Archive for the ‘2008 Olympics’ Category

China: Despite Tough Talk, Water Crisis and Pollution Problems Unresolved

October 23, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 23, 2007

The International Rice Research Institute and the China Agricultural University, pioneers in the development of aerobic rice growth, say that China will increase production of rice grown without the traditional water flooded field from 1% in China currently to 30%.

China says the aerobic rice is needed by the world’s largest rice producer and consumer due to a lack of water. China is rapidly depleting water supplies though industrial uses, consumer use and pollution. Global warming is also blamed for a reduction in water resources.

Severe water shortages are turning more and more Chinese farmland into desert.

Wang Huaqi, an aerobic rice breeder at the China Agricultural University, said the university has been working on aerobic rice that is grown like the upland crops of wheat and corn for many years.

Aerobic rice requires 50 percent to 70 percent less water than the “flooded field” or traditional rice.

As Asian nations like Japan have become more developed, demand for rice has decreased as eating habits have changed. But in China, demand for rice is at an all time high.

China also imports rice from sources such as Vietnam, which recently announced that it will increase rice exports.Contributing to China’s water woes is an ever worsening environmental disaster.

According to New York Times reporters Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley, nearly 500 million people in China lack access to safe drinking water. China’s population is 1.3 billion. As the middle class grows and people become more affluent, water use per person is skyrocketing.

“It is a very awkward situation for the country because our greatest achievement is also our biggest burden,” says Wang Jinnan, one of China’s leading environmental researchers.

“There is pressure for change, but many people refuse to accept that we need a new approach so soon,” said Mr. Wang.

The New York Times reporters concluded that China’s leadership and authoritarian system are addicted to fast growth. Delivering prosperity placates the public, provides spoils for well-connected officials and forestalls demands for political change. A major slowdown could incite social unrest, alienate business interests and threaten the party’s rule. Therefore, installing new environmental restrictions is extremely difficult.

But China’s leaders assert that they are serious about new environmentally smart measures.

Vowing to overhaul the growth-first philosophy of the Deng Xiaoping era, and embrace a new model that allows for steady growth while protecting the environment., Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made 48 references to “environment,” “pollution” or “environmental protection” during his annual “State of the State” address.

At the recent Communist Party Congress, President Hu Jintao also embraced environmental issues — at least in his rhetoric.

Elizabeth C. Economy, director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relation and author of a book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black,” says there is no way of knowing how China will solve its difficult pollution problems.

The lack of transparency and China’s failure to take more stringent measures are worrying environmental activists. Economy said there appears to be a reluctance to do anything that would hinder the country’s fast-paced economic growth.

“I think it is a striking indication of just how deeply capitalism, or perhaps individualism, has permeated China that some people would put profit before national pride,” Economy said.

China is trying hard to ensure that it is seen as a modern, technologically advanced and open country during next year’s Olympic Games. But water and air pollution are difficult to hide and are already of concern to the coaches of several Olympic participating nations.

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Editor’s Note: China has been plagued by unusual algae growths that spoil lakes and kill fish. Often, run-off from agriculture or industry causes unusual mutations.  The article below is an example of a recent news report from China.

Algae-polluted lake in E. China poses
danger to rare fish

Xinhua State Controlled China News
October 14, 2007

Blue-green algae has caused water pollution in Chaohu Lake, China’s fifth largest fresh water lake, in east China’s Anhui Province, where the rare whitebait production is on the decline.

The output of the whitebait, a small sprat and famous for its fresh and tender meat, has dropped by 500 tons, or 20 percent lower in this year’s fishing season compared with the previous one.

“The delicate whitebait, which requires a high-standard of water quality, is disappearing mainly because of the rampant blue-green algae in the lake,” said Chen Jianqun, head of the Bureau of Fisheries of Chaohu City.

From June to August 2007, the nutrient runoffs and other pollutants caused blue-green algaes to bloom in China’s Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the Dianchi Lake, endangering water supply in nearby cities and posing great threat to the aquatic life in the lakes.

“I have never seen a year like this one when the output of the whitebait is so low,” said Liu Yejun, a fisherman whose family has been living on fishing in the Chaohu lake for years.

The stinky algae-rich water has also given rise to the parasite, which further endangered the whitebait, according to Chen.

Experts with the Anhui Agricultural University have warned that the sharp drop of whitebait production is a warning signal of the lake’s eco-system.

Source: Xinhua

Related:
China to spend 14 billion dollars on polluted lake clean-up

China: Activists Make Link to “Genocide Games”

October 17, 2007

Because of China’s involvement in Sudan during the “genocide” in Darfur, many in Hollywood have started calling the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics the “Genocide Games.”  Below is a report on how Reporters San Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) is protesting China’s repression.

October 15, 2007

Activists from Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) today demonstrated in front of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, unfurling a giant flag in which the Olympic rings appear in the form of interlocking handcuffs.

