While most of the mainstream media are (rightly) exposing Google’s decision to opt for censorship and cooperation with a totalitarian régime over the Chinese people’s right to free speech (see here), they may have missed this story.
As background, the following is in the Red Chinese Constitution:
Article 35. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
Article 36. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.
Mary-Anne Toy notes in her column in The Age that the Politburo has closed down ‘Freezing Point’, a section in the China Youth Daily, the ofﬁcial youth paper controlled by the Communist Party.
Toy notes that any decision to shut down a section in the newