My old man is a decent bloke. He’s one of those chaps who deeply, sincerely believes in the goodness and downright humanity of all people, everywhere. That belief has cost him a few times, when people with a little less goodness and humanity than average have taken advantage of his better nature, but by and large it’s a belief that has seen him right and won him many friends. Despite not being particularly religious, he’s a better Christian than most Christians will ever be, and kudos to him for it.
I used to feel much the same way. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I used to believe that all people were all basically the same, that all parents wanted a better life for their kids than they had themselves, that education was the key to progress, that when you smiled at people, the vast majority would smile back, that love really was the most basic human emotion.
And then I came to the People’s Republic of Cheats China.
I was chatting to my dad the other day on the phone – always a bit tricky, due to the difference in time zones (he lives 5 hours and 5,000 years ahead of China). Anyway, he happened to mention that he’d taken a look at this blog, and he’d been a bit unimpressed. Essentially, he thought it was just a bunch of people complaining about things for the sake of it. I pondered that for quite some time. Is that what we all seem to sound like? Sure, we complain, but isn’t it at least possible that there’s something to it all? What would it take, short of actually living here, to even begin to understand what is really going on in this Evil Empire?
Well, dad, this post is dedicated to you.
1. Do you remember a couple of months back, when you asked about the weather here in Shanghai? I think I replied something to the effect that it was a bit chilly, but not raining. Well, dad, I really shouldn’t have done that. You see, by telling you the current weather, I was in violation of both the 1988 Law on the Protection of State Secrets, and the 1990 Measures for Implementing the Law on the Protection of State Secrets. I can be dragged out of my home in the middle of the night by plainclothed thugs and made to disappear for that. Or I could simply be kept under house arrest without charge indefinitely.
New regulations to take effect next year will clamp down on the illegal acquisition of Chinese meteorological information by foreigners.
The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) has identified about 20 breaches of weather security since 2000, the paper said.
“Illegal meteorological surveys and data collection have infringed China’s sovereignty… and threatened the country’s security,” the paper quoted CMA Vice Minister Zheng Guogang as saying.
– China Daily, 2006
2. Of course, I’m not likely to really get into trouble for telling you the weather, am I? That would be silly. On the other hand, by telling you that the weather is a State Secret, I am in violation of the State Secrets Law. Boy, I’m really racking up the charges now, ain’t I?
According to New York-based Human Rights in China, the world’s most populous country needs to come up with a clear definition of what it considers to be a state secret, The Los Angeles Times reported.
In a study released Tuesday, Human Rights in China said citizens in China have been thrown into jail for mailing newspaper clippings, defending displaced tenants and writing a doctoral thesis using 50-year-old library records.
A Chinese woman whose son was imprisoned for revealing state secrets said the lack of a clear definition means they can call anything they want a state secret, the Times said.
“It’s a conspiracy. They can use these at will to punish people,” Gao Quinsheng said in the article.
3. Of course, it all sounds a bit, well, dramatic, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not the Cold War any longer, and we’re all friends now in this harmonious new world, aren’t we? Surely China has a right to look after its’ own interests, and anyway, there are plenty of laws to protect people. The Constitution certainly does.
Tell that to my friend, a lawyer who took on a class action against the Shanghai Municipal Government, on behalf of residents who had been illegally evicted from their homes. Their homes were demolished and the land use rights sold to property developers. He won his case, the first time in history that the Chinese Communist Party has lost a court case on its own turf. And then, a week later, my friend was bundled into a police car whilst walking down the street, and sent to the Laogai. Because the Laogai system is extra-judicial, there was no trial, no appeal, and little hope of survival. His family weren’t informed of this for some time. A large number of people gathered to protest (many of whom were the residents on whose behalf he had taken on the court case). Some twenty of them were taken away, too. They haven’t been heard of since. Oh yes, and the same week the ruling judge overturned his own verdict and exonerated the Shanghai Government.
4. But let us not concern ourselves with isolated events. Sure, there are a few unfortunate cases, but by and large China is a peaceful nation and the Party is working hard to improve the condition of the people. Right? I mean, yes, they have annexed Tibet, East Turkestan, and half of Mongolia, and they did invade India, Vietnam, and Korea, not to mention initiating hostilities against Russia and the UN, and supported (financially and materially) revolutionary and anti-government groups in literally dozens of countries. And sure, they were the force behind the Khmer Rouge, and have supplied weapons and intelligence to Osama Bin Laden, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and various groups in the Sudan and elsewhere (and there’s always Taiwan to consider)… BUT, that’s all history, yes?
