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Man Beaten to Death; Causing Massive Calls to Abolish City Inspectors

On January 7, 2008, in Tianmen City, Hubei Province, dozens of Municipal Law Enforcement officers known as chengguan beat Wei Wenhua to death. He was the manager of a water resources construction company in Tianmen, Hubei and had used his mobile phone camera to film the officers in a violent clash with protestors.

The public in Tianmen, Hubei Province has been in an uproar following the death, earlier this month, of a local resident (Wei Wenhua) due to a violent beating by city inspectors (quasi-police like government officers responsible for city regulation enforcement). The media and Internet forums have been inundated with discussions about the legitimacy of city inspectors. One article in the latest issue of Southern Weekend called for the total abolishon of city inspectors. The article is titled “It’s High Time to Abolish City Inspectors.” It has been widely circulated on China’s Internet and has been the subject of many heated debates.

Source: Southern Weekend, January 17, 2008
Chinascope, January 17, 2008

The Media Pays Attention to Human Rights at the Doorstep of the Beijing Olympics

During the months before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the media is paying attention to China’s human rights. On December 27, 2007, the Beijing Public Securities Department arrested Hu Jia, a respected AIDS activist and human rights defender on the charge of “inciting the subversion of state power.” Hu’s wife and their newly born baby are under house arrest. Intellectuals and human rights defenders in China co-signed an open letter to urge the authorities to release Hu. The non-governmental organization for freedom of the press, Reporters Without Borders in France issued a statement condemning the Chinese government for violating its commitment to be open to the foreign media for the Olympics, and for obstructing lawyers from visiting and supplying legal aid to Hu and his family.

From Voice of America, January 8, 2008 [1]

“A large number of Chinese intellectuals and human rights defenders issued a statement urging the release of human rights attorney Hu Jia, who the Beijing Public Securities Department arrested on December 27, 2007, for “inciting the subversion of state power.” Hu Jia’s lawyer and other Beijing’s human rights attorneys expressed that Hu indeed talked about many human rights problems in China, but that did not mean he should be suspected of ‘inciting the subversion of state power.’”

“On Monday, more than 60 scholars, intellectuals and human rights advocates, including Liu Xiaobo, Zhang Zuhua, Ai Xiaoming, Wang Lixiong and Wei Se, co-signed a statement urging the authorities to release Hu Jia as soon as possible. These intellectuals and scholars call for people inside and outside of China to pay attention to Hu Jia’s personal health and his family’s predicament. The statement also called for the international community and all circles within China to pay close attention both to China’s human rights stance and to whether the Chinese government fulfilled its promise made when it bid for the Olympic Games: to improve human rights.”

From Radio Free Asia, January 11, 2008, [2]

“While the arrest of Hu Jia attracts widespread attention from China and overseas, the Beijing authorities tightly block the relevant information. On Friday, a UK TV broadcaster, Channel 4, went to Hu Jia’s home in Beijing and managed to interview his wife, Zeng Jinyan, through a barred window for a few minutes on tape. The reporter, Lindsey Hilsum, told RFA: ‘She (Zeng Jinyan) appeared at the window when we arrived. I asked about her current situation, what happened when Hu Jia was arrested on January 27, and whether she had any resources for living. That’s basically it.’

“Jinyan, under house arrest with her new-born baby, faced the camera and said the police had cut her telephone line, and took her computer, mobile phone and bank card. Her mother is able to go and buy food, but they’re running out of cash. Friends who try to bring things for the baby are blocked from giving them to her.”

“To protect their video clips, the TV crew quickly left before the police arrived. They attempted to go to Hu’s home on Thursday, but the police wouldn’t allow it, using the excuse that it was an ongoing criminal investigation. Hilsum said, ‘When we visited yesterday, they had a security line marked around the apartment compound. The police said that there was a criminal case being investigated inside and nobody was allowed to enter. Therefore today we approached the building from the side.”

“Not only do the authorities block the overseas media, but two attorneys Li Jingsong and Li Fangping were prohibited from conducting their interview with Zeng Jinyan, which had been scheduled for Friday.

“It was learned that on Thursday, the authorities placed Li Jinsong under house arrest for several hours  in order to conduct “recommendations and communication.” When reporters inquired, the lawyer was, for the time being, unwilling to say much.  

