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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.

Friday, April 30, 2004

China Letter News Digest 30/4/2004 AEST

China Letter News DigestA "China Letter" Digest of News items that are too noteworthy to go unnoticed but too numerous to comment on every one.

The Seattle Times: Travel: A glimpse inside China's Xinjiang Uighur province: "I met a warm, generous and traditional people that seemed to be coping with the mass influx of Han Chinese and the development and modernization that comes with it. "

Terrorism Remains Problem Despite Decline in Attacks, Black Says: "'We also saw the lowest number of international terrorist attacks since 1969, and that's a 34-year low,' 'There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003. There were also fewer casualties caused by terrorists last year. A total of 307 persons were killed in last year's attacks, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002.'"

Yahoo! News - At least six AIDS sufferers arrested in China for seeking gov't help: "BEIJING (AFP) - At least six AIDS (news - web sites) sufferers and others living in a village in central China devastated by the disease have been arrested for seeking government help, their families and police revealed. "

CHINA welcomes US decision not to investigate China's labor ...
Xinhua - China
BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhuanet) -- China welcomes the decision made by the
US government not to accept the petitions of the American Federation of
Labor-Congress ...

MSNBC - Two new SARS cases confirmed in China: "China upgraded two suspected SARS patients to confirmed cases of the virus Thursday, doubling the number of infected people linked to a Beijing laboratory believed responsible for the latest small outbreak of the disease."

Jail term upheld for former police chief in Liaoning: "The Liaoning Provincial Higher People's Court has upheld an 18-year jail term against Mao Jingxiang, former public security head in Fuxin city of the northeastern province, for receiving bribes and extorting public funds. "

Premier on protection of human rights, private propertyChinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China proposes dialogue rather than confrontation on the issue of human rights.

Google Files For IPO

Not really a China issue but for anyone with anything to do with computers may be of interest.

News from The Associated Press

Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 report

The U.S. Department of State annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report has just been released for 2003. It can be viewed or downloaded at the linked site.

Report (pdf format)

Kyrgyzstan willing to cooperate with China in fighting 'three forces': FM

Kyrgyzstan willing to cooperate with China in fighting 'three forces': FM: "Kyrgyzstan is willing to cooperate with China to fight against the three forces, KyrgyzstanForeign Minister Askar Aytmatov told Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Wednesday in Shanghai. "

The two foreign ministers held a meeting here on the sideline of the 60th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

China and Kyrgyzstan have supported each other in the fight against the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, said Li Zhaoxing.

Day 27: Tibetan Hunger Strike

Tibetan hunger strikers being attented to by a Doctor. Oic curtesy Phayul.com "Tibetans who visited the hunger strikers this morning on the 27th day of their protest fast were shocked to see the state to which they had wasted. Dolma Choephel in particular was reduced to a critical condition; she could no longer stand on her feet, a witness said. "

The Hunger strikers encamped outside the United nations Building in New york have presented the UN with the following requests:

1) To urge China to Repeal Tulku Tenzin Delek's death sentence and must undertake a fair trial under the monitoring agent of international body.

2) To urge China that the XIth Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima must be entitled to religious education at Tashi Lhunpo monastery. China must also disclose the details concerning the safety and whereabouts of the Panchen Lama.

3) To adopt a resolution in the 60th UNCHR to appoint Special Rapporteur to monitor and undertake independent investigation to review the Rights to Religious Beliefs and Human Rights situation in Tibet, including the implementation on the recommendations made by Katarina Tomasevski, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Education.

4) To urge China for an unconditional release of Geshe Sonam Phuntsok and all the other Tibetan political prisoners.

5) UN General Assembly must resume its debate on the question of Tibet based on its resolutions passed on 1959, 1961 and 1965.

For anyone interested in signing an online letter to the General Secretary of the United Nations in support of the Hunger Striker's requests or emailing a letter of support to them please visit Phayul.Com

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Hunger Strikers Now Critical, Czech Republic Assures Support - www.phayul.com:

Thursday, April 29, 2004

China News Digest

China Letter News DigestA "China Letter" Digest of News items that are too noteworthy to go unnoticed but too numerous to comment on every one.

Daily Times - Bush may accept rights petition against China
* Petition demands sanctions against Beijing for violating human rights
* Experts say decision likely to send wrong signal to developing nations

China to clear way for rural laborers to work in urban areas: "China will make more efforts to protect migrant laborers' rights and clear the way for them to work in urban areas,"

Reform on officials' car use in the offing: "Reform on officials' car use in the offing"
Capitalism has well and truly arrived in China! They have discovered the 'creme de la creme' of all perks the "Car allowance"

The Epoch Times :: Commentary: Will We Act in Time on Human Rights in China?:
"In Germany, we failed to intervene in time. In Rwanda, we failed to intervene in time. In Kosovo, we failed to intervene in time. Will we again watch ourselves fail in China?"

To stay out of the red, China needs to go green | csmonitor.com:
"Before it joins the world's biggest economies, however, China faces two huge internal challenges. And surprisingly, the biggest one may be neither economic nor political but environmental."

Day 27 Tibetan Hunger strike: Letter to Annan

The three Tibetan hungers strikers encamped outside the United Nations building in New York have entered day 27 of their protest with an open letter to the Secretary General of The United Nations Mr. Kofi Anann.

In their letter to Anann they state;

After 27 days, we are no longer hungry for food, only for freedom and justice.

With the antics of the United Nations Human Rights Commission as evidenced by China and other less than lily white countries ganging up to derail the United States' resolution condemning China's Human Rights record one wonders if the following words may be true not only for the Tibetans but for many oppressed people such as the Uygur of Xinjiang.

We worry about the signal the United Nations is sending to the younger generations of our people. They grow increasingly frustrated and ask themselves whether a nonviolent movement will bring them the justice they hunger for. Your Excellency, please show them that violence and terror are not the sole means of compelling the United Nations to act. Please show them that you value peaceful perseverance and nonviolent methods.

The United Nations is becoming increasingly irrelevant to a younger generation of people world-wide, not only of the oppressed. The Human Rights Commission has become pretty much a joke and an almost complete waste of time and resources.
See UNHRC Losing Credibility?

