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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Are they Mad?

FT.com / World:

China Mining Tragedy "The European Union has warned China that it must revoke restrictions on exports of coking coal, designed to protect the Chinese steel industry, or risk a trade dispute."

Have I spent too many hours in front of a computer screen?

Am I beginning to imagine things?

The EU wants China to export more coke because coke prices in the world are going up due to a lack of supply and this is hurting European Industry.

China can not meet it's own demand. To try to even do that means mines are working when they should be closed down due to safety reasons.

Upwards to 10,000 Chinese per annum lose their lives working in "Dickensian" conditions may others are injured or crippled and The EU wants more coke ?

Do these people not read papers?

Have they no experts to advise them?

Have they no BRAINS?

People to Have a Say On Aussie China Trade

ABC News Online:

China Australian Trade"Australians are being asked to comment on the idea of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.

A trade and economic framework signed by Beijing and Canberra last October calls for a feasibility study of an FTA.

A task force created by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has called for public submissions and comment on a free trade treaty with China.

The task force says it will consult business, interested organisations, the public and state and territory governments.

The study is to be completed by October next year."

So reports the Australian Broadcasting Commission. At last this is the type of dialogue needed, to allow individuals and NGO's some input into whom and how we trade with China.

I maintain that trade with China benefits everyone if it is done responsibly and that human rights concerns are taken into consideration.

That we use the economic bargaining table not to just count money but to help elicit change.

Corprate Ethics In China

Ethical Corporation:

Corporate ethics in China "Corporate responsibility professionals are arriving in London this week to participate in a two-day conference on corporate responsibility in China.
Scheduled for 30th and 31st March in central London, the conference is organised by Ethical Corporation and will attract representatives from many multinationals operating in and sourcing from China.

These are expected to include JP Morgan Chase, Intel, Toys R Us, Shell, Novozymes, B&Q, Lafarge, Manpower, H&M, Hennes, and Marks & Spencer.

Delegates will be sharing knowledge on many topics including: Alternatives to factory audits, embedding effective codes of conduct in Chinese operations, and developing effective environmental programmes in China. Also addressed will be how companies can build effective NGO partnerships in China and how firms are addressing the key legal and regulatory issues involved in operating in the country.

Methods of tackling corruption and bribery, acknowledged by many to be a problem in the country, will also be discussed.

The conference reflects not only the upsurge in investment in China, but also the interest in operating responsibly in that country."

Tiananmen Arrests: The Tail Wags The Dog


China's White Paper on Human Rights: An analysisThe reports of the arrest of three woman associated with the Tiananmen Mothers protest group is more evidence that, more often than not, the tail wags the dog in China and points to one of the major problems facing the Chinese government.

On Tuesday the Chinese Government released a "White Paper" on China's Human Rights initiatives. This "White Paper" was released in response to continued criticism of China's Human Rights record and, particularly, to counter a resolution by the United States, concerning China's Rights record, at the currently in progress United Nations Human Rights Commission .

The "White Paper" was not something that was thrown together over night. It was obviously carefully put together in anticipation of the U.S's resolution and released at the opportune time. One would have expected that major organs of state would have expected it.

It is a detailed document in some respects especially concerning the great strides China has made economically and the flow on effects to the living standards of the people. It proudly boasts massive increases in such things as private car ownership and mobile phone usage.

China sets great store on the "welfare" of the people as a whole being the litmus test for the effectiveness of it's policies on Human Rights. They believe that given China's population and unique set of circumstances that benchmarks used by the west are inappropriate as far as China is concerned. The individual's rights are subordinate to the whole.

With this philosophy they can almost blissfully, like an innocent child, give to the world this self generated report card and seem to honestly believe that they are in a good position. And, to a degree they are.

Recently the National People's Conference voted to enshrine the concept of Human Rights in the Constitution. It is hardly a specific clause and falls short of providing any real legal remedies to anyone feeling they have been denied their "constitutional rights". It is, however, an important and historical step. As the Chinese government point out the passing of this constitutional amendment recognises formally the "concept" of Human Rights at the highest level. By becoming a part of the Constitution it becomes a "Guiding Principle" by which all strata of government should be guided in all that they do.

And this is all very well and good but this incident over the Tiananmen Mothers and many other incidences too numerous to recount point quite clearly to the fact that whilst the "head" is thinking one thing the "body" is doing something else.

Tiananmen Square MassacreGiven the importance of this document and the very specific timing of it's release how could a thing like this arrest occur? Why would the Government allow an opportunity for the world to, once again, point an accusing finger at what, without doubt, has been the most controversial example of China's lack of respect for Human Rights bar none. And, to cap it off, it arrests mothers in their late 60's who are still, like anyone would be, devastated by the loss of their children and husbands.

Combine with that the fact that the resolution this "White Paper" is meant to draw heat from is a tradition of the Americans that commenced with the Tiananmen Square massacre> Given this fact one would have thought some planning would have gone into it's release. And surely it can not be lost on the Chinese that when the majority of the world thinks human rights in China it thinks two things :Tiananmen and Tibet. Why didn't they just go for a double and burn down some Tibetan Buddhist temples as well, it could not have made matters any worse!

This is evidence that in China the "tail wags the dog". Time and time again we are confronted with the sight of China taking two steps forward and one step back. The reason is because at the lower levels of the government apparatus and judiciary they run their own race. They appear to operate in a Mao time warp oblivious to the direction of the top. They still appear to pursue the old party line and there does not seem to be any degree of accountability whatsoever.

Imagine, if you will, a thing like this happening in the West. Blood would be bayed for, heads would roll at the highest level. But no, not the Chinese. Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao would probably now be climbing the walls and tearing their hair out. If they are not then they should be.

In one foul swoop the positives that could have been garnered out of this "White Paper" release have been almost destroyed. I say almost because the number of news articles appearing on the "White Paper" far outnumber those on the mothers arrest.

Change in China must be effected from the bottom as well as the top and meet in the midde. China must instigate policies that allow for more accountability and transparency and this accountability must extend all the way to the top. China's cancer- like official corruption problem is but another example of this lack of oversight, accountability and transparency.

In the west accountability is aided by elections, a free press and the right to protest and dissent. If China will not allow such things then it must have a system to provide it alternatively and that must come from a strong government. Firm within itself

Until China can do this it will always will encounter these types of problems and the head can say and think what it likes but the tail will wag along independently and happily.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

China: Water seepage in Jilin coal mine leaves six missing

Asian Labour News::

Mining Disaster China"China: Water seepage in Jilin coal mine leaves six missing
A two-sentence photo caption from the Chinese-language edition of Xinhua provides scant information about a coal mine flood on 29 March in Erdaojiang, Tonghua City, Jilin. The whereabouts of at least six miners are unknown. "

There are just so many of these tragedies happening on a daily basis that in future I am just going to post them without comment out of respect for the dead and hopefully that some one notices these 10,000 needless deaths a year.

China's Human Rights White Paper: The beggar and the Uygur

:: Xinhuanet - English ::

China Human RightsWell, as stated in my previous post the "surprise" "White Paper" on China's Human Rights progress is now available in it's full text copy on Xinhuanet.

The link above goes through a proxy as Xinhua block me from seeing their site so you might, if you want to take a look at it yourself, go directly to Xinuanet. The proxy is a little slow to say the least.

Well the "White Paper" is a big document of that there is no doubt. Like all the PRC's official responses to criticism, be it a press release through Xinhua or the more formal "White Papers", this has obviously been prepared for some time even though it's publication was only announced yesterday.

There is no doubt that this is China shifting into full "justification" mode. It is detailed, at least to the economic statistics, and it leaves virtually no stone unturned. We learn about the "Measures for the sheltering and send off of urban vagrants and beggars' law being replaced by the " Measures for assisting and managing urban vagrants and beggars" law which we are told provides for far greater treatment of homeless and beggars. I point this out not because it is not an important law change in itself but one hardly of import given some other areas of human rights shortfalls. (This law, by the way, has actually been put into practice and beggars/vagrants are now by all reports treated with a little more humanity than previously).

