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