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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.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Welcome Madam Ambassador

China Australian TradePresenting credentials to the Australian government recently was the newly appointed Ambassador from China Ms Fu Ying a 51 year old career diplomat originally from Inner Mongolia and coming via various postings in Romania,Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines.

In a Sydney Morning Herald article Fu is quoted as preaching the now de rigueur Chinese diplomatic line of "Peaceful rise"

"There is a fear about the future orientation of Chinese foreign policy. It's not surprising, because in world history many big powers rose and caused earthquakes. But I think China is going to be different, because the world has changed. It's not like in the past when powers had to expand territorially in order to get markets ..."

Then the veiled, if not threat then at least subtle warning:

"I think China is reliable, but will Australia convince the Chinese Government that it is reliable?" asks Fu. "When you (Australia)had this kind of relationship with Japan you were from the same side of the fence. No ideological barriers whatsoever. With China it is different. Do you understand China that well? And does China understand Australia that well?"

"Ideological barriers"? Is this a euphemism for differing perceptions of Human Rights? Is she saying "hey here is the carrot but get out of line here also is the stick"? The carrot being your place at the "trough", the stick being the reverse.

What other "ideological barriers' can she be alluding too? Surely not democracy versus communism? I think the world has gotten over that particular barrier as it concerns China.

No. What she is saying is do not meddle in our internal affairs concerning human rights,the Uygurs, Tibet Taiwan, Falun Gong, et al and we will get a long just fine and you will benefit from your association as a result of your acquiescence.

It is a cockiness that I have mentioned before in China Letter posts. A growing arrogance deriving from China's maturing economic importance in the global economy.

Premier Wen Jiabao exhibited the same "cockiness" in speeches and news conferences on his recent trip to Europe including his talks with the European Union.

The Sydney Morning Herald writer, Paul Sheehan, seems to think that a new ambassador provides an opportunity for Australia to:
"do with less America and more China in its international relations, if the right details can be negotiated.

In his words he sees a real "prize" in substantially abandoning our historical relations with the United States

"If Fu accurately represents the will of Beijing, then there is a real prize to be gained here, a genuine strategic alliance with the country reshaping world trade and thus world diplomacy. How ironic, and satisfying, it would be if Australia, having always aligned itself with great white powers as insurance against the Asian peril, can, and should, end up with powerful alliances with both Japan and the giant we have feared for a hundred years."
How ironic and how satisfying what? That we end up in an "alliance" with a country with the despicable human rights record of China whilst forsaking our alliances with our traditional allies. Alliances that have been tested in fire. Allies that despite momentarily lapses have proven over many years to be paragons of freedom liberty and democracy as compared to China.

What would motivate us to do this Mr Sheehan? Twelve pieces of silver?

Do not be too quick Mr Sheehan to jump naked into the rose petal covered bed that appears so inviting. Part of what Ambassador Fu said that you find so alluring was "It's not like in the past when powers had to expand territorially in order to get markets" when asking us to trust China's peaceful rise and she is correct, things in that respect have changed with globalisation. But what has not been proven to have changed is what countries do when the are starved of resources. Getting "markets" is but one part of the economic process, another is production and production requires resources and China is quickly running out of these.

It is a little too early talking as Mr Sheehan has, perhaps another 50 years in which time China can prove her bona fides a little more than she has done to date especially as it concerns human rights.

To Madam Ambassador welcome and I hope your stay here is a hell of a lot of hard work because if it is not then it will have meant that we, as a nation, have abandoned all our princoples and have sold out for "12 pieces of silver".

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China better seen as an ally, not as a threat - Paul Sheehan - www.smh.com.au

China-US Comparative: A Difference In Values

China Mining TragedyIn 2003 the United States Of America mined 1.07 million tons of coal. In 2003 China mined 1.7 million tons of coal.

In 2003 53 people died in coal mine accidents in the United States. In 2003 between 7,200 and 10,000 died in coal mine accidents in China.

A quote from U.S Coal mine safety expert H.L. Boling at a recent Joint Mine Safety and Health Conference in Salt Lake City Utah, United States:

"Every accident is preventable." And telling someone to hurry at their job "is like going out and telling a person to have an accident."

A sign at entrance to the mine shaft at Ximing Mine, a major state-owned mine on the outskirts of Shanxi's capital Taiyuan

"Come up short today, must make it up tomorrow,"

Differing attitudes differing safety results.

Of course direct general comparisons in coal mining safety are not accurate. Different mining operations have different risks, open cut mining for example is less dangerous than underground mining but despite this nothing can ameliorate China's record in the comparative results of these two major mining countries.

America has not always been so successful in it's mine safety but we have to go back to 1907 when last the United States equaled China's daily official coal mine death rate of 20 a day.

But China now, as distinct to the U.S. of 1907, has the benefit of almost 100 years of technology improvements to call upon, if it wished. Almost one hundred years of the combined experience of the coal mining industry from all around the world to look to for answers to her atrocious record, if she wished.

No, there can be no excuses, no extenuating circumstances for this tragic loss of life ,only the pitch black fact that in China human life runs a very poor second to the economy.

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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Definition of terrorist: One who exerts a "Bad influence"

According to a new definition of terrorism coined recently by Chinese Deputy Director of Public Security Ma Mingyue terrorism, Uygur terrorism in particular, is where terrorists exert a "bad influence" on people.

According to Wajahat Ali of the Daily Times of Pakistan on Friday Ma Mingyue, when addressing a group of Pakistani journalists on a visit to Urumqi , capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, told them that members of the internationally listed Uygur "terrorist" group ETIM had holed up in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Rawalpindi. When pressed about how these dangerous terrorists from China's most wanted group operated in or from Pakistan Mr Mingyue is reported to have said that they were

"simply being a 'bad influence' on people visiting Pakistan from Xinjiang".

Simply being a "bad influence"

If it was not so damn serious it would be laughable.

China has claimed since "9/11" that the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was an extremely dangerous terrorist and Islamic fundamentalist organisation that had "proven" links with both al Qaeda and the Taliban. That it was an extensive network of members resolute in their aim of separating Xinjiang from China and setting up an independent Uygur Islamic state.

So insistent was China as to the threat this group posed to Chinese and world security it petitioned the United Nations to proscribe this then little known group as an "International terrorist Organisation". By way of payback or whatever for China's support of it's "War on Terror" the United States backed China's push and ETIM was listed early 2002.

As I said, at that time nothing was known of this "dangerous international group". Uygur diaspora organisations stated that they had little or no knowledge of it or it's supposed leader Hassan Mahsun. The United States State Department when announcing the listing could offer no proof of their misdeeds other than stating the Chinese had told them the details, no collaboration validation, nothing. A State Department spokesman even admitted that the group is not known to have operated outside of China or targeted Americans or any foreign national. But of course they could do so that is why they were described as an international group.

In December 2003 the Chinese government trotted out it's "Most Wanted List" of Uygur terrorists and poor Hassan Mahsun topped the list as the equivalent of Bin Ladin in the Chinese terrorism stakes.

The problem was however that Hassan had been dead a full two months at the time, killed by soldiers in a raid on some flea bitten village in Pakistan thought to be a terrorist camp. On top of that China had helped in the identification of his remains. So either he was not really that important to be remembered or China had intended to "keep him alive" to perpetuate the myth, until of course some Pakistani let the cat out of the bag so to speak.

Now a leading Chinese official comes out and says this. Caught,as it would appear, ill prepared with "facts".

It really is about time that the world disabuses itself of the belief in "Uygur Terrorism" propagated by the Chinese to lend validation to their oppressive regime over the Uygurs of Xinjiang.

Anyway on a lighter note (for you readers at least)I am off to hand myself in to the local cop shop because well, in honesty, I have been known to have been a bad influence on a lot of people, especially on a Friday night after work. So See Ya!

Daily Times - Site Edition

China a friend in need? Pakistan China and the Uygur

A rather interesting article on the "Uygur question", in as much as it looks at it from the angle of Pakistan's role in the repression of the Uygur people of Xinjiang, China, is Dr Bhaskar Dasgputa's " China A Friend In Need?". It leads in with a concise history of the Uygurs before getting into full stride analysing Pakistan's sycophantic relationship with China and the ramifications for the Uygur.

