Sunday, August 31, 2008

Simple but Insightful Observation by Geoff York

China clearly sees the Olympics as a pivotal moment in its history – the moment when the world was forced to recognize China's power and talent. Of course the world has watched China's rapid rise for many years now, and had no need of the Olympics to confirm the obvious. Perhaps the Beijing Games were more important as a psychological reassurance to the Chinese themselves, who often seem insecure about the world's perception of their state.

Comment by me: Hopefully this will be good thing in terms of the nature of the Chinese Communist Party's domestic and international policies in years ahead.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Geoff York and Globe and Mail China Bashing?

I have just been reading Geoff York's blog entry "Post-script to Olympics lip-synching girl"


The story related the comments of the teacher of the little girl, Yang Peiyi who had to sing "Ode to the Motherland" off-camera at the Olympics opening ceremony while another little girl with more attractive features mouthed the words in her place. Miss Yang is reported by her teacher to be feeling quite hurt by the whole thing. It is the comments that people have made to Geoff York's blog entry that give me pause to think. I am quite surprised that pretty much all of them see Geoff York's simply repeating what Yang Peiyi's teacher wrote as indicative of some sort of anti-China conspiracy on the part of himself and the Globe and Mail. After all most Chinese people evidently think that Yang Peiyi should have been shown singing that song on-camera at the Ceremony and that the producers made a mistake in replacing her with another "more attractive" girl. It is an interesting story about whether superficial appearance or artistic talent makes a child more beautiful. I don't really see it as much related to "China-bashing." But there is a lot of anger in those comments. This worries me..

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fragment from Globe and Mail Editorial Contrasting Beijing and London Olympics

Beijing's Olympics were the most dramatic demonstration in history of the raw power of the totalitarian state, bulldozing and building anything it wanted in the service of sport and spectacle. China's leaders are undoubtedly pleased.

. . .

The full editorial can be found at:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Farewell Chairman Hua

The Canadian newspapers have printed obituaries of Hua Guofeng today. When I was a student in Shanghai, a portrait of the "heroic and brilliant leader" Chairman Hua was suspended about the blackboard in our lecture halls right next to the identically framed portrait of the "great leader" Chairman Mao Zedong. At the time I regarded Hua Guofeng as a clumsy fogy whose plodding calligraphy paled in comparison with the powerful vigour and creative spirit of Chairman Mao's swirling handwriting. Hua also seemed to have no ideas of his own,. Chairman Hua said "We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made for us, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave to us". This statement was repeated in a joint editorial, entitled "Study the Documents Well and Grasp the Key Link", printed in February 1977 in the People's Daily, the theoretical journal Red Flag and in Liberation Army Daily. Hua was a "whatevervist."

After he gave up all his official offices in 1980, Hua Guofeng was little heard of, but he stayed on in the Central Committee and even appeared sitting in the back row on the rostrum at the Party Congress last fall. People in China in general have a benevolent impression of him.

Now I realize that when he was Chairman, Hua Guofeng was only a little older than I am now. Now, as was once a common expression in China referring to the deceased, Chairman Hua has "gone to see Marx." As I get older I am more and more aware of the reality that all thing pass away in the end.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

China's Aide Memoire to the UN Applying to Be a Member of the Human Rights Council

I am as ever amazed at the ability of the PRC Government to make claims so assertively that are manifestly untrue, Today I was reading the 2006 Aide Memoire that the Government of China sent to the UN with the request that the PRC be put up for election as a member of the Human Rights Council . It reads in part:
The National People's Congress has adopted nearly 300 laws and regulations related to the protection of civil and political rights ensuring complete freedom of the Chinese people in movement, employment, access to information, religious belief and ways of life.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jean Chretien says Harper was wrong not to attend Olympics opening

Mon Aug 18, 11:42 AM

QUEBEC - Jean Chretien says Prime Minister Stephen Harper was wrong not to attend the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

And the former prime minister believes Canada may pay a high price for his absence.

Chretien, who was speaking at a news conference following a speech to the Canadian Bar Association in Quebec City Monday, says he would definitely have gone to Beijing had he still been prime minister.

He says Harper should have been at the celebration given China's economic and demographic clout and the mentality of its leaders.

Chretien believes relations between the countries have deteriorated since the Conservatives came to power.

The former Liberal prime minister pointed out he always maintained very good relations with China when he was in charge of the government.

My comment: I don't think the Canadian interest is served by this kind of statement by a retired Prime Minister. On matters of foreign policy presenting a Canadian united front is best. Partisan political debate is of course a good thing, but former Prime Ministers are better off giving their counsel in private in my opinion.

Update August 20:
By The Canadian Press
BEIJING - Chinese media have picked up on the war of words this week between Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper over the prime minister's decision to skip the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games in Beijing.

The story was teased on the front page of the English-language China Daily under the headline "Canada PM Flayed for Skipping Day 1" and was also featured on about a dozen Chinese news websites and various blogs on Wednesday.

Most stories ran with the headline: "Former Prime Minister Chretien Strongly Criticizes Current Prime Minister Harper for Not Attending Olympics: Will Pay Heavy Price."


My Question and Cheuk Kwan's Answer on Chinese Nationalism published in The Globe and Mail Website

Charles Burton from St Catharines: When Canadians express concern about the situation of Tibetans or Uyghurs or believers in religion in China, some ethnic Chinese often dismiss these claims on the basis that the Canadians are 'anti-China' or 'don't understand China.' So we get no reasoned response, but are instead charged with racism and ignorance.What can Canadians do to on the one hand to stand for those who are suffering from injustice in China and on the other to avoid making these ethnic Chinese feel so offended?

Cheuk Kwan: Unfortunately there's no easy solution because mainland Chinese, and by extension, Chinese Canadian immigrants often do not distinguish the three separate entities: Chinese people, Chinese as a nation, and the Chinese government. And that distinction is not made very clear by the Chinese-language media in Canada, where most immigrants still get their news. This is especially serious with the introduction of CCTV, the state Chinese television broadcaster, into our cable system who will beam one-sided pro-Chinese government news coverage into Canadian homes. I think Canadians should continue to make their voices heard, and let these Chinese Canadians know that a criticism of China's government does not equate itself to offending the Chinese people.

My comment: China has a proud and wonderfully rich tradition, but it is not identical with the bases for the legitimacy of the authoritarian rule of the CCP.

Are Human Rights Incompatible with Chinese Culture?

A posting that I wrote entitled "Are Human Rights Incompatible with Chinese Culture?" can be found on the "Olympic Journal" blog published by Rights & Democracy.




Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bible Smuggling in Kunming

I read a news report day that Chinese customs at Kunming has seized 300 Chinese language Bibles from the luggage of a visiting Christian group which had planned to distribute them for free (

In December 2007 it was reported that the Amity Foundation of Nanjing has printed 50 million Chinese Bibles since it was founded in 1988 (

Last month The China Daily reported that 10,000 bilingual Bibles would be made available at the Olympic Village during the games.

The People's Republic of China State Constitution indicates that Chinese people have the freedom to believe in religion but not the freedom to propagate religion. In the meantime the Protestant Church in China has been growing by more than 1 million believers a year for more than 2 decades.

The people in China yearn for the fruits of the spirit, the Chinese Communist Party frets over the power of the Church to promote people's democracy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

He Kexin's Allegedly Falsified Passport

Originally uploaded by photo240779
The China Digital Times has come up with some very convincing evidence that Chinese gymnast He Kexin who did so well in the Olympics winning a gold medal is 14 years old when the minimum age to compete is 16. The item can be found at:

Evidently the IOC goes by the age listed on the athlete's passport which gives her date of birth as January 1, 1992, but the CDT has found a number of news articles and other documents that suggest that Ms. He's date of birth is in fact January 1, 1994. If the passport date of birth has been falsified this would suggest Chinese Government collusion in this fraud (most likely without the knowledge of senior level Communists).

This unexpected incident has enormous explosive potential as Chinese people everywhere who are so proud of China's hosting of this important international event will feel great loss of face if He Kexin has her gold medal taken away. It will be much worse than when Canadian Ben Johnson was revealed to be a cheat at the '88 Olympics and lost his medal. "Face" is such strong imperative in Chinese culture.

I also feel sorry that the matter involves a child who will suffer stigma for the rest of her life, despite being too young to be held in any way responsible for the alleged fraud, if it turns out to be proven definitively that she is in fact underage for the competition.

The whole thing is just so regrettable.

Update October 1, 2008: The IOC has ruled that the  Chinese female gymnasts who competed at this year's Beijing Olympics were not underage:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Think Chubby Face and Uneven Teeth Also Cute and Sweet and More Talented and Politburo Made Wrong Call

BEIJING (AFP) - The little girl who starred at the Olympic opening ceremony was miming and only put on stage because the real singer was not considered attractive enough, the show's musical director has revealed,

Pigtailed Lin Miaoke was selected to appear because of her cute appearance and did not sing a note.

