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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, July 22, 2004

China like Beijing a Conjuror's Trick

She calls it a "city of the future", a  
"..vast ‘Star Trek’ city of huge glass domes, mirrored skyscrapers reflecting the sun in a thousand directions, neatly gardened boulevards, and mammoth expressways that circle the city, some of them 10 lanes wide and all with traffic that seemingly never sleeps."

But unlike so many of our politicians and captains of our industries, journalist Georgie Ann Geyer can see past this facade that is modern day Beijing.

In her article "China's Communist party Governs In Name Only" journalist Georgie Anne Parker recounts a recent trip back to Beijing, a city she first reported from 21 years ago as a correspondent/columnist and which she has has visited several times since, the last over 10 years ago.

Parker talks about the new Beijing, it sensuousness, it’s color, it’s embrace of everything new. Of how, in a resort city she visited there are pictures of  "smiling Mao Tse-tungs, Chou En-lais and Deng Xiaopings, all telling visitors in Chinese lettering to please enjoy themselves in China."

But this new Beijing, this new China does not fool her as it does others. She rightly points out that

"It was easy in the "old days," she says, " when I first came here, to feel and see how repressive it truly was."

Something that the world seems blind to but Geyer sees

"One of the tricks of this complex new order is that the sheen and glitziness of the cities make it easy for foreigners to think everything has changed. "

"Yet underneath that seductive surface, no one seems to care too much about the old concepts of human rights"

Now the endless line of foreign dignitaries and captains of industry jostling for position to sup at the table of this emerging world economy are greeted by an illusion. An illusion of breathtaking change that they either actually believe goes right through the fabric of Chinese society or perhaps "choose" to believe it in an attempt to assuage their own consciences as they line their country's or company's pockets.

Behind this facade that is the "New China" remains the" old China." The China of cruel repression, of false imprisonment and death. As the glass skyscrapers of the new China catch and reflect the light so a person can not easily see inside so to does the new China attempt to hide itself behind the "sheen", as Geyer puts it, of modernity. But it is but glass and despite the glare it can be seen through if one wants to.

Only 15 years last month the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred. The world was justifiably outraged. The European Union slapped on an arms embargo the Australian prime minister of the the time even cried at the news.

Five years ago this month the persecution of the Falun Gong began which has according to some sources seen the deaths of up to 5,000 people and the torture and incarceration of up to 30,000. The world initially took notice but despite the persecution continuing unabated the world no longer seems to care.

Seven weeks ago China, without one skerrick of concern for international opinion, kidnapped and held incommunicado Dr Jiang Yanyong a man of international prominence. The world for all intents and purposes ignored it.

22 days ago the Chinese government executed an Uygur for "subversion" and separatist activities, the third to be executed within ten months despite not a shred of evidence that there has been one "terrorist" type incident carried out by the Uygurs since 1998.  The politicians and the captains of industry response? They do not care of this death or the others.

Ten days ago the Chinese arrested 100 underground Church leaders holding a meeting in Xinjiang. Were they plotting to overthrow the government to warrant such a heavy handed response from Beijing? No, they were meeting to discuss some strategies to convert Uygur muslims to Christianity.

We see what we want to see, we believe what we want to believe.

Magician’s tricks are truly magic if we want to believe them to be so or are  correctly seen as just sleight of hand if we do not. In China's magic act we seem to want to choose to believe the conjuror.

We have given China the Olympics supposedly a movement that mirrors the highest and purest ideals of humanity. What have we got in return? 12 pieces of silver for selling our souls.
Link Read Rating:

Georgie Ann Geyer, "China’s Communist party governs in name only". Yahoo News 20/7/04 (viewed 21/7/04)

100 Christians Arrested World Net Daily


Stephen Sullivan "Jiang Yanyong" China Letter 

Friday, July 09, 2004

Uygur Terrorism Put in Perspective

An article by Amnesty International and a study conducted by James Milward of the East West Centre Washington puts the question of claimed Uygur terrorism into perspective and I can commend both to anyone interested in the "War on Terrorism" in general and Uygur "terrorism" in particular.

Like a growing number of commentators I have long believed the "War on Terrorism" has brought more harm to the world than the evil it attempts to fight.

The "War On Terror": commendable in theory, woeful in execution, horrendous in result.

Countless trillions of dollars have been spent for an ever diminishing return on investment, some of the best minds in the world have been diverted to a cause for so little tangible positives for the world and a vast infrastructure has been put in place that serves very little purpose. People have suffered and died innocently or for no reason.

Whilst terrorism is an evil and must be confronted and destroyed wherever it raises it's ugly head we should have been careful from day one of this "war" that in the pursuit of it's objective that we did not "chuck the baby out with the bathwater". That "collateral damage", so prevalent in any war, was kept to a minimum.

Unfortunately our baby has definitely been sent tumbling and sliding down a stream of discarded bathwater. What final injuries it will sustain in it's tumble is yet to be fully ascertained suffice to say that it will not come out uninjured and unbruised.

The Uygur ethnic minority of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's northwest are a perfect example of how 9 million people have been wrongly painted with the wide brush of "terrorism" for no other reason than they happen to be Muslims and that it suited the purpose of an unscrupulous government to depict them thus.

The "War on Terrorism" as it has been conducted in it's Xinjiang "theatre of operations" with either the explicit support of the free world or at the least it's tacit approval has unfairly demonised a race of people, sent them to jails, to torture and even death.

It has assisted in the more rapid dismantling of their culture by the Chinese, it has impacted incredibly on their freedoms of religion and association.

It has helped the marginalisation of Uygur youth and added to their feelings of helplessness and lack of control over their destiny and by doing so, in no small way, become partly responsible for the Uygur youth drug problem and resultant AIDS epidemic sweeping this people.

What is unbelievable however and a mark of this great and generally peaceful people is that they have not been radicalized by their experiences and forced into the very thing the "War" is supposed to stop.

Like a baby chucked out with the bathwater but still having nothing but love for the one hurting it so too do the Uygur remain supportive and hopeful of a "free world" that has for all intents and purposes abandoned them.

Link: Additional Information Read Rating:

James Millward. "Violent Separation in Xinjiang: A Critical Assessment" East West Centre Washington

People's Republic of China
Uighurs fleeing persecution as China wages its "war on terror". Amnesty International July 7 2004

Monday, July 05, 2004

Happy Birthday Mr Dhondrub

Dalai Lama aged two

Born a peasant. Raised a "living god". Respected and revered by millions, hated and feared by a brutal regime. One man’s incredible 69 year journey.

Born on the 6th of June in 1935 the fourth son and fifth child to poor peasant parents Lharma Dhondrub was to grow up to become a focal point of a nation that was soon to undergo cataclysmic change.

Whether by spiritual intervention or just plain chance this baby boy was to grow to become a symbol of hope not only for his own people but also for many people of different races and religions around the world.

Lharma Dondrub or as he is better known today the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the worlds Tibetan Buddhists and temporal leader in exile of Tibet, was born in Takster northwestern Tibet on July 6 1935.

At the age of two a vision by the Regent of Tibet led a team of Buddhists monks to this poor rural area where the two year old Lharma Dondrub was identified as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama and thus the incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.

Taken with his family to Lhasa the capital of Tibet the young Lama was renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsong Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, the “Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate defender of the faith, Ocean of Wisdom” and installed as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists in a ceremony in February 1940.

The Dalai Lama commenced his education at the age of six and went on to complete a Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy at the age of 25 in 1959.

Given his position as a "living God" his childhood was understandably a lonely one. Something of this can be garnered from what he said in latter life that, after he granted an amnesty to prisoners upon the invasion of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China in 1950, he felt extremely lonely as he was no longer able to watch, from his Lhasa palace, prisoners exercising in the yard of a nearby jail. His only view then of an outside world

On November 17 1950 with 80,000 Chinese troops amassed on Tibet’s borders a 15 year old Tenzin Gyatso was rushed into assuming full temporal powers and appointed head of the Tibetan government and state.

Dalai Lama aged 22

Into Exile

On March 10 1959 increased repression of the Tibetans by the Chinese resulted in a general uprising and Lhasa erupted in riot. It was decided that the young Dalai Lama for his own safety and for the good of the Tibetan people could not fall into the hands of the Chinese so disguised as a soldier he began a 3 week trek out of Tibet into India and a life long exile.

As a result of the brutal suppression of the uprising and the Lama’s move, some 80,000 Tibetens followed him to Dharamsala India known as “little Lhasa” where the young Lama and his entourage set up the Tibetan Government in exile and began providing for their fellow refugees.

In what was to prove prophetic upon hearing of his daring escape Mao Zedong is reported to have said in reference to the importance of the Lama’s escape

“in that case we have lost the battle”

In keeping with Mao’s prophecy to this day and as a direct result of the Dalai Lama's presence China never truly has won the “battle” for Tibet.

A Traveling Lama

In 1967 with his followers settled in Dharamsala and with a Tibetan Buddhist cultural “infrastructure” in place the Dalai Lama began the first of his world trips to promote the cause of Tibet freedom.

His ‘jetsetting” over the ensuing 37 years would see him visit some 47 countries, many several times over, and meet thousands of prominent people including two Popes, Archbishops of Canterbury, royalty, presidents and prime ministers and world celebrities.

Initially he campaigned tirelessly for Tibet’s freedom from Chinese rule but as the years passed the realization that achieving this by other than violent means was impossible slowly dawned and in 1987 he proposed a “Five Point Peace Plan” which altered significantly his stance on the Tibet issue.

The proposal called for a cessation of the transfer of large number of Han Chinese to Tibet, restoration of fundamental human rights, democratic freedoms and abandonment of China’s use of Tibet as a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

This was followed in 1988 by what has come to be called the Strasbourg Proposal where the “Five Point Plan” was expanded to calling for a self governing state “in association” with the Chinese. Whilst the “Strasbourg Proposal” was repudiated by the Tibetan Government in Exile in 1991 due to China’s failure to enter negotiations the basic proposal has remained the Dalai Lama’s agenda since then.

Awards and Recognition

The Dalai Lama's position of mediation and a peaceful resolution of Tibet's situation along with his general promotion of peace in the world have brought him countless awards and recognition.

In 1989 he received the Raoul Wallengburg Congressional Human Rights Award from the United States Congress and later that year the Nobel Peace Prize. As well he has been the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates from Universities worldwide.

He is also actively involved with many charities for the Tibetan peoples.

Dalai Lama comforts Buddhist nun about death

The Man

The Dalai Lama lives in a small cottage in Dharamsala where when he is not touring the world he arises daily between 3.30 am and 4 am to pray and meditate before beginning his working day attending to administration duties. Each day likewise ends in prayer and meditation.

He is a tall man by Tibetan standards and rather ‘chunky’. Suffering from poor eyesight from an early age he wears eyeglasses that have become somewhat of a trademark along with his flowing saffron robes.

His laughter, which he employs often, is deep and reverberating though sometimes sounding as a high nervous chuckle.

According to various reports he is a keen gardener and environmentalists who loves listening to the BBC in his leisure hours. Despite being treated by some inexperienced journalists as if he has just emerged from some Buddhist cave he is an extremely astute man who suffers fools lightly especially the aforesaid journalists. Many a journalist has come away with the distinct impression of not being “liked” by him.

Despite his life’s goal of seeing Tibet again and an autonomous Tibet going unfulfilled he remains at peace with the world and recently complained that he looks like going to his grave never having experienced the common human condition of “depression”

Relations With China

Panchen Lama (l) Mao Dalai Lama (r) Peking 1955Mao’s words have proven to be one hundred percent correct. The Dalai Lama’s freedom has been a constant thorn in the side of China’s claim of legitimacy of their rule over Tibet.

Even today despite the passing of some 45 years since the dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet and despite his public position of acceptance of Chinese rule, albeit with riders as to Tibet self determination, the Chinese Government pursue him with an almost maniacal obsession.

Continually denouncing him as a “separatist” despite his stated conciliatory position, maintaining constant media propaganda in an attempt to counter his growing influence and badgering, bribing and threatening foreign governments over his visits to their countries, the Chinese government display symptoms of extreme paranoia.

The Lama himself has even said that he owes much of his “celebrity” to the Chinese themselves. If they had only forgotten about him, he said, so would have the world

Does he hate China for what it has done to his people and himself? The deaths of some 1 million Tibetans and the rape of their culture? The answer is no. In 1996 he was quoted by Asia Week as saying with a touch of his wry humor

“I pray for Tibet everyday. But I also pray for China. I’m optimistic. Of course I have been optimistic for 37 years now.”

Dalia Lama comforts Tibetan monk who recently escaped from Tibet


The Dalai Lama favorite saying is that he is “just a simple monk - nothing more and nothing less” but the reality is something very different..

The “Jewel”, as the Tibetan people call him, is revered by his people in Tibet.

Whilst it is a criminal offence to have a photo of the Dalai Lama in Tibet many risk jail by doing so. Western tourists apparently are stopped numerous times in Tibet and asked whether they have his picture by adoring Tibetan followers longing to see his image.

So great is his effect on the people that there are numerous reports of simple Tibetans collapsing in his presence overcome by raw emotion at meeting him.

The Lama jokes that the Tibetan people only love him because they never have had to be directly ruled by him but it is far greater than that.

As long as he lives he is the embodiment of their culture, their history, their religion and their hope in a better tomorrow. He is their leader who bravely at the age of 19 traveled to Peking to meet face to face with Mao Zedong and Chou En Lai to plead for his people.

He is the person who has championed their cause to a wider world that would have long forgotten them by now if not for him

Despite this obvious love of him not all Tibetans universally support him however. There are many, especially among young Tibetans in Diaspora who have never seen their motherland, who are at odds with his stance of peaceful resolution of differences between China and Tibet and his acceptance of Chinese rule.

With the hot bloodedness of youth and the lack of actual experience of the reality that is modern day Tibet they call for the use of violence to overcome Chinese rule, a position that The Dalai lama will not countenance

The Lama has far transcended his role as just the spiritual leader of a small number of people practicing an arcane religion in a remote part of the world to become increasingly of far wider importance to many people worldwide

His history, his promotion of peace and his message of a tranquil life in a world increasingly numbed by brutality has drawn a wider group of supporters who see the Lama as being something pure and simple in an non pure and complicated world.

His acceptance of other faiths and his not being seen as a “recruiter” for Buddhism is also respected. He said at the World Congress of Faith in London in 1981

“I always believe that it is much better to have a variety of religions, a variety of philosophies rather than a single religion or philosophy. This is necessary because of the different mental dispositions of each human being. Each religion has certain unique ideas or techniques and learning about them can only enrich one’s own faith”

He also counsels people from not seeking Buddhism as a panacea but rather to use Buddhist techniques to better practice their own religions. At every event he is involved in organizing he asks for at least one inter-faith event to be held coincident with his own

The measure of his growing relevancy to a non Buddhist world can be seen in his is 2004 world trips where at every occasion he is being greeted by more and more people willing to pay between $20 and $100 to hear him speak.

Only recently an appearance planned for later this year at Florida University has to be moved to a stadium to accommodate some 13,000 “fans”. A trip to Canada earlier in the year witnessed similar phenomena as people came from as far away as the United States to hear him speak and larger venues had to be found to accommodate them.

Cover picture of the dalia Lama book

The Future

Much speculation abounds as to what will become of the Tibet issue and Tibetan Buddhism when the Dalai Lama dies. The Lama himself has indicated that the decision as to whether the position of Dalai lama continues is entirely up to the Tibetan people. It is unlikely someone like him, moulded as he was by exceptional circumstances can be found again.

He has said though, in obvious counter to any attempts by the Chinese upon his death to install a puppet Dalai Lama as they have attempted to do with the position of Panchen Lama, that any reincarnation of him will not be found under Chinese control.

As he has escaped communist rule so has the spirit of the Buddha and by inference the spirit of the Tibetan people.

Happy Birthday Dalai Lama your position in the history of the world is assured

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Dalai Lama Cancels Spain Visit Due To Health Concerns

 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibnetan PeopleThe Dalai Lama leader of Tibetan Buddhists has been forced to cancel a planned visit to Spain due to health concerns.

The Dalai Lama was due in Barcelona Spain to celebrate his birthday on July 6 as well as to meet local Buddhists and admirers.

Phayul.com the Tibetan diaspora newspaper reports that his Holiness has been ordered by doctors to take two weeks rest from what has been a punishing travel itinerary this year in an attempt to shake off a persistent cough.

The Lama, 69 on July 6, has been constantly on the move this year visiting the likes of Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Taiwan where he has been met by considerable success for his political and spiritual agendas much to the chagrin of Beijing.

The Chinese communist government has embarked on an all out "anti Lama" propaganda war this year in an attempt to counter the Lama's growing celebrity and popularity. A "White paper" China's highest level tool to persuade international opinion was released on the Tibet situation in May and addressed issues relating to the Dalai Lama and his calls for greater autonomy for the Tibetan people. As well the Chinese has maintained constant diplomatic pressure on host countries resulting in one country at least, Russia, denying the Lama a visa to visit.

The Dalai Lama has confirmed engagements still to be fulfilled in the United States and Central America. According to the Miami Herald he will speak at two venues in Florida in September.

One event had to be rescheduled to a stadium to accommodate an audience of 13,000 people. The Miami Herald further reports that the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet will give an address titled "World peace through inner peace."

Tickets for the Florida event range from US$22 to US$90 prices that certainly place the Dalai Lama into the "star" category.

He is due in central America in October

"Dalai Lama cancels Spain visit for health reasons".www.phayul.com July 3 2004 (Viewed July 4 2004)

AAP."Dalai Lama to speak in South Florida this fall" The Miami Herald July 3 2004 (viewed July 5)

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Ultrasound Or Ultra-Unsound Policy?

one Child propaganda poster

Gender imbalance woes in China blamed on modern technology

A report recently in China's People's Daily looks at the growing gender imbalance in China and claims that it is as a direct result of modern technology which allows parents to find out the sex of an unborn child and then terminate the pregnancy if the child is a female.

According to the report the National Population and Family Planning Commission has focussed on the gender issue as posing a serious problem for China but in doing so incorrectly infers modern technology as being at fault ignoring the possibility that the policy itself may be to blame.

A Serious Problem

China faces some serious population issues in the next 40 years. Gender imbalance is the major one having potential consequences never before faced by a civilized society. The other is a consequent age imbalance, which in itself poses daunting social and economic questions for the Chinese government.

Faced with an exploding population and an economic system that could not support it the Chinese Communist party took the unprecedented step in 1979 of implementing a policy of population control which came to be known as China's "One Child Policy"

The policy effectively was introduced to stop a whole generation of Chinese children from being born and in doing so attempt to "buy" some time to allow the government to implement wide ranging economic reforms to position the country so that it could essentially feed itself into the future.

The "One Child Policy" whilst never a law was promoted through propaganda, "carrot and stick" incentives and in some instances by over zealous officials who took the 'spirit' too far resulting in numerous horror stories of harassment, forced abortions and sterilization of women.

However implemented it has been an astounding success. The Total Replacement Fertility Rate (TFR) in 1979 was 3.6 this had been brought down to 1.8 by 2000. Effectively meaning that some 250 million Chinese children were stopped from being borne.

But like any medicine to cure an ailment China's” One Child” initiative has had it's side effects.

A major adverse effect of the policy has been an unnatural skewing of the gender balance of Chinese society to a point that sees a ratio of 117:100 male to female births as compared to a world average of 104-107:100 males to females.

Historically China has valued male children over female mainly for economic reasons. Boys were considered more productive especially in the poorer rural areas and were also seen as a "superannuation" investment for Chinese parents. As well, culturally, China also has always been a patriarchal society where males dominate the social system.

China's "One Child" Policy combined with this historical perspective and modern technology which allows identification and selective termination of female fetuses has meant that gender imbalance in China's population has become a very major problem. A problem that can only be guessed at as to its social ramifications having as it does no historic parallel against which to compare.

Problems hinted at as to what will be the result of too many men for too few women range from medical and psychological problems through to economic and social concerns. The prospect of 2020 with an estimated 40 million Chinese males denied the opportunity of a settled married and family life with all its attendant positives for society generally is uncharted territory.

The other drawback of the "One Child” Policy is the artificial skewing of the age balance of Chinese society. We are now witnessing a second generation of Chinese that will have a negative fertility rate. In other words it is not regenerating itself. The result of this combined with increasing life expectancy is that the population will become increasingly aged.

After 2015, China's population structure will experience marked changes and the working-age population will not be as abundant as today. By 2020, old-age population will surge and by 2040, China's total old-age population (65+) will hit 397 million, exceeding many countries' current population. By 2050, the number of very old people those above 80 will top 100 million

Obviously a rise in aged means that working people i.e. those people between 15-59 years old, will decline proportionately. In 2000 China's working population accounted for 64.66 per cent in the total population; the figure will drop to 53.42 per cent by 2050."

Will the Gamble Succeed?

The ramifications are a plenty and must be quite concerning to government planners. How is the social security system to be structured and funded? What are the health care delivery and aged care considerations? How does relatively fewer workers support the economy and the high number of “non-productives”? Obviously through greater productivity but how is this attained and at what cost? Quantity will have to be replaced with quality but how?

The "One Child " Policy of the CCP has been an overwhelming and unprecedented social experiment which has had striking success within a narrow band of objectives. The question remains to be answered however is whether the negatives will outweigh the positives.

Has China been successful in "buying" itself enough time to effect social and economic structural change so as it can insure that it is able to "feed" itself or has it only succeeded in deferring the problem by 50 years?

Imbalance gender ratio a worry of China" People's Daily Daily. 30 June 2004 (Viewed 1 July)