A Possible Compromise?

May 23, 2009

In 1991, merely 2 years after the Tienanmen Massacre, Nancy Pelosi went to Tienanmen square and carried a banner paying tribute to those who lost their lives. Now, she is about to visit Beijing again as the speaker of the House.

At the press conference, she did not hint whether she would mention human rights during her visit. If she had the courage of flying a banner on that square when the blood was fresh, she should have the courage to carry on the fight 20 years later. Of course, to her, the fight today might be more difficult since most of the Americans care nothing more than economy, within which China is an indispensable part. Human rights is always lighter on the scale when money is on the other end. Circumventing the question about whether she will talk about human rights or not is consistent with the trend of this and the preceding administrations: the main business of America is business; human rights has become a shady business as if mentioning it would cause endless pains and sufferings.

Compromise. Or should I say appeasement? To draw a portrait called “monster,” one should not only put that monster in the frame. Those who are patting it should never be left out.


Another Grand Crusade?

April 13, 2009

For the first time, China unveils a “human rights plan.” Should we head out to buy fireworks now? No.

When is the last time that China drafts a “plan” that contains language so vague that can be subject to all kinds of interpretation? Probably last week. When is the last time that China drafts a “plan” that would restrict the government in anyway? Probably never.

This so-called human rights plan is nothing but a sham; it’s nothing but a foot soldier of the so-called harmonious society, which does not shy away from terminating almost anything for the sake of “stability,” even though most often than not, the sign of instability is never proven or hinted. Reading through the plan, one can easily find that it’s premised on economic growth, not the reform of (or merely restoration to that showcase) constitution. Most of the rights mentioned in the plan are actually included in the good-for-nothing constitution. If China is really serious about these rights, it can simply say “now, I decide to respect my constitution.” Making the rights bestowed by the government rather than the constitution, it’s easy for the government to take them away as soon as it feels its comfort zone has been violated.

For example, one of the rights is the right to a fair trial. How does this government, or any government guarantee fair trials? They can’t. One cannot give others a fair trial if one is the judge, the jury, and the executioner at the same time. If the judiciary is not independent, it definitely will not be fair in cases where the government is the defendant, which is already very rare in China; it may or may not be fair in everyday cases like neighbor disputes. If it’s not fair in those cases, or if the judges take bribes, a free media can disclose these. Oh, wait, media freedom is not mentioned in this “plan,” even though it is in the constitution.

This plan is no different from the numerous effects of the government to fight corruption of its officials, on its own! The fate of this plan will be similar to the fate of the “Olympics protest zones”: “fire away your protest ‘applications’ if you want; we will deny them all; and if you are lucky enough, we will re-educate you through labor.”

Since this plan is so heavily premised on economic stability, here is a quote that perfectly fits in:

“If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.” —W. Somerset Maugham

Immune System, Anybody?

April 7, 2009

I’d like to keep it short. Here is the main idea.

Most of the people in the world have caught a cold at some point of their lives. Most of them have survived. It is also the same thing for flu and for other diseases. While being sick is not fun in anyway, few see it as a life threatening issue. Few would wear full body space suit with its own oxygen for their whole life. Unfortunately, for full blown AIDS patients, that is not the case. To know how to avoid even the slightest disease can sometimes save their life, even though there is no way to restore their immune system.

Same analysis for governments. Check out the following story.


A Mere Glimpse into the “Challenge”

March 27, 2009

As I was browsing the web site of Washington College of Law, I found an event schedule for some visiting scholars from China before the Olympics last year. The event is called “The Challenges Facing China.”

I might be totally biased, but when I read that title, I immediately think of the words “human rights.” After a brief glimpse into the event schedule, I did find the words human rights, except that it is buried between a break and a lunch break, and the speaker for that topic is NOT one of the Chinese scholars, but a person from Amnesty International. Here is a copy of the schedule, as you can see (if you can easily spot Chinese names), the Chinese scholars only talked about environmental and business issues:

10.30 am         Environmental Issues in China

Professor Judith Shapiro, Washington Collage of Law. Sustainable Development

Professor Wang Rong, China University of Political Science & Law. Water Right Practice in China

Xiaoqing Lu, Research Associate with the Freeman Chair in China Studies. Environmental Challenges and Health Problems in China.

11.50 am         Break

12.00 am         Human Rights in China Panel

T. Kumar, Amnesty International. Freedom of Expression in the Upcoming Beijing Olympics and the Situation of Tibet.

12:40 pm         Lunch

1.40  pm          Business and Trade in China

Professor Meng Yanbei, Law School, Renmin University of China. Anti-Monopoly Laws in China

Professor Laney Zhan , The Law Library of Congress. SUBJECT TBD

I find this pretty funny: it’s like a huge intentional gala for which both the US president and Osama Bin Laden are invited to attend; the organizer is somehow clever enough to make sure that the two would not mingle either in a friendly manner or in a fist fight.

Well, what can I say? Chinese scholars talking about challenges that China is facing don’t have anything to say about human rights. Maybe one of my friends is right: “China has no human rights problem, just like it doesn’t have any intellectual property problem.”