The PRC realises one thing and that is that when you talk statistics in China it is mind boggling to us in the west. They therefore use statistics to "sell" the idea that they are faced with situations that western countries could not imagine. In doing so they are saying that "our position is unique so please cut us some slack on Human rights".

This argument certainly is not without merit. The sheer size of everything they do is astounding. Some of the figures they rattled off are

  • Private car ownership in 2003 was 4.89 million vehicles up 1.46 million on the previous year. That is right, 1.46 million. Astounding.
  • Mobile phone ownership increased by 62.69 million units 2003 over 2002 to a total of 286.69 million.
  • 49.08 million new household telephone connections happened in 2003
  • Private dwelling construction rose 20% in the last few years and 72% of urban dwellings are now privately owned. 94% of all new private dwelling construction in urban areas is destined for private ownership

The "White Paper" has literally hundreds of similar examples covering virtually every aspect of China life and they are all very impressive.

There is no doubt that things are moving in the right direction if even half the data is correct.

Ethnic Minorities

Given the size of China's ethnic minority groups and the unique problems they face, for example the Uygurs and the Tibetans, the "White Paper" dwells vey little on this important subject.

It talks about religious freedoms, growth in the numbers of clerics and places of worship and even the size of the print run of the Bible. However the extent of what they say on this important subject can be summed up in the following quote:

Ethnic minorities enjoy " the rights to independently manage the affairs of their own regions and their own ethnic communities"

I wonder what your average Tibetan or Uygur would say to that? Quite frankly to call a "spade" a "bloody shovel" this statement is an outright lie, I can use no more diplomatic a term.

The Uygur and the Tibetans have no say in the management of "their regions" and the management of "their own ethnic minorities" is also almost non existent. They may for example have the "right" to manage their own religious culture to a degree but the rules by which they have to abide are firmly laid down by the government regardless of the wishes of the minority.

We could go on and on but suffice to say the "White Paper" "whitewashes" the ethnic human rights situation in terms both the space given over to it in this document and in terms of facts.

As I said it is an expansive document. To sum up, for the avid "China Watchers" it provides some very good detail and gives a very real an insight in to what the Party sees as being important as regards Human Rights.

For the average person, maybe not so close to the reality that is China, it would certainly provide a "warm feeling" that things are going in the right direction. Statistics often do that.

It does evidence progress in a lot of areas of that there can be no doubt, but is very much a case of the Beggar and the Uygur. The beggar is treated humanely and his treatment is hailed as a wonderful step forward for the cause of Human Rights in China. The Uygur, on the other hand, maligned and abused through none of their own fault, are not even mentioned and ethnic problems generally have not anywhere near adequately been addressed. The Chinese see the small picture but are blind to the larger at least where Human Rights is concerned.

Linked Article Read Rating: A Must

China trumpets improvements in human rights record


China Human Rights"China has issued a white paper on its human rights achievements in the past year, admitting a poor record but pledging to improve human rights protections in the nation of 1.3 billion people."

The article goes on to say that much of China's recent rights progress cited in the 40-page paper was attributed to amendments added earlier this month to China's constitution including wording that "the state respects and safeguards human rights" and an amendment on protecting private property.

I have not seen the document yet but the Yahoo report says that the Chinese believe freedom of speech, religion and the press all witnessed improved protections during the past year but did not provide any detail to back up the claim

The Yahoo report goes on to say, not unexpectedly, that much of the white paper appeared written exclusively for foreign consumption with information selectively used and placed solidly within the context of rights improvements.

China is very predictable in the way it handles criticism as there is always some response either through Xinhua or the People's Daily. A "white Paper" its usually reserved for things considered greatly important. Previous White Papers have been about Xinjiang and the Uygur and one on Tibet.

I am off to find the original.

China Daily: How do they get away with it?

China Daily:

China Daily: One of China's Top Five News Sources I am constantly amazed as to the things the China Daily can come out with.

In these times of internet censorship by the Chinese government I am often caught scrolling up to the masthead of the China Daily site just to reassure myself that that is where I am.

Today is no exception. Here I am going through news stories and I find one that says the following:

"China and India both watched the launch of the US war on terrorism with unease. Admittedly, each has found a way of benefiting from it. China made the US include Uighur militants in Xinjiang in the general condemnation; India made sure Kashmiri militants were generally condemned too."

I think to myself I am on the China Daily site aren't I? One of the top five Chinese news sources? The one with the nice "new China" touch of trying to "flog" a chart of the Communist Party on it's front page.

Then why am I reading an article that says effectively that China benefited from the "War on Terror" because it got the U.S. to "Include Uighur Militants in the general condemnation"

Is this an admittance that the crackdown on Xinjiang's Uygurs is being carried out because China benefited from the "War On Terror"?

How else would they benefit unless because their crackdown on the Uygurs would have been widely criticised otherwise?

"Admittedly each has found a way of benefiting from it"

Is anyone supposed to benefit from the "War on terror" other than people? People who will not have to live in fear or be injured or die? I did not think countries were in this to benefit from anything else, openly at least!

Perhaps a Freudian slip on behalf of the journalist and editors. One thing about keeping up a lie is that you have to have a good memory. Sometimes I think the China Daily forgets who it is writing for.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

Mothers of Tiananmen Square victims arrested.

ABC News Online:

Tiananmen Square Massacre"Police in China have detained the leaders of a group of mothers who lost children during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre."

No details are at hand at the moment but the two women reportedly arrested are leaders of a group of activists named "the Tiananmen Mothers Each year they hold some type of protest to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre this year being the 15th.

Tiananmen has been in the news lately with a recent letter to the Politburo from a prominent Beijing Doctor calling for the Communist Party to re address it's culpability in the tragedy. The subsequent discussion of the letter in Chinese internet chatrooms and weblogs is believed to have caused the recent closure of several sites by Chinese officials.

Linked Article Read Rating: Nothing More To Learn

China: Grain Crisis

Peoples Daily:

China's Rural Crisis"The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting Monday to study policies to increase grain production and encourage grain growers. "

Well I only discussed the issue of China's falling wheat production in a post yesterday and one today not knowing of course that President Hu Jintao would be chairing a meeting on the very issue.

Essentially wheat production has been falling quite dramatically for some years now and for a variety of reasons. In this article the Politburo is reported to have talked about increasing of rural incomes as one measure to attack the problem, but this only goes so far because a) average land plots are too small to be efficient and b) state ownership of property is a disincentive for private capital investment needed to agglomerate holdings and capitalise production.

Increasing rural incomes may alleviate poverty and go some way to decreasing the growing disparities in wealth between urbanites and country people but it will not grow anymore wheat.

Linked Article Read Rating: Only If You Have The Time

12 Killed Hunan Coal Mine

:: Xinhuanet - English :::

China Mining Tragedy"A gas explosion took place Monday afternoon in a coal mine in central-south China's Hunan province, leaving about 12 miners missing, according to the provincial production security supervision bureau. "

China: Major Agrarian Reform Needed

KRVN Agricultural News:

China's Rural Crisis " 'As long as the amount of land doesn't change, farm incomes can't change,' "

So says Shi a farmer from Dagaokou, 70 miles northeast of Beijing.

As urban incomes skyrocket rural incomes continue to decline relative to the cities. The linked articles talks to some farmers about the ways they make ends meet, usually by holding down other jobs or being involved in small business.

China's wheat crops are in decline and have been for some years (see post below) and there are many reasons and the one mentioned by Shi is only one albeit an important one.

In a modern era small farm lots are not economic or efficient. Plots of the size mentioned in the article ( 3.5 hectares) are ridiculous for most commercial crops let alone wheat. Economies of scale just are not there.

Also state ownership of land is holding back production. The article quotes one farmer saying what he would do with the land to improve it if he owned it. He states he is not going to spend his hard earned money adding value to and improving the land if he does not own it.