No. The Chinese Communist Party has an ambitious buying program underway for the Red Army, which includes Improved Kilo SSK’s and Sovremennyy DDG’s armed with SS-N-22 Moskit (‘Sunburn’) ramjet-powered supersonic cruise missiles (to which no defence yet exists). There are new main battle tanks, new mobile artillery, and a brand spanking new airforce that includes SU-27’s, SU-27SK’s, SU-30MK’s, and the new J-10’s. Look ’em up on Google, dad, they are rather impressive. They are developing their own aircraft carriers, and have already purchased the aircraft that will fly off them. There is a new generation of ballistic missile submarines (the 094) entering service now, armed with the DF-31 ballistic missiles (8,000 Km range, MIRV’d warheads). Not that they did it all on their own, the Los Alamos facility all but admitted that every one of their warhead designs were stolen by Chinese spies. Add to this list a manned space program operated for and by the military and the worlds largest army (1.7 million men under arms, which does not include other armed services such as the Peoples Armed Police or the Public Security Forces). What they don’t have is a functional healthcare system, social security net, or many of the other things countries that care about their people seem to have.
5. All well and good, but they wouldn’t actually use any of that hardware, would they? According to Major General Zhu Chenghu, they would:
China should use nuclear weapons against the United States if the American military intervenes in any conflict over Taiwan, a senior Chinese military official has said.
“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone [China or Taiwan], I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons.”
In extensive comments, Zhu said he believed that the Chinese government was under internal pressure to change its “no first use” policy and to make clear that it would employ the most powerful weapons at its disposal to defend its claim over Taiwan.
Many military analysts have assumed that any battle over Taiwan would be localized, with both China and the United States taking care to ensure that it would not expand into a general war between the two powers, but the comments by Zhu suggest that at least some elements of the military are prepared to widen the conflict.
“If the Americans are determined to interfere, then we will be determined to respond,” he said. “We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Zhu’s threat is not the first of its kind from a senior Chinese military official. In 1995, Xiong Guangkai, who is now the deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, told Chas Freeman, a former Pentagon official, that China would consider using nuclear weapons in a Taiwan conflict. Freeman quoted Xiong as saying that Americans should worry more about Los Angeles than Taipei.
Add to that the fact that they recently “blinded a U.S. satellite using a ground-based laser, and blasted one of its own satellites out of orbit with a ballistic missile”, not to mention what they are currently doing to the people in Tibet and East Turkestan…
6. But how do the Chinese people feel about this? That question was asked recently by the BBC. There were many replies, most slightly muted and not as extreme as we who live here hear. These were among the conclusions of the non-Chinese who saw the programme:
I see all these opinions from people of Chinese origin and they confirm my fears. They are not interested in a peaceful China, a tolerant China, a democratic and liberal China, they want to see the superpower, the best country in the world throwing its weight around and bullying the rest of the world. It seems to me that they want an imperialistic China as much as they detest any western superpower. Not good, not good at all.
The future will indeed be a scary place as China will likely be another superpower. A superpower that is undemocratic and has no respect for human rights. A nation that is getting stronger economically and militarily every day.
After speaking with many young Chinese people overseas, I was astonished by the amazing effect of nationalistic propaganda imposed on the new generation. Any criticism towards the communist party is regarded by them as an attack on the people and nation of China. The Chinese communist party has reinforced its grasp of power very well after putting down the massive democratic movement of 1989. I believe the students had good intentions 15 years ago but were overly naïve and hasty. The movement achieved exactly the opposite of its goals: Even if the government at the time was starting to slowly concede more political freedom to the people, it certainly changed its mind in 1989 and decided instead to re-educate the youths to ensure that such challenges to the absolute authority of the Party never happened again.
7. And here I have to say, I lack the will to go on. Mind you, y’know the saying about a picture being worth a thousand words? Well I’ve written just under two thousand words here, but they cannot capture the Spirit Of China nearly as well as the following picture of a Police vehicle:
‘If you ride a motorcycle [use a vehicle] to rob [commit a crime],
You’ll be shot to death on the spot’
If, after all this, you remain unconvinced, then all I can do is tell you that, whilst these people think chicken claws and rats intestines is good food, they hate both Marmite and Vegemite. And that should be enough to convince anyone!