Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Here is an excerpt from it:
"China declared Tuesday that it is willing to resume a long-stalled human rights dialogue with the United States, apparently seeking to improve its image before this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made the announcement at the close of talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who passed through Beijing after attending the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul on Monday.
Yang, a former ambassador to Washington, appeared to direct his announcement to U.S. reporters accompanying Rice.
"We are willing to resume the human rights dialogue," he said, reading from notes. "The Chinese people enjoy the full extent of human rights and religious freedom. We are willing to have exchanges and interactions with the United States and other countries on human rights on a basis of mutual respect, equality and noninterference in internal affairs."
Rice, in a later briefing, welcomed the Chinese gesture and said U.S. diplomats would seek to pin down a date for restarting the dialogue as soon as possible. "That is something we've been trying to do for some time," she added.
China suspended participation in the regular U.S.-China human rights dialogue in 2004 after the United States sponsored a resolution at the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission urging condemnation of China's record. Chinese officials construed that move as interference in their country's affairs and a display of hostility that made further formal dialogue impossible.
President Hu Jintao indicated to President Bush during a visit to Washington two years later that he was willing in principle to resume the dialogue, according to U.S. reports. But in practice, Chinese officials evaded U.S. attempts to get the discussions started again."
Comment: Based on my study of the bilateral dialogues that China has had with various countries, the observation that "Chinese officials evaded U.S. attempts to get the discussions started again" is well-based. This is because the USA is not prepared to go along with the Chinese agenda to use the human rights dialogues as a foreign policy initiative whose purpose is to counter Western attempts to make the Chinese Party-State accountable for its failure to comply with China's commitments to the UN to extend the universal entitlement to human rights to Chinese citizens. Yang's assertion that "the Chinese people enjoy the full extent of human rights and religious freedom," does not bode well for any meaningful dialogue because this statement is so blatantly absurd. This lack of sincere intention to genuinely address China's human rights issues is regrettably confirmed in that there has been no mention of the Chinese Government request to resume the human rights dialogue with the US in any of the reports of Secretary of State Rice's visit to China in any of the Mainland Chinese TV news or newspaper reports that I have seen so far.
Friday, February 22, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Jerry Yang wants U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to help get two Chinese journalists out of prison — where they've been since Yahoo complied with Chinese investigators.
Yang's request, faxed to Rice on Thursday morning, is the company's latest effort to undo damage set off when Yahoo cooperated with Chinese authorities and disclosed information about the online activities of the two journalists.
U.S. lawmakers and human rights advocates have accused it of collaborating with an oppressive regime and the Internet company recently settled a lawsuit with families of the journalists, who were each sentenced to 10-year prison terms for allegedly leaking state secrets and political writings.
Yahoo also helped establish a human rights fund to provide humanitarian and legal aid to dissidents who have been imprisoned for expressing their views online.
Full report can be found at: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iUGDBG-d7HqWPkUPG050pmPYDEvAD8UV0HB00
Comment by me: Corporate damage control, but welcome anyway.
A related subsequent news report: " Yahoo Sued Again by Chinese Dissidents" can be found at http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcfd6fxz_386hq476ncw
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Elite China think-tank issues political reform blueprint
Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:27pm EST
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING (Reuters) - China risks dangerous instability unless it embraces democratic reforms to limit the power of the ruling Communist Party, foster competitive voting and rein in censors, the Party's top think-tank has warned in a new report.
The "comprehensive political system reform plan" by scholars at the Central Party School in Beijing argues for steady liberalization that its authors say can build a "modern civil society" by 2020 and "mature democracy and rule of law" in later decades.
The cost of delaying this course could be economic disarray and worsening corruption and public discontent, they write in "Storming the Fortress: A Research Report on China 's Political System Reform after the 17th Party Congress".
"Citizens' steadily rising democratic consciousness and the grave corruption among Party and government officials make it increasing urgent to press ahead with demands for political system reform," the report states. "The backwardness of the political system is affecting economic development."
The report was finished in October, just after the Party's twice-a-decade congress ended and gave President Hu Jintao five more years as party chief. But it is only now appearing in some Beijing bookstores.
This is no manifesto for outright democracy. The authors say the Party must keep overall control and "elite" decision-making will help China achieve lasting economic prosperity by pushing past obstacles to economic reform.
But the 366-page report give a strikingly detailed blueprint of how some elite advisers see political relaxation unfolding, with three phases of reform in the next 12 years, including restricting the Party's powers and expanding the rights of citizens, reporters, religious believers and lawmakers.
"Until now political reform has been scattered and inconsequential," Wang Guixiu, a professor at the Party School not involved in the study, told Reuters. "Real political reform needs a substantive plan of action, and there are some scholars and officials who believe that's what is needed now."
Full text of the Reuters report can be found at http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcfd6fxz_374d84s9zhh.
Related report in the Chinese language can be found at http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcfd6fxz_378d48xgkcg
An account of my visit to the Central Party School in September 2007 can be found here: http://charlesburton.blogspot.com/2007/10/engaging-on-human-rights-at-central.html
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The response of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao is reported as follows: "So-called talk that China runs spying activities in the United States is totally fictitious and has ulterior motives. We demand the U.S. side abandon its thinking and stop its gratuitous criticism of China. I think everyone is weary of this kind of farce, and it should end" . . . The United States should "do more to help bilateral trust and friendship between the peoples of both nations."
So the Chinese Government's "official" position is that the Chinese Government does no spying of any kind ever. I don't know why they make this claim. Better to say nothing than bring shame on themselves by making up an absurd statement that suggests the foreigners are so foolish as to believe it.
