one much further away. The man bled to death.
Concerned Chinese newspapermen discovered a plot that included unlicensed ambulances intercepting emergency calls and charging exorbitant rates to collect patients.
–The SARS outbreak reaction and the thee phase response to crises is a symptom of the “culture of corruption.” The general disregard for public safety exemplified by the pet food, food and toothpaste fiascos are all symptomatic of the culture of corruption. In fact, Chinese culture has such an ingrained teaching to cheat the other guy that it will take a century or more to turn this ship of state around.
–On May 10, 2007, the maker of Budweiser beer went to court in Arkansas to claim that an Arkansas-registered company is illegally marketing beer in China, using the American brewer’s trademarks. Anheuser-Busch sued USA Bai Wei Group in Pulaski County, Arkansas, Circuit Court, seeking an injunction to revoke Bai Wei’s corporate charter and require a name change.
Bai Wei (pronounced By Way) is how the Chinese language trademark for Budweiser is pronounced in English, according to the St. Louis-based brewer’s complaint.
This incident is part of a decades long disregard for intellectual property rights in China, where western copyrights and trademarks are ignored. Some of us first saw illegally republished or “pirated” book in China in 1976.
–The Associated Press recently reported on a scandal in China’s medial system involving “doctored” and unhealthy blood. China admitted to the sale of fake blood protein, a potentially dangerous and widespread practice that underscores the country’s problems with product safety.
State media reported one death from use of the counterfeited blood protein.
The report centered on an inquiry in the northeastern province of Jilin, where 59 hospitals and pharmacies were sold more than 2,000 bottles of counterfeit blood protein. It did not say what the products were made of, but said they could “make a patient’s condition worsen and could cause death.”
The bottom line is this: until the culture of Chinese business improves, westerners will always be frustrated and wary of getting taken. More so in China than in almost any other nation in the world, the motto has to be “buyer beware.”. This will sometime become a stumbling block to good relations and good business.
Hopefully we have helped Hu Jintao and his many minion understand the problems they face as they march in lock step toward next summer’s Beijing Games. China has many policy difficulties that trouble the rest of the world. Unless some of these are addressed, there could be negative repercussions impacting China’s planned Grand Event.
And the list we have laid out above is not complete. China does not allow freedom of religion, freedom of speech or freedom of the press. There is only a one party system in China: communism. China has a very high number of executions following questionable trials. Dissidents in China risk a quick death. China restricts and controls use of the internet, and monitors email and cell phone conversations. There is no expectation of privacy in China and the rule of law is questionable.
There are no free and fair elections in China.
China seems to have a problem with wanton loss of life.
Deaths by traffic accident, mine explosions and cave-ins and other forms of disaster are record setting not just by numbers but when compared per capita with nations in the west. The Chinese government seems to have an indifference to individual human life, perhaps beacause there are just so many Chinese.
Some belive that when you have a population of 1.3 billion, there is a tendency to discount the value of each individual human life.
In short, China could well suffer severe embarrassment before, during or after allowing western journalist to cover the Olympics.
In October of 2008, Hu Jintao will stand in the pantheon of Chinese political heroes. Or he will be the president of China fool enough to open the door to thousands of journalists: each seeking a “scoop.”
Related:China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008