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Maybe If China Were Iran…. **updated**

June 26, 2010

…we’d be outraged about this. Or maybe the story at least would be getting about 3 seconds of air time in the U.S. But no, it’s the Brits who are reporting it:

A leading Tibetan environmentalist and collector of antiquities has been jailed for 15 years for robbing graves.

Karma Samdup was sentenced by a court in Xinjiang for excavating and robbing ancient tombs, a charge brought and dropped in 1998, said his lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang. “He is innocent. They did not provide any evidence. It is a miscarriage of justice,” he said.

The lawyer said that although Karma Samdup was fine mentally, he had been shocked by his client’s appearance. “He looked terrible. He’s lost a lot of weight in jail and says he was treated terribly,” Mr Pu said. The philanthropist was arrested in Chengdu city in early January. He was also involved in a well-respected environmental group.

Several artists and intellectuals have been detained or have disappeared in recent months in what activists say is the broadest suppression of Tibetan culture and expression for years.

The U.S. has repeatedly sent out press releases and public calls for Iran (and Cuba and Venezuela)
to release political prisoners, etc. etc. But no such concern for the victims of Communist China’s ruthless persecution of Tibetans. No concern about the forced sterilization. Or the torture of human rights activists, Falun Gong practitioners and Muslim Uighurs. Or the lack of anything resembling an actual judicial process that is anything more than a show trial.

Human rights for me but not for thee.

Of course, when the U.S. tortures and imprisons people who have done absolutely nothing wrong and then refuses to release them for purely political reasons, I guess it’s hard to point fingers at other countries. Except Iran, Cuba, Venezuala of course. This is what happens when hawks and neoconservatives make policy- they undermine the very democratic foundations that make this country “a shining beacon” of democracy, all in the name of “security.” They should all go back, read the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers and then explain exactly how they define “democracy” in light of their current actions. Of course, this is less about principles such as democracy and justice and more about psychology 101- keep people afraid and you can control them like puppets on a string.

UPDATE: Over on Foreign Policy they have an interesting article about how China has its [economic] hands in almost every corrupt, oppressive government’s wallet.

While China owns much of our debt, what is frustrating is how China undermines so many of our foreign policy goals in countries like Sudan and Iran (just to name two). Is it really worth it? What are we doing to create manufacturing jobs in the U.S. so that we aren’t so dependent on China’s cheap toxic crap? We helped create this monster when we allowed U.S. corporations to take their businesses to China to avoid pesky annoyances like environmental regulations, labor regulations, safety regulations etc. What on earth were we thinking? That we could maintain an economic advantage by offshoring the manufacture of every single thing? And to make matters worse, guess who has a leg up in the so-called “Green Economy?” Yup, China. While they don’t give a damn about their role in polluting the planet, if money is to be made off other people’s sense of ethics and responsibility, then China will be there to cash in. The U.S. actually prefers to buy solar panels and other environmental products from China, rather than buying those that are made in the U.S.A. Unbelievable!

Ok, back to the FP article:

You’ve probably heard by now that China, in its bid to lock in access to energy and mineral riches in far-flung corners of the world, is causing heartburn for the legions of do-gooders working to turn the world’s most fragile countries into stable, prosperous states. Everyone from the president of the World Bank to Bono has blamed Chinese companies and government officials for threatening the hard-won progress the West has made in the global south, while warning of dire consequences for countries on the receiving end of Chinese largesse.

Commentators such as Zambian economist Bob Sichinga have even accused Beijing of “raping” Africa in its bid for natural resources. I call it the China effect — the disturbing notion that Western-led development efforts could come to naught, cast aside by the allure of fast money and rapid economic progress. And it’s easy to see the appeal: While U.S. and European gurus are busy lecturing Third World autocrats about good governance and transparency, Chinese engineers are building highways to the dictators’ weekend homes.

What’s less well known is the key role such states as Brazil, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, South Africa, and Venezuela are playing in China’s international diplomatic game. Over the past decade and a half, while few in the West were paying attention, Beijing has built a coalition of countries — a great many of them in Africa — that can be trusted to vote China’s way in an increasingly clogged alphabet soup of international fora. It’s a bloc reminiscent of the one the Soviet Union assembled during the Cold War, though focused on economic and trade advantages, not security issues.

So far, China’s strategy is working, and nowhere more so than with Beijing’s campaign to delegitimize Taiwan as an independent state. In 2008, for instance, Malawi announced it had cut diplomatic relations with the island would-be nation; Taipei couldn’t match China’s offer of $6 billion in aid. Senegal broke relations in 2005, signing an agreement that reportedly included an initial $600 million in financial assistance from China. Chad followed suit after a series of secret meetings with Chinese officials and an undisclosed amount of aid. Today, just four African countries still recognize Taiwan as the one true China: Burkina Faso, Gambia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Swaziland, down from 13 in 1994; the global number has declined from 68 states in 1971 to 23 currently. Even Panama and Nicaragua, two of the few Latin American states that still officially recognize Taiwan, abstained from a vote on its 2007 bid to join the World Health Organization. Taipei’s list of friends is headed rapidly toward zero.

[snip]

At the United Nations, support for Chinese positions on human rights jumped from 50 percent in 2000 to 74 percent in 2008, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations. The council also found that 41 countries that were Western-voting allies on human rights issues in the U.N. 10 years ago now support China and Russia. From Africa to Asia to Latin America, these include a notable list of Chinese commercial partners, some of the most undistinguished performers on the Failed States Index. Many of these same countries have joined to vigorously defend traditional sovereignty — a notion deeply important to Beijing because it fears and resents Western meddling in its internal affairs. Support for China and Russia on this issue has exceeded 80 percent in recent years.

China has also deployed this winning formula at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Within the WTO, Beijing has already put together an African coalition large enough to torpedo specific rules it opposes. But the strategic prize China is seeking in Geneva is official status as a market economy — a valuable legal and trade designation that prevents other countries from launching anti-dumping cases. Chinese companies stand to gain billions if Beijing’s diplomats can outmaneuver the United States and the European Union, which accuse China of unfair competitive practices and inadequate bankruptcy and intellectual-property laws. Egypt, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, and dozens of other countries have proved happy to extend this designation to Beijing on bilateral terms in return for Chinese engagement. Now, China’s goal is to cobble together enough WTO votes from African and Latin American countries to see this protection expanded globally — while teaming up with India to sink the Doha round of trade talks, which threatens to swamp Chinese farmers with a flood of cheap imports.

China is also making great strides within a host of smaller multilateral organizations that don’t invite the United States and the European Union to join — obscure bodies like the East Asia Summit, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In these venues, Chinese officials have not hesitated to combine soft power with a bit of muscle. African and Asian ambassadors have made off-the-record statements suggesting that China uses its aid and trade as leverage to make them tilt away from U.S. initiatives. If countries do not toe Beijing’s line or don’t abstain when asked, their economic projects could be put at risk…

Hopefully this bill which was just introduced in Congress will gain some ground, although it only addresses one small aspect of the problem:

US lawmakers have unveiled a new bill that would bar the government from buying any Chinese goods or services.

It’s the latest move by politicians angry at Beijing’s policy of buying only from domestic sources.

The prohibition would last until China signs on to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) “Agreement of Governmental Procurement”.

That agreement would enable Washington to challenge Beijing’s procurement rules.

The lawmakers complain that US firms cannot compete in China’s government procurement market, estimated at 500 billion US dollars.
On the other hand, they note that the US government buys Chinese tyres, ammunition, office equipment, and other items.

Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, who’s the bill’s lead author, says “China continues to discriminate against American businesses”.


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