Dr Dasgupta, currently working on a doctorate at Kings College in International Relations and Terrorism, claims, and rightly so, that as China has attempted to do with the Turkic states of central Asia (Kazakhstan Uzbekistan et al), it has placed pressure on Pakistan to support it in it's oppression of the Uygurs. He states that Pakistan's response to the diplomatic pressure exerted was typical:

"As usual, Pakistan showed its spine and fine martial spirit, just like it showed to the USA, and caved in. The police and intelligence agencies moved in, Uighurs in Pakistan were targeted, killed, deported, imprisoned or what have you. Many were directly sent back to China (guess what happened to them) like Ismail Kadir for example. Others were reported to have been handed over to the Americans who then sent them over to that tropical Caribbean paradise of Guantanamo Bay."

As was pointed out in a previous post "An Uygur's Letter to America" many of the Uygurs hunted out of Pakistan were political refugees from China's repression of the Uygurs in Xinjiang. Without passports they had nowhere to go other than to Afghanistan and into the "welcoming arms" of the Taliban. That of course is not to say that there were no Uygurs voluntarily in Afghanistan working actively for separation from China. Like the many nationalities represented in Afghanistan there are some Uygurs who prefer violence as a means to an end but from everything I can gather their numbers were and are few.

The writer ends this very different styled piece by referring to Pakistan's double standards over the Uygurs as a result of it's economic reliance on China"

Self determination and fighting for freedom principles are great, but Xinjiang becomes an inconvenient issue. The cause of Palestine is heard all over the world, but Xinjiang is so inconvenient that the mere mention of it causes embarrassment and shuffling of the feet. After all Alfred Adler said : "It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.

The author's history is a tad off though.

"In 1945, the first serious threat to Chinese sovereignty was due to the announcement of the Eastern Turkistan Republic, claiming sovereignty over Xinjiang with a firm Islamic flavour."

There had been far more serious threats to Chinese sovereignty in the 19th century. Yakub Beg and his Kashgaria was far more worrisome for the Chinese. In 1945 sovereignty over the majority of Xinjiang was vested in the Nationalists and some "warlords" who were on their last legs anyway. And, yes, whilst the republic, which held sway for a short time over only 25% of Xinjiang (centered in the Illi region north west of Urumqi), was based on Islamic principles it was forthright in stating that all religions were to be allowed to be freely practicsed. This is no different than say American or English democracy being based on Christian principles.

"In 1949, most of the leaders of the republic died mysteriously. Funnily enough, the Chinese communist government then took over Xinjiang."

Here he refers to a number of Uygur leaders from the Eastern Turkistan Republic being killed in a plane crash whilst on a flight to Beijing to discuss post takeover issues. Whilst it was "mysterious", highly coincidental and ultimately fortuitous for the Han, the republic had already decided to accept Chinese sovereignty in exchange for Xinjiang becoming an autonomous state within Communist China. As for the rest of Xinjiang (the other 75%), that was already a "fait accompli" with the Nationalists in tatters.

Much emphasis is placed by people on the Eastern Turkistan Republic, none less than the Uygurs, and whilst it controlled an army that would have caused the Communists some not unreasonable trouble in the short term, in the long term the writing was on the wall. Thus Xinjiang "capitulated" without a shot being fired.

All in all though an intersting article and worth the read.

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China a friend in need? : HindustanTimes.com/UK: News for UK Asians

China Claims Panchen Lama Alive and Well

11th Panchen Lama of TibetThe UK Statesman carries a story originally from the Times of London citing the Chinese State Council as saying that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai Lama chosen 11th Panchen Lama is alive and well despite speculation that the 16 year old kidnapped by Chinese officials in 1995 was dead.

The Panchen Lama is the second most important position in the Tibetan religious hierarchy second only to the Dalai Lama.

Shortly after Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named by the Dalai Lama in 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama Chinese officials raided his home in Tibet kidnapping him and his family. Two weeks after his disappearance the government announced their own Panchen Lama supposedly "correctly" chosen according to Tibetan Buddhist law.

Chinese officials denied any role in his disappearance at first but in 1996 admitted that they had the Panchen Lama in their "care" protecting him and his family against "separatists" kidnappers. Since then nothing official has been heard of the boy though rumours as to his death have cropped up from time to time.

According to the Times report the State Council statement confirms that the boy is alive and well

"His health condition is good and he is living a normal and happy life and receiving a good education,"

The Chinese chosen "Panchen Lama" Gyaincain Norbu recently appeared in Shanxi province where he was reported as praising the Chinese state for its religious tolerance and urged Tibetans to support the "motherland".

Despite the State Council's statement that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is "free" it is highly unlikely he will ever live anything but a life of virtual imprisonment as long as the Communist regime rules in China.

As a "living god" he poses just too much of a threat to Chinese rule over Tibet.

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The Statesman

An Uygur's Letter To America

China Human Rights: Uygur prisonersThe following is the text of a letter sent by an Uygur man to US Secretary of State Colin Powell. It needs no analysis or comment suffice to say that in knowing the Uygur as I do the sentiments expressed are true and widely held.This "Uygur Letter" was printed today on the Uygur english language message board Uighur-L. a member entry board. Turdi (whose surname is witheld for security reasons) is well known for his advocacy of the Uygur situation.

There are many who believe that everyone incarcerated in Guantanamo is a terrorist this obviously is not the case considering the large number slotted for release. Many, undoubtably like some of the Uygurs, were impressed into the service of the taliban or were of no difference to any foot soldiers of any nation in the world that sends it's people to war.

The Honorable Colin Powell, Secretary of StateDepartment of State2201 C Street, NW, Washington DC 20520

Dear Secretary of State:

I am deeply concerned about the fate of the Uighurs in US military custody in Guantánamo Bay. According to the Amnesty International, they are at risk of forcible return to China or to third countries where they might face return to China. People who are familiar with the Uyghur situation in China will not doubt for a second that those men detained in Guantanamo will be tortured and executed should they be returned to China.

They were captured in the context of the armed conflict in Afghanistan and transferred to US custody around January 2002.
An Associate Press report published on Nov 25, 2003 quoted a senior US defense official as saying,

"Washington is quietly discussing with China the terms under which an undisclosed number of Chinese Muslim separatists would be released from Guantanamo and returned to China. The Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay were captured in Afghanistan, but the United States has no further interest in holding them because they are not believed to pose a threat to U.S. interests. Their main aim is to return to Xinjiang and fight for independence — a goal they apparently sought to further by training in Afghanistan."

On 13 May 2004, a US State Department spokesman said that the USA has "identified some who might be eligible for release… We have talked to the Chinese and other governments about this situation."
There is absolutely no reason to believe that China will honor its promise and will not mistreat these Uyghurs. Once those Uyghurs set their feet in China, they will become "the internal affair of China." It is well documented that the Chinese government has systematically tortured and executed suspected Uyghur separatists. China has executed a number of Uyghurs in recent years including asylum seekers and refugees repatriated from neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Nepal in total disregard to the strong protests of the international community and human rights organizations.
Those people were originally political dissidents or religious students who went to Pakistan to escape Chinese persecution.

After Pakistan forcefully returned some Uyghur dissidents to China where they were executed, the rest of the Uyghurs in Pakistan escaped to third countries. Some who did not have passport and other proper documents ended up in Afghanistan since it was the only country willing to accept them. That misfortune led them to a combat that they apparently had no desire to take part in as it as clear from the RFA interview of Hasan Mehsum,(see Ed Note) the leader of the Uyghurs in Afghanistan.

There is no evidence that they committed any terrorist activities or other crimes in China or anywhere else. On the Nov 26, 2001, the Chinese Government announced the details of all the alleged violence happened in the previous 10 years in connection to the Uyghur independence movement. There is no evidence or reason to link any of those (sic) violence to those men in Guantanamo.

In fact, the reason why the Chinese authorities want them back is not just to punish them opposing their rule but also to intimidate the whole Uyghur population. If they succeed to bring them back to China, they will be able reinforce that they can carry out their oppressive policy against the Uyghurs as they please and the Uyghurs have to accept it without complaining no matter how unfair it is since they can do nothing about it and even United States, whom the Uyghurs look up to for support, can do nothing about it.

It is no secret that China has long been carrying out a repressive policy against the Uyghurs, who, having been inspired by the US intervention in Kosovo and Bosnia, look to US for moral support. China has been quite annoyed by that. They have been using every opportunity to tarnish the image of US in eyes of Uyghurs and to smash the hopes of Uyghurs. Rebiya Kadir, a prominent Uyghur businesswoman, was harshly punished and sentenced for 8 years on the suspicion that she planned to complain about the Chinese treatment of Uyghurs to a visiting US official. If she really had sensitive documents to send to US or anywhere else, there were numerous ways to do that and she certainly had the means. But the truth behind her harsh punishment is Chinese authorities wanted to exploit the US connection of her case to sent out an intimidating message to Uyghur population by punishing her in disregard to the opposition of US government. For the same reason, the efforts of the international community and US authorities to get her released has yielded no significant result. The issue of the Uyghur detainees in Guantanamo is highly publicized among the Uyghurs. I hope US government will not give China another opportunity to intimidate the Uyghurs by reinforcing their message that not only the Uyghurs could do nothing about the way they treat them the whole world could do nothing about it and that even the only remaining super power yields to China's demands.

If those Uighurmen have committed any crime against the US interests, the US government has a right to punish them in any way they see fit, but sending them back to China should not be one of them. Because, it would not serve just as a punishment for these men alone, it would serve as a punishment for all the Uyghurs who believe in the moral integrity and justice system of the US government and the international community. This issue is extremely important for Uyghurs because what is at stake is not just the fate of those men but the dignity and self-image of the entire Uyghur people. Their feelings would be greatly hurt if those men are turned over to China for its cruel disposal.

Uyghurs probably are the most pro-US Muslims in the world. China is trying hard to use the Iraq war to damage US's image among Uyghurs. If the US returns those men to China, China may succeed.
As a concerned Uyghur, I strongly urge the US government not to return them to China.


Turdi (surname witheld)

Note: Hasan Mehsum was identified by the Chinese Government as the terrorist leader of the then little known East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and was top of China's "Most wanted list". ETIM at the pushing of China and with the support of America was named as an international terrorist organisation in 2002 in the wake of "9/11" despite there being absolutely no evidence other than China's say so as to it's crimes.

Mehsum in a radio interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) in early 2002 denied catagorically that he or any members of ETIM had ever conducted terrorist activities in China or anywhere else. Mehsum was killed by Pakistan security forces in October 2003 having fled Afghanistan where he had originally escaped to from China.

Despite his death and China being involved at the time in the official identification of his body a government press release in December 2003 requested forign countries to support them in capturing him. A large gaffe which totally contradicted Mehsun's supposed terrorist leader status and the danger he posed to China or the world.

China launches Tibet information blitz in US

Chinese Tibetan delegation in US.

Ms Choephel Tibetan HUnger striker is placed in an ambulance after collapsing at Tibetan UN protest in April. Pic courtesy Phayul.com An AFP article carried in the Tibetan news reporting website Phayul claims that China has "launched an information blitz" in the United States aimed to counter western perceptions of the situation in Tibet as concerns human-rights violations.

Leading this so called "blitz" is a delegation of "scholars and religious leaders" from Lhasa, capital of Tibet, who are on a week long tour of the United States and taking in visits to Washington, New York and Los Angeles.

The group will reportedly be meeting US legislators, students and staff of several US universities before returning to China this Sunday.

A spokesman from the Chinese embassy in Washington Sun Weide said the group, led by a University Tibetan Scholar, was in America to dispel "lots of misunderstandings"

He went on to say that

"One example is that many people in the West, particularly in the United States, consider Tibet to be an independent country when the fact of the matter is that Tibet has been incorporated in Chinese territory since the middle of the 13th century,"

Well I do not know whether a delegation of six on a one week trip and only taking in three cities could constitute a "blitz" but when combined with a series of press releases over the last several weeks trumpeting China's positive influence in Tibet, culminating in China releasing one of it's celebrated "White Papers" on the subject of Tibet autonomy, one could say at least it represents a very concerted propaganda exercise.

Lama told he can come home if he 'abandons his separatist propositions'

-Tibetan Delegation Leader-

The Chinese government does nothing without reason. Usually such an effort would be as a result of adverse world opinion over a contentious issue or meant as a "sales pitch" for some particular reason.

Recently the Dalai Lama has been doing some serious jetsetting and receiving whilst not tumultuous greetings wherever he goes the turnouts to his meetings have been quite sizeable and up on previous visits. His recent April trip to Canada has been described in true pop star terms as a "sellout". His meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Martin was seen as somewhat of a diplomatic coup especially in light of some pretty heavy lobbying and threats from the Chinese side.

He then did a quick skip to France before turning up at the inauguration of the Taiwanese president last Thursday and now he is in Britain and meeting the likes of the British Foreign Secretary and Prince Charles. Once again all despite some very heavily lobbying by China to have him virtually treated as "persona non gratis" wherever he goes.

China also took the expected flack over Tibet at the recent United Nations Human Rights Commission meetings in Geneva and a group of Tibetan hunger strikers in New York in April were able to get some fairly high level UN response to their "demands".

China tends to run a scoresheet on such things and when the deficit gets a little high they come out punching. Other than what is happening in Taiwan and the forthcoming 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre (June 4) I can personally see no other reasons for this latest "blitz".

As I have said before the amount of animosity held by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Dalai Lama is incomprehensible. They are doing more for the Lama's positive international standing and popularity then he is achieving himself but sometimes deep seated animosity can blind reason.

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China launches Tibet information blitz in US - www.phayul.com

Friday, May 28, 2004

Culture of responsibility: Welcomed progress

China cleans up job-related human rights violations.

If anything can be said about the Chinese government it is that they know how to make all the right noises. The problem however most of the time it seems is in turning words into action.

One particular "noise" they have been making of late is the drive to make government and party officials more accountable for their acts or omissions.

It has been apparent for a long time that Chinese officialdom runs on the premise of all rights and no responsibility. In other words they enjoy wielding power but if something goes wrong than it is always the other person's or other department's responsibility. Buck passing is a time honored profession and one well honed among Chinese bureaucracy.

Of late however it appears that words are actually being translated into actions. The last several months have witnessed a drive by the central government to inject responsibility and accountability into China's government agencies and officials.

Firstly, the government would appear, publicly at least, to be attempting to create a culture of personal responsibility where officials guilty of oversight or dereliction of duty choose to take the honorable way out and "falling on their swords" by resigning. Unlike before when if anyone were to fall it would be some poor underling now, like western convention, the number one person is expected to resign for failings within his organisation.

Secondly, the government has increasingly announced new measures of government oversight and has shown a willingness to bring miscreants to task. Most recently, for example, it has announced the setting up of a "database" of personal details of judges, tracking such things as investments, incomes even marital status. The idea is that by doing so those judges guilty of corruption, career aggrandisement or even with a susceptibility to "sexual seduction" can easily be found or at least be aware that they are being scrutinised.

As a result of these type of actions several high profile people have been charged in the criminal system for either corruption or dereliction of duty including ex provincial governors.

Recently China was stunned by the "Baby powder" scandal in which thirteen infants in Anhui died of nutritional deficiencies from consuming substandard milk powder and 171 infants suffered from malnutrition after being fed with milk powder deficient in protein and other nutrients as a result of contaminated bay powder formula.

The linked article at China Daily reports that two officials involved in the scandal have been caught in the government net:

"Two officials involved in the notorious fake milk powder case in Fuyang City, east China's Anhui Province, were recently put into custody for dereliction of duty, marking a resolute step in the country's one-year fight against human rights violation crimes by government officials."

On Wednesday Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), announced that procuratorates at all levels will launch a sweeping one-year investigation into job-related crimes of infringing on human rights.

China Daily further reports:

'"Negligence of duty which causes great losses of people's lives and assets is one of the campaign's major targets," Wang said, adding the goal of the campaign is to fulfill the commitment of " respect and protection of human rights" enshrined in the Constitution and to defend basic benefits of the masses.'

Any moves towards providing greater transparency of government processes and decision making, proper management and oversight and inculcation of the ethic of professional responsibilty can only be of huge benefit to the human rights situation in China.

Whilst it is too early to asses how successful this campaign will be in the long term initial indications are quite positive that words, in this instance at least, can be translated into actions.

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China Daily NewsChina cleans up job-related human rights violations

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Mea Culpa: Australia

This "War on Terror", this blind tilting at windmills has to stop.

We, Australia and others, have spent trillions of dollars, diverted some of our best human capital and destroyed the lives of thousands in prosecution of a "war" that, take away Afghanistan and Iraq , saw less than 500 deaths as a result of "terrorist" caused incidents in 2003. I placed "terrorist" in inverted commas because even our definitions as to what is a terrorist act has become so blurred of late.

This "War on Terror", this blind tilting at windmills has to stop

-Stephen Sullivan-

To put it in perspective more Chinese miners die in a month. More Chinese pedestrians die in a week. Many, many more people starve to death or die form curable diseases.

Now each life is sacred and no-one can put a price on saving one but we can't keep investing to the level we have invested on the off chance that someone, somewhere somehow, may die when we know full well that Chinese miners, for example will die 20 a day, that people in certain parts of the world will die today, tomorrow and every single day of the year.

If we the free world"had invested those trillions, if we had employed these wonderful brains and human capital to these issues rather than diverting them to the "War on terror" the sum of good achieved would far outweigh the sum of bad and the world today would have been infinitely much better than it is. The lives of so many innocents who have been branded by their religion or place of residence would not have been so adversly impacted upon or even destroyed.

We all were rightly angered, hurt and worried after "9/11" that is understandable but now we have allowed our political leaders to manipulate the "war on terror" for their own agendas. They have inculcated a generation with blind hatred against a certain class of people regardless of their guilt. We are seeing the product of that in Iraq now. And it is not just in Iraq, it is in the mainstreets of towns and cities throughout the western "Christian" world.

Our "War on terror" has also bred a generation of people that will carry hatred of us to their deathbeds, people who otherwise would have not given us a second thought, innocent people caught up in our blind scrambling. We, the supposed "good guys" have rent a huge chasm in the world's society, we have split it along racial and religious lines and we have done so far more effectively than some billionaire madman could ever have done it.

Mea Culpa? Yes.

Year by year Terrorist statistic.
SBS - The World News; Australia Guilty of human rights abuses

"Sexual Seduction" influences Chinese Court decisions

Justice in ChinaAccording to Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) when announcing a new initiative to inject fairness into the court system, sex and corruption, among other things, have influenced some Chinese court decisions:

"..a small number of cases were handled wrongly due to reasons ranging from bad judgments, taking bribes, sexual seduction or power infatuation,"

Xiao announced that China's courts will adopt a series of measures to supervise judges or officials by establishing a data bank on them. The linked Xinhua article states that the database:

".... Includes 11 items like the official's or judge's housing, their spouse's or children's professions as well as the business operations they are involved in, their income and even tip-offs from the masses as a way to offer an authentic source for the discipline inspection branch to keep an eye on them."

The database may have to be quite substantial though. The artcle quotes Xiao as saying that in 2003 the court system in China handled over 8 million cases.

"Courts take tough measures to ensure fairness".(Ed) China View. Xinhuanet. May 26. May 27

Xinjiang-Tajik border opened

Pamir Mountain range "China and Tajikistan have officially opened their shared border at a pass high in the Pamir Mountains. State officials from Xinjiang province (sic) in western China and the Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Aqil Aqilov, cut a red ribbon at the mountain village of Kulma, sending a fleet of ceremonial trucks across to the Chinese side."

I ran a poll on a related website some six months ago asking who my visitors believed would become the pre-eminent influence in Central Asia: Russia, China, America or India.

My own answer was that I thought it would ultimately be Russia with India being a dark horse. I based this on Russia's long history and in depth understanding of the region. My visitors were pretty evenly divided but overall America was seen to be the "winner" with China a close second.

Well some six months later I am beginning to re-think my position and am coming to believe that China will become the power in Central Asia.

This small piece of news is just another example of how by small and large steps China is slowly and inexorably insinuating itself into Central Asia. Recent news has also seen for example announcements of even closer relations between Khazakhstan and China economically and in security matters.

The importance of Central Asia to China is considerable not only from a strategic point of view but also as a source of oil and gas which is much needed in an energy starved economy.

The border between Tajikstan and Xinjiang has according to the linked article been closed for almost a century during the Soviet time. It is just one of many communication links that are opening up everywhere between China and Central Asia. The news abounds daily with reports of new bus route here, airline route there, planned highways and possible train routes in and through Central Asia.

For the Tajiks, like the Afghans a persian race distinct from the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang,Kazakhstan,Krygystan and Uzbekistan, the road provides quicker and cheaper access to Chinese consumer goods and machinery and technology needed to modernise their country. For the Chinese it further opens up another market and provides them with the added ability to trade onwards to other parts of Central Asia.

For the trivia buffs the Kulma Pass set among the towering peaks of the Pamir mountain range is one of the highest trading routes on earth with the border between Xinjiang and Tajikstan being over 4,000 metres high.

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BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | China-Tajik border opened

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Atop the Tiananmen Tiger: Bao Tong

A man of rare courage and loyalty

Tiananmen Square MassacreWith the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square student tragedy looming two men in particular are sure to return in their memories to those fateful days when they were forced to mount the ‘Tiananmen Tiger’. A “tiger” from which neither they or the Chinese Communist party has ever been able to get off.

One of course is Zhao Ziyang who at the time of the Tiananmen demonstrations was the Communist Party General Secretary. With succeeding years the legend of Zhao has grown. That of the leader who apparently dared to care and as a result fell from a lofty position, at the very pinnacle of communist party rule, to a life of virtual imprisonment and disgrace.

Zhao’s story is well known and no doubt will be recounted many times over the coming weeks, however another “casualty” of Tiananmen is less well known. A man whose loyalty for his leader, and paradoxically love of his party, led to his downfall as well.

This man the second highest ranking CCP member to fall as a result of Tiananmen ended up serving seven years in jail and upon his release has swapped one prison for another. Unlike Zhao who has remained under close quarters, in what many term “house arrest”, this other man is “free” now to move about.

But so great is this man’s importance and so fearful is the Politburo of him that he is kept under constant 24 hour surveillance by teams of up to six state security personnel. No doubt his telephone, when not “mysteriously” disconnected at politically sensitive times, is tapped, so undoubtably would be his Internet access that he so enjoys until that too ‘mysteriously‘ goes offline only to just as “mysteriously” be reconnected.

Bao TongBao Tong is a man of incredible honesty, incredible loyalty and has proven over the time during and since Tiananmen to be a man of equally incredible courage.

Bao Tong was, in 1989, the senior aide to Zhao Ziyang and prior to that in the mid 80's was the Deputy Director of the Chinese State Commission for Economic Reform for the CCP Central Committee. An original revolutionary and “familiare” of Mao Zedong there was only one person higher than him to fall as a result of those tumultuous days and that was the man he so loyally served Zhao Ziyang himself.

As a result of his support of Zhao’s anti force stance, Bao was arrested and was held for two years in jail before being formally charged on supposedly unrelated charges and for which he served another five years before his release in 1996. Following his incarceration he was to endure a further 11 months under house arrest.

Not that Bao was a pro-democracy reformer or particularly pro-student. In fact he comes across even now as being, if anything, very pro party. But he was against the use of the military to break up the student demonstrators and in holding this view he placed himself at loggerheads with many of the “hardliners” of the CCP . It was this failure, or political error as he said openly himself, in not siding with the hardliners that cost him so much

In papers purporting to be a copy of his personal report after the incident to an investigative body of the CCP he describes how he felt at the time of learning of the Politburo’s decision to send in the Tanks:

“…in my heart, I believed we had made a terribly wrong move; I was afraid that we would be trapped in a very difficult situation, ’ riding a tiger, very hard to get off””

Again in that report despite having to be aware of the fate that was to befall him and Zhao he is reported to have said:

Zhao addressing students in Tiananmen Square flanked by today's premier Wen Jiabao <“I only felt respect for Comrade Ziyang for he had been honest and straightforward, had not concealed his beliefs and had given no consideration to his personal loss or gain”

As a result of his stance and his loyalty Bao fell and fell heavily. A lesser man would have thanked God that he eventually was freed and would have happily settled into a life below the radar but not Bao.

One of the Most Extraordinary Letters In Chinese Modern History

Earlier this year a Dr. Jiang Yanyong sent a letter to the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party calling on them to reassess the CCP's culpability over the 1989 July 4, Tiananmen Square massacre.

Dr Jiang is a well respected, former Military Surgeon, who came to prominence during the SARS epidemic in 2003 by coming out publicly and detailing just how serious the SARS problem was. In doing so he forced the government, that was in a state of in public denial at the time, to come clean on the true extent of the problem facing the country and it’s people.

His letter was widely applauded with the general consensus that here was an extremely brave man indeed, one who dared, so publicly, to call the present CCP leadership to task over probably the most sensitive incident in Chinese Communist Party history. And so he was.

But in March 1999 Bao Tong , only three years out of jail for his role in Tiananmen and a man obviously of tenuous circumstance, also authored a letter to the Politburo that was been described at the time as "one of the most extraordinary letters in modern Chinese history". (www.democracy.org.hk. March 27 1999)

Like Dr Jiang was to do five years later Bao took the unprecedented step, for one in his precarious position, to send his own letter to the Politburo. In it he called on the CCP to admit that the Party had made one of the most significant mistakes in it's history over it’s handling of Tiananmen and one, no matter the passage of time, would haunt it and the people of China unless it received appropriate closure. That closure could only come with the CCP openly admitting culpability over the outcome of the decision to use force, the death and destruction it was to cause and the resultant rent it has caused in the fabric of Chinese society.

In the letter, alluding obviously to many sitting on the Politburo in 1989, he likened the Tiananmen Square students to other young and impassioned men from the 1940’s who also were not without their own mistakes

He said also that at all times the students in Tiananmen were “orderly, their demonstrations constituted neither riot or rebellion” and inferred that they were no threat to national security as claimed after the massacre.

He spoke of how Ma Zedong had the courage to openly admit that the Cultural Revolution was the nadir of the CCP’s post 1949 history but that the very admittance of the mistake was it’s highest point. He stated that Tiananmen had now become the current Party’s nadir, but, like Mao, the leadership of 1999 could make amends and raise the esteem of the CCP in the eyes of an otherwise unforgiving Chinese people by admitting errors of judgement

History tells us that his plea to the Politburo went unheeded. Despite what has to be considered an incredibly heroic stance and one fraught with immense danger, Bao was not punished though he was warned that unless he kept his own counsel he would be charged with treason.

But true to the man that he is he has not to this day heeded the warnings. In March this year he was prompted to write a fairly reasoned missive, though one laced with cynicism and a degree of pathos, questioning the present leadership’s statements that now, 2004, is the best period for Human Rights in China’s history . .In this letter he speaks of having his own freedom of movement limited and having his phone and Internet disconnected during the National People’s Congress. He even talks, as an aside ,of trying to contact Dr Jiang to offer his support and congratulations over his own stance.

In another instance in a radio interview conducted by the “Voice of Hope” radio programme “Voice of San Francisco Bay Area” also reported in March this year Bao openly talks about one of the most touchy subjects for the CCP, the Falun Dong. And says:

“I think there is insufficient evidence to label an organisation with tens of millions of members a “cult” I consider these millions of practitioners exemplary Chinese citizens.”

He even goes on to blame in part the Chinese Government’s poor health care system in forcing people into alternative medicine and “well being” practices such as Falun Dong.

As recent as this month the Washington Post carried a report on Bao

Mr. Bao, a de facto spokesman for liberals among China's political elite, said that since Mr. Zhao stepped down amid the 1989 crackdown, 'many things stopped progressing. On the contrary, some things have even gone backwards.' He cited the party's putting itself back in charge of 'judging and making arrests in political cases' and its beginning to interfere again in the media and publishing sectors -- areas in which the party had minimalized its involvement under Mr. Zhao.

I do not know whether we can hold Bao Tong up as a democracy reformer I think that his unrequited loyalty to his party (as distinct from some of it's members) would rule that out. But one wonders what China would be like today if people like Zhao and Bao could have held sway within the upper echelons of the CCP back then. Would the outcome have eventually been different? What would China be like now? An interesting intellectual exercise that.

Regardless of his politics one has to admire the man for his incredible courage and loyalty to what he believes in and the fact that he chose, like Zhao, to prefer other avenues of resolution than that of violence. A violence so pervasive in Chinese Communist Party history and culture.

As an aside I wonder what Wen Jiabao, now Premier of China, thinks of this man considering they both served Zhao at the time in question but who managed to remain unsullied by the association with both.

References and Reading

Long Arm Of China Reaches Into Guantanamo

Allegations of Chinese Officials Mistreating Guantanamo Uygurs

Amnesty International Logo According to a Washington Post report Amnesty International has claimed that Chinese officials were allowed access to interrogate Uygur detainees in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

Amnesty spokesperson Alistair Hodgett is reported to have said that the human rights group's claim was based on several unidentified but "credible" sources however he declined to reveal them. Amnesty further claim that the Chinese officials took part in unspecified mistreatment of the Uygurs during the interview/interrogation process. The U.S military declined to comment when approached by the Post though it is common knowledge that foreign officials have been allowed access to their nationals in Guantanamo.

The Uygur are a Muslim Turkic people residing primarily in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's northwest. China has claimed repeatedly since "9/11" that hundreds of Uygurs were trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Uygur "terrorist" organisations have strong links with both the Taliban and al Qaida. They have however been unable to provide any tangible proof to support these allegations. Many Uygurs have been imprisoned and executed as a result of dissent against Chinese rule and a desire for an independent homeland.

The Washington Post item mentions the number of Uygurs held in Guantanamo as a result of the United States intervention in Afghanistan as 22 however previous reports have put this number at only 12. There has also been no positive identification of the nationalities of the Uygurs detained. The Uygur are spread throughout Central Asia and a sizeable population of Uygur have lived in Afghanistan for a considerable period of time and it is not unlikely that some of the Uygurs are not actually Chinese citizens.

U.S. Secretary of State spokesperson Boucher recently was quoted as saying the Uygurs held in Guantanamo were soon to be released as they posed no ongoing threat or are required to face criminal charges. Several Humanitarian organisations including Amnesty International have warned against those Uygurs holding Chinese nationality being returned to China for fear of their imprisonment or even execution. Boucher also stated at the time that the US was in negotiation with several unidentified countries who may be willing to provide safe haven for the Uygurs on their release.

Whilst the right of foreign diplomatic personnel to have access to their nationals is not at issue, to have those personnel involved in interrogation and mistreatment of those nationals as alleged here is abominable. The US and China should be called on to make an immediate statement in response to these very serious allegations.

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Group Says Chinese Saw Detainees (washingtonpost.com)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

China: Conundrums of Solomon Proportions

China's population policies.

China's One child PolicyHow do you solve a conundrum as complex as the developing of policies aimed at achieving a sustainable population level whilst delivering equal economic opportunity and quality of life to the people of a land that is almost at the end of it’s resource capacity?

A land where existing inequalities are already significant and will, if left unchecked, only grow at an exponential rate. A land where requisite infrastructure investment, both in economic and human capital, to rectify the imbalances of today alone defy comprehension as to their size and temporal requirements let alone the problems of the tomorrow.

When looking into an abyss one is struck with a feeling of both wonderment and fear. Wonder at the sheer size and fear that one will fall or be pushed into its gaping blackness.

Such must be the feelings of China’s leadership as the future is paraded before them, a future of incredible wonderment as to challenges that would require the wisdom of ten Solomons and the dreaded fear of what will happen if those challenges go unmet.

This situation China find herself in today and, more importantly, where it will find itself tomorrow, has not come about unexpectedly. 25 years ago the Chinese Government recognised the exact nature of the predicament that the country was in and took the unheard of steps of announcing a “One Child Policy” in an attempt to slow the tide that was rushing in on their country. As a result of this policy it is estimated that some 300 million Chinese children were not born and would not go on to beget others.

Three hundred million unborn children were effectively sacrificed in order to buy time, for, that is all it has done, bought a little more time to hopefully allow a solution to be found for a problem that will not only engulf China, if it goes unsolved, but the whole world.

To the uninitiated statistics in China are mind boggling. One hears figures and attempts to relate them in some orderly way to known things. China’s population at the end of 2003 was estimated at 1.29 billion people, 21% of the population of the whole world. 64 times the size of Australia (20m) 21 times the size of Great Britain (60m) and 4 times the size of the United States (290m). It is estimated it will grow to 1.448 million by 2020 and 1.6 billion by mid century.

China’s population over the age of 16 will increase by the staggering number of 5.5 million people annually for the next twenty years, a number many times the size of most large cities. What does it take to provide an infrastructure and an economy to absorb and support a new State of Victoria, Australia (4.64m 2001) or Minnesota, USA (5.01m 2002 est), or two Greater Manchesters U.K. (2.48m 2001) every year, year in an year out for the next 20, all working aged people?

But these numbers are but one part of the equation. Throw in a gender imbalance that will see 30-40 million more men than woman by 2020 and the consequent social problems, toss in a population that comprises 11.8% of people over 65 now and will grow to 17% in 2020 and 25% by mid century and the consequent problems of health care and social security.

All these figures are truly fantastic but when considered from a viewpoint that 25 years ago China was considered an undeveloped country (and still, despite it’s meteoric growth over the last ten years, technically remains so) the task ahead seems daunting. To mix metaphors not only are they coming from behind the eight ball but are coming from way, way back in the field.

Unlike developed countries there is no established and acceptable public health system, no established social security regime, the quality (education levels) of the population is poor and there exists, despite a burgeoning economy, a huge structural unemployment problem that will only get worse. Unlike western countries where services exist and can grow in a timely and orderly manner with demand in China the demand precedes the services.

There are also huge divides as between the east of the country and the west, the urban and the rural in terms of income, investment, infrastructure and quality of life. Divides that potentialy are the sources of major social upheaval.

Then we have the resources situation. China is quickly losing the capacity to feed itself or provide itself with the necessary energy supplies to maintain the status quo let alone continue its necessary growth into the future. History tells us to beware a country starving of food and energy.

How can all of this be addressed and what will be the outcome if it is not? Can we realistically push for democratisation of a country that has so many other challenges facing it that alone seem insurmountable? Does the Chinese Government more fully appreciate the implicit “peril” of the situation more so than the developed west which has troubles just coming to terms with the absolutes let alone the relatives?

When China says we must take care of the whole rather than the individual is it because the problems are too great to even scratch the surface let alone dig to the lower levels where the concept of “individual’ resides?

China seems to be the center of the economic world at the moment but perhaps it should be the center for other reasons.

There is an old Chinese saying "May you live in interesting times". I think in the next fifty years or so we might all be doing just that.

1. "Population Problems Loom" Peoples Daily March 10, 2004
2."Imbalances emerge in population growth." Peoples Daily. 24 May 2004
3."12.7 million more boys than girls under 9" Peoples Daily. 10 May 2004
4."Gender disparity need work" Peoples Daily. March 21. 2004
5."Rising Sex Disproportion sparks concerns" Peoples Daily March 8, 2004
6."Working age population to reach 940 million by 2020" Peoples Daily. April 26, 2004

Monday, May 24, 2004

Dalai Lama UK visit riles China

Liverpool UK threatened with losing sister city status

 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibetan PeopleI am constantly amazed at the time and effort the People's Republic of China goes to in it's constant one sided "battle" with the Dalai Lama the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

Wherever the 69 year old Lama visits the PRC uses diplomatic channels, bully tactics and threats in an attempt to have the host city or state act as it wishes towards the Dalai Lama.

Recently in Canada the Chinese threatened economic sanctions if a planned meeting between the Dalai Lama and Canada's prime minister Martin went ahead. Now a planned visit to the UK has drawn the Chinese governments attention.

Chinese officials have reportedly threatened to strip the UK port city of Liverpool of its twin-city status with Shanghai in protest over the Dalai Lama's visit there beginning this week. The city has laid out a welcome mat to the Tibetan leader and apparently has no plans to change his itinerary in spite of Chinese pressure.

The linked article by the Guardian also states that the Chinese are piqued by planned meetings by the Lama with the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Michael Howard, the Conservative leader and Prince Charles, son of the Queen of Britain.

The amount of hatred that must exist in the halls of the Chinese Communist party and in particular the Politburo is really beyond comprehension. In 1959 when the then young Lama fled a country in rebellion against a young Communist China yes, it would be understandable, but in 2004?

It is as irrational as it is unjustified and must give warning to the world that a leopard does not change it's spots even when now donning a bright new business suit.

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Guardian Unlimited: Dalai Lama visit riles China

Xinjiang News

Bus line between China, Tajikistan to begin operation next month

Xinjiang  Uygur China map URUMQI, May 22 (Xinhuanet) -- Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has signed a contract with neighboring Tajikistan to open the first cross-border bus line beginning in June to meet the increasing frequent exchanges between both sides.

The operation of the bus line will make Tajikistan the fifth country to have cross-border exit and entry transport with the autonomous region, together with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan.

"The operation of the bus line will have great significance forXinjiang's linking other parts of China with central Asian countries," said Luo Jianxin, deputy director of Xinjiang Regional Department of Communications.

The 669-km bus line, running from Xinjiang's Kashi (Kashgar) City to Khorugh City, capital of Badakhshan region in Tajikistan, will begin operation as of June 26.

Each city will send a bus to the other city on the sixth, 16th and 26th day every month.

www.chinaview.cn 2004-05-22 18:53:42

:: Xinhuanet - English ::

Angry Reaction To Tibetan White Paper

Renewed Calls For Armed Uprising

Chinese White paper on TibetReaction by Tibetans in exile has been quick and vociferous to the release in China on Sunday of the Government's White Paper on Tibet.

Exiled Tibetans have come out universally against the "Paper" but at this stage it has drawn no response from the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan Government in exile located in Dharamsala India.

Phayul.com, a leading Tibetan news agency, in an a report on the "White Paper" "China tells Dalai Lama self-ruled Tibet not an option" sees it as a final rejection of the Dalai Lamas attempts to open up direct dialogue between himself and the CCP.

Comments posted on Phayul's website universally condemn the "White Paper". One commentator posed the question of the Tibetan Government in Exile and it's leader Samhdong Rimpoche

How Samdhong Rimpoche is going to react at that?
after trying everything to appease them and conceding everything, the thieves are at last giving their answer; no autonomy !

Let us demand and obtain our independence now !

Peu Gyalo ! Posted by Tenam Paris

Several posts call for stronger action including armed rebellion and "terrorist" like resistance tactics.

No more room for negotiation left on table. So where we are standing now! I guess, we must flip our standing and choose the violent, if they really don't care about our present proposal.

Get the fund, recruits and act some practice....Lets do whatever so that those pig's will awake and start making pork-chop! (Tashi Toronto)

Ughur,Mongolia,Manchuria and Tibet should get together and get rid off all PLO communists from their countries.Till now we have been very patient with the communists and expect they will with changing time change for better for the last 45 years. Unfortunately communist china has not changed at all,instead got worse. So we are left with no choice but have to take the only last resort which is Bin laden`s tactic.
We give one more chance till December 2004. PLO

Not all Tibetans have been happy with the "softly softly" anti-violence approach of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile both whom have adopted a policy of achieving greater political and cultural autonomy for Tibetans through peaceful negotiations with China.

Map of TibetThe Dalai Lama has been on record for several years as having given up as one of his aims the total independence of Tibet. He has been forthright in saying that China's economic involvement in Tibet was actually beneficial to the Tibetan people.

Many Tibetans including a lot of younger ones living in exile in Dharamsala and elsewhere have never believed that such an approach would work with China. The younger ones, many who have never seen their homeland, are increasingly advocating violence.

During the recent "Hunger Strike" of three Tibetans in New York many younger posters to Phayul's Comments section derided the action calling it outdated, ineffective and typical of the Dalai Lama's appeasement approach to Beijing.

Meanwhile the Chinese news organs are giving plenty of coverage to the "White Paper". The China Daily gives some insight into the motivation of the Chinese Government in releasing this White paper when it said today

"The issuing of the white paper responds to international propaganda and lobbying by the Dalai Lama, who alleged that the regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet was "devoid of essential contents" and proposed the exercise of "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy" in Tibet after the model examples of Hong Kong and Macao" (China Daily)

Readers' Comments - www.phayul.com#4420#4420#4420#4420#4420

Coal mine flooding traps 17 workers in W. China

[USMRA] Coal mine flooding traps 17 workers in W. China province
www.chinaview.cn 2004-05-23 23:04:25

China Mining Tragedy LANZHOU, May 23 (Xinhuanet) -- A total of 17 workers were trapped in a coal mine hit by flooding Sunday afternoon in Gansu Province,officials said.

Twenty-nine miners were working in Wutao Coal Mine in Shandan County when the accident happened at 1:30 p.m. and 12 were rescued.

A group of officials and experts headed by Deputy Governor YangZhiming have rushed to the site for rescue operations, and investigation into the cause of the accident is underway."

Sunday, May 23, 2004

How coincidental: A "White Paper" on Tibet

China Trots Out the "Daddy" of it's "justification" arsenal

Chinese White paper on TibetOn the 17th of this month I posted an article entitled Dalai Lama's World Trips Stirring Up The Anthill? in which I commented that the Chinese Government is nothing if not a predictable body. I observed that it is like clockwork that as soon as the CCP receive any adverse international press or even if they anticipate that they will, they begin to churn out through their official news organs what I have called "Justification Pieces"

These "justification pieces" generally are several "news" articles appearing in close succession which attempt to "sell" to the world all the good points of China's involvement in the issue that is under the world spotlight, or, that they expect soon will be.

Alternatively they will set the stage for an expected event by publishing negative pieces on the target. Late last year (2003) for example they published several news items on "Uygur Terrorism" in quick succession before their ultimate article in December "naming" "Uygur terrorists" and "terrorist organisations".

In an article I published at the time in response, "China's 'Bin Laden' The terrorist Leader China Forgot", I argued that the naming of "Uygur Terrorists' in the ultimate article was not spontaneous but had not only obviously been pre scheduled but was done so some months in advance. My reason for drawing that conclusion was that the number one, most wanted, "terrorist" leader named, the Chinese equivalent of the United States' Bin Ladin, had actually been dead for two months (a fact China was aware of having helped identify the body). Someone within the government or Xinhua was just not interested enough to check and update the copy before it was published.

Whilst in this latter instance I could not at the time connect the reason for that particular period of activity I believe now that the timing of the articles, in the lead up to Ramadan which has been a period that has seen the major incidences of Uygur dissent such as the Yining (Guljha) incident in February 1997. I suspect that the Chinese government perhaps expected something might happen and were setting the stage so that if they had to instigate any harsh crackdowns they could justify it as a response to renewed "Uygur terrorism"

My recent article on the Dalai Lama stirring up "Anthills" came as a result of several justification pieces that appeared on Tibet in the week or so prior to my post. I stated that I believed that these were in direct response to the very positive press (ergo negative for China) that the Dalai Lama was receiving on his highly successful trip to Canada on which, despite China's protests, he was met by the Canadian prime minister and held several successful outdoor rallies. Also at the time the Tibetan "Hunger Strike" in front of the U.N. Building in New York was getting some pretty high level and positive responses from the U.N.

One thing I was not aware however was that the ninth anniversary of the kidnapping of the 11th Panchen Lama was coming up in May as well, an anniversary which the CCP might also have expected some renewed international agitation and protest for news of his fate (which did not eventuate I might add as an aside). To coincide with this event they even trotted out the "pretender" to the Panchen Lama throne.

Big Gun Rolled Out

Now today the big guns have been brought to bear. The daddy of all "justification pieces" the famous Chinese Government "White Paper" has been released and carried in full by Xinhua and the People's Daily and, coincidences of coincidences today's topic is Tibet.

The released "White Paper" is entitled Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet in which the Chinese government attempts to prove to the world that the Tibetans really are the masters of their own destiny although they do receive plenty of loving support from "papa" Beijing.

These "White Papers" are of significance for two reasons. Firstly they usually provide facts and insights that are not normally available, albeit in a far from impartial way, and, secondly and more importantly, they are a window to topics China is feeling either vulnerable on at the time or about issues that she wishes to 'sell".

Past papers, and there are usually two or three a year, have covered topics such as "Human Rights" (several) Tibet (several) Taiwan (several) the "Uygur Question", population policy and the environment. Xinhua on it's English web edition has a page of links to past papers going back several years as does the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

Has the Dalai Lama really stirred the anthill so much or is there something else afoot? Could they be about to formally reject overtures from the Dalai Lama for a meeting on the future of Tibet? Could it be Taiwan?

That is the question. Stay tuned for further developments and hopefully an answer!

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Introduction and Summary to White Papper on Tibet">
People's Daily Online -- Full Text: Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Death In A Coal Pit

83 Dead in 20 days

China Mining Tragedy I reported here back on April 28 that the Chinese government had released a report on workplace accidents and fatalities for the first trimester in which they reported that

"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."

It was not that the government were boasting about this decline but I stated at the time that it was more a case of good luck rather than good management and that with the ridiculous demands placed on the coal mining industry by China's economy it was only a matter of time before deaths started to skyrocket.

I link here to Steve Frost's excellent Asian Labour News weblog where he has been following and recording some recent tragic events in China's mining industry far more closely than I have been able to.

Chinese Miners (AP)In the last 20 days Stephen reports that, as a result of several coal mining accidents, 83 miners have died with several still remaining unaccounted for.

83 dead in 20 days.

The horrible thing though is that whilst these figures seem alarming, and they are, they are light in comparison to the 20 or so fatalities on average per day officially recorded for last year. Some independent analysts have even put the unofficial figure as high as 30 per day.

That is right! Every single day of the year on average between 20 and 30 human beings going about their daily working life hoping to provide for their wives and children and in manty cases extended families, just like you and I, leave for work in the morning and do not come home.

Death Incorporated

When devising a photo composite as a lead in to stories on China mining accidents I stuttered over the caption "Death Incorporated" because it seemed to dramatise and even trivialise a tragic situation, but, each time I embed that photo for each new tragedy I feel more and more that it truly reflects exactly what is going on in China's mining industry.

Coal mining is dirty and yes it is dangerous but in most large coal producing countries the worst by-product of coal mining is pollution although not unheard of deaths are relatively and mercifully rare. Not so China, China's mining industry output is measured in tonnes and deaths and, what is worse, death appears an acceptable "cost of doing business".

After each and every sizeable tragedy the Government announces investigations and reforms just as Stephen Frost reports in the linked article they have done now.

But it is all window dressing for after national and international scrutiny and disapprobation has died down it is back to business as usual with a relieved sigh. Because at the rate the government has the "steam train" that is the Chinese economy going they just can not afford to cut back on coal production which fuels 70 percent of China's energy requirements.And these energy requirements are growing at a rate of approximately 19 percent per annum.

Last year Premier Wen Jiabao announced after some other significant mining tragedies massive reforms in the industry. Illegal mines were to be tracked down and closed, mines lacking in safety were to be closed or were at least to greatly reduce their production until safety problems were rectified.

So extensive however is the safety issue in China's mining industry that the crackdowns effected so many mines, including even State Owned enterprises (SOE's), that the economy started immediately to feel the effects. As a result word quietly went out to officials from the Politburo to get everything back to previous output levels as quickly as possible before the measures could be fully implemented. They even called for greater output.

So the illegal mines went back to work, the unsafe mines kept sending the lambs to slaughter and the officials corrupt and elsewhere looked the other way and this miracle economy maintained steam.

International Community Must Get Involved

7-10000 deaths per yearThe international community has to bring pressure to bear on the Chinese government to begin a process of real reform to the Chinese mining industry. But criticism alone will not work. The international community needs to help supply solutions because I think it is beyond China's ability to do it on her own. They have got themselves on a treadmill that they can not get off.

A first step would be for those fools at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Union (EU)to get off China's back about meeting what is, in light of this ongoing tragedy, unrealistic and ultimately inhumane coke export commitments.

If I torture and kill you am I any more of a human rights violator than a government that knowingly sends 10,000 men to their deaths each year? Or for that matter an international community that prefers to look the other way?
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Asian Labour News: China: 83 dead or missing in coal mine accidents in Shanxi over 20 days prods government into action - or not... See also Xinhua Article 22/5/04 "Coke enterprises appeal to gov't to keep export policy"

Great Wall: Now You See It Now you Don't

Psst.. About that pic of the Great Wall from space....

The Great Wall from Space Now I pondered long and hard as to whether I should post this story because it really is like Santa Claus isn't it? You really, truly want to believe.

But I came to the conclusion that I owed it to my extensive readership (sic) to disabuse them of the idea that I had been responsible for planting in their heads.

It is with regret therefore that I must tender this retraction of a post here announcing to all and sundry that yes Virginia the Great Wall of China (after extensive debate amongst scientists, astronauts and even national leaders) is visible from space and here is the pic to prove it!

It would appear that the picture taken by the European Space Agency satellite "Proba" and released by the ESA on it's website is not in fact the Great Wall but just your common or garden variety river.

Xinhua reports that embarrassed officials of the ESA have announced that someone got it wrong and released the photo without proper verification.

Well there is one little Chinese astronaut who must feel a little relieved with the news, after all, how unpatriotic when the state spends so much money on your joyride and you didn't see a bloody thing but some bodgy European satellite could?

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Xinhua Chineses Nes ArticleGreat Wall of China viewed from space-Mistake

Tiananmen Square Dissident Retrial?

Former Tiananmen Square Leader granted retrial on non related charges.

A Human Rights In China press release states that sources within China have stated that one of the Tiananmen Square dissident leaders Zhang Ming has been granted a retrial by China's Supreme Court over non related charges for which he is serving a custodial sentence.

According to the press release:

Zhang Ming, one of the student leaders of the 1989 Democracy Movement, previously served three years in prison on charges of “counterrevolutionary incitement.” His most recent detention began on September 9, 2002, when he was arrested on charges of “endangering public safety” through an alleged plot to explode a multistory building. At the time of his arrest, Zhang Ming was president of a successful Shanghai company, and the amended charge on which he was ultimately convicted related to his business.

According to another source China Support Network Zhang Ming, a native of Jilin,was born in 1965 and enrolled in Tsinghua University in 1984 to study automotive engineering. He became involved in the student protests in the spring of 1989, and eventually took on a leadership role among the protesters at Tiananmen Square. Following the violent official suppression of the protests on June 4, Zhang Ming organized and led a series of follow-up protest actions that put him on the Chinese government’s “Most Wanted” list.

With regard to his current jail sentence China Support Network claim Zhang was arrested on September 9, 2002 on charges of “endangering public safety” through an alleged plot to explode a multistory building.

"At the time of his arrest, Zhang Ming was president of a Shanghai company that he had built into a flourishing concern. Given Zhang’s obvious dedication to his company, the authorities apparently realized that the accusation of violent activity could not be supported. On October 16, 2002 he was formally charged with “abuse of executive benefits,” for which the Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to seven years in prison on September 9, 2003." (China Support Network)

According to several sources the real reason for Zhang Ming’s arrest was his refusal to recant his political principles or express regret for his previous actions, and the ill feeling and envy that his financial success aroused among Chinese officials.

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Chinese Religious Leaders Condemn US Report

"'My personal feeling is that we are living in China's best ever period of religious freedom.'"

Religion in ChinaSo said Su Deci, vice president of the China Christian Association responding to the recent US Congressional report on religious freedom worldwide in which China was severely criticised.

Su has been supported in his "slamming" of the report by the leaders of several official religious associations in China including the Buddhist, Taoist and Islamic associations.

An "Official Religious" organisation is one registered with the Chinese government and abiding totally by strict government rules.

Whilst one would not wish to draw aspersions upon the various religious leaders quoted in the People's Daily report one can not help feeling the all pervasive hand of the government propagandists in it's authorship.

To quote the Chinese Islamic Association leader Chen Guangyuan

"The commission's annual report is full of lies and accusations that are made out of thin air. It is a textbook example of the cheating nature of the US's human rights," said Chen Guangyuan, president of China's Islamic Association.

"The American troops' abuse of Iraqi war prisoners violated not only international human rights conventions but Islamic religious tenets. A Muslim, especially a female one, should never expose their bodies before others, but US soldiers willfully abuse them by adopting practices that go against their religions," Said Chen.

"Does the U.S. have any qualification or power to speak of other countries' affairs? They should merely mind and improve their own human rights situation instead," he said.

Now the Islamic Association in China is hardly representative of the majority of Muslims being primarily a Hui Muslim organisation. The Hui are ethnically and culturally far more similar to the majority Han Chinese than the Turkic Muslims of Xinjiang in particular the Uighur people and receive a much higher level of freedom of religion.

Whilst no-one can argue with the reasons for Chen's disgust over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners and, as he states, the methods of humiliation employed are particularly offensive to Muslims, one wonders if his allusions to the incident are not rather politic especially when one considers the many reports as to very similar religion-centric treatment being dished out to Uygurs prisoners including being forced by officials to eat pork and various humiliations of Muslim woman.

Simarly many Tibetan Buddhists I am sure would not agree with the sentiments of Jia Muyang, vice president of the China Buddhist Association nor most Catholics with those of Liu Deshen, a "noted Catholic leader"

There is no doubts that religious freedoms, for those willing to tow the official line at least, are improving in China but for the likes of the Uygur, the Tibetans and those not willing to practice the government approved method of their religion,improvements, if any, are much fewer.

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Peoples daily China NewsPeople's Daily Online -- Chinese religious leaders condemn US religious freedom report

Xinjiang Sandstorms

Experts say worst period over

Uighur Farmers battle recent sandstorm in Xinjiang China . Pic courtesy Xinhuanet "More sandstorms are likely to hit southern parts of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region though the worst period is over". Xinhua.

Each year in the period from March to May, especially in April, China experiences incredible sandstorms that rise in the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang causing considerable disruption and damage to wide areas of China including Beijing.

So far this year Xinhua reports, China has experienced 17 sand drifting or flowing weather systems including one strong sandstorm, five average ones and 11 drifting or flowing sand phenomena.

A sandstorm between March 26-30, again according to Xinhua, delayed more than 1,200 flights including 130 flights in Beijing Capital International Airport with 20 others forced to land at airports in Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Taiyuan and Dalian.

The linked reference source states that in recent years sandstorms have been occurring more frequently and with enhanced intensity. This is related to the frequent spells of unusual weather and the global climatic changes over the past century but is exacerbated by land desertification as a result of excessive cultivation of farmland, deforestation, over-grazing and excessive use of water resources.

"Severe sandstorms started to occur frequently after the 13th century, and increased rapidly after the 18th century. The number of severe sandstorms grew rapidly after the founding of the People's Republic of China. There were five in the 1950s, eight in the 1960s, 13 in the 1970s, 14 in the 1980s and 20 in the 1990s. The frequency is rising." us.tom.com

These severe sandstorms can be devastating. In 1961 a severe sandstorm hit Turpan in Xinjiang accompanied by a Force 12 wind and lasted for 13 hours, sweeping 85 percent of the crops of the county. Over 6,700 hectare of wheat ready to be harvested, which had a per-unit output of only 4.5 kg, and 2,667 hectare of cotton and 4,000 hectare of sorghum were blown away.

The two main areas where sandstorms cause serious problems in Xinjiang and China is in the Tarim Basin and Tulu-Bishan-Toksun Basin, through Gansu Province to northern Shaanxi and the Kalpin, Hotan, Minfeng and Geermu route in Xinjiang. Apparently severe sandstorms can continue for long periods in this area.

Further reading on China Sandstorms

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Xinhua Chinese News Article