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An Open Letter to Kofi Annan from Three Tibetans on Hunger Strike - www.phayul.com

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

20 Million trees for Xinjiang Uygur A.R.

Xinjiang  Uygur China map" URUMQI, April 28 (Xinhuanet) -- The first phase of the forestationproject along the Tarim Desert Highway in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Auitonomous region has been completed, with a stretch of 180-kilometer long 'green wall' taking shape, according to a project official.

The forestation project, to build a total 446-km long and 74-m wide green wall, started in August 2003 to protect the desert highway from the intrusion of sand.

Eighty-nine percent of the desert highway, which was built in 1995, is located in a quicksand area.

Some 20 million trees will have been planted along the desert highway when the whole forestation project is completed in 2005.

In the second half of this year, more than 130 hectares of broomrape, a rare-breed plant used only in Chinese medicine, willbe planted.

The forestation project involves an investment of approximately 220 million yuan (about 26.5 million US dollars), with an appropriation of 100 million (some 12 million US dollars) from thecentral government. Enditem "

China's Workplace accidents down, but more deaths

Mining Disaster China "Coal-related deaths dropped 25 per cent during January-April period with 1,267 deaths reported in 854 registered cases. The total output of coal was up 19 per cent up over the same period the previous year. "

So states an article in China Daily reporting on Workplace Accidents in the first Quarter 2004. Good news of course but as the Daily points out there has been no "serious" accidents involving the death of more than 30 miners. This may be more good luck than good management though. (I placed inverted commas around serious not only because it is a quote from the article but that it implies that accidents with less than 30 deaths are not considered "Serious"! Hopefully an indication of poor journalism not state thinking)

Overall Wang Xianzheng, an official of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), confirmed Tuesday in his latest report that, so far this year, 287,884 industrial/workplace accidents of various types have occurred, with 38,189 people killed nationwide.

China's Vice premier Huang JuThe vice-premier Huang Ju is reported as hoping "authorities will do a better job in monitoring factors that could lead to potential accidents by developing contingent schemes, emergency rescue operations, and ensure professional quick-response rescue teams are well prepared".

As it concerns the Coal Mining industry I think it needs a little more than that. With output growing 19% per annum over same period last year and demand not likely to abate China should feel lucky that the figures for the first quarter are so favourable.The industry has inherent problems that can only be remedied by considerable focus on the industry by the central government in terms of policy making, injection of manpower and finances into the governments supervisory organs and implementation of realistic penalties including custodial sentences for negligence at all levels. It also requires shutdowns and production limits for a great many operations.

This is unlikely of course because the output of the coal mining industry is of preeminent importance to China's rapid growth. The Chinese government has demonstrated time and time again that it is willing to accept a trade off in lives for sustaining the economic rate of growth it is experiencing.

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Workplace accidents down, but more deaths

For another article on mining deaths see the following link:

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>>> AsiaNews.it <<< Each year 7000 die in coal mines

Day 26: Tibetan Hunger Strike

On Day 25 Strikers receive more mail and flowers. Pic Phayull.com "The UN Human Rights mechanisms have given an unprecedented attention to the cases of Panchen Lama, TulkuTenzin Delek, and other Tibetan political prisoners. "

So said Bertrand Ramcharan, Acting High Commissioner of Human Rights for the United Nations in seeming response to the continued hunger strike of three Tibetans in front of the UN building in New York.

"These issues have received the dedicated attention of the 1503 procedure and, in 2003 alone, 8,226 communications signed by more than 15,000 individuals" Ramcharen said commenting on UN's activity on the issues.

The UN Human Rights Commissioner then went on to urge the Tibetan Hunger strikers to end their 26 day strike.

Times of Tibet Tibetan Political Prisoners Receive UN Attention:

Chinese Vice PM meets Australian Minister

New Yorks Grand central Staion. Pic courtesy of Grand Central Shoping Center ManagaementI would hate to be the carpet cleaning sub-contractor for Beijing's government offices. Grand Central Station has never seen so much daily traffic.

If you read the Chinese Foreign Ministry website and see the number of foreign dignitaries that grace the carpets in Beijing on a daily and seemingly never ending basis you can understand why the country has so many problems: the leaders are too busy meeting and greeting.

There must be a queue out the front with hot dog concessionaires and coke sellers. Maybe some hawkers selling miniature Chinese flags and autographed photos of Mao.

I link to this article not because it is anything new, as I tried to illustrate above, but because the People's Daily called the Australians "Austrians."

A common problem for both Austria and us. You know, raise the wrong flag, play the wrong national anthem.

Totally understandable of course. There is some poor copy boy sitting in the People's Daily office trying to keep up with with an in tray of momentous proportions chronicalling the begging and groveling missions of every nation on earth oblivious obviously to China's ongoing human rights violations.

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Chinese Vice PM meets Australian, US guests

China shuts down 8600 internet cafes

China Internet "China has shut down 8 600 internet cafes in the past two months as part of an ongoing crackdown on the media, state press said on Tuesday."

It's a great headline but it may not be as sinister as it first seems and as the linked article implies with its tie in to recent blog censorship.

In October last year the CCP announced a new "educational campaign" aimed at reaffirming Communist Party's control over the press, including television, print and the electronic media. For example, in terms of television the CCP encouraged that TV stations produce more programmes aimed at promoting the party's theme of atheism and denouncing "cult" religions.

The crackdown on internet cafe's deals with illegal or underground internet cafes that are unlicensed and therefore "unsupervised" by the state. I do not think that we can view this as a censorship matter though it has that element of course.

It is aimed mainly at underage users who frequent such places for, among other things, the national obsession of internet gambling. They are the modern day "pool halls" of the east.

As well all establishments where the public can congregate need supervision as to such things as fire and safety.

I am sure that anyone plotting the overthrow of the Chinese communist regimes can find less sordid venues or alternative means to do their dastardly plotting!

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Mail and Guardian Online: China shuts down 8 600 internet cafés

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

New Airport For Xinjiang

Xinjiang  Uygur China mapXINYUAN, Xinjiang, April 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Construction of a new airport started Sunday in Xinyuan County of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The Narat Airport is the 11th airport in Xinjiang.

The airport is 330 kilometers west of Urumqi, the regional capital. It will cost 156 million yuan (18 million US dollars) to build.

Simayi Teliwardi, chairman of the regional government, said the airport will help promote social and economic growth and national unity in Xinjiang and accelerate the region's tourist development.

As Narat is near the Swan Lake and on Kunas Grassland, a state-listed tourist attraction, it received 133,000 visitors last year,gaining 27 million yuan in tourist income. The number of tourists to the region grew at an annual rate of 30 percent in the past five years."

Communist Party attempts to preserve remnants of atheism

Reigion in China"Even if Chinas Constitution defends atheism, atheists have all but disappeared from the Communist Party, said a Chinese bishop, who asked not to be named, when commenting on the new Communist Party of China (CPC) regulations."

According to the linked article appearing in Asia News "since the beginning of the year, new CPC government leaders have been briskly working on eliminating corruption and religious belonging from among their ranks."

Apparently two new directives, "Regulations of Internal Supervision of the Communist Party of China" and CPC Disciplinary Penalty Regulations" were circulated within the Party earlier this year in order to slow down "the bleeding of strict marxist orthodoxy"

Two articles in particular were cited in the article:

  • Article 49 of the disciplinary penalty regulations states that party members who organize, lead or act as central figures in any cult or "semi-feudal superstitious" organization will be expelled from the Party.
  • Article 56 party members who organize or utilize religious activities to oppose the Party, to spark upheaval or damage the unity of the country also face expulsion. Less serious participation can be penalized via warnings or "education".

As well the article reports that last October (2003) State Administration of Radio, Film and Television sent out a series of directives urging all state broadcasting companies to produce programs promoting atheism and to denounce "deviant beliefs."

Despite this the unnamed Bishop states that many CCP members are religious but keep quiet in pursuit of "promotion and the rice bowl"

I have heard anecdotal stories that Muslim Uygurs who work for the government in Xinjiang adhere reluctantly to the strict rules on public servants and religion but upon retirement increase their daily prayer sessions to "catch up" on all they missed in their public service careers.

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>>> AsiaNews.it <<< Communist Party attempts to preserve remnants of atheism

Sino-NZ :"no fundamental conflicts"

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry site China has recently held further talks with New Zealand which is doing everything other than offering 100 New Zealand princesses as tribute brides to the Chinese emperor to get into a Free Market arrangement with China.

On April 21, 2004, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui held consultation on security and disarmament with Michael Green, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand.

Zhang made positive remarks on China-New Zealand relations, indicating that the Chinese side stands ready to develop comprehensive relations with New Zealand in various fields. Green noted that China and New Zealand have no fundamental conflicts of interests and the two countries have great potentials and good prospects for further development of their relations.

The two sides exchanged views in depth on global and regional security situation, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), UN peace-keeping operations, national defense policies and military exchanges of the two countries.

I had to cringe when my New Zealand cousins stated that they had "no fundamental conflicts of interest " with the Chinese.

What? The New Zealanders do not see it as a conflict of interest China's treatment of the Uygurs, Tibetans and non sanctioned religious groups? Do they now fully support these policies? They must as they do not seem to conflict with New Zealands outlook any more.

Are China's and the New Zealanders interests mutual over a boy kidnapped from his country and spending his 15th birthday in virtual prison and secluded from the world (if the Panchen Lama is still alive even)?

Is the slaughter that is the Chinese coal mining industry not a conflict of interest?

Are you not, New Zealand, interested in Human Rights any more? Does not your "interest" in Human Rights conflict just a little with China's? Maybe a tad?

I support increased trade with China. It brings wealth to the Chinese people and helps to alleviate their poverty. It brings increased communications with the west and facilitates the sharing of democratic principals and ideals but, when shaking hands with the Chinese do not totally ignore the blood on them as if it did not exist.

Yes, trade by all means but can we not use trade to facilitate the speed of change in China? Can we not say "We want to do business but we do have some conflicts of interest" Can we not attempt to obtain even the smallest of concessions? A political prisoner here a minor freedom there?

Do we have to strip ourselves completely naked and throw ourselves so wantonly on the bed of the Chinese economy and say we have "no fundamental conflicts of interests?"

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Day 24 - Tibetan Hunger Strike

Ms Dolma Choephel one of the three hunger strikers reading emails of support from around the world. Pic courtesy Phayul.orgOn the 23rd day of their hunger strike in front of the UN building in New York the three Tibetans were approached by the Emergency Medical Crew of the New York Police Department concerned about their health. The three strikers responded that they were in a stable condition and refused medical treatment and hospitalization.

About 300 Tibetan supporters joined the hunger strikers for the day reciting prayers and showing support.

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TYC led Indefinite Hunger Strike Update: Day 24 - www.phayul.com

Monday, April 26, 2004

Two confirmed dead in coal mine flooding in Heilongjiang

Mining Disaster China HARBIN, April 26 (Xinhuanet 2004-04-26 11:17:03 ) -- Two workers were confirmed dead in a coal mine flooding that trapped eight miners in the northeastern China province of Heilongjiang early Sunday, local sources said Monday.

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China Publishes "White Paper" On Employment:

"BEIJING, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- The Information Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, published a White Paper on China's Employment Situation and Policies here Monday. "

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The Dalai Lama: An interview

 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibetan PeopleAn interesting CBC Canada interview with the Dalai Lama currently visiting Canada on a lecture tour which has also included the controversial meeting with the Canadian Prime minister Mr Paul Martin.

The Dalai Lama talks about why politicians around the world decide against meeting him and states that he is not at all unhappy with that situation much preferring to being seen as a spiritual leader rather than a political activist.

"I think 80 per cent of my energy and time is spent on spiritual field. I always introduce myself as a Buddhist monk. Nothing else. So when someone, they consider me as a Buddhist monk, I'm very happy. If someone considers me as a politician, that's not very correct."

One of the very peculiar aspects of China's rather strong reaction to the Dalai Lama being met by foreign politicians is that they claim that the Dalai Lama is a "separatist" whose goal it is to see an independent Tibet despite the fact that the Lama has stated on many occasions since 1992 that he no longer advocates separation from China. In this interview he reconfirms this position quite plainly.

