Sunday, December 11, 2005

Where Is the Information?

There have been some rather large news stories in China lately, and if it weren't for my family and friends in the states, I would have had no idea that they happened. I wondered if people I knew had heard the stories.

My reading comprehension teacher did not know about the water being shut off in Harbin (Ha'erbing), a city north of Beijing, for three days as a result of dangerous chemicals being spilled/dumped in the water supply. It wasn't reported here. The news was, however, released internationally, and Russia received an apology from China for the accident.

When I heard about the farmers' protests in Southern China today, I wanted to know if James knew about them. It's fairly large news, after all. More than 10 farmers have been shot and killed by guards/police, and their bodies aren't being returned to the families. He hadn't heard anything about it. After I told him a bit about it, he said, "I think the government has alot darkness. This why I don't join the Communist Party."

I'm going to give this statement a few more huge new stories before I say it officially, but China's opening to the world means very little if it's not opening up to its own people.

I really did use to sympathize with China quite a bit while studying policy back in the states. I was quick to give the government the benefit of the doubt, try to see things their ways, and be "culturally tolerant," to borrow a term from diversity seminars. However, now that I live here, I'm viewing the government like a concerned citizen, like I do in the states, and that's making me alot more critical of its actions. The "developing country" argument for human rights violations doesn't hold up with me anymore. Economics, construction, business; these things have very little to do with a human life, and their current status certainly does not allow the taking of a life.

I understand the developing country argument for political issues. I understand it for income disparity issues. I understand it for education issues. I understand it for a great deal of the challenges that China is facing right now, but I do not understand it in the case of legitimate authorities taking lives of Chinese citizens in the interest of quelling a protest that came about as a result of the government claiming land that belonged to farmers and not fully renumerating them, all in the name of building three power plants. And then to offer families of the dead money instead of returning the bodies? Keeping the evidence of the killing is not going to result in a successful cover-up.

The government had better watch itself. Who knows how many human rights violations it's going to take before the Olympic committee pulls the 2008 Beijing location? It's going to take alot for them to do that, of course, with the economic ramifications considered, but it's still possible. I can only imagine the chaos that would cause. It gives me a headache.

This is all very frustrating. After hearing about the Harbin incident, I said to my friend Gene, "Wow. They were so open about this with the world. Wouldn't it be something if this was just covering up something worse?"


At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crazy, I never would've thought. I mean, not that you bring it up, I can see them doing that....I mean "after all, it is China" (don't get me wrong I'm a HUGE fan of China, but we both know their history)....I heard about the water story for at least a week or two, I don't think I heard about the killing of the farmers story. The Chinese gov't needs to recognize that just because they are communist and just b/c they are the government doesn't mean they can go in and take what they want and kill who they want. Not to mention, the land of the farmer's is problably hundreds of generations worth in some cases. I see them telling the world what happens in their country, but not their 'citizens'.....and I see it, but yet can't even imagine it! Argh, it makes me mad. And you are right, God only knows what they aren't telling the country and the world. Governments are ENTIRELY HIGHLY CAPABLE of doing mass giant cover-ups that sometimes won't even be found out about until a hundred years down the line or something, sometimes even a thousand! That's a really scary thought...



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