WHITHER THE PARTY STATE IN CHINA ABROAD AND AT HOME?
Excerpts from an address by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
St. Mary's University College
27 Sept. 07
We Canadians respect and like the people of China for many reasons, including their courage, success with agriculture, culture, hard work and love of education. It is no accident that more than one million Canadians of origin in the Middle Kingdom are reportedly our most highly-educated cultural community. It was an honour to represent those of them living in southeast Edmonton in our national Parliament for about 27 years.
Our differences are with the unelected government of the PRC and its international and domestic policies and not with the human values of the vast majority of Chinese nationals. Paradoxically, it is the friends of the Hu-Wen government who are the China bashers today as they fail to differentiate that government from the real China. The Chinese deserve the right to elect their governments in fair and free elections.
Canadian and other media outside China have begun to focus on Beijing's destructive roles in a number of countries. Thanks to books such as James Mann's The China Fantasy, key components of the longtime consensus among many Fortune 500 executives, sinologists, politicians and diplomats are being 'mugged by reality'.
Mann concludes that the party-state in China undermines human values abroad wherever it can get a foot in a door. In the case of Zimbabwe, for example, he reminds readers that it gave Robert Mugabe a honourary degree, economic aid and helicopter gunships despite heading a most brutal regime. For Uzbekistan, when President Karimov ordered a murderous crackdown on protesters, Beijing supported him.
With Russia, during the 1991 coup attempt by military and intelligence officials against Mikhail Gorbachev, China's government-owned media gave extensive and positive coverage to the plotters, barely mentioning Boris Yeltsin or his democratic allies, and was disappointed when the coup attempt failed.
Many Canadians are watching with horror the unfolding situation in Burma. The Nobel Peace laureate and democracy advocate Aun San Suu Kyi has reportedly now been thrown by the generals into prison after spending most of eighteen years under house arrest after she and her National League for Democracy won a fair and free election. Seven unarmed persons were killed last night; more than a hundred were injured; two hundred were arrested. Buddhist temples are being ransacked and monks beaten.
Permit me to focus briefly here only on the various attempts by the government of China to oppose the most recent effort by the peoples of Burma to achieve the rule of law, democracy and national reconciliation. Its efforts to shore up the generals' junta have included:
Using its permanent veto at the UN Security Council to keep the ongoing Burma tragedy away from the Security Council agenda for more than 15 years. When it finally reached the Council last November, the China representative worked hard to remove it quickly, while providing no help to the long-suffering peoples of Burma;
In January, it vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on the generals to cease persecuting minorities and opposition leaders;
This week, it managed to prevent the Security Council from imposing sanctions of any kind on the junta or even condemning the use of force in Rangoon, allowing the Council only to express "concern"; and
Having its diplomatic envoy in Burma say after meeting the Foreign Minister there recently that Beijing wants "a democratic process that is appropriate for the country." The current government of China clearly opposes democracy in any country.
As another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jody Williams, pointed out yesterday, Beijing's longstanding support for the military junta includes modernizing their army and providing weapons valued at $1.4 billion. Its concern about what is happening in the country currently is really about how its role there might affect its Olympic Games.
In addition to the "Genocide Olympics" in respect of Darfur and the "Bloody Harvest Games" because of its treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, the world now has the "Burma Junta Olympics" to ponder in deciding if it really wants to attend those games. What else will arise between now and next August?
The government of China's interference at the Security Council in respect of Burma is similar to its ongoing efforts there in respect of shielding another military regime in Khartoum. The modus operendi is the same: feign concern about the ongoing loss of civilian lives out of real concern about possible negative fall-out for the Olympic Games, while ensuring that as little as possible is done to block the ambitions of two bloody regimes with which the government of China does much business and has much in common.
Over the past decade, the government of China has provided Sudan's Bashir government with more than $US 10 billion in commercial and capital investment, mostly for oil investments, with crude oil comprising virtually all of Sudan's exports and much of it going to China. Approximately seven percent of China's oil imports currently come from Sudan. According to one source within Sudan, up to 70 percent of the Sudanese government's revenues from oil are spent on arms, a good deal of them from China. Nick Kristof of the New York Times has reported that the government of China has built four small arms factories in Sudan.
A key service provided to Bashir's government is using China's permanent veto at the UN Security Council to protect the Sudanese regime from any robust peacemaking initiatives while the slaughter in Darfur continues. Only following Mia Farrow's op-ed piece in March, 2007, which accused the government of China of assisting in genocide, did China's UN representative join in the Security Council initiative to send 26,000 police and soldiers to Darfur.
The specifics of UN Security Council resolution 1769 passed this summer demonstrate how well Beijing continues to protect Khartoum: The hybrid UN/African Union force will have no authority to seize weapons from belligerents, thus probably making it impossible to control the Janjaweed and other militias that have been slaughtering African Darfurians; there is no provision for sanctioning the government in Khartoum in the probable event that it refuses to comply; the watered down command-and-control provisions will inevitably create problems between the African Union commander on the ground in Darfur and the UN Department of Peacekeeping in New York...
Oppression within China
According to Freedom House, fully half of the world's populations living in "not free" conditions are in China. Free countries are defined by Freedom House as ones where "there is broad scope for open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civil life and independent media…Chinese citizens do not have the ability to democratically elect their leadership or to participate in any political activity outside what is prescribed by the Chinese government. Basic civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion and even personal autonomy are highly restricted."
The same study notes that the government of the PRC imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world over the past eight years. Only last year, Hu Junta's government silenced the media with new regulations, which jailed outspoken writers and restricted coverage of breaking news. The media across China are now barred from criticizing senior party leaders or their policies, and ones who do not play along on party news content are harassed, fired or jailed. As someone noted, the only thing readers can believe in most dailies in China is the date.
The government of China spends huge sums of money and deploys tens of thousands of police to block citizen access to websites and in monitoring their emails. The foreign companies and consultants who assist them in building and maintaining this "Golden Shield" are violating many of the principles of free speech and corporate social responsibility.