"..My main concern for Tibet is preservation of Tibetan culture, preservation of Tibetan spirituality. I'm not much concerned about political field, whatever political status, OK, so long the preservation of Tibetan culture, preservation of Tibetan spirituality and environment fulfilled, then political status doesn't matter. Not much important. Personally, I have no interest in the political status of these things. I made it very clear, I think in '92, I made it very clear, when time comes for our return with certainty of freedom, then I will hand it over, all my religious authority to the local government."

It is as if the Chinese Government wish to continue painting the Dalai Lama as a threat to China's unity perhaps to justify their actions in Tibet. Like the Uygur and the non existent "Uygur Terrorism" it provides them with a degree of at least "self justification " for their actions and policies towards these peoples.

The Lama also speaks in the interview of when he considers the use of violence or force as a legitimate tool and uses historical analogies of the war against Nazism as an example of justifiable force. In general though he has a very simple rule advocating "gentle violence":

" If someone try to shoot on you, then there is no possibility to run away, then you have to hit back. Then possibly not on head, but leg or something like that. So that's not serious hit back, but more lenient way, more gentle way.

The article also has a small history of the position of Dalai Lama and links to some other CBC articles relating to Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

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CBC News in depth: The Dalai Lama

Another good article clearly enunciating the Dalai Lama's position on the future for China and Tibetcan be found at the following link

TheStar.com - Dalai Lama's Tibet hopes: It should stay part of China, exiled leader says He expresses optimism for peaceful change

Xinjiang's Tarim River Diversion

Xinjiang  Uygur China map"Chinese water conservancy experts are working to divert water through new channels to the lower reaches of the Tarim River to ensure the section has water permanently.

The 1,321 km-long Tarim River is the longest inland river in China's western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Running west to east along the northern edge of the Taklimakan Desert, China's largest desert, the river valley is home to 120,000 local residents and covers some 86,670 hectares of farmland."

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:: Xinhuanet - English :::

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Day 23: Tibetan Hunger Strike

Tibetan Hunger striker Ms Dolma Choephel pictured on day 23 of the Hunger strike. Pic courtesy Phayul.orgThe three Tibetan hunger strikers in New York, Ms. Dolma Choephel, Mr. Gyaltso and Mr. Sonam Wangdu continue their hunger strike into Day 23

The trio, members of the Tibetan Youth Congress, are set up in front of the U.N. building in New York and are calling upon the U.N. to pay greater attention to human rights violations by the Chinese against the Tibetan people.

Four Chinese Miners Dead

China Mining TragedyHow long Premier Wen Jiabao?

When will you put the "economic miracle" that is China second to the "miracle of life" that is your people?

You are a Geologist by trade surely you understand better than most in the Politburo what is happening in this Industry of Death.

The Coal industry that you rely on for 75% of China's energy can not keep up with the frenetic growth of the economy. You will measure economics of China not in GDP per head of population but Chinese mining deaths per tonne of coal.

GUANGZHOU, April 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Power cut stopped the running of the ventilation system of a coal mine in south China's Guangdong province Saturday, leaving 4 miners choked to death due to the mass of carbon dioxide.

According to the source with the municipal administration of coal mine safety supervision of Shaoguan city, the power supply system of Dongnan colliery, located in Renhua county, was hit by thunderstorm at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, leading to a power cut in the coal mine.

Though the breaking down of ventilation system by thunderstorm was the direct cause of the tragedy, the 4 miners were killed also because their lack of work safety awareness, said the source.

Meanwhile, there were problems with the safety guarantee measures of the colliery. There was neither supervision system over the coal mine nor standby power supply, the source said.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Uygur "Terrorist" Organisations merge

In a press release dated April 19 The East Turkestan National Congress and World Uyghur Youth Congress along with Uygur delegates from 13 different countries have advised that after a three day meeting held over the weekend of April 16-19 in Munich Germany that they will merge their respective organisations into a new single organisation to represent the "highest interests of the Uygur people of East Turkistan"

China recently called on the German Government not to allow the conference to proceed claiming that it was a gathering of "terrorist" and "separatist" organisations that posed not only a threat to China's unity but also to world peace.

The newly formed World Uyghur Congress first president was named as Erkin Alptekin son of famed Uygur Nationalist Yusaf Alptekin who fled Xinjiang with the takeover of the Chinese Communist party and conducted an international campaign for Uygur independence from then until his recent death.

Other officials elected were Mr. Muhammad Tohti, president of the Uyghur Canadian Association, elected as Vice-president, Mr. Alim Seytoff, president of the Uyghur American Association, elected as the Chairman for the Executive Committee of WUC. and Mr. Dolkun Isa elected as the Secretary General of WUC.

Mr Isa is ranked number 3 in China's "most wanted terrorist" list and has held the position of president of the Uygur Youth Congress which is listed by Beijing as a "Terrorist Organisation" along with the East Turkistan Information Center which was also represented at the conference.

The main objective of WUC according to the press release will be

"to promote the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan".

To achieve this goal the organisation plans to

" closely cooperate with concerned foreign governments such as the U.S., Britain, Germany, Russia, and international bodies such as the UN, European Union as well as human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch etc."

The new WUC claims that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the Chinese government has

hijacked the global war on international terrorism and has stepped up its Strike Hard campaigns aimed at terrorizing the entire Uyghur population. The Chinese government also branded almost all the Uyghur organizations in the world as terrorist and attempted to dismantle them with the help of the international community."

Platform of Non Violence and International Co-Operation

Despite several member associations of the newly formed WUC being branded as "Terrorist" organisations by the Chinese Communist Party the WUC has declared that it will attempt to achieve it's aims through a policy advocating non violence and adherence to international standards.

"The World Uyghur Congress declares a nonviolent and peaceful opposition movement against Chinese occupation of East Turkestan and an unconditional adherence to the international accepted human rights standard as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and internationalonal Covenant on Political, Economical, Social and Cultural Rights,adherence to the principals of democratic pluralism and rejectof totalitarianismnism, religious intolerance, and terrorism as an instrument of policy."

At the conclusion of conference a protest rally was staged outside of the Chinese Consulate in Munich to draw attention to the on going Human Rights abuses of the Chinese Government against the Uygur people in Xinjiang and the denouncing of legal Uygur diaspora organisations as "Terrorist groups"

China: Rise and Rise in Central Asia

"The increased presence of Chinese people and companies all over Central Asia is becoming a 'fait accompli'. "

So says the Times of Kyrgyzstan in an article that looks at China's 'peaceful rise'" as the most dominant nation not only in greater Asia but Central Asia as well.

My area of interest has always been the Uygur people of Xinjiang, the Turkic Muslims that inhabit China's north western "province" that borders four Central Asian nations.

The Uygur being Turkic and having more in common with the likes of Bishkek than Beijing in terms of history, language and culture has made watching developments in Central Asia of some importance to me.

Unlike some I have always thought that the dominant force in Central Asia would be either Russia, with it's history and knowledge in the area, India with it's desire to gain a foothold in this strategically important area, or, China for, well, all of the above. I believed that whilst America seems to have the upperhand now due to her involvement in Afghanistan this would gradually change and ultimately the US would be relegated to the reserve bench.

But, still I thought that both Russia and India would hold the top two places and China would run a distant third mainly because of cultural differences. I felt the central Asians would be far more comfortable dealing with Russia, India and Europe than China. Lately however I have had call to revise my earlier assessments and now place China squarely at the top of the pecking order.

There are two reasons for this change of heart. Firstly and foremost is China's great need for energy resources. As China continues to expand at it's current astronomical rate energy will be it's prime motivator in international affairs and trade. Where the energy is so will be China. The Central Asian countries are rich in energy resources that still remain under utilised and I believe the Chinese will wave whatever size carrot is needed to gain greater access to these resource and guarantee it's long term supply.

Secondly, the Chinese have an advantage over the other contenders, if they choose to make use of it, in as much as the Uygur people sharing many similarities with the Central Asians could be of great assistance in making further inroads into these countries. Already as a result of Russian and Soviet involvement in Xinjiang over the course of history and with refugees escaping Chinese oppression since 1949 there are several hundred thousand Uygurs already resident in Central Asian countries, many in business.

The Uygurs in Central Asia however are not universally loved despite their "kinship" with the Turkic peoples there. Of recent years the Central Asian countries have, in their drive to create close economic relations with China, taken very much to heart the Chinese claim of the existence "Uygur Terrorism" throughout Xinjiang and Central Asia. Many Uygur have been forcibly sent back to China, many to jail and some even to execution. People of Uygurs ancestry are often referred to as "Uygur terrorists' despite in some instances the families have been in their new homelands for over 100 years. As well the success of the Uygurs in business has led to some hostility and resentment toward them.

Appropriate treatment of the Uygur by the Chinese however could do much to "rehabilitate" the Uygur in the eyes of China's Central Asian neighbours and prove in the long term to be of invaluable use in China achieving ascendancy in the region.

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News / The Times of Central Asia:

Friday, April 23, 2004

An article to read before buying chopsticks

Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing’s Tuanhe Labor Camp stuff chopsticks into paper wrappers labeled “Sanitized for Your Safety.” They haven’t washed their hands for days.

There is no water.

Dozens of prisoners are crammed together in a tiny room where they sleep, eat, go to the bathroom and pack chopsticks. Some of the chopsticks fall on the floor and are stepped on. Others fall into the toilet basin.

Not a single stick can be thrown away, so they are picked up and stuffed in wrappers just the same, ready to be sold to restaurants in China and abroad.

Practitioners squat on the floor for 18 hours a day stuffing up to 10,000 pairs of chopsticks each.

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FalunInfo .Net - Products Worldwide Made by Falun Gong Slave Labor

Hunger Strike in Kathmandu Joins NY

Hunger Strike in Kathmandu - www.phayul.com:

Tibetans on day long hunger strike in Kathmandu in support of NY broyers. Pic courtesy Phayul

"As the days of indefinite hunger striker's reaches 22 in New York, and with the people around the globe showing their support, Tibetan community in Kathmandu also pitched in their solidarity today in a day long hunger strike and prayer session "

Why Terrorism by passes Xinjiang

Xinjiang  Uygur China mapI have had the pleasure of attending a lecture earlier this year by Professor Colin Mackerras of Griffith University, Australia who is a China expert with a special understanding and interest in Xinjiang and the Uygur people.

Professor Mackerras along with Prof Dru Gladney of the University of Hawaii can always be relied upon to bring reason to the debate on the situation of the Uygur in Xinjiang especially as it concerns what China calls "Uygur Terrorism"

Professor Mackerras' latest offering printed in Asia Times Online is an insightful look through his eyes at the current situation in Xinjiang gleaned from a recent "field trip", one of many he has made to Xinjiang over the years.

Whilst I do not totally agree with everything the professor says I find that he brings to his work a "self honesty" that is not often found among "Xinjiang experts" who usually appear to "play to an audience". Which "audience" seems to depend on which side of the " Terrorist" fence they perceive their target market to sit.

My only reservations with professor Makerras’ summation of the situation in Xinjiang relate to my old hobby horses, Religious extremism and “"Uygur terrorism"”. Regular readers of the China Letter will know that I, without one iota of hesitation, believe that “"Uygur terrorism"” is non existent and that "religious fundamentalism" with all it's negative connotations is no more or no less common among the Uygur than say Christians in America or elsewhere.

Professor Mackerras states in his article that he believes that events like suicide bombings, as allegedly occurred in Uzbekistan recently, and other similar violence in Xinjiang are "possible but unlikely". In that I am in full agreeance. What I disagree with is his reasons for them being "unlikely"

Professor Macakerras claims in the article that this type of occurrence is unlikely because the Chinese have now such a firm hold on the region through their combined policies of "carrot and stick" that the Uygur can not act. I dispute that this is the reason as I feel that it is "unlikely" due to my belief that violence generally is just not in the makeup of the Uygur people. Quite simply they are not predisposed culturally or from a religious viewpoint to this type of activity.

Since 1949 and the Communist takeover they have had many opportunities when Han Chinese control has not been as tight as it is today to engage in such activities. During the Great Leap Forward of the 50's and the Cultural Revolution extreme hardship and religious persecution was visited upon the Uygur but they did not respond violently, at least not in a ways we would call "terrorist activity" or even armed insurgency.

The professor mentions the Barren incident of 1990, the Yining incident and Urumqi bus bombings of 1997 and states that "There is no doubt that on the whole the disturbances of the 1990s were indeed inspired by separatists, many of them deriving inspiration from Islamic militants.

