Monday, April 23, 2007


The common theme in all these gripes will be China, and one of them probably includes Mark. But these are still just personal gripes.

My main gripe has been ongoing for a couple years. It has been ongoing against China, but this part includes the U.S. Consulate in Shenyang, which apparently refused to take in a group of North Korean refugees.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Upon arrival in Shenyang, I notified the authorities at the Consulate of our identities and intentions, to seek asylum and protection for these NK refugees. I took extensive measures, as always, to remain discrete, speaking over safe phone lines and using words and phrases that would signal our situation to educated Consular staff, but not to an eavesdropper. As the group waited a few hundred feet from the main gate of the US Consulate, in view of the United States flag and gates, I was told that someone would call me back.

A while later I received a call from a gentleman who identified himself as a member of the US Consulate. He referred to me by name, and said that they could not accept us, and that they suggested for us to “take the North Korean refugees and go to the UNHCR in Beijing.” It goes without mention that US posts are subject to intense electronic surveillance, and sure enough, a short while later large numbers of Chinese authorities and police began to show up in the vicinity of our location.

You can click on the link above for the full article. I just want to know what kind of sick person is running this consulate (his name is Stephen Wickman, as per the article) and somebody in that consulate needs to be fired immediately.

Secondly, this morning on the way to work NPR had a segment on forced abortions in Guangxi, China (Click on Listen for the full report). Yes, apparently they were over their birth quota so they decided to literally drag pregnant women (some already nine months pregnant) into abortion clinics without explanation. I don't really know what to comment on this. Listen to it for yourself.

Thirdly, most people will have heard of Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. If not, here is a paragraph from Wikipedia:

The Mugabe administration has been criticized around the world for corruption, suppression of political opposition, mishandling of land reforms, economic mismanagement, and the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe. According to most analysts his administration's policies have led to economic collapse and massive starvation over the course of the last ten years. Currently, Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world, and according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Africa's worst economic performer.

He is also famous for Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, during which some 700,000 Zimbabweans lost their homes. He is also known to despise Nelson Mandela and has a curious Hitler-style mustache. The Economist has a pretty good article on him.

Either way, the generous Chinese government decided to give Mugabe $25M in aid.

I understand it's naive of me to think that, simply because China is becoming a global powerhouse, it should be more accountable than it has been in the past. On the other hand, these days, in order to function in this global economy, countries should adhere to a minimum level of internationally accepted decency. China will not lose its permanent seat on the Security Council, but only because the council is outdated. It will also keep receiving inward investment because of the market that it now is.

It's also true that many other developed countries can act indecently. The main difference is there is open debate about it in these countries, which very often leads to change. Pressure from within or without is the primary catalyst for progressive change. Of the three articles I mentioned one was simply ignored in China, one was leaked using clandestine methods and one was justified with implausible excuses by the Chinese government. This government can feel secure about a lack of repercussions, simply because all forms have been stymied. Not for nothing this blog cannot be read in China.

I also know there are many countries much worse than China. But, as the latest example of a developing country turned superpower, for the next 50 to 100 years China will be looked up to and emulated by possibly hundreds of nations trying to develop. I hope, for millions of peoples' sake, pressure forms and forces it to change before then.

Added May 9th:
And now China is ordering the resettlement of 250,000 Tibetans to "socialist villages" at their own expense. While I think Tibet has used the victim card in the past, I also believe Tibetans deserve a place to live and not be harassed. Not to be confused the the Falun Gong, who I think are now plain opportunists.