Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Stifling Dissent and News to Enable Harmony

"I think it’s an insult to democracy and human rights to take them into negotiations [on trade agreements[. If so, people will ask how much democracy and human rights cost. [Including 'non-trade factors' in a free trade agreement would be] unfair."
"Advancing talks [on the free trade agreement is a major priority to] create more favourable conditions to expand our trade."
"We shouldn’t refuse judiciary and law enforcement [returning Chinese nationals to face punishment], even though we have different judicial systems."
'[The complexities of] managing affairs [in a country as big as China] demands wisdom. Based on the national conditions of China, it doesn’t work if we just follow foreign examples."
"The signing of the [free-trade agreement] is to provide a stable and anticipated institutional arrangement for mutual investment, so that investors won’t worry [that] their investments may encounter some difficulties or problems."
"We are also not in a rush — it is totally up to the Canadian side. The earlier the Canadian side signs the FTA, the earlier you get the benefits."
"I have stated many times that we’re not afraid of discussing the issues, such as democracy and human rights. FTA is FTA itself — we just don’t want to add too many non-economic or nontrade factors into it."
Chinese Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye

China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye participates in an interview at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Canada, in Ottawa on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Shaye told The Canadian Press he doesn't think Chinese investors will want to endure what he described as lengthy regulatory processes required for Canadian infrastructure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Many Canadians, including the official opposition in Parliament, have no wish for Canada to sign a free trade deal with the Peoples Republic of China unless the ruling Communist Party turns around its abysmal record on human rights. As much as trade is of primary importance to any country, the issue of human rights is too important to set aside for the sake of national profitability. And this was most certainly the view of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has opposite feelings on the issue.

He has in the past stated his admiration for left-wing dictators; he was a familiar with Cuba's Fidel Castro. And he once expressed his opinion that it was just fantastic how China transformed itself from a vast poverty-strewn nation to the place where it is today, having lifted its immense population of 1.3-billion people into the 20th Century with impressive speed. Of course, on the way to that material and economic success there was the Cultural Revolution that in its paroxysms of 'change' took millions of lives through tyranny, conflict and privation.

As far as Justin Trudeau is concerned, his focus is on the amazing swiftness with which a massive country like Japan can turn itself around, from indigent to prosperous. And Trudeau feels that a free trade deal with China can only be a good thing; the old canard that former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, also obsessed with China and trade used, was that there was no need to press China on its human rights record; simply doing business with the nation would have the effect of subtly turning it in the right direction. The spillover effect of virtuous Canada exerting its influence on massive China.

The new Chinese ambassador, who reflecting the official Chinese stance on human rights and linking it with trade, expressed his rejection of any link whatever; the classic example of apples and oranges not resulting in bananas. Evidently Ambassador Lu had the post of Director General of the Policy Research Bureau of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. So he is an insider's insider; intimate with the priorities and values of the Party and its immutable direction.

"Why do you think China can make so many great achievements with so high effience? It's because the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government are good at listening to the public opinion and mobilizing and guiding the public for common cause", he explains, chastising any interlocutor foolish enough to attempt to link trade and human rights. China's major news networks were informed that henceforth any news produced must express "total loyalty" to the Communist Party. If complaints arose they were swift to disappear.

Beijing's censors have been busy looking out for published articles not in compliance with that three-month-old directive. Editorial news managers with online media platforms such as websites, web logs, discussion forums, search engines, messaging applications and news distribution, must seek Beijing's approval. Training is put on by central government authorities for editorial staff. On the anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre public discussion was absent. The 1989 slaughter simply never happened. 

And Weibo, the microblogging site, was separated for three days from the world outside China.
Weibo hosts 340 million users. It had been ordered shut down; all their video and audio streaming platforms entirely cut off by order of the State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television in Beijing. Other virtual private networks used to access news and information globally now face Beijing's "Great Firewall"; The New York Times and Facebook verboten. 

An analysis released last week by Reporters Without Borders asserted that media freedom in Hong Kong "has never been so low" since mainland Chinese interests placed eight of the 25 major media organizations in Hong Kong under Beijing ownership and control, thus succeeding in a bid to "muzzle dissenting voices". In reality China is a miracle in its current Communism-with-capitalism-on-the-side presentation.

It has succeeded in an impressive makeover, becoming the world's producer of all manner of goods, in the process managing to effectively shutter manufacturing worldwide, incapable of matching China's vast and inexpensive labour market. It has scooped up basic resources worldwide in metals, concrete, energy to mobilize its manufacturing resources. And it has also mastered advanced technologies to an extent that few other countries have managed. While lifting its broad population into the middle class.

It all comes at a cost, not only in the area of human rights, but environmentally, where clear air safe to breathe is at a premium, and lakes and rivers have been polluted by industrial chemicals. Production at all costs? Not really. So its population is conflicted, satisfied that their economic well-being is immensely improved; stricken that health is dreadfully impacted by the emphasis on production over respect for the environment.

It's a case history in success and failure. Lump into that the appetite to claim as China's geographic areas that are not its heritage, but which are forced to accept it as such for the sake of harmony, while Han Chinese are moved to those areas in huge numbers to weight down the advantage of population bias in complete defiance of human rights.

  

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