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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.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Well Chosen Words

"Brazilians climb on bandwagon of bilateral trade with China" screams the headline. "Brazilians clamour for bilateral trade with China" cries another.

The Financial Times of London and it's writer Jonathan Wheatley choose the words "clamour" and "bandwagon" when talking of the Brazilian president's trade orientated visit to Beijing.

Clamour/ n. shouting, confused noise: protest, demand (Australian Little Oxford Dictionary)."
Bandwagon /n. join popular or successful cause (ibid.)

And that very much describes the scene as the nations of the world stream continually into Beijing hoping and sometimes even begging to get a piece of the economic action.

Diplomats, "Captains of Industry", state leaders, pushing and shoving to get on and maintain their position on the bandwagon to the Great Hall of China.

Confusion, noise, permeates the scene and ideals and ethics are lost in the millieu.

I cringe when I read the press reports day in day out of this lemming rush to Beijing. What is worse these leaders, these captains of industry and these diplomats are lauded universally when they "ink" the deal, to use the current buzzword.

What About Human Rights?

Tiananmen Square MassacreWhat about human rights? Have we forgotten what we stand for in the democratic west, what we have fought two world wars for? Have we forgotten that we supposedly fought those wars and lost so many people so that people everywhere could live in freedom and with basic justice and human rights?,

Is the oppression of the Uygurs and Tibetans something that we can conveniently overlook in the headlong rush to sup at the table of China's economy? Do we ignore that China can kidnap a six year old child right from under the supposed watchful eyes of our great democracies and hold him incommudicado for 9 years (if he still lives), as it has done with the 11th Panchen Lama, whilst thumbing it's nose at international pressure?

Does the 10,000 odd miners who die each year to stoke this economic steam train that is China count for nothing in our dealings? Falun Dong, underground Christians,prison and legal systems, censorship, corruption, torture and executions? Are these issues that too can be so easily swept under the carpet and out of the view of our supposed high moral conscience.

The obvious answer is yes.

I do not advocate that we do not trade with China or we do not enter into meaningful diplomatic dialogue. I argue that they need us as much as we are becoming to need them so why can we not seek trade-offs before we "ink" that deal?

Why can we not make trade with China somehow conditional on her human rights record?

Why? Because we are fearful that in the clamour and headlong rush of nations and business we may fall off the bandwagon and miss out on this pot of gold that supposedly awaits us at the end of China's rainbow.

Someone once said, and I forget whom, that an "appeaser" is the one hoping that the crocodile will eat him last. In our dealings with China are we not like that appeaser.

I would also pose this question to our leaders, our diplomats and our "captains of industry":
"what does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul"