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China Letter-News and Human Rights

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Jiang Yanyong

One name should be on the lips of every blogger, human rights activist, commentator, political analyst, diplomat and freedom espousing politician and country in the world right now. Jiang Yanyong

Why should this seventy something Beijing doctor be of such importance?

Of course his bravery should be acknowledged as the doctor who had the courage to blow the lid on China's SARS epidemic but he is not imprisoned is he? He is not sentenced to 15 years on some trumped up charge of "subversion" or trading in "state secrets"

It is true that he is not in danger of a bullet in the back of the head kneeling in the mud of some forlorn field or an injection in a mobile death chamber as a result of his expose.

His stand on Tiananmen Square was also something honorable but he is not being tortured due to that is he? Being bashed to within an inch of his life or electrocuted with cattle prods or one of the many ways China has of breaking someone's spirit and imposing it's will.

More than likely they even have him even in a place of reasonable comfort, just keeping him out of the world's view over the time of the Tiananmen anniversary. After all they allowed him to obtain some personal effects after his disappearance to provide him some comfort.

Why then should this doctor's case be of such importance? Why should his name be on everyone's lips? People get detained in China all the time. Look at the "Tiananmen Mothers", some of them were put away for a little "holiday" in the lead up to the 15th anniversary but were released unharmed after a little while.

And China is always doing it to underground priests and bishops, a swift little detention just to let everyone know who is in charge and then release. Each year around National People's Conference time and anniversaries like Tiananmen this sort of thing happens as a matter of course, barely rippling the international waters. They are not killing them after all!

The same will happen to the good doctor, he will be released back to his loving family, nothing really to worry about.

Why then should his name be on everyone's lips?

Because his detention proves without doubt that everything China does and every thing China says to the world as to how it is changing or how it has changed is nothing but a lie.

It demonstrates that everything they plead with us to understand about their "special circumstances" about not being able to "turn the ship on a dime" and how we must give them time as regards human rights is nothing but a ruse, a method of deflection, and obfuscation.

Each trade deal we have signed with them in the belief, or more to the point the self delusion, that we are helping them change is shown to be nothing but a mockery.

As we walk away from the diplomatic or trade negotiating table slapping ourselves on the back as to what fine fellows we are the Chinese side is holding back a belly laugh. Amused at our gullibility and our self serving and selective morals.

Why? Because they can take someone as high profile as Jiang Yanyong, a person of international stature, a person that the world knows is innocent of any wrong doing and, without one concern or fear of adverse international opinion, detain him against his will.

We in the west are shown by this detention exactly how we are viewed by the Chinese and that is that we are of no importance, of no real consequence other than as a necessary evil with whom to trade.

Our opinions hold no sway in the Politburo halls of power. Yes the Chinese will flatter, they will cajole our leaders and captains of industry. They will nod with empathetic understanding at our concerns about human rights and promise, ad nauseum, that they are really working on making positive change but all the while they must be muttering under their breath, laughing at us for our self righteousness and the mosquito bite of discomfort we cause them.

What does this man's detention mean?

It is tantamount to a person spitting at your feet and telling you were to shove it and then laugh with malevolence in your face.

Everyone of us who have ever stood up for China is betrayed, is mocked, is laughed at for our gullibility. Everyone of us who has given China the benefit of the doubt has been proven wrong. Everyone of us who has ever pleaded with others to take a soft approach, to give China more time is shown to be a pipe-dreamer. Everyone of us who has ever signed a trade deal can no longer sleep easy in the belief that China has and is changing and that the pen handed to us was, or is not, inked in blood.

As to the advocates of free trade and lifting of arms embargos you are shown to be either gullible fools or greedy pimps.

The leopard has not changed it's spots it has just hid them behind a business suit. The torturer has not taken long overdue retirement he has just been redressed as a bon vivant.

This detention is so much more than one man having his liberty taken away from him for a short time. The name Jiang Yanyong should become a mantra upon our lips not only because of the man but as constant reminder of the real China. Not the China we continually delude ourselves we know.

We have to understand that this detention is not as a result of some local police cadre taking it upon himself to lock up a couple of poor unknown Uygurs or Tibetans or Falun Gong followers. This detention is not as a result of some unfounded belief among the lower echelons of the party that religion or ethnicity or speaking up poses threats to national security.

This is not only about the detention of a man who has committed no crime, endangered no lives. A man who has done nothing more than exercised a right that we in the west take for granted. It is much much more than this.

Just as Tiananmen was not crushed at the whim of a tank corps commander nor was this decision taken by some lowly party official.

The decision to detain this particular man, considering who he is, has to have gone all the way to the top. All the way to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jaibao and to all the other politburo members. Worse still, and seemingly impossible for our leaders in the west and many of us to grasp, is that this decision, more than likely, and for whatever misguided reason, came down from them.

They must have given approval for it. They have sat around a table, much as the politburo did when arguing over what action to take against the students in Tiananmen, and made a decision. A conscious and deliberated decision to deprive an innocent human being of his liberty. The same cold blooded and detached decision making of a Mao, a Stalin or a Hitler.

Think of it. Who else would have the authority, nay, the audacity to detain a man of such international stature and in doing so knowingly give a thinly veiled two fingered salute to the world?

These are the men that we invite to sit in the Oval Office or Number 10. These are the men we shake hands with and break bread with at diplomatic functions. These are the men that we see experienced world leaders and captains of industry fawning over and kowtowing too.

These smiling ever so gracious men, this "new generation" of leadership, these men of a million platitudes dressed in their western suits and power ties, these supposed men of the people have, with this one act, taken all of our trust, all our beliefs and all of our hopes in them and shattered them as nonchalantly as they would snub a cigarette.

The problem is that we just do not realise it yet.

No, Jiang Yanyong will not be tortured, he will not be executed and ultimately he will be returned to his family. He will have suffered some deprivations but he will get over them.

But what will not be returned, if we only realise our loss in the first place, is our innocence, our trust, and the loss of these things we should never allow ourselves to get over.

We have to stand up once and for all and say we will not be treated so. We have to say forcibly at all levels government, press and trade that we will not have our hand of friendship spat upon and defiled so blatantly and so wantonly. That we will no longer be as gullible or accepting of empty promises and vacillation.

Jiang Yanyong name should be on everyone's lips not for what he as done or even for what is being done to him, the man. He should not be lionised. As honorable and courageous as he has been there are many who have been just as courageous and have sacrificed far greater.

But his name should be on our lips now, from every blog and newspaper, from every congress and chambers of government for what his detention should now have beyond doubt have proven to us. That, because of our hope and kindness and optimism as to the basic goodness of humanity we are allowing ourselves to be duped.

We should utter Jiang's name often as a reminder especially when the Chinese Communist Party talks of Taiwan and Hong Kong,of Xinjiang and Tibet.

A mirror has been held to our face as a result of Jiang Yanyong's detention. The question now is what will we choose to see reflected and how will we react?

Radio Free Asia. 23/6/04 (23/06/04)