Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Human Rights in China

I don't feel I'm enough of an expert to comment on political affairs in detail (in contrast to some people I know, who freely supply their expert opinions on subjects they know nothing about!). But when it comes to China... something really gets on my nerves badly. At a talk I once attended at my institute, TIFR, Amartya Sen cautioned us not to be too enthusiastic about China's economic progress given that it executes more people per year than all other countries put together (the facts bear him out: Wikipedia says 1010 of 1591 official executions in 2006 were in China). I've always been uncomfortable with the way the West does business with China and effectively condones - even assists - their disgraceful censorship.

This morning I read this gem: "Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding recent violence in Tibet's main city, Lhasa. Speaking at the close of parliament, Mr Wen also said that the exiled Tibetan leader's claim of "cultural genocide" in Tibet was nothing but lies."

This is the limit! Mr Wen Jiabao, may I respectfully suggest that "masterminding violence" and "lies" are subjects on which your government is the acknowledged expert. Shame on you for the censorship and the wholesale killing of your own peacefully protesting citizens - in Beijing on June 4 1989 and now in Lhasa, and a few times in between too. Your public abuse of the Dalai Lama just heightens your shamelessness, does it not?

1 comment:

Rahul Basu said...

Our very own thinking man's newspaper, The Hindu has faithfully carried the Chinese Government's viewpoint by reproducing the well known independent news agency Xinhua's report on the problems in Lhasa. Yesterday's Hindu had the headline - Lhasa returns to normality. Compare this with the NYT, the Guardian or any other reasonable newspaper (even the much maligned Times of India). CLearly the Hindu lives in a different world and Mr Ram has learned nothing from the Nandigram news reportage fiasco. Today, needless to say, it has faithfully reported the comments of a Chinese envoy in India.

Interestingly, the Hindu has been carrying a series of wonderfully informative (and balanced) human interest stories on various aspects of Chinese life under liberalisation, by its own correspondent Pallavi Iyer. Strangely enough, there is not a word from that quarter regarding the recent happenings in Lhasa. Clearly her views are at odds with the newspaper's policy.

Why have our own comrades been so silent? Surely they are not working towards a 'nuanced' view of the events?