Headquartered in Paris, France, Reporters Without Borders issued a second statement on Friday to condemn the Chinese government’s violation of its commitment to be open to foreign media for the Olympics, and its obstruction of lawyers’ visits and legal aid to Hu’s family.”
On January 1, 2008, more than 10,000 Chinese citizens publicized an open letter appealing for the Chinese government’s ratification of the “International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights” before the Olympics. Here is a report on this issue from Voice of America, January 1, 2008. [3]
“Co-signed by more than 14,000 professors and lawyers, the open letter stated that as all eyes are turning to the Beijing Olympics, the government’s ratification of the ‘International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights’ will win the world’s respect and glory for China.

“The open letter said that by hosting the Olympics, China should show not only the numbers of gold medals, but also the ‘the determination to fulfill its commitment to respect and defend human rights.’

“Although China signed the ‘International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights’ in 1998, China’s National People’s Congress has yet to ratify the Convention.

“The open letter urges the State Council to bring up the agenda to the People’s Congress to be in session in March 2008, so that the Convention will be unconditionally ratified before the Olympics.”

“Xia Yeliang, a co-signor of the letter and Peking University Economics Professor, said that the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party’s report emphasized administrative reform, and some democratic elections within the party or grass-roots democratic elections. However, if the reform does not touch the fundamental political system, or restructure the political and legal framework, there is no way for the Chinese people to truly obtain political freedom and rights.

“One of the initiators of the open letter, Beijing’s human rights defender and lawyer Teng Biao stated, ‘One of my personal concerns is that, when the Chinese government ratifies the Convention, it will refuse to take the concrete steps required by the convention to achieve systemic reform. Like many other conventions, the Chinese government may approved it, but never implement it.”

1. VOA News, January 8, 2008
2. RFA, January 11, 2008
3. VOA News, January 1, 2008

Open Letter Calls for Prosecution of the Shanghai Gang

On January 19, in his third open letter to the top leaders of China, Kong Qiang, a government employee from Shandong Province and the owner of “China Shenzheng Net,” a rights advocate website, called for the immediate legal prosecution of Jiang Zemin and his gang, also known as the “Shanghai Gang.” Kong said, “Otherwise, we will never be able to face either the people in China, or the people around the world.”

In an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times, a news media based in New York, Kong disclosed that through his activities as a human rights advocate, he has come across substantial evidence against the Shanghai Gang and feels that he can no longer be silent.

Kong is 39 years old and works for the Administration of Industry and Commerce in the Qubu Municipality in Shangdong Province. He founded Shenzheng net in July 2005. The website has been shut down repeatedly due to his disclosing sensitive inside information about the Shanghai Gang. Kong has received numerous threats that he will be fired from his work and sent to a mental hospital. He previously published two other open letters, on December 6 and 24 in 2007.

Source: The Epoch Times, January 19, 2008

On Belarus and China

Economic and trade cooperation between Belarus and China has been strengthening, as Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko welcomes massive foreign direct investment from China. Analysts believe that Belarus needs capital from China to assuage current difficulties accompanying increased prices on oil imports from Russia. Belarus under Alexander Lukashenko remains a Soviet-style planned economy. For a sense of hope, Belarus is looking to the China model, a highly centralized political system together with an economy marked by high growth. At the same time, the two countries are building closer military collaboration.

Report from Voice of America on January 9, 2008: [1]
“President Lukashenko of Belarus said on Wednesday that huge potential exists for collaboration with China in areas of the economy, trade, and investment and that Belarus will create the best conditions to welcome investment from China. He added that his country has felt enormous interest from Chinese investors in the Belarusian economy, and that there will be not be a single obstacle to Chinese investment. Lukashenko gave the above speech when meeting with Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China’s central bank. President Lukashenko also thanked China for providing support and help. He said that Belarus will become a real fortress for China in Europe. Lukashenko stressed that RMB has become the foreign exchange reserve currency at Belarus’ central bank.

“Russian media reported that after Putin’s government significantly raised the export price of oil and eliminated economic subsidies to Belarus, Belarus has been facing a series of problems. This has lead Lukashenko to actively cooperate with China, Iran, and Venezuela, so as to obtain more resources to procure energy from Russia. Therefore, high-level Chinese official visits are always welcomed and are conducted in a high-profile fashion.

“Former President of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich criticized Lukashenko for not conducting economic reform and allowing the economy to remain as a Soviet-style planned economy. He added, ‘the leadership of Belarus governs the country as a farmer on collective farms. For many years, the economy is heavily dependent upon cheap energy from Russia. Lukashenko is bringing the whole country to a dead end with an anti-market economic policy.’”

Report from Voice of America on October 26, 2006: [2]

“China and Belarus have been increasing their military cooperation. Belarusian President Lukashenko recently expressed that arms trade between the two countries is very important. On cooperation in military technologies, Belarus signed 210 agreements or contracts with China, with 190 of them implemented. According to the Defense Ministry of Belarus, the size of the bilateral arms trade amounts to 250 million U.S. dollars over the past 10 years. The figure, although very small compared to the arms trade between China and Russia, is very important to Belarus.”
“In mid-September, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan led a large delegation to Belarus. Cao was treated with a high standard of hospitality. President Lukashenko issued a ‘People’s Friendship Medal’ to Cao, complimenting his outstanding contributions in supporting the sharing of military technology between the two countries. During the four-day visit, Belarus displayed for the Chinese delegation everything they wanted to see, including newly developed weaponry. A large group of Chinese experts are also part of the China delegation to Belarus. This is a sign that the two sides are discussing details of arms trade deals. According to Belarusian Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev, Belarus has submitted a package of plans for implementing this military and technological cooperation. Once the China side has responded, the plans can be carried out before the end of next year.”

“Military experts believe that Belarus is more proactive than China on the issue of arms trade.”

“Russian media reported that Belarus is promoting a newly developed super short range air-defense missile system which is used to attack precision cruise missiles in their last leg of flight. … Additionally, the Chinese military is also interested in Belarus’ mobile radar system, automatic power control system, etc.”

“Belarus hopes to alleviate its isolated predicament on the international stage by sharing China’s military technology. The Lukashenko regime is deemed as the last dictatorship on the European continent. The United States and the European Union are imposing various sanctions against Belarus while its key ally, Russia, has recently pressured Lukashenko for political and economic benefits. Under the current situation, Lukashenko announced China as its primary foreign policy target in his spring State of the Union message, delivered earlier this year. He complimented China for supporting Belarus on many issues.”

“During Lukashenko’s visit to China at the end of last year, the two countries agreed to set up a bilateral military equipment and technology coordination commission. The two sides also decided to strengthen cooperation and exchange in military science and technology, including joint R&D on weaponry. At present, dozens of People’s Liberation Army officers are accepting advanced training in Belarus.”

[1] Voice of America, January 9, 2008
[2] Voice of America, October 26, 2006

Xinhua: The U.S. is Struggling under Globalization; the View of a Declining US is on the Rise

Xinhua carried an article from The Global Times entitled “The U.S. is Struggling under Globalization; the View of a ‘Declining US’ is on the Rise.” The article starts with the following remarks: “2007 marks the year of the U.S.’ decline.” “The U.S. is following in the footsteps of the former Roman Empire.”

The article cites the following as sufficient proof that the U.S. is going the way of unavoidable decline: Domestically, the U.S. is unable to cope with the domestic sub-prime crisis and the depressed economy. Internationally, the U.S. is unable to defeat Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda. Politically, the U.S. has no solution for Iran’s defiance. Economically, the U.S. is unable to control the price of oil. On the military front, Iraq and Afghanistan are a big mess.

The article also cites articles from the Economist, Financial Times, Der Spiegel, and Focus magazine to support these views. Finally, the article quotes comments by Jin Canrong, a professor at the School of International Studies and School of Public Administration of Renmin University. Jin said that the U.S.’ inability to adjust in the globalization environment has weakened its global influence. He continued, “The U.S. has begun to adjust its policies, but not its self-centered mentality. Any real fundamental change will require time and many lessons.”

Source: Xinhua, January 18, 2008

Existing System Criticized for its Effect on the Art Community

In an interview with Nanfang Weekend, Wu Guanzhong, a prominent 89-year-old contemporary painter spoke out against various issues in the art community. He said that the commercialized education system erodes the quality of education. Teachers’ evaluation process is a waste of time and money; it is full of personal connections and not effective. He is calling for closing the state-owned art associations and institutions, saying they have become corrupt and unproductive. “Events organized by these places are just like the prostitution industry, which is purely money driven.” Wu said, “The art community has been politicized. The artworks are way overpriced and the Art centers only collect junk artwork.” He concluded that there are all sorts of issues in the art community, including education, facility, contest, and market. “The existing system is the cause of it all.” Wu said he is speaking the truth and wants to speak up more when he is able.

Source: Nanfang Weekend, January 9, 2008

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