Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm not anti China

Blair Mulholland has an excellent post on how those protesting against human rights abuses in China are NOT anti-Chinese. In response to a NZ Herald report of a planned demonstration by supporters of the Chinese Communist Party authoritarian regime he said:
"I support China; a China with free speech, freedom of the press, and freed political prisoners, that I will also be going to Aotea Square - to protest against these people and their support for dictatorship. "
Good for him! I encourage all of you, across the political spectrum who believe in these fundamental rights to join him. If China was free, the Beijing Olympics would be a cause for celebration around the world - like the Olympics were in Athens, Sydney, Atlanta, Barcelona and Seoul.
The Chinese Communist regime is using its domestic media monopoly (protected literally at gunpoint) and substantial wealth to spread utter lies that the protests are some sort of racist anti-Chinese attack. It claims that people in the West are jealous of China's economic success, which is laughable given that China still has an average GDP per capita a fraction of that of developed countries. After all, the Olympics were held in Seoul, South Korea and people didn't protest that - because South Korea had, finally, thrown off its authoritarian regimes and dictators.

The Daily Telegraph reports on websites set up in China to boycott Western companies like KFC and Carrefour (French supermarket chain), and the absurd "anti-CNN" site. Given CNN does not broadcast freely in China (the government there blanks out anything it doesn't like) it is bizarre for anyone to claim that Chinese people in China actually can know what the Western media says. Free speech is unknown in China as is a free press, but hey it's "anti-China" to expect the Chinese people to have these privileges.

You'll notice the anti-CNN website is itself rather bigoted because those who disagree are "ignorant Westerners", a post it attacked was quite reasonable in pitying those who only get the Chinese government side of the story. He also noted, imagine if Chinese created an anti-CCTV website in China. No. The naive are being led astray, and the mighty forces of those who have a vested interest in the Chinese Communist Party are fighting free speech.

Chinese Ambassador to the UK Fu Ying continues the claim that China is being demonised by the Western media. No. India doesn't get demonised, and it is big, a nuclear power and growing fast. That is because Indians have free speech, free press and liberal democracy. She reasonably said:

"Coming to China to report bad stories may not be welcomed but would not be stopped, as China is committed to opening up.

China is far from perfect and it is trying to address the many problems that do exist. It would be helpful to the credibility of the Western media if the issues they care and write about are of today's China, not of the long-gone past."

Fine. How about letting the Chinese people speak up? How about letting them express openly their concerns about government policy, about corruption, about crime, about pollution? How about NOT executing or imprisoning people who disagree with you?

China has gone a long way since the dark days of Mao - I endorse it and I like China. China has reincorporated Hong Kong and it remains a fantastic example of what China could be. Taiwan itself is very much also a great example. You see civilisation does NOT mean using force against those who disagree with you. Civilisation does NOT mean providing aid, trade and support for those who murder (regimes in Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe being some of China's friends with much blood on their hands).

That's what I want to see from China. I want a China as a world power that is open, that has a vibrant free press and media, that unleashes the dynamism of the Chinese people to disagree, argue and be open among themselves. To do this, the Communist Party has to accept criticism, it has to separate the state and the party, and it has to fight hard to make the Chinese judicial system independent.
Is someone who wants this for China anti-Chinese? Sadly even CNN still reports some protests as being "anti-Chinese". Is it any surprise that when that phrase is used that Chinese people get upset?
I hope those who protest in Australia do not just protest for Tibet, as important as that is - this should be about China's own domestic freedoms and China's support for murderous regimes elsewhere. I also hope that Chinese who don't support the Communist regime are not scared by those waving People's Republic of China flags.
Remember when those who say they are pro-Chinese wave the flag of Chairman Mao, they are waving the flag that represents over half a century of political repression, torture and murder. The Communist Party is not China.

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