HONG KONG, China (CNN) — With a year to go before the 2008 Olympics get under way, questions linger over China’s efforts to improve its human rights record.
Archive for the ‘2008 Beijing Olympics’ Category
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 24, 2007
This July 25, what do China, Vietnam and Russia have in common?
Easy answer: torrid economies and rampant lawlessness.
This is a witches brew.
Starting in the middle of June, 2007, Vietnamese peasant farmers staged a sit-in around government buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. The protest was orderly and completely peaceful.
For the most part, the farmers sat on the ground and were not blocking traffic or otherwise causing a nuisance. Because men suffer mightily when they stand up to the communist government of Vietnam, the vast majority of the protesters were women.
The farmers were protesting government seizures of their land.
How would American farmers respond if, after generations in the family had worked a parcel of land, the government took it away and told the family to go away?
On Thursday, July 19, the communist government of Vietnam decided it had enough of this peasant rabble. Police surrounded the area, jammed cell phone reception, and carried the demonstrators into waiting vans. Cattle prods were available for use on those that refused to cooperate (there weren’t any).
Over a thousand uniformed and plainclothes police were apparently used to clear the area of about six hundred peaceful protestors, most of whom were women.
A list of those arrested sent to Peace and Freedom contained ONLY the names of women.
In China, the number of so-called “mass incidents” (sit-ins, riots, strikes and demonstrations) reached 74,000 in 2004. During the last few years, China has made it harder for the west to see how many people are rioting, where and for what reasons. But the dissidents and disenfranchised in China say that rioting and social unrest is on the rise.
The number one reason Chinese insiders give for social unrest is the rampant seizure by the government of land.
Early in July, with the Beijing 2008 Olympics just about a year away, Beijing tightened the screws on social unrest. District and local communist party functionaries were given this notice. “Officials who perform poorly in maintaining social stability in rural areas will not be qualified for promotion.” This pronouncement came from Ouyang Song, a senior party official in charge of personnel matters in the communist party.
Logo of Beijing Summer Games;
In Russia, many still live on state owned land or in state controlled properties. As Anne Applebaum catalogued in The Washington Post on Tuesday, July 24, it is not uncommon for people who have lived in apartments for decades in Moscow to find themselves illegally evicted while government bureaucrats and developers get rich.
Anne Applebaum called her essay “Trickle Down Lawlessness.” She summed up the problem this way: “Putinism isn’t just a foreign policy problem. The Russian president’s penchant for breaking weapons treaties, threatening small neighbors, disposing of his enemies and spouting Cold War rhetoric creates dilemmas for the West. Yet the lawlessness that pervades his country creates much worse dilemmas for ordinary Russians.”
Here we are not even speaking about the gross human rights abuses all thse three nations share. We’ll document that more here at Peace and Freedom but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International already have a pile of eveidence on the table to tell anyone who cares to listen: these regimes are armed and dangerous: especially if you live as a citizen inside any one of these nations.
All three countries maintain a veneer of correct, good and honest behavior. Actually, it is more like a suit of armor than a veneer. And how do they do this? Easy: they control the media.
We really do not know what is going on inside China most of the time, unless a dissident makes us aware or the chinese government decides to let word out.
Peace and Freedom will keep tracking these situations but don’t be fooled: “Houston, we have a problem.”
Any time the three fastest growing economies in the world hide rampant lawlessness, we should be interested if not engaged.
Though no longer “communist,” Russia stands, in a way, as a “club of one.” But Russia often sides with China on policy issues and against the U.S. and NATO:
Russia must join with West, says Nato chief
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 9, 2007
First, pets in America became sick and many died. The illness was traced to Chinese-made pet food laced with a fertilizer component named melamine. Companies in China had illegally added melamine to wheat gluten and rice protein in a bid to meet the contractual demand for the amount of protein in the pet food products.
After that, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States began to take a harder look at a host of Chinese products imported into the U.S.
The FDA ended up barring most seafood from China (where we in the U.S. get about 1/3 of our shrimp, much of our catfish and other “farm raised” seafood products) because much of it contained drugs, bacteria or other suspicious or obviously harmful products.
Not only was imported seafood tainted, but the FDA began turning away tons of other food products – some of it contaminated, some filled with toxins and other products full of bacteria.
Products like toothpaste, chewing gum and even soy sauce were found to be made with toxic ingredients. Roughly 900,000 tubes of Chinese made toothpaste containing a poison used in some antifreeze products turned up in U.S. hospitals for the mentally ill, prisons, juvenile detention centers and even some hospitals serving the general population.
Then the Colgate-Palmolive Company announced that it had found counterfeit “Colgate” toothpaste containing the anti-freeze diethylene glycol, a syrupy poison.
Although tainted or poorly made and tested food from China was first noticed in the United States and other western nations, once China checked its own store shelves it found problems.
Inspectors in southwest China’s Guangxi region found excessive additives and preservatives in nearly 40 percent of 100 children’s snacks sampled during the second quarter of 2007, according to a report on China’s central government Web site.
The snacks — including soft drinks, candied fruits, gelatin desserts and some types of crackers — were taken from 70 supermarkets, department stores and wholesale markets in seven cities in the region, it said.
Only 35 percent of gelatin desserts sampled met food standards, the report said, while two types of candied fruit contained 63 times the permitted amount of artificial sweetener.
And if substandard children’s snacks weren’t bad enough, China and the U.S. FDA uncovered a huge racket in substandard medicines. One manufacturer of medicines was implicated in 11 deaths. Five manufactures lost the ability to continue in the business. And 128 drug makers lost their Chinese government Good Manufacturing Practice certificates, a symbol of favorable performance, the China Daily newspaper reported on its Web site.
We also saw, thanks to an aroused international media, child laborers illegally producing Beijing Olympics 2008 memorabilia. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for China, a slavery scandal erupted. Slaves were found mining materials and making bricks inside China.
The United Nations condemned China for the worst pollution in the world. China also produces more greenhouse gases than any other nation by far.
Despite China’s long history for managing its media and controlling what the world learned about the People’s Republic, stories surfaced and were verified that showed an illegal trade in “harvested” human organs from inside China. Unscrupulous doctors and businessmen teamed up to create a thriving business in human organs. The problem was that the organs came from prisoners and the mentally ill, who had no say in the matter and died before they could become witnesses to this atrocity.
Add to this a long and unresolved dispute about the way China controls its currency and a thriving business inside China in counterfeit goods: everything from U.S. music and motion pictures to Rolex watches, books and, well, you name it.
China tried to market a new Chinese made automobile to the upscale European buyer but the vehicle disintegrated in a 40 MPH crash test. Now Europeans wouldn’t be, well, caught dead in the thing.
So from May until July 2007, despite the Chinese News Spin Machine going full tilt the bad news about China seemed to be spinning out of control.
Just today, July 7, 2007, the Central Committee of the Communist Party seemed to be threatening local leaders who allow social unrest. “Officials who perform poorly in maintaining social stability in rural areas will not be qualified for promotion,” Ouyang Song, a senior party official in charge of personnel matters said, according to China’s Official Communist News media.
All these problems don’t even trump China’s most horrible foreign policy disaster: Suport for Sudan without taking action on Darfur. The U.N. and others have referred to Sudan’s conduct in Darfur as genocide. And Hollywood big shots are already calling next summer’s Olympics in Beijing the “genocide games.”
Not to worry, though. China’s communist leadership still plans a masterful and error free Beijing Olympics 2008.
The communist government of China is taking action to streamline what the western media sees next summer. Smokey, coal-fired factories are even being moved out of Beijing and into the countryside because their effluent looks so disgusting there was fear these factories alone could cause a major embarrassment.
Beijing’s population had a practice “No Spiting Day” in an effort to reduce this disgusting habit common in the city. The test was a disastrous failure and a new training approach is planned. Beijing also had a day devoted to polite lining up for buses and trains. This worked out a little better with the obedient and terrified city workers not taking any chances.
During the Olympics, communist leaders in Beijing plan to remove from the city the hordes of vagrants, homeless people and orphaned children who live on Beijing’s streets. Some estimate that as many as 2 million orphaned or homeless children live in Beijing alone.
In order to assess what can be done about Beijing’s choked streets overwhelmed by traffic; and to see if a dent can be made in the choking air pollution, one million Beijing automobile drivers will have to stay at home or use mass transit on a day scheduled to test the impact of all of this. Beijing only has 3 million registered automobiles so inconveniencing one-third of them for one day should hardly impact the economy, right? But if the test is a success, one would have to remind China that the Olympics is not a one day event.
When all this is assessed together, one might ask, when we get to Beijing next summer for the Olympic Games, how much of what we see will be real? And how much is a product of the smoke and mirrors China often employs to produce the desired result.
Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish
The Chinese are just as smart as the Vietnamese on how to work the American system….
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From John Carey: A friend sent us this:
I was in a Beijing hotel last year… A very upscale American style one near the Olympic area.Inside the hotel, it seemed identical to any nice hotel you’d see in New York, Dallas or LA… except for the big sign next to the faucet in the bathroom.
From John Carey: I had the same experience in Moscow. Superior 4-star hotel Water out of the tap was brown.