An interesting related artcle in the February 15 Washington Post entitled: "Even Spies Embrace China's Free Market: U.S. Says Some Tech Theives aer Entrepreneurs, Not Government Agents" can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/14/AR2008021403550_pf.html
CANBERRA -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said sorry to the stolen generations in a public speech Wednesday morning in the parliament.
"We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations, this blemished chapter in our nation's history," Rudd said.
"We apologize for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians," the apology says.
"For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
"To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
"And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry," the prime minister said in an emotional speech.
Rudd said a new page in Australia's history can now be written.
"We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians," he said.
I subsequently received a poignant message from a close friend in China who suffered badly with his factory and property owning family after 1949 and in the Anti-Rightist Campaign and in the Cultural Revolution. He is now an older gentleman living in the PRC in retirement. He wrote me in English as follows:
"Will there be a righteous Chinese communist leader in future who would say a heart-felt SORRY to tens of millions of Chinese nationals and their left-behind families who were wronged by the wronged policies over the past tens of years in the CCP's history?"
Guo Quan, an expert on classical Chinese literature and the 1937 Nanjing massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops, last week issued an open letter pledging to bring a lawsuit against Google after he discovered that his name had been excised in searches of its google.cn portal in China.
He told The Times that he had now found that the Chinese Yahoo! site had also blocked his name and he planned to bring actions against both companies. Mr Guo said: “Since January 1 a lot of friends told me that websites with my name had been closed. They told me it's impossible to search for my information on Google and Yahoo!”
It is not the first incidence of censorship of foreign internet portals operating in China. Google came in for widespread criticism and accusations of colluding when it became known that its search engine in China had been configured to filter out words that are effectively banned in China, such as Tibet independence, Dalai Lama and democracy.
Google and other foreign internet service providers defend their actions, saying that they are acting in accordance with Chinese law and the conditions of doing business in China. The country's carefully patrolled internet firewall slows, blocks or disrupts users trying to access uncensored foreign websites. Mr Guo said that he could not sue Google or Yahoo! in China since they have no formal legal identity, but he would press his lawsuits against the parent companies in the United States. “They have infringed my right to my name, and also the rights of anyone called Guo Quan because you can find no information for this name.
Full story available at: http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article3319051.ece
Monday, February 04, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
Rough Translation of report in Singtao Daily that Proves Me Wrong on Canadian Government China Engagement Intensity
by Singtao Daily Reporter, Mary Yang; January 17, 2008.
The recent statement by the Chinese Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shumin, has led the Federal Liberal Party to focus on worsening Canada-China relations. But the Conservative Party has responded by pointing to the genuine accomplishments that demonstrate the progress that Canada-China relations have made.
Last Thursday, Lu Shumin, in a talk to members of the Canada-China Friendship Association, said that "unfortunate developments" had led to a cooling in Canada-China relations. More and more Chinese people have developed a negative impression of Canada. This is not good news. It leads to progressive weakening in Canada-China relations. It is damaging for both countries. The Ambassador called for narrowing the differences between the two countries. If that is not possible, then seek common ground while agreeing to disagree on the rest. "If we mutually respect each other, then we can achieve very great progress."
The Federal Liberal Party issued a statement on Wednesday. Foreign Affairs Critic, Bob Rae, stated that Lu Shumin's talk demonstrates that Canada-China relations are tense. "For a diplomat to make such an unusual frank comment, clearly indicates that no matter how much the Conservative Party tries to pretend that all is well, bilateral relations between Canada and China have been severally damaged."
He further pointed out, the Conservative Party's ineffective China policy has been at a cost to the people of Canada as well as to the people of China. He cited the example of Ottawa's long delay in failing to implement an Approved Destination Status agreement as an example.
Neil Hrab, spokesman for Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, indicated to the Singtao Daily that since the Conservative Party came to power, Cabinet Ministers have visited China 8 times and that Prime Minister Harper had a very constructive meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the G-8 Summit Meeting. Over the period of Liberal Party Government Canada-China Trade levels stalled with no forward movement, but it is increasing is double digits now. in 2007, Canada's commodity exports to China increased by 29%. Canada-China relations need frank and open dialogue, so that our nation can make genuine achievements that reflect Canadian values and interests.
Canadian scholar, Charles Burton says that that the Liberal Party is simply using this as a means to attack the Conservative Party, as Lu Shumin has made this sort of statement in the past. Burton indicates that that this is simply Lu Shumin attempting to protect China's interests, as its authorities would prefer that human rights not be a central issue in relations between Canada and China. Bilateral relations have not worsened in the grave way that the Liberal Party tries to make out. When the Liberal Party was in power, Canada also raised human rights with the Chinese.
(original Chinese can be found at http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcfd6fxz_350hcbhkxzt)
Comment: In my my op-ed piece for Embassy: Canada's Foreign Policy Newsletter entitled "A 'Principled' Approach, Quiet Diplomacy and the Prime Minister's Message to Beijing" published November 14th, 2007 (http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcfd6fxz_302hmjr59) I wrote that "intensity of engagement with China will likely be lessened in years ahead." The statement above by Neil Hrab clearly puts the lie to this. I had evidently misread the implications of a statement on foreign policy made last October in the House of Commons entitled "The Americas as a Priority." Further suggesting that I am happily wrong about this, in a speech at the University of Alberta on January 18, 2008, Secretary of State Helena Guergis said "we are committed to sustained high level engagement. Since our government came to office, there have been eight ministerial visits to China, including two visits by the Minister of International Trade David Emerson, who just returned from a visit to China and Mongolia last week."
Of course I do not think that Ambassador Lu's idea that we "seek common ground while agreeing to disagree on the rest" is such a good approach. I think that we show more mutual respect if we are honest with each other about all of our concerns. I don't think it is helpful to either side to take human rights off the agenda on an "agree to disagree" basis, as much as the Chinese authorities might thank Canada for doing that.