Agrarian reform is going to be a huge task for the Chinese Government. Until there is private ownership of property farmers will not invest and farm sizes will not change to allow for increased efficiencies.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

China to publish white paper on human rights progress

People's Daily:

China Human Rights"China is expected to publish Tuesday a white paper on its human rights progress over the past year, an official with the Information Office of the State Council said Monday. "

In an interesting turn of events China is to publish one of it's famous "White Papers" on it's Human Rights progress, assured by the People's Daily to be packed solid of facts and figures.

These "White Papers" are usually self jusifying documents that are heavily "weighted" (to put a diplomatic spin on it) towards China's point of view. Early last year the PRC put out a"White Paper" on Xinjiang (read Uygur) in response to growing criticism of their attacks on Uygur freedoms and liberties under the guise of the "War On Terror" Whilst a good document generally in terms of facts and figures it tended to do a bit of history re-write. These "White Papers" need to be viewed in light of what they are: Justification exercises. If that is born in mind then they can be very useful particularly in giving insight into the Chinese mindset on a particular topic.

I await this one eagerly.

Linked Article Read Rating: Only If You Have The Time

Monday, March 29, 2004

Chinese Journalists Jailed

Reporters sans frontires - China:

Freedom Of The Media in ChinaReporters without Frontiers claim that the recent arrests and jailing of journalist was a plot by the Chinese Government to deter others from overstepping the mark on criticising the regime.

"the plot aimed to keep Chinese journalists in a state of fear, it said. 'While the Communist Party boasts of having included protection of private property in the Constitution, press bosses and journalists are sentenced to heavy jail terms for having turned their daily into an independent and going concern,' said Reporters Without Borders. "

It would appear from the article that the Chinese Government has taken exception to the journalistic and editorial team of the weekly newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao whose jailing, so supporters claim, was linked to their revelations on the Sars virus and the death of a young graphic artist who was beaten to death in a police station.

The official charges were "corruption" embezzlement" and "appropriating State Property" and related to them "receiving" money from the paper. The fact of the matter was not denied in court but defended as normal practice in the Chinese newspaper industry which Reporters Without Frontiers claim to have confirmed is the case.

Such cases are hard to ajudge from afar. Because one is a defender of Human Rights does not mean ergo that one is above putting one's hands in the till.

We must applaud bravery in journalism but also applaud the Chinese taking strong action to stamp out corruption in state run industries (which all newspapers are) and among state officials Such practices are rife in China officialdom and have a major impact on individual human rights as can be seen in the many cases of forced evictions prompted with a greased palm. Which catagory this falls into I hesitate to call.

In cases like this we can only look for patterns and hold back from drawing unfounded conclusions in isolation.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

The Dalai Lama Has Left the Building....

Times of Tibet:

 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibnetan People"His Toronto event will be held at SkyDome and in Vancouver, tickets for two spiritual teaching events held in a 4,000-seat auditorium were snapped up in 20 minutes. "

Well he may not be Elvis but the Dalai Lama has just sold out a 15,000 seat concert venue in Canada for his upcoming trip to that country.

"Promoters" put his increased popularity (His last trip in 1993 drew 4000 admirers) down to the post "9/11" search for peace and the increase of Buddhism in Canada.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

5.8-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Tibet - 29/3/04


Tibet Map A strong earthquake struck the Chinese region of Tibet early Sunday, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

The observatory said the 5.8-magnitude quake struck 315 miles northwest of the Tibetan city of Lhasa at 2:52 a.m. Hong Kong time.

There was no immediate information about possible injuries or damage.

A magnitude 5 quake is capable of damaging buildings."

They Needed The Job To Live

Detroit News 03/28/04

Mining Tragedies"They all knew the work was dangerous. In the mud-brick village encircling the Baixing coal mine, so many lives had ended already with an explosion deep in a hole that it seemed part of the regular flow of time."

China's coal mining industry kills up to 10,000 miners per year. Most deaths happen in small private mines that operate with little official scrutiny, many operate illegally but are conveniently ignored by graft hungry officials.

China knows it is a huge problem but what can she do? Coal is vital to the economic miracle that is modern China. It is relied on for up to 75% of energy needs. The economy churns forward fueled by the deaths of so many scraping the black deposits from dark and dangerous mine shafts. Last year Premier Wen Jaibao called for strict policies to curb the death toll. Within weeks the nation was in a mess, homes were going without heating as production fell dramatically. It could not be sustained so the "crackdown" was lifted.

The linked article brings a small insight in to the human face of mining deaths.

He had to go to the mine, said Li Guixiang, whose husband, Xi Chuancai, was among the dead. Five months earlier, Xia's older brother died in an explosion at a nearby mine. Another brother lost both legs when a shaft caved in four years ago. Lia's neighbor, Liang Shouhua, sat beside her, mourning the loss of her own husband, the third of three brothers to die in a mining explosion.

If they didnt do this job, they wouldnt have any money for living, Li said. You have to eat.

The coal mining industry can not be shutdown to fix this problem, the nation needs it's output too much. But China has a responsibility to it's workers. The problem will only worsen as production is pushed harder and enormous annual growth rates are demanded by this burgeoning economy.

China has to start throwing some serious money at the problem. It has to develop a strategy were the industry can still function but is gone through with a fine tooth comb. China needs more than just the couple of thousand mine inspectors that it currentl has monitoring 200,000+ sites. It needs to ask for help from the international community to supply experts to assist in bringing down a death rate that is 350 times greater than the U.S, Britain or Australia, other large coal producing countries. It needs perhaps the international mining countries to supply coal on a Lend Lease type of arrangement to take the pressure off demand to allow programmed closedowns and rectification.

It just needs action not words.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Food alarm sounded as grain production falls

>>> AsiaNews.it :

China's Rural Crisis"....on Feb. 8 the government had increased public financing of farmland to around 3 billion dollars, a 25% overall increase, as part of a rare emergency financial measure. Such state provisions signal a growing alarm over a potential food emergency, especially in terms of the country's growing need for grain. "

In 1950 grain production in China was 90 million tons. In 1998 it reached a record of 329 million tons. In 2003 this had declined to 323 million. To put it in perspective the amount decline equaled the total production of Canada, itself a leading world grower.

The ability of China to feed itself into the future is in serious doubt as wheat is not the only crop suffering declines in a nation that increase it's population by 11 million per annum.

What has precipitated this decline and what are the ramifications not only for China but also the world? The linked article puts forward some hypothesis.

The article contends that obviously demand for food and wheat in particular will only go up in China, this is obvious given it's steady population growth. But the growth in the economy that has seen per capita income increase considerably over the last ten years has also grown demand at a greater rate than population pressure alone. More money means a desire for more food can be more easily accommodated and this trend will continue as China's wealth grows.

So we have rapidly increasing demand with reducing supply. Why has supply not only failed to keep pace with demand but has actually slipped backwards?

The article points at a number of factors. Firstly the sum of land put aside for cultivation has and will continue to decline. Reducing water supplies generally and a need to divert this limited resource to urban areas has had an impact on the amount of crop sustainable land available, desertification and the policy of reclaiming land and planting trees to offset it and pollution generally is also impacting.

Increased industrialization and urbanisation is gobbling up land stocks. An interesting example provided was that for each additional fifty motor vehicle hitting the roads of China one hectares needs to be set aside for roads and parking space, incredible. In a recent post I mentioned the sales of luxury vehicles numbered some 95,000 in 2003 that is 1,900 hectares alone just for luxury cars,assuming of course they are incremental to the national fleet.

Add to this infrastructure requirements such as a national transportation system to move people and manufacturing goods for export. All land hungry.

We also see a drift of workers from the poorer rural areas to the cities restricting labour availability. One factor I would like to put forward is the effects of the one child policy on rural economies. Traditionally in rural areas world wide large families were had as a means of supplying cheap and available labour to marginal farmlands. People had several children and employed them in working the land and they did so at little cost. The one child policy has put paid to that. Marginally productive land is no longer viable if it requires hired labour. The one Child policy is 25 year old this year. The first generation of farm labour not to be born must now be having it's effect.

All this does not mean starvation for the Chinese in the foreseeable future, they have through their headlong rush to industrialization given themselves the means to pay for any shortfalls in national food production for some time. What ultimately it will mean for the rest of the world is rising food prices as Chinese demand pushes prices up.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

China To Shut Down Shady Mines

China Daily:

Mining Tragedies"The Ministry of Land and Resources on Friday launched a national campaign to shut down coal mines that cause pollution or those without licences."

In light of the upwards of 10,000 miners that die annually in China's private coal mines and the enormous degradation to the environment coal production and consumption causes such a move is welcomed.

China however has a history of promising these coal mining reforms especially after a spate of Coal mining accidents but rarely follows through. Coal providing about 75% of China's energy requirements and working at capacity is just too important to the government for them to take the measures needed.

60 Million in poverty?


"Since China started opening its economy to the rest of the world a quarter century ago, about 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty. "

Interesting figures and if true a remarkable and commendable result. These figures do give rise however to an interesting debate as to what constitutes poverty?

China says about 60 million citizens still live in abject poverty and they claim the "poverty Line" is less than $79 a year. Apparently this figure is also called the "benefit line" by the Chinese, the figure below which people can apply for government benefits.The World Bank on the other hand estimates that China's truly poor number around 200 million as they use the international standard of living on $1 a day to measure poverty.

China counter claims that the poverty line figure of $1 per day does not take into consideration subsidised housing.

I suppose that only those actually living in poverty in China can tell us a true figure. Obviously there is some merit in what the Chinese say. Housing costs are a very significant determinate of discretionary income, ( I am defining discretionary income here as total income less tax less basic housing) however the difference between $365 per annum and $79 per annum could not surely be put down to housing costs.

The bottom line, as Bruce Murray, who heads the Asian Development Bank's mission in Beijing is quoted as saying in the article is that China needs a broader welfare system to provide a safety net for marginalized groups.

This is particularly true as it concerns the elderly. The one child policy introduced in China 25 years ago will increasingly impact negatively on the welfare of the aged as traditionally children provided significantly to the financial support for aged parents, less children means less support.

Despite being very much still in a developmental stage China should be in a position to widen social security safety nets to some degree, especially for the aged and disabled two of the most vulnerable groups in China.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

"Sorry Guys Have to do it": The Geneva Resolution

The Washington Times: World

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion "Private human rights organizations and Western diplomats say the draft resolution that Washington has started to circulate in diplomatic circles is 'mild' and stops short of condemning human rights violations by China. "

The resolution referred to is one supposedly to censure China over it's record on Human Rights and is being circulated at the United Nations Human Rights Commission currently in it's annual sessions in Geneva.

This report is interesting because it seems to be further evidence that the United States Administration is very luke warm on such a significant condemnation of China and perhaps is only going ahead because it has been backed into a corner. The reported "mildness"of the resolution's wording is almost as if they are saying "ok if we have got to do this let's make it as painless as possible"

Even though Washington signaled very early on that it was likely to propose such a resolution it seemed more "threat" than anything else. Unlike prior years there was very little conviction shown in what was being said out of Washington. When asked by reporters on several occasions whether the U.S. would go ahead with proposing the resolution State Department spokespersons used language like "almost certain to" rather than language evidencing greater conviction.

Secretary of State Powell too was also ominously quiet on the situation throughout the lead up. It was not until the United States House of Representatives passed their own resolution almost unanimously, recommending that the Bush Administration go ahead with the tabling that that there was any real certainty that it would happen at all. The House's action had essentially backed the Administration into a corner.

We also had a reported telephone conversation between Powell and the Chinese Foreign Minister on the eve of the sessions which, as I commented at the time, seemed as if either some deal was going down or it was a "heads up" and apology in advance.

In fact when the U.S intentions as to the resolution tabling were publicly confirmed the Chinese Foreign ministry stated that the Americans had "gone back on their word" as if confirming that some deal had been brokered and was now being reneged upon.

And finally there was the apparent delay in getting the ball rolling in Geneva. When questioned as to this at a recent State Department "Noon Briefing" the State spokesperson was very defensive and when asked how much support the resolution was likely to receive he stated that they did not know. How do they not know unless they do not really care? This is diplomacy after all and it is all about backroom lobbying and for the U.S. not to know how much support such an important resolution was likely to enjoy is, to say the least, incredible.

I am betting that the Administration was originally not going to go ahead with this resolution and had assured the Chinese as much. Whether they brokered some trade off with the Chinese it is impossible to know but very likely. Then, when the House of Representatives voted so overwhelmingly to recommend that the resolution be tabled, the Bush Administration was stymied.

Quick apologetic phone calls to the Chinese, vacillation on the timing of the resolutions introduction, calls of "foul play" from the Chinese and finally a "mildly" worded resolution.

Am I reading too much into this?

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Chinese experts discuss Law on Human Rights

China Daily:

Uygur Prisoners"Speaking at a forum on human rights development, which was held by the China Foundation for Human Rights Development (CFHRD) on Friday, Feng Jiancang, director of a human rights research center under the Ministry of Justice said China should enact the Law on Human Rights as soon as possible and formulate a pyramid-structured legal system to comprehensively protect human rights. "

I do not exactly know what the director is trying to get at here. He speaks of the constitution at the Apex of this pyramid then the Law on Human Rights at the upper middle and 'other laws, such as Law on Women Interests Protection, Law on Teenagers Protection and Law on the Disabled, at the lower middle and all regulations on citizen's rights protection at the bottom' Feng tried to explain.

I do not particularly care if he is taking the famed Chinese "scientific" approach a little to far it is just good that this fairly foreign concept, "Human Rights" is getting aired at all.

No Sex Please We are Chinese


A little trivia. This year marks the 25th anniversary of China's controversial one child policy

The linked article explores the subject of sex in China.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

Quake Proofing Xinjiang

:: Xinhuanet - English :::

The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China has decided to invest one billion yuan (over 120 million US dollars) to help rebuild residential houses in its earthquake-vulnerable areas.

An official with the regional government said that the project was launched to improve the anti-quake performance of local residential houses and reduce the loss from possible earthquakes to the minimum. "

Earthquakes are a perennial problem in Xinjiang and this a logical if rather overdue move.Lat year alone two major earthquakes hit Xinjiang and killed some 300 people.

Linked Article Read Rating: Nothing More To Learn

Only Separatists speak Uygur...

Uygur language restrictions I have to post this photo which is appearing over at the Uyghur Information Agency (an Uygur Diaspora news and current affairs site-see link in menu).

It is in protest at a recent report that the Chinese government are stopping Uygur language tuition in 50 rural schools in Xinjiang. It also refers to the general pressures on and discrimination against the Uygurs over the use of their language.

The caption says "From today you all speak, write and read in Chinese. Only Separatists speak Uygur" The mouth gags have Uygur script on them.

Do you notice that only one girl is wearing the traditional head covering of Islam? Despite Chinese claims of Uygur Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorism the Uygur ,whilst being devout Muslims, practice a much more liberal view of Islam unlike the Muslims of Arab extraction. Also, unlike the Arabs, the Uygurs have a great liking for the West and America in particular, traditionally looking in that direction for assistance and support rather than to the middle east.

A little trivia. Do you now the Uygur script was adopted by Ghengiz Khan as the first written script of the Mongol Empire. In those days the Uygur were respected widely as a people of learning and high culture. The Mongols, who nominally ruled the Uygurs for a period, used the Uygurs expertise extensively in law making, governance and diplomacy.

China's environmental quality remains stable in 2003

China Peoples Daily:

China's Environment: A human Right Catastrophe?"China's environmental quality communique of 2003 released Thursday said that China maintained its environmental quality nationwide basically at the level of the previous year. "

So reports the People's Daily. If the information is correct it would be an excellent result however I find it rather hard to believe. With figures for coal output and therefore consumption increasing in double digit figures each year I just can't see how the environment can stay at the same level as prior years. The Chinese are paying attention to environmental degradation but have they been that successful? One would think not.

Water quality is of extreme concern in China but the report claims that in 2003, the country's water quality in major river basins stayed at the level of the previous year. It states that t"he pollution of the Haihe, Liaohe, and Huaihe River slightly decreased while the Songhua River, Pearl River experienced an increase of pollution".

China learns to travel in style


"Recent estimates suggest that some 95,000 luxury cars were sold in China last year, with prestigious European marques leading the way. "

No wonder Premier Wen Jiabao is concerned about the growing wealth disparities between urban and rural and rich and poor. Out Xinjiang way the Uygur have imported transport too...Donkeys from Kazakhstan.

China cracks down on TV station that showed Tibetan flag


Tibet Map I am a little late with this one but I think it is still worth a run

"Chinese authorities have launched a political re-education program at an official television station in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa after it broadcast shots containing the Tibetan national flag, which is banned under Chinese rule."

Apparently the footage was broadcast inadvertently in February after a member of the news staff of Chinese ethnicity failed to identify the flag in the background of a shot of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. The image was broadcast for just under five seconds.

But despite the short time frame the flag was spotted by a very vigilant retired member of the TV station (no bets that he was not of Tibetan ethnicity!) and duly reported ( as one is want to do in such serious circumstances).

Apparently it was all a mix up with no Pro-Tibetan conspiracy involved. Some junior staff member (Chinese) failed to recognise what the flag was (as one is want to do when one is young and Chinese)

In true Chinese fashion all staff were ordered to undergo re-education and write self-criticisms acknowledging their error. How would that go? " Forgive me Chairman for I have sinned....I am a bad little communist for being less than vigilant against separatist subversives"

One of life's little scratch your head moments #10,009

Linked Article Read Rating: Nothing More To Learn

Friday, March 26, 2004

Dalai Lama not to be meet by Canadian officials during visit -


 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibetan People"It is unlikely that Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will meet Prime Minister Paul Martin during a visit to Canada next month, Foreign Minister Bill Graham said. "

The Dalai Lama is visiting Canada next month but as happens in many countries that he visits he is unlikely to be welcomed "officially" despite the fact that he is the head of a recognised world religion. This is a point that is constantly brought up whenever the Lama visits foreign countries

The reason is that these governments do not officially recognise the Tibetan Government in Exile as being "legitimate" and as such any official reception would be against diplomatic protocol and bring very loud howls of protest from the People's Republic.

I do not think that this phases the Lama as much as it appears to phase the Tibetan's supporters. He has said on many occasions that he personally does not seek the "separation" of Tibet from China, but only wants, like the majority of Uygurs want for themselves , to be afforded freedom from persecution, cultural self determination and a degree of autonomy.

Governments statements at UN commission on Human Rights in Geneva


U.N. Human Rights CommisssionWell there has been criticism of China coming through at the Geneva UN Human Rights Commission hearings underway at the moment but the tone of countries appear tempered as a function of what potential trade deals are around.

The United States as widely reported recently tabled Resolution 503 calling for condemnation of China's recent Human rights record and now Phayul, the Tibetan news site brings us some excerpts of statements made by various countries at this year's Commission hearings.

The European Union called for continued dialogue on Human Rights between China and itself whilst voicing their concern as to the repression of the cultural and religious rights of the Uygurs and Tibetans.

The Australians only just fell short of outright praise with only a veiled side swipe at China using the "War On Terror" as an excuse for persecution of ethnic minorities. Whilst they identified the plight of the Uygur and Tibetans it was pretty weak stuff. Some big trade deals have gone down lately and there must be some more coming up! Australia is having a dream run with it's trade deals of late.

New Zealand too was less than firm failing, in the excerpts at least, to mention the Tibetans and Uygurs by name. Now I know for a fact that they want the "honour" to be the first western country to enter into a Free Trade agreement with China.

Canada ,which is home to many Uygurs and Tibetans, spoke of Uygur and Tibetan rights whilst Norway only mentioned the Tibetans.

It is a delicate balance this diplomacy thing, of that I am sure. Diplomats must frame their words in such a fashion to get a point across without causing outright offence or backing a country into a corner that it has no way out of.

As well, China has made gains in Human Rights, of that there is no doubt, so some acknowledgement and encouragement must be given in that quarter.

Let us hope that this is the motivation for the rather tepid criticism and not the fear of losing that lucrative trade deal or investment opportunity.

Linked Article Read Rating: Only If You Have The Time

Is There A Comedian In The House?

Reuters AlertNet - China

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion The U.N. Commission on Human Rights currently meeting in Geneva was treated to some levity at a recent session.

Sha Zukang, China's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva in a response to a charge of "backsliding" on Human Rights, told those assembled that they should read China's assessment of the U.S.'s Human rights record but warned that

"...you not to read it before you go to bed because you might have a nightmare."

He then went on to liken the United States to perhaps an Olympic great?:

"The U.S. is well-known for its racial discrimination, police brutality and mistreatment of detainees. If there is any world record, I am sure you are the champion,"

Finally Ambassador Sha showed the benevolent side of the People's Republic by offering to help out an old friend:

"We would suggest to the United States to buy a mirror and look at yourselves in it. China is a poor, developing country. If you don't have a mirror, we can buy one for you,"

Being a Communist Party member he is at least half way there with his "Groucho Marx" impersonations!!

Don't give up your day job! (me and him!)

Linked Article Read Rating: Nothing More To Learn

"Bankruptcy King" Has Not Fled.

China Study Group

Cao Siyuan courtesy of Asia WeekCHINESE legal reformer Cao Siyuan nicknamed the "Bankruptcy King" due to his legal practice and role in framing China's first bankruptcy laws has spoken from Canada denying press reports that he has fled China fearing arrest.

It was reported last week by some news sources that Cao had purchased a "one way" ticket out of China only narrowly ahead of the law and arrest.

I had tracked him down to the United States where he had given a lecture recently but this statement is his first since the news reports appeared.

In response to the articles reporting his fleeing Cao said:

"My main responsibility is in China, pushing for political and economic reform. I never intended to leave and not return,"

Cao went on further to say:

"But even if they want to arrest me, I will return. I will come back with my hands extended, ready for the handcuffs."

Linked Article Read Rating: Nothing More To Learn

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The Uygur of Xinjiang: A Brief History

theChina with it’s population of 1.3 billion is "home" to 56 ethnic groups. One of these is the little known Uygur people of Xinjiang which, with numbers at 8 million, is a sizeable group and by far the most different culturally to the majority Han Chinese.

The Uygurs (pronounced Wee-Gurrs) are a Caucasian Turkic speaking people who have for over 1,200 years lived in what is now known as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in north west China,

Xinjiang is a huge area. At 637,000 sq mi (1,650,257 sq km), It is some five times larger than Italy and comprises one third of the total land mass of China. Geographically it is best described as two large basins nestling on either side of a great dividing mountain range, the Tian Shan.

To the north west of the Tian Shan is the Dzungaria basin and, at it’s eastern end on the Kazakhstan border, is the Dzungarian Gate, a pass which for centuries was used as an invasion route by conquerors from central Asia. It is in this basin that the Xinjiang capital city Urumqi (Urumchi) is situated

The crater like Tarim Basin lies in the south east and is home to the Taklamakan Desert, the world’s tenth largest desert, famous for its swiftly moving sand dunes.

Scattered around the Tarim and on the edges of the Taklamakan are oases towns that once sat proudly astride the great Silk trade routes that crossed through Xinjiang linking China and the east to Europe.

Xinjiang was a barren, desolate and inhospitable land when the Uygurs migrated there en masse some 1,200 years ago but, even then, they were no strangers to this land. It had been, for the previous one hundred odd years, one of but many far flung dominions ruled by a mighty Uygur Empire.

The Uygur, as they are known today, grew from a number of tribes and clans that lived a nomadic lifestyle in Mongolia and southern Siberia for untold centuries before the time of Christ. Through alliances several tribes grew together in size and strength to a point where in 745 CE they were able to form the "Uygur Orkhan Empire" centred in Mongolia. For the next hundred years under the leadership of various Khagans (Rulers) they stretched their empire by subjugation and expansion throughout Mongolia and most of Central Asia, east to present day Gansu province in China and south to Tibet and India.

Controlling the very hub of the "Silk Road" trade routes they became rich and, with a mighty army, widely feared. So great was their military power that the rulers of China’s Tang Dynasty pleaded with the Uygur to assist them at a time when an internal rebellion threatened to rent the sovereignty. This they did and were rewarded by the Tang with an annual "Tribute" of Silk in perpetuity and the hands of many Chinese princesses.

So great was their empire that at one stage they even contemplated conquering China, a move that would have changed history, but internal strife put paid to that idea.

In 840 CE the Uygur were defeated by another Turkic tribe and rather than live in subjugation migrated en masse to present day China. Though defeated their move to the Tarim was the start of a golden period of culture. Taking up a sedentary lifestyle and eking a living from the harsh land and the traders of the Silk Road they became highly respected for their culture and as a centre for Buddhist religion and learning.

With the advent of the Mongol Empire the Uygur nominally became vassals but so great was the respect in which they were held by the Mongols that they were left virtually to govern themselves. In fact the Uygur became the mentor of various Mongol Khans serving and instructing them at high levels in areas of governance, law making and diplomacy. It was to the Uygur that Ghengis Khan looked to when developing a written language for his empire and it was the Uygur script that was adopted and used.

The Uygur had converted to Islam by the 15th century and remained virtually independent until being invaded by the Qing (Manchu ) Dynasty in 1876. From that date on, apart from a few years of independence in the 1940’s, they have remained under Chinese rule and their homeland has become "Xinjiang", meaning "New Territories or Dominions" in Chinese

The Communists

The Communist Party of China marched into Xinjiang unopposed in 1949 displacing a crumbling Nationalist government. The leaders of the Uygurs were promised that Xinjiang would become an "autonomous" region under the umbrella of the Chinese State. The Uygur were at that time the majority ethnic group and numbered 3 million to the Han’s 300,000.

In hindsight the promises of Mao Zedong and the CCP to the Uygurs were nothing more than sops to keep them under control until the "Centre" and Communist rule could be consolidated. Perhaps a portent of things to come was the mysterious crash of a plane in 1949 carrying most of the Uygur’s leaders to Beijing for negotiations with the Communist Party. Whilst there is nothing to say that it was any more than a highly coincidental "accident" the decapitation of Uygur leadership was to be an ill omen.

It took they Communists until 1954 before they could turn their full attention to the Uygur and Xinjiang. In 1955 the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was officially proclaimed and from then it was a slow downward spiral for the Uygur.

1957-60 and the Collectivisation and the "Great Leap Forward" policies of Mao Zedong were hard for the Uygur. Historically Uygurs were self employed artisans, traders or small land owners and farmers and as such felt the changes that communism brought with it hard to accept. As well, being Muslim, many of the new communist rules and policies clashed with their religious beliefs and practices.

By 1964, with the Chinese first atomic tests carried out in Xinjiang and with the first wave of Han immigrants having arrived, the Uygur began to realise that the promise of autonomy was perhaps nothing but an empty illusion.

Han Chinese migration to Xinjiang had commenced in the 1950’s. An early trickle became a stream and finally in the late 1960’ and 70’s a torrent. By this stage the Uygur who had outnumbered the Han in 1949 began to see their position in their own land gravely threatened.

Notwithstanding, life even with it’s new communist stamp, continued reasonably quietly for the majority of the Uygurs until the mid sixties. The "Cultural Revolution" that commenced in 1966 saw Red Guards destroy many mosques in Xinjiang and the Uygurs experienced the first real clampdown on their religious and basic freedoms.

After the Cultural Revolution the situation lightened slightly. Mosques were re-built and religious persecution eased, however Han migration picked up pace as the economy and infrastructure of Xinjiang grew and the wealth in the ground became more fully appreciated.

The late 1980’s saw the beginning of the demise of the old Soviet Union and the beginning in earnest of the period of Uygur persecution and human rights violations that in one form or another continues to today. These two occurrences were not simply coincidental.

The Chinese watched closely as the old Soviet Union imploded to analyse the reasons why the birthplace of State Communism was falling apart. It would seem that their analysis identified two factors for the Soviet’s demise namely race and religion. The Chinese came to the belief that these two factors were the enemy of socialist regimes and therefore began the implementation of strategies to combat these twin "evils" and so ensure the long term survival of communism in China.

Two other factors came into play as co-determinants of the Uygur’s future.

Firstly, the demise of the Soviet’s saw the setting up of several central Asian republics all of which were Islamic and most of which were Turkic peoples. Their physical proximity, "blood lines" and similarities in culture and religion made it seem quite feasible to a watchful Beijing that there could be an attempt to set up some form of Pan-Turkic or Pan-Islamic alliance that could involve Xinjiang.

Coincident too was the pro democracy feeling that swept the world and the upcoming handover of Hong Kong to the PRC, at that time an unknown quantity. These factors, combined with the rumblings in Tibet, posed a significant potential threat to the Central Government. They feared a domino effect if the likes of the Uygurs or Tibetans were to attempt to "separate" from China, one that could involve Hong Kong and then perhaps any number of the other ethnic groups within China.

To a degree their analysis was correct. The fall of the Soviet Union and the setting up of the Central Asian Republics breathed hope into some Uygur that they perhaps could achieve their dream of an independent free state of East Turkestan. Many small groups sprung up talking independence of one form or another. These groups though small, ill organised and unfunded were nevertheless considered to pose a real threat in the eyes of the Chinese.

Tensions between the Han and Uygur continued to rise against this backdrop as a result of the continued "flood" of Han into Xinjiang and the privations the Uygurs were forced to exist under. A series of disturbances commencing with a riot in Hotan (Khotan) began in 1990. Though small and isolated they were harshly put down by the Chinese government.

The Chinese began, during the nineties, to increasingly identify any type of dissent by the Uygur as being "splittist" or "terrorist" inspired. It is without doubt some Uygur groups did cause problems during the course of the 1990’s,including acts of violence, but it was never what could be correctly termed terrorist activity. If violence was inflicted it was against the government or very specific targets such as pro-Chinese Uygur clerics, the general public was not, by and large, directly involved.

The decade of the 1990’s therefore became a watershed one for the Uygur. It witnessed even larger inflows of Chinese Han into the region and by the end of the decade the ratio of Uygur to Han had gone from 10:1 in 1949 to almost parity.

It was also a period when the Uygur finally realised that the "autonomy" and "self determination" promised them would never be delivered. The crackdowns on rights of association particularly religious gatherings increased, travel was restricted and "re-education" programmes saw the independence of the Islamic clerics destroyed. The perceived "rape of the ancestral land, the growing wealth disparities between Han and Uygur, the destruction of Uygur heritage through wholesale demolitions of Uygur areas, all these things fostered a feeling of intense marginalisation among the Uygur.

If the 1990’s were to be a watershed decade then 1997 was to be the watershed year. The hand over of Hong Kong, scheduled for mid 1997, was a period of some trepidation and one seen by some Uygur as being perhaps a "now or never" time. They collectively knew that if the Hong Kong handover went smoothly then their fate was sealed.

In February of that year a small demonstration numbering around one thousand mainly Uygur youths protesting religious persecution ended in a blood bath. Depending on whose version of events you take either 9 people died or hundreds did. It was however what ensued was also of major importance. The response to the incident in the small town of Gulja (Yining) was quick, expansive and extremely brutal by any standards.

Immediately following the incident Martial Law was imposed in all the major towns and cities of Xinjiang and thousands of troops were sent to the region by Beijing. The Chinese appeared to work themselves into a frenzy concerning what they called the "three dangers" "splitism, religious extremism and terrorism". Despite a relatively small number Uygurs being involved in the incident in Gulja within weeks it is reported that several thousand Uygurs had been interrogated or imprisoned throughout Xinjiang. There were also uncollaborated reports of torture and summary executions.

In response to this frenzied situation several revenge bombings took place in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and Beijing. These bombings and other "terrorist" activities that China has claimed have occurred since that time have never fully been proven though some, no doubt, did occur. The Gulja Incident, despite it’s spontaneous eruption, was also categorised as a premeditated act of terrorism.

Any remaining freedoms of association, speech or of religion were curtailed after Gulja and have, to this date, never fully been restored. Any form of dissent was considered the acts of "terrorists" and "terrorism" and treated accordingly.

It is estimated that as a result of the Gulja incident some 220 Uygurs have been executed. Many others have died in prison of "illnesses" such as "pneumonia". The last person executed over this 1997 event occurred as late as October 2003. Why he was kept alive so long after most of the others were despatched within days and weeks is anyone’s guess.

With Gulja the world changed from bad to worse for the Uygur and the events of "September 11" provided the Chinese an opportunity to legitimise their gross violations of the Uygur’s Human rights by labelling the Uygur as religious extremists and terrorists. By identifying the Uygurs so the Chinese were able to mask their abuses from an outside world.

Since "9/11" the Chinese have made many claims including that large numbers of Uygurs fought with the Taliban and that Uygur "terrorist organisations" were strong and active and receiving funding from Al Qaeda. Whether through ignorance or design the west has swallowed it all to the point of supporting China in obtaining a U.N. listing of a little known Uygur independence organisation as an international terrorist group. This despite the majority of world commentators seriously doubting the veracity of most of the allegations.

In all this the Chinese Government has kept up incredible pressure on all aspects of Uygur life with an ultimate view of rooting out any desire or will to "separate" and to destroy the "three evils". It is a thinly veiled policy aimed at breaking the collective spirit of the Uygur people by destroying their culture and in doing so neutralise them as a potential problem.

Future Of the Uygur

The dye, for all intents and purposes, has been caste for the Uygur. If they had ever had a possibility of achieving a free East Turkestan that was lost in 1949 and the majority of Uygurs are now resigned to that fact. For this once great people, former rulers of most of Central Asia and one third of today’s China, mentors of the Mongol Empire and champions of Buddhism, their only hope now is that, with support from the "free world", they will have the opportunity to determine their future within China and to live a life free from persecution.

Whether this support will be forthcoming in light of the Uygurs religious affiliations and the lure of the burgeoning Chinse economy is another question.

Demolished: Forced Evictions and the Tenants' Rights Movement in China

(Human Rights Watch Report, March 2004)

If you want to learn all about forced evictions in China may I suggest this excellent Human Rights Watch Document. It is 45 pages long but it tells you all you ned to know.

Linked Article Read Rating: A Must

US ignores truth about China's rights record

People's Daily

I am drawn to post this link because I think despite my last three posts today being criticisms of Human Rights violations being perpetrated by the Government of China it is important to remember that there have been some very fine improvements over the last two years.

The People's Daily attempts to highlight some of these in it's article questioning why the U.S. has sponsored a resolution against China in the U.N HR Commission currently underway.

Most taken in isolation are no great shakes in terms of importance but they perhaps are portents of a promising future. One of the examples given is as follows:

The decades-old compulsory practice of rounding up and extraditing people found roaming in cities gave way to a sympathetic relief programme, and police were prohibited from conducting unwarranted identification checks.

I can vouch for this being true as I carried a news item recently of Chinese complaining vehemently about the rise in the incidence of beggars on the streets of China. Everyone blamed the repeal of a law, that used to allow for "measures" to keep these people off the streets, for this sudden plague.

We must applaud the good as well as criticise the bad in China's journey forward so this post is for all the good changes...... now what about this blog censorship thing?.....



There had been questions asked all day as to whether there were some technical problems in people being able to access Typepad sites in China. Typepad is a bloggers resource similar to Blogger which I use. Well it appears that the Chinese Government has added Typepad to their extensive list of "Forbidden Sites" This follows the temporary closing down of China based web blog servers in the last week or so.

Over at Glutter the blogmaster has asked that all bloggers post a note on their Blogs protesting this further censorship of the Internet, Well here's mine.

To the Chinese Government

"You pass an amendment acknowledging Human Rights in your constitution and before the ink is even dry you violate one of the cornerstones of Human Rights: The right to free speech.

When will you learn"

Cyber-Dissident Jailed

Reporters sans frontires - China:

Justice in China"Cyber dissident Ouyang Yi sentenced to two years in prison" so reports Reporters sans frontires

Ouyang Yi has been jailed on the charge of 'incitement to subversion" for initiating an "Open Letter" to the Chinese Communist Party congress November 2003 asking for democracy in China and posting it on the internet..

The original letter was much revised by others on the net and this latter version was the one tended to the courts.

The sentence is considered quite light by Chinese standards especially as Ouyang Yi has a history of arrests on similar charges.

What can you say? What you and I take for granted others take it with a great deal of risk.

The internet is a feared medium in Chinese Government circles. Reportedly the State employs some 30,000 people in censoring and monitoring the internet.

Only recently, in response to a similar letter to the Communist Party's Politburo by a doctor seeking the party to re-evaluate it's stance over the Tiananmen Square massacre, all the Blog servers in China were closed down and chat rooms were closely monitored.

Despite modern technolgy it is a losing battle. Several China based readers of mine use sophisticated tools to circumvent the system and log on to 'forbidden" websites.

I have nothing but admiration for people as brave as this man

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

Resolution 530

>>> AsiaNews.it

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion Well it finally has a name. Resolution 530 was today lodged by the United States against Human Rights abuses by China at the 60th session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission currently meeting in Geneva.

“China has chosen to see the resolution as a ‘confrontation’ and not as a chance to demonstrate its sincerity about implementing its human rights obligations,” said the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Michael K. Young in response to China calling off any further dialogue with the U.S. over Human rights.

Now to see what support if any it will get.

Linked Article Read Rating: Only If You Have The Time

China's sustainable development hopeful: Earth Council chairman

People's Daily:

China's Environment: A human Right Catastrophe?"...if the means of development as high input and heavy pollution with low efficiency continues, environmental loss will be four to five times as much as that at present. "

So says Qu Geping, Chairman of China Environmental Protection Foundation, at a lecture given in Beijing recently.

Joined in the lecture by Maurice F. Strong, special advisor to US Secretary-General and Chairman of Earth Council lectured on the concept of "sustainable development" in China.

With China's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) having reached 11 trillion yuan (US$1.33 trillion) in 2003 and with this figure expected to quadruple in 2020 to USD 4 trillion the Chinese Government has some major problems balancing the need for economic development with the needs of the environment.

The People's Daily reported Mr. Strong as stating that the hardest environmental problems ahead for China are the land deterioration and water pollution. The downfall of the productivity of China's soil will incur serious results for China which is now nourishing 22 percent of the world's population with only 7 percent of the world's land.

This fact is not lost on China's leaders having in 2003 enacted the "Environment Impact Assessment Law" stipulating that new projects can not be commenced until being evaluated as to their possible impact on environment.

Having Laws is one thing enforcing them is another al together different thing. China's record on enforcing laws of this kind has been very poor, one only has to look at the number of coal mines operating quite openly that have been "officially closed down"

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile

Former vice governor Guizhou on trial for corruption

People's Daily:

China: Official Corruption"Liu Changgui, former vice governor of the southwestern China's Guizhou Province, was put on trial Wednesday for suspected corruption and owning a huge amount of property he could not account for.

Liu is accused of having accepted bribes totaling 160,000 US dollars between 1995 and 2000 and having another 200,000 US dollars of personal property he could not account for, said a source with the Intermediate People's Court of Zunyi city, where the hearing was held. "

It is good to see that China is actively pursuing it's agenda against official corruption. Corruption of Government officials accounts for a high percentage of the Human Rights violations in China.

Examples are numerous, land appropriations (or misappropriations) resulting in forced evictions where officials accept bribes and graft from Land developers to the detriment of the rights of the people. Another is the "turning a blind eye" to illegal coal mine operations that are responsible for the deaths of thousands of miners every year.

Corruption is rife throughout China's officialdom and the government led by President Hu and Premier Wen have time and time again cited it as one of the major problems facing China today.

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China's biggest onshore oil field near 'exhaustion'

China Daily:

China Energy Crisis"China's largest onshore oil field, Daqing Oil Field, faces ``imminent exhaustion'' of its exploitable reserves, local authorities said Wednesday."

The Daqing Oil Field once boasted apparently 2.2 billion tons of exploitable oil reserve and this is now down to an estimated 500 million tons.

Energy is a huge problem for China. The demand for it is great obviously because of the size of the population and the climate but also because of the surging economy and commercial requirements.

Coal currently meets 75% of China's energy requirements and she has the third largest coal deposits and is the largest consumer of coal in the world. Currently some 200,000 coal mines operate to exploit this valuable resource.

China faces several major problems relating to energy. Firstly coal and coal mining has an incredibly detrimental effect on the environment. Pollution is a very major concern to the Chinese Government. Secondly China is extremely inefficient in it's energy usage and the state heavily subsidises energy costs for the "private" sector. To achieve a 1% increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) requires more than a 2% increase in energy consumption.

This problem is not lost on the Chinese Government and they are desperately seeking ways to fuel projected growth through importing of gas and oil, exploring nuclear power options and pursuing hydro_electrical schemes such as the Three Gorges Project

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Did the U.S. Have A Deal With The Chinese Over Human Rights?


U.N. Human Rights Commisssion"Shen said Washington went back on its word to 'suddenly' announce the resolution amid consultations between the two. "

So has been quoted Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang on the decision by the U.S. to introduce a resolution condemning China's Human Rights record at this years U.N. Human Rights Commission sessions in Geneva.

I have said in several posts leading up to the Geneva Conference that the vibes I was getting was that the U.S. would not seek such a resolution this year as it had not done last year.

So confident was I that I laid a bet here at this blog that it would not happen. My feelings were based on several things. Firstly the release of some high profile political prisoners, some very open "Mea Culpa" statements coming out of Beijing, the amendment to the constitution and several other events. Secondly, the failure of the U.S State Department to categorically say in the lead up to Geneva that a Resolution would be introduced. It was statements such as "almost certain" when pressed for what their direction will be that said to me some behind the scenes negotiations were happening. Then we had the phone conversations between U.S.Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in the lead up to Geneva.

My confidence swayed slightly when the U.S. House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to call upon the President to table such a resolution.

Now we have Assistant Foreign Minister Chen saying that the U.S. "went back on it's word to suddenly.." Introduce the resolution much as if some deal had been brokered that the U.S. suddenly reneged upon.

The State Department's Noon Briefing the day before last had the Spokesperson wiggling uncomfortably when pressed as to why the Commission was under way one week before State announced it's intentions. He also was a little uncomfortable when asked as to what support the U.S. expected for it's resolution.

Did the President and the State Department broker some deal? Did the House of Reps motion throw a"spanner in the works"? And now are The Chinese, perhaps justifiably, a bit peeved off?

Whilst I have now sworn off making bets in public............ does anyone want to frame a market on this one....?

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FalunInfo.Net - A Call for Decisive Action to End the Genocide in China

FalunInfo.Net - A Call for Decisive Action to End the Genocide in China

For some background on Falun dafa go to the above link.

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Slave Labor Experience at Forced Labor Camps


justice I profess not to know a great deal about either the Falun Movement, it's practices or treatment by officialdom but I did find this first hand experience of a Falun Dafa practioner inside Chinese jails rather an eye opener. Not because it demonstrates the lack of rights afforded political prisoners as I think we all know that exists but for the forced labour being used to produce goods for "free world" companies. Nestle being one in particular that I was shocked at.

I am not sure if Nestle know that some of it's products are being sub contracted to Chinese prisons, I would be very interested to know if they do and if that is the case what is their rationale for countenencing it.

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China Study Group :: View topic - US Unions: Don't Hide Behind a Human Rights Banner

China Study Group :: View topic - US Unions: Don't Hide Behind a Human Rights Banner

We have got a bit of a debate happening over at the China Study Group Forums. Why not come and have a look and provide some input.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

China halts rights talks with US

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific:

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion"China says it has suspended all discussions with the United States on human rights' issues. Beijing broke off contacts, as the US prepared to condemn its human rights record at a United Nations meeting. "

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Department sees the proposed Resolution as a "serious interference in China's internal affairs"

They have summoned the U.S. Ambassador to China for discussions on the issue

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State Department Noon Briefing, March 22, 2004

State Department Noon Briefing, March 22, 2004

U.N. Human Rights CommisssionI have touched on this before today, the fact that the U.S. will sponsor a resolution at the currently running U.N. Human Rights Commission sessions in Geneva.

I point to this particular State Department briefing for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, one of the reporters questioned why it took so long to table the resolution. It is a question that have I asked myself over the last week and abit. I got the impression that maybe it would not happen and then if it were possibly to happen the delay may evidence some on going discussion or negotiation with China.

The spokesman's response does not throw much light on any reasons for delay (if in fact you can call it delay) What did come through however was that perhaps there is not a lot of support for the resolution from other member countries.

In response to a straightforward question as to what support the U.S. has, he answered.

MR. BOUCHER: (State Department Spokesperson) I think -- I don't think I can make that kind of judgment at this point, that there's -- obviously, there are other people who are concerned about the situation in China. It's sometimes difficult to turn that concern into actual votes in the Commission, frankly.

Not a particularly encouraging reply. All in all very unpromising.

These resolutions that the U.S. has sponsored against China each year it has been able to, bar last year, never do get passed due to the Chinese Bloc but the U.S. have always done it with a little gusto regardless. Not this time.

Maybe a case of "Gotta do it but wish I didn't" ?

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The World Seen From Rome: Christianity in China

Zenit News Agency -:

"The people are dissatisfied with the capitalist wave, and disillusioned with Marxism. The poor seek consolation; the martyrs inspire enthusiasm. All this leads to the search for stable values and the profound meaning of life. "

So says Father Bernardo Cervellera of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions who is quite positive about the future of Christianity, especially Catholicism, in China despite general repression. The linked article is a short interview with him.

When asked what was the prospects for Christianity in China he answered

Very good. Every year there are at least 150,000 baptisms of adults, [and] many more among Protestants.

China 'greatly worried' about impact of Yassin's death

People's daily :

Communist Party of China Image"China is greatly worried about the possible impact on the Middle East regional situation brought by the death of the Palestinian Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing Monday. "

The Foreign affairs spokesman did not elaborate but I do not feel it means anything more than a general concern held by most nations of the world.

U.S. Proposes Resolution Condemning China's Human Rights Record

P Reuters.com:

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion"The United States urged a U.N. watchdog on Monday to condemn China's 'backsliding' on human rights despite Beijing's warning the move could affect warming Sino-U.S. ties. As expected, the United States proposed a resolution at the annual session of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission "

Well I have lost my bet. For some time now I have been saying that the U.S. would not propose a resolution at this years U.N. Human Rights Commission currently meeting in Geneva condemning China's Human Rights record over the last twelve months.

I must admit I had wavered but maintained till the end that I was right. I have a favorite saying I use with my daughter all the time "Darling I have been known to be wrong in my life, the last time was back in 1972 I think". Well she will stick it to me now.

But all levity aside I believe that this is an important part of the process of maintaining pressure on China as regards Human Rights. I will be the first to admit that they have improved dramatically in the years since the Cultural Revolution but they just need to take that "quantum leap".

110 Chinese cities face serious water shortage

Japan Today:

China's Environmental Crisis"Some 110 Chinese cities face a serious shortage of water, especially those in the drought-stricken north, and the scarcity will get worse as China's population increases to 1.6 billion people by 2030, state media reported Monday."

China always says that the West should not judge Human Rights in China by their values. The Chinese say they face unique problems that makes them have choose the welfare of the whole over the welfare of the individual.

Well if you line up all the things that are going wrong or about to go wrong you may have some small sympathy for their position.

Add now water supply problems to the long list that includes energy, environment, population, food, et al.

The CUMYS (Chinese Upwardly Mobile Young Set) better enjoy their BMW's and Mercs and holidays to Sanya before it's too late.

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