The demonstration marked the opening of the 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing attended by more than 2,200 delegates, who are expected to give a boost to the leadership of President Hu Jintao whose period in power has been marked by a harder ideological line in the name of a “harmonious society”.
Photo
Two men walk past a sign advertising the Chinese Communist Party’s 17th five-yearly Congress in Beijing. China will strengthen the role of the Communist Party in foreign-invested enterprises as the number of cadres in overseas companies here grows, a leading official said Wednesday,
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“We hope through this action to challenge the IOC and its president Jacques Rogge, who refuse to condemn the bad state of human rights in China,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We have also contacted the IOC’s ethical commission but they replied that they can only be activated by Jacques Rogge himself. This lack of will on the part of Olympic bodies is worrying,” the organisation added.

Games of the XXIX Olympiad

“For the past several weeks an icy wind has blown through freedom of expression in China. This with less than 10 months to go before the opening of the Olympic Games. How can the IOC and its ethical commission remain silent before such a heavy toll of violations of freedom of expression?” it asked.

“More than 30 foreign journalists have been arrested and prevented from working since the start of the year. No fewer than one thousand discussion forums and websites have been closed since July. And a score of dissidents have been imprisoned for expressing themselves freely,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Preparation for the Congress, a key event in the life of China’s sole political party, saw new restrictions slapped on all sectors of the press, Internet-users, bloggers, website managers, foreign journalists and defenders of freedom of expression.

There has been an increase in directives ordering the media to use only reports put out by the official Xinhua news agency. The Publicity (formerly Propaganda) Department has ordered state-run newspapers to step up news linked to the preparation of the Congress and the activities of the leadership.

Recently, five of the major official dailies brought out identical front pages, with the headline: “The 17th Congress of the CCP is set to be hot, hot, hot!” Next to it was the same article about Chinese leaders ordering a mining company to do its utmost to rescue workers trapped in a pit. The same photo of President Hu Jintao on a visit to Kazakhstan also appears on the cover page.

Several dozen online discussion forums, including Ai Zhi Fang Zhou
(www.chain.net.cn/forum

devoted to the patients with Aids, have been closed. The managers have been told that they will only be allowed to reopen once the Congress is over. Several hundred websites and blogs have been closed in the last two months.

On the eve of the Congress, the Party has also spearheaded a campaign for greater morality in the media, which led to a suspension of several reality television programmes. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) on 14 September quoted the fight against pornography as a reason to ban 11 radio programmes about sexuality. “Their content on sexual life and the effectiveness of medication for sexual problems was of an extremely pornographic nature,” the administration said. The SARFT also added that “films that were not suitable for children were also not suitable for adults.”

Executive Summary Intl Religious Freedom Report 07

September 15, 2007

 Executive Summary Intl Religious Freedom Report 07
Saturday, 15 September 2007, 9:43 am
Press Release: US State Department 

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
2007 Executive Summary: International Religious Freedom Report 2007
The Annual Report

The purpose of this report on religious freedom is to document the actions of governments—those that repress religious expression, persecute innocent believers, or tolerate violence against religious minorities, as well as those that respect, protect, and promote religious freedom. We strive to report with fairness and accuracy on abuses against adherents of all religious traditions and beliefs. The governments we report on range from those that provided a high level of protection for religious freedom in the broadest sense (those that “generally respected” religious freedom) to totalitarian regimes that sought to control religious thought and expression and regarded some or all religious groups as threats.
  
The promotion of religious freedom is a core objective of U.S. foreign policy and is part of the U.S. Department of State’s mission.

Read the rest:
http://www.mediaforfreedom.com/ReadArticle.asp?ArticleID=4514

Related:
Iraq, Egypt, China slammed in US religious freedom report

Iraq, Egypt, China slammed in US religious freedom report

September 14, 2007

by P. Parameswaran

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Religious freedom conditions have worsened in insurgency-wracked Iraq as well as Egypt, while communist China has embarked on a crackdown on foreign missionaries ahead of the Olympics, the US government warned in a report Friday.

The State Department’s annual report on religious freedoms around the world also noted “continued deterioration of the extremely poor status of respect for religious freedom” in Iran and highlighted “serious problems” in Pakistan.

Read it all:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070914/wl_mideast_afp/
usreligionrights_070914180319

Bush Again Proves Soft on China

September 7, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
September 7, 2007

President Bush again showed himself to be soft on China at this week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Australia.

For good or bad, this American administration is following a conciliatory, pro-business policy line toward China.  Some believe this leaves human rights issues at best marginalized and perhaps totally forgotten.

During this week, western newspapers were alive with reports of Chinese government computer hacking — including into private Pentagon files.

President Bush was asked if he intended to discuss China’s hacking with president Hu Jintao of China.  The president said, “I may.”

In fact, he did not.  The president emerged from the meeting with the Chinese President to say, “He’s an easy man to talk to. I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu.”

This strikes us as reminiscent of the president’s first term reflection on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin: “I looked into Putin’s soul and saw a man I could do business with.”

Since late last year, a Chinese ship-attack submarine surfaced within sight of a U.S. aircraft carrier before being detected for the first time in history, China demonstrated an anti-satellite missile capability the first time in history, China has continued to verbally bully Taiwan, and Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups have given China their lowest ratings for lawful behavior in the international community.

American allies including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia have expressed concern over China’s military investment and build up.  Prime Minister Howard of Australia has called China’s build up “destabilizing.”

China teamed with Russia a few weeks ago to conduct their largest combined military exercises ever.  And China, along with Russia, has blocked almost all U.S. initiatives in the U.N., including sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

China has joined Russia in denouncing U.S. and NATO plans for missile defense in Europe.

U.S. military leaders believe China is supplying arms to the insurgents in Iraq and to Hezbollah in Lebanon, among other places.

China has been complicit in genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

China has failed to meet U.N. environmental goals and China lied repeatedly about poisoned food and other unsafe products it exports around the world.

China has the highest rate of death by execution in the world.

President Bush has looked the other way.

When President Hu invited President Bush to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Bush immediately agree — then said he was only interested in the sports at the Olympics and not the politics.  Yet we have historic precedent that leaders like Adolph Hitler worked hard to get the Olympics in their homeland because the political facet of this showcase cannot be discounted.

Washington Times analyst Bill Gertz reported in today’s editions that, “The president repeatedly has called relations with China ‘complex’ but has avoided all criticism of China’s military activities, including the provocative anti-satellite missile test in January, and growing Chinese information warfare capabilities. He has limited criticism of China’s repressive political system to its lack of religious freedom.”

“It’s the Goldman Sachs China policy,” said one defense official, referring to former Goldman Sachs executives Henry M. Paulson Jr., now Treasury secretary, and Joshua B. Bolten, White House chief of staff.

The bottom line: America has put money and deals before human rights.

Related:

Bill Gertz, “Inside the Ring”
http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070907/NATION04/109070053/1008

China sees ‘danger’ in Taiwan’s U.N. intent

China repeats denial of military hacking

China: ‘Trust but verify’ needed

As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes

Permanent President Putin?

Cold War Redux?

Distrustful of China’s Government at Almost Every Turn

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

Japan Worried By North Korea, China

Australia PM: China military rise risks instability

Bush urges China to open up for Olympics

September 7, 2007

By Bill Tarrant
September 7, 2007

SYDNEY (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush called on Friday for China to allow more freedoms ahead of the 2008 Olympics and denounced Myanmar‘s ruling junta for assaulting and detaining activists.

Games of the XXIX Olympiad

Official logo of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games

In a speech to business executives in Sydney on the eve of an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit, Bush also said he was ready to show flexibility to jump-start the moribund Doha round of world trade talks, which he called a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

But he said intransigence by just a handful of countries could bring negotiations to a standstill.

Read the rest at:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070907/pl_
nm/apec_dc_28
 

Bush, China’s President Hu Strike Agreements

September 6, 2007

By Paul Wiseman, USA Today
September 6, 2007

SYDNEY — President Bush accepted an invitation Thursday to attend the Beijing Olympics next year, agreed to set up a military hotline with China and received assurances from Chinese President Hu Jintao that Beijing is serious about cracking down on unsafe products.

胡锦涛
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

In a 90-minute meeting at a Sydney hotel, Bush and Hu covered some of the thornier topics in a relationship Bush has described as “complex”: U.S.-China trade relations; North Korea’s nuclear program; and tensions between China and Taiwan. But both men described the meeting as “cordial.”

“He’s an easy man to talk to,” Bush said. “I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu.”

Read the rest at:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-09-06-bush-apec_N.htm

Bush, China’s Hu tackle thorny issues

September 6, 2007

By Tom Raum, Associated Press 

SYDNEY, Australia – President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao tackled contentious issues on Thursday, from climate change and Iran and North Korea to recalls of tainted Chinese food and individual freedoms in China.

“He’s an easy man to talk to. I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu,” Bush said after a face-to-face meeting that lasted about 90 minutes on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit.

Hu called the discussion “candid and friendly,” even though it touched on deep U.S.-Chinese differences.

Read it all:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070906/ap_
on_re_au_an/bush;_ylt=AuvBrL_
XKEFf97CKObvKmXms0NUE

China: Culture of Corruption a Problem

August 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
First Published: May 15, 2007

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.

–On Sunday, May 4, 2003, The Washington Times published an article I wrote about SARS. To refresh the memory, SARS is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

That May 2003 piece was titled “China’s Ham-Handed SARS Response: Omen of The Future In Disease Control?”

In the SARS incident China first denied that it had an epidemic. It responded with a media cover-up and did not face the medical emergency. As a result, China was just starting to tackle the problem when Singapore and Vietnam were mopping up.

We also learned during the SARS emergency 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. The best educated medical professionals, it was uncovered, went to the west to work once their education was completed.

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 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.”

–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, filed Friday.

This incident is part of a decades long disregard for intellectual property rights in China, where western copyrights and trademarks are ignored. I saw my first illegally republished or “pirated” book in China in 1976.

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. This will sometime become a stumbling block to good relations and good business.