I would agree with him that these incidences had a separatist dimension and may have drawn impetus from separatist notions once underway but disagree that religion per se was a driver.

I think we need to take a step back in thinking of the Uygur in Xinjiang and revisit the core situation.

The Uygur justifiably are the indigenous people of Xinjiang, despite protestations to the contrary by the Chinese, I think most people agree that this is a given. They are also a deeply religious people in the vein of many religious people worldwide, Christians or whoever, but are not, ergo, “religious militants” or "fundamentalists" in the negative way this term connotes in modern idiom.

Since the Communist takeover they have endured severe attacks on their culture , Professor Mackerras rightly points out more so then even the Tibetans who are a " Cause celebre" because of their treatment at the hands of the Chinese. Their position in their "own country" has been significantly diminished beyond most peoples comprehension and their religion has been overtly persecuted. I do not think anyone could disagree on those points. (other than the Chinese of course)

From the breakup of the Soviet Union and through the 1990’s Han oppression and persecution of the Uygur increased tenfold as a result of the Chinese fear that the Uygur could take the cue from their Central Asian “brothers” and attempt to separate from China. Simple demonstrations of protest or dissent which is a fundamental right in "free" countries therfore were brutally suppressed by the Han. The Yining demonstration of 1997 alluded to by Professor Mackerras and which flared with horrendous results for the Uygur, if taking place in a “free country” would have most likely have come to a reasonable and peaceful conclusion.

The Uygur have a legitimate right given all that has occurred to them to dissent from Han policy and even Han presence in Xinjiang. The right to dissent and the right to resist oppression and persecution is recognised universally as a basic human right. The right to bear arms is also generally recognised as a valid and legal response in situations where extreme coercion exists.

Oppressed peoples, unlike nation states, do not have armies at their disposal to defend themselves from attack. They historically do so through riot, armed rebellion, guerilla warfare and the like. Blowing up infrastructure for example in such situations is not (or prior to "9/11 at least) considered terrorism.

I have to continually hark back to and draw conclusions from the American's "War of Independence" when thinking of the Uygur and Xinjiang. How was that war conducted initially? Through riot, armed rebellion and guerilla warfare. Was that a justifiable response to British "oppression’? Does what the British did to the Americans compare to the situation of the Uygur and Han today? Are the Uygur any less justified, then the Americans of the 18th century, given their treatment at the hands of the Chinese government to resist? I will leave you to compare both scenarios.

The Urumqi bombings of 1987 appear to be the only acts carried out by Uygurs that were pre-meditated and designed to cause civilian casualties. I personally can not condone the hurt to innocent civilians but acknowledge that this came in the aftermath and as a direct response to the Yining riots that saw thousands of Uygurs illegally detained, martial law imposed in Uygur cities, severe crackdowns on the rights of association, religion and communication and upwards to 124 executions of Uygurs, many hurried and many of young people. In other words in an incredibly chaotic and fluid atmosphere. If that situation, on top of the general repression that the Uygur have lived under since 1949, is not considered justifiable cause to provoke a "valid and legaL" response to severe coercion what is?

Yes there were elements of separatism and religion in all these events but they were not inspired by them. I categorically refute that religion is a prime motivator as most commentators, even Professor Mackerras, suggest. The Uygur were/are oppressed, discriminated against and persecuted on all planes; religion, economics, culture and race. Each and every one have played a part in the Uygur's actions and reactions, none more none less.

I wonder sometimes if it is because the Uygur are Muslim that resisting religious persecution is considered evil or "terrorist" and that the religius dimension is so often invoked in analysing the Uygur's situation. Are the Christians in China resisting Chinese persecution evil? I think not. Have the Uygur not the fundamental right to peacefully follow their religion or resist it’s persecution just because of the fact that they just happen to share that religion with some inherently evil people like Bin Laden?

All in all though Professor Mackerras’ observations are pretty valid and as I said inject a voice of level headedness and reason in the “Uygur Question” debate and are well worth reading and following.

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Cheers for the U.N ( true this time!)

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion"The U.N.'s top human rights body moved on Wednesday to increase scrutiny of how the so-called 'war on terror' is being waged worldwide by appointing a special investigator to monitor governments' actions."

Well the United States proposed resolution on China's Human Rights record has been defeated ( as everyone knew it would) but surprisingly the U.N. has agreed to appoint a "special investigator" to scrutinize how the "War on Terror" is being used by unscrupulous governments to mask their own human rights violations. I say surprisingly as this move was also expected to meet the same opposition from the same people that the U.S initiative met.

Two countries that come to mind in my neck of the woods that have used the "War" to mask their treatment of people and groups is China obviously with their treatment of the Uygur people of Xinjiang" and the dictator Karimov in Uzbekistan with his drive against all things Muslim and any political opponents.

Human Rights Watch LogoThe respected Human Rights organisation Human Rights Watch in an article applauding the move cites some examples of what is entailed

Abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism include prolonged, incommunicado detention without judicial review; torture and other physical and psychological mistreatment of detainees; the transfer, return, extradition, expulsion and physical mistreatment of persons at risk of being subjected to torture; and the adoption of security measures that discriminate and curtail freedom of expression and association.

I would hasten to add to that list executions. In the case of the Uygur many have received the bullet in the back of the head as a result of claimed "terrorist activities". For example as a direct consequence of a peaceful demonstration in the Uygur city of Gulja (Yining) in 1997 that turned ugly as a result of alleged Chinese over-reaction it is claimed approximately 124 Uygurs were executed the last one only in October of last year.

I have not been alone in arguing that the "War on Terrorism", in itself a just and right cause, has been to the detriment of countless millions of innocent people and that in our "War" we have run the risk of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has now said in its Geneva sittings that any "response to terrorism" must "conform to international treaties on human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law" and will appoint an investigator to head up monitoring of the consequences of "counter terrorism" measures.

Cheers to the U.N and I mean that sincerely as against my cheers to the FBI from an earlier post today.

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Reuters AlertNet - UN investigator will probe rights, war on terror:

Falun Gong Claim 25 Deaths in March

"The deaths of 25 more Falun Gong practitioners in China as a result of state-run persecution were verified in March, according to reliable sources. Among them are details of recent deaths, as well as information about deaths that had been covered up for over four years."

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Warning this site has explicit images.

FalunInfo.Net - Deaths of 25 Falun Gong Practitioners Verified in March:

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Correct Your Mistakes Like A Good Little Country!

 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibnetan People "China hopes the Canadian government will reconsider the issue and correct its mistake. "

Thus Spake Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on the proposed meeting between the Dalai Lama and Canada's prime minister Mr Martin.

The spokesman also recommends to Canada that the Canadian Government should not provide a "platform" for this "political activist engaging in splitting China"

Well I would think that with all the ruckus the Chinese have been making over the issue that they have provided His Holiness with more than enough "platform"'

Why also is it that despite the Dalai Lama categorically and publicly stating on many occasions that he does not support Tibet's separation from China do they still say he does?

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China hopes Canada offers no platform for Dalai Lama

Three cheers for the FBI

FBI Director Muelelr addressing news conferance in Beijing In my article The Guantanamo Numbers: China's Duplicity Unmasked I argued that if Xinjiang's Muslim Uygurs had such a close connection with the Taliban and al Qaeda as China has claimed ad nauseum since "9/11" surely many must have been captured by the Americans in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan shares a border with Xinjiang so it's only a stones throw away from a supposed 9.25 million "restive Uygurs" and "Uygur Terrorist" organisations. If I were a terrorist leader in Xinjiang or elsewhere surely I would have thought Afghanistan would have been the place to be for all my hundreds of followers ready to die for the cause! Nice and handy, Muslim brotherhood sort of thing, "shared ideology" with al Qaeda etc etc etc. Think of nowhere better to be could you?

But when the Guantanamo numbers were released how many of the 650 held by the Americans were Uygurs?

Well there were 30 Jordanians and Jordon is supposed to be an ally of America. There were 9 British citizens and they were a long along way from home. There were even two Australians and two Canadians, not the sort of countries one would associate with Islamic fundamentalism and hatred for the west. And, don't forget all the other Arabs. So how many Uygurs then do you reckon? Remember before answering: nice and close to Xinjiang, "restive people" so says the worlds press, "Islamic extremists and terrorists" so say the Chinese. So how many? 100, 50?

12! That's right, only 12 less than 2%.

So much for China's propaganda about scores of well organised "Uygur terrorist" groups in league with al Qaeda and training with the Taliban.

Most of the world's commentators have always treated Chinese claims along these lines with a great degree of skepticism. Why? Because there has not been one skerrick of proof validated by any one else other then China. The U.S State department when they worked with China in 2002 to have a little known Uygur group the East Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIM) listed as an international terror organisation could list no proof other than to say they based their support on information provided by the Chinese and some Russian "news articles". They even categorically admitted that this ETIM had never been involved in any violence outside of China.

Now we have a Director of the American FBI visiting China currently coming out and saying that "some people in China share the same ideology as al Qaeda". When pressed as to whether he meant the Uygur he reiterated his "some people' statement:

"There certainly are individuals in China who could be described as having that same mindset as well as the desire to utilize terrorist acts to further their agenda, whether you would call it al Qaeda or a group loosely affiliated with al Qaeda and al Qaeda's leadership."

Whilst not saying outright yes his lack of a no pretty well inferred that it was the Uygur whom he was alluding to.

Well Mr Mueller there are probably "some people" in The United States who share a "common ideology" with al Qaeda. Given the extensive list of nationalities captured in Afghanistan like the British, Canadians and Australians to name just a few a few I would say there are "some people" in many parts of the world that "share common ideologies" with al Qaeda. That does not mean that their peoples and countries are Terrorists, because that through your "politic" statement is what you have inferred here about the Uygur.

You have, by your lack of courage in answering the question more fully, once again branded the Uygur as terrorist and no doubt in doing so put a huge smile on the collective face of the Chinese government. A Director of the FBI no less allowing the less informed in the world to believe that the "world renowned" FBI thinks that there exists an Uygur terrorist threat.

I can hear the collective sigh of 9.25 million Uygurs in China and a million around the world right now. "Not again?" they will be asking "why are we being branded so? What have we ever done to the world to deserve this?"

Three cheers for the FBI and enjoy your Peking Duck Mr Mueller. (Great Wall looks good this time of year!)

Yahoo! News - FBI's Mueller: China Faces Al Qaeda Threat, Activities

Suicide Number One Youth Killer in China

China's Health Care System"Suicide is the number one killer of people aged 15-34 in China, particularly young women in rural areas."

According to the linked article in VOA News suicide is the number one killer of people in China between the age of 15 and 34. Whilst in relative terms the youth suicide rate in China is below most western countries the absolute values given China's size are immense.

Some 250,000 people commit suicide on China each year and there are over two million attempts. That's the population of say a city the size of Sydney attempting to take their own lives each year.

What further stands out from this article is that the rate of suicides among woman is higher than for males which goes against world trends.

Female suicide is also more prevalent among the poor rural based women. It would appear also that the rate of "successful" female suicides compared to other countries is as a result of the type of methods used and there availabilty such as poisoning by the likes of pesticides used commonaly in rural applications.

Many suicides reportedly are as a result of failing to achieve such as in school or work a problem associated with developing countries.

As in most areas of health service in China mental health and suicide counseling services are very light on the ground particularly in rural areas.

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Tibetan Hunger Striker's Condition Deteriorating

Crowds increasing in New York for Tibetan Indefinite Hunger strikers. Img courtesy Phayul "The three hunger strikers are on their eighteenth day with only couple of glasses of water to sustain their body. Their health condition deteriorating day by day, their determination never deterred"

The three Tibetan Hunger strikers camped in front of the United Nations building in New York enter day 18 of their indefinite hunger strike calling upon the United Nations to do more for Tibet.

What started out as a fairly low key protest against what the hunger strikers claim is United Nations indifference to the plight of Tibet and the Tibetans has grown considerably as the days go by.

Apart from the attention of the press and Tibetans bussing in from all over the United States the strikers were visited by 120 children from a Tibetan Sunday School.

In the beautiful innocence of childhood one Tibetan child wrote in a letter to the three strikers "If you die I wish you three a nice Big Thank You"

Dalai Lama receiving an honarary doctorate in Canada. Pic cortesy PhatulIn other Tibetan news the Dalai Lama was one of three Nobel Peace Laureates given honoraryy doctorates on Monday at the University of British Columbia.

The Dalai Lama, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and Iranian human rights activist and feminist Shirin Ebadi all received the honours.

The Dalai Lama is visiting Canada at the moment conducting a series of stadium lectures. Two sold out events held already have attracted 26,000 people.

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NW China region to open tourism for overseas investors

Xinjiang  Uygur China map"NW China region to open tourism for overseas investors
: "Overseas investors will enjoy favorable policies for putting money into developing tourism resources and operating tourism projects in Xinjiang", said the regulation, an amendment of the regulation enacted in 1998. "

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Aging Population a Threat to China's Economy

China's Aging Population"China faces an unprecedented surge in its elderly population that threatens to undermine its economic development and put an unsustainable burden on public budgets and extended families, according to 'The Graying of the Middle Kingdom,' a new CSIS report. "

The report finds that to meet this growing challenge of an aging population, China must implement an old-age safety net and establish a genuinely funded pension system.

The Graying of the Middle Kingdom report in PDF is available here

The report finds that "the magnitude of China's coming age wave is staggering." "By 2040 there will be 397 million Chinese elders, which is more than the total current population of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States combined. How China navigates its aging challenge will go a long way toward determining whether it achieves its aspiration of becoming a prosperous and stable developed economy."

The "One Child Policy" is having an enormous effect on age distribution in China's demographics. Already experts have given warning about the possible effects on society of a situation developing where there will be an excess of 20 million males of marriageable age by 2050.

As well in an article on a related subject warnings are out about the possible problems associated with the rapid aging of the population as it concerns social security and pensions.

In an article entitled China must rethink pensions or face crisis: it states that "Glaring shortcomings in China's basic pension system could leave tens of millions of people destitute in old age and provoke a crisis unless the government re-thinks its reforms, a U.S. think tank said on Monday."

All of this is exacerbated by the fact that the "one child" policy will have denied a generation of parents, especially the poor and those from rural areas, a traditional source of income support, that of a large family.

Some very interesting problems on the horizon for China

Muzi.com | News : China's Aging Surge Threatens Economic Prospects:

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News Digest: April 20 AEST

China Letter News Digest
A "China Letter" Digest of News items that are too noteworthy to go unnoticed but too numerous to comment on every one.

Tibet News

The Tibetan hunger striker in New York: Day 16: "As the three members of Tibetan Youth Congress continue to sit in an indefinite hunger strike in front of the UN building in New York since 2 April 2004, Tibetans and its supporters from around the world showered their solidarity and support by visiting the spot and organising different activities in their respective areas."

National Post: "VANCOUVER (CP) - Awed silence gave way to laughter Sunday as the Dalai Lama spoke urged his audience of 13,000 to show compassion to others. "

Workers Rights

Made in China 40,000 maimed workers ayear: "In a grim replay of the industrial revolution in the United States and other countries, industrial machinery will crush or sever the arms, hands and fingers of some 40,000 Chinese workers this year, according to government-controlled news media. Some experts privately say the true number is higher."

Law and Order

China's Moral Crisis: "As we look at China, therefore, it's important to remember the magnitude of social and economic changes. This is not a justification of poor morals, but humanity is especially put to the test amid radical changes, such as those China is now experiencing. "


Importance of preventing, combating corruption stressed: "Senior Chinese official Wu Guanzheng has emphasized the importance of tightening the efforts to prevent and fight against corruption from its source "

Tiananmen Square Anniversary

China prepares for Tiananmen anniversary. 20/04/2004. ABC News Online: "China has invoked special security measures around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, two months out from the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre."

Human Rights

10 Million protesters in 2003 Radio Free Asia: "More than 10 million people took to China's streets during the course of 2003 as part of a mounting wave of popular protests which is sweeping the country, RFA's Mandarin service reports. "

Mining Industry

Yahoo! News - China's roaring demand for coal exacts steep price in human livesMore than 7,000 mining deaths a year is the steep price China is forced to pay for being the world's top producer and consumer of coal.

The Yuan stops here!

Like all authoritarian regimes and excessively bureauracratic governments throughout history officials taking personal responsibility for outcomes has not been high on the agenda. From the "I was just following orders" type of thing through to blaming subordinates for all that is wrong has typified such regimes.

In China there have not been too many people willing in the past to stand up and say that the "Yuan stops here"

It is this lack of personal responsibility this lack of "ownership" of outcomes that is at the core of many of China's ills.

The coal mining industry for example that kills upwards of 10,000 people per year through lax mine safety, poor training etc is a prime example of the lack of personal responsibility.

The mine owners do not take the responsibility to ensure safe working conditions, government officials supposedly charged with responsibility of overseeing safety do not take personal responsibility. Graft and corruption is rife in the industry because it is always someone else's responsibility to fix. As a result many people die and countless thousands are hurt or are impacted upon by death and injury.

Countless examples exist where many lives have been lost and mine owners and officials have been able to walk away with nary a slap on the wrist and return back to their old jobs and old ways.

Things may be changing however according to the linked article from the People's Daily. Some corporate and government high fliers have been forced by public opinion of late to fall on their swords and it would appear the general populace are appreciative and want more.

Transparency and accountability should become two by-words for attention by China's leadership and I am sure that the Chinese government can give it some great catchy name like the "Two Principles Theory" or whatever.

Changes along these lines are evident and it is hoped that they can be accelerated.

Will 'take the blame and resign' become a usual practice?

Your Chance to be "Miss Tibet"

Prince Charles meets Miss Tibet"DHARAMSALA: Undaunted by a poor response last year and opposition from the elders, organisers are going ahead with the third Miss Tibet beauty contest being held in this Himachal Pradesh town in October."

It would seem beauty contests have a little way to go in Tibetan Culture. Newindpress reports that despite a small turn out last year (only one contestant turned up) that the 2004 Miss Tibet beauty pageant will go ahead undeterred by last years less than inspiring debut.

The press report did not say whether last years winner can re-enter this year but it could be interesting.

Apparently the older generation of Tibetans, see westernisation as a threat to their traditional Buddhist faith.

For anyone intersted in changing nationalities and having a fair crack at winning visit Miss Tibet Applications"

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Miss Tibet contest in October - Newindpress.com: