Chen Guangcheng is a blind human rights lawyer and activist who is most famous in China for his on-going protests against the Chinese government’s forced abortions policy. Suddenly, Chen Guangcheng’s name and his plight has reached the attention of the world. He was on the BBC news every night in New Zealand last week.
I hope that our Prime Minister John Key in New Zealand, and his National mates, take note of what is going on in China. By selling them our Crafer dairy farms, or any other assets, the resulting closer relations with China will inevitably lead to trouble here, with a honing-down of our own civil rights, unless China changes its human rights attitudes. We should not be entwining ourselves with such a government who treats its own people so dreadfully badly. Trade should not take precedence over the human condition.
New Zealand assets should all remain in New Zealand ownership, regardless of what country wants to buy them, regardless of trade deals. But China? I can hardly believe that our government is inviting the Chinese government into a closer relationship. A parallel would be a naive young woman falling in love with a known rapist or a violent offender, and agreeing to marrying him. It might turn out all right, but then it might not.
The Chinese take-over of Tibet, when uncountable innocent people were killed by the Chinese, and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 – when Chinese people were killed by their own Chinese military for protesting lack of human rights and lack of democracy, should be indication enough of this government’s complete lack of respect for human life.
Chinese nationals living in NZ might defend their government, arguing that Nazi Germany killed more Jews, and Poles, and gypsies, than the Chinese government. (You might be interested to read the comments of New Zealander He Long who has commented in response to my post entitled ‘China Threat’) But the German government has evolved to something impressive on a social, economic, and environmental level. It has lofty ideals, and it has eradicated the evil influences which dominated it before. But the Chinese regime is the same old ruthless regime which it has had for many years now – a regime which shows no signs of being kind to its people or of acknowledging basic human rights.
Danwei.com quotes Wang Yang as saying ‘ it is not his party’s role to bestow happiness on the people.’ This statement indicates that the ‘party’ has no real concern for the welfare of its people. All people deserve to be happy under a benevolent government, with enough food and clean water, good shelter, and enough work to make ends meet, with enough time on their hands after the day is done to still enjoy their lives and their families, no matter who they are, or where they live. Such is a peaceful life, and this is is the essence of happiness.
Chen Guangchen is one of many Chinese activists who have been punished for speaking out against their oppressive government’s cruel tactics. Ai Wei Wei, the well known Chinese artist and campaigner for freedom of speech in China, and writer Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, are just two of the many activists detained by the Chinese government. They, like Chen Guangcheng, were also jailed in China for speaking out against their government’s lack of human rights. Liu Xiaobo was given an eleven year sentence just before the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony happened in Norway, and he was not able to receive his prize.
Chen Guangchen has been under house arrest because of his political and humanitarian activism, but escaped over a week ago, seeking refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing. Chen Guangcheng did not stay longer than a few days at the US Embassy, after his escape from house arrest, because he was worried about the safety of his family.
After leaving the Embassy, he was taken to hospital where is stilll being treated for wounds on his foot, which, he said, occurred when he was struggling to leave his captors who had him under house arrest. (I wonder – was he chained by his foot?)
Chen Guangcheng said that he left the protection of the American Embassy because he was threatened with harm done to his family if he stayed there. After Chen made his escape from house arrest, his wife was reportedly tied to a chair for several days, at their house. Chen had heard rumours from withing the Embassy that his family was suffering, and so he left its protection to try and prevent harm to his family.
Hilary Clinton happened to be visiting Beijing when Chen Guangcheng decided to leave the Embassy and return to his house.The event of Hilary Clinton’s visit co-inciding with Chen Guangcheng’s escape to the Embassy, and then leaving it again, has highlighted Chen Guangcheng’s plight on an international level. Hilary Clinton bravely addressed Chinese officials on her visit, and said that human rights issue in China must not be ignored. She indicated that the US would help Chen Guangcheng by offering him a study position in the US. He has been offered two fellowships to date – one at New York University, the other at the University of Washington. He is still waiting to hear from the Chinese authorities as to whether he will be allowed to go to America for the purposes of study.
The American Embassy has been criticized for its ‘soft soap’ approach with the Chinese government. Yu Jie, a friend and dissident writer who was exiled to the United States, said that he was disappointed in the US government for having let Chen Guangcheng leave the protection of the Embassy. The Guardian on 4th May, 2012, quotes him saying that the Embassy’s reluctance in continuing to shelter Chen Guangcheng was indicative of Obama’s soft attitude towards China. He described Obama as having placed trade above human rights.
The Guardian newspaper quoted Chen Guangcheng yesterday, 10th May, 2012, as saying: “The crazy retaliation against my family has started. My sister-in-law was arrested and is now released on bail. They have accused her of harbouring a fugitive, but didn’t say who.” Chen Guangcheng’s nephew Chen Kegui has also been arrested since Chen made his dramatic escape to the US Embassy.