But Chen Qigang, the general music designer of the ceremony said the girl whose voice was actually heard by the 91,000 capacity crowd at the Olympic stadium during the spectacular ceremony was in fact seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, who has a chubby face and uneven teeth

The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation," Chen said in an interview that appeared briefly on the news website before it was apparently wiped from the Internet in China.

He said the final decision to stage the event with Lin lip-synching to another girl's voice was taken after a senior member of China's ruling Communist Party politburo attended a rehearsal.

"He told us there was a problem that we needed to fix it, so we did," he said, without disclosing further details of the order.

The Beijing Olympic organising committee confirmed the episode.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Canada-China Relations Then and Now

My good friend, Wenran Jiang of the University of Alberta has put forth that Canada-China relations are presently at their lowest point since Canada established diplomatic relations with China in October 1970. I am not sure what criteria Wenran is using to assess this. To me it is is hard to square with the impact that the pervasive xenophobia of the Chinese régime of the 1970s had on Canadian interests in the PRC in the 1970s. In those days Canada was really constrained in what we could do in China. For example:
Political: we had very limited access to Chinese citizens and very little access to Chinese publications due to the restrictive laws and regulations of that time. Canadian reporters could be expelled peremptorily for very gentle truth telling about the negative side of the Cultural Revolution.
Immigration: we had a lot of trouble getting the Chinese authorities to implement our family Reunification Program. Canadians with valid reasons for wanting to enter China were usually denied visas.
Trade: we could not get fair access to the Chinese market, except for some grains, minerals and newsprint. The non-market currency exchange rate made Canadian products very expensive in China.
Culture: we could do virtually no public diplomacy
Development: we were not allowed to do CIDA projects despite China's great need due to the pervasive poverty in China in those years.
And so it goes.

Essentially the context of China under Maoist revolution was so completely different that there is no valid basis for comparison.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fragment of Statement by the Uyghur American Association Condemning Violence

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) resolutely condemns the message delivered in a terror video just released and dated August 1, in which a man speaking in Uyghur claims to be part of a so-called the Turkistan Islamic Party. UAA condemns any groups that promote terrorism or violence, and opposes the threats of violent attacks that are presented in the video.

"The goal of our organization, and of the vast majority of Uyghurs around the world, is to peacefully resolve the problems facing Uyghurs in East Turkestan," said Uyghur freedom movement leader Rebiya Kadeer. "We advocate the principle of non-violence, and the promotion of freedom, democracy and human rights through peaceful means. We also sincerely hope for a peaceful Olympic Games."

UAA urges caution with respect to claims circulated in the media regarding the Turkistan Islamic Party, as the existence of the group, its size and level of organization and any reported links to al Qaeda have yet to be confirmed. UAA maintains a degree of skepticism that this group exists beyond the Internet. UAA is also unaware of any mention of the Turkistan Islamic Party prior to last month, when a separate video was released that was reportedly also produced by the organization. Prior to the release of this video, UAA had never heard of the group. In addition, UAA urges the international community not to discount the possibility that the Chinese government itself may have been involved in the production of the video.

UAA also urges a high degree of caution when assessing recent assertions by Chinese government officials regarding the existence of a well-organized terrorist group or groups in East Turkestan, as these assertions have yet to be independently verified. UAA also urges skepticism with regard to official Chinese claims of a strong linkage between al Qaeda and alleged Uyghur terrorist groups, which have similarly remained unsubstantiated.

Comment by me: Violence in Xinjiang only makes the situation there worse.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

China Foreign Ministry Spokesman on U.S. President's Comments

clipped from

China on Bush: Don't interfere in our affairs

Thu Aug 7, 5:49 AM ET

China has responded to President Bush's speech criticizing Beijing for repression, saying no one should interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China and the United States have divergent views on human rights and religions issues, but said Beijing firmly opposed "any words or acts" that used those issues to interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

 blog it

Friday, August 01, 2008

Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi's Observation on the Anglican Communion

Anglicans may say there are four “Instruments of Communion,” (the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lambeth Conference; the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting). But de facto, there is only one - the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The peculiar thing is that this one man, who is at the centre of the communion's structures, is not even elected by his peers. Even the Pope is elected by his peers, but what Anglicans have is a man appointed by a secular government. Over the past five years, we have come to see this as a remnant of British colonialism, and it is not serving us well. The spiritual leadership of a global communion of independent and autonomous provinces should not be reduced to one man appointed by a secular government.

It is important that our decision not to attend this Lambeth Conference is not misunderstood as withdrawing from the Anglican Communion. On the contrary, our decision reflects the depth of our concern and the sober realisation that the present structures are not capable of addressing the crisis.
(published in the London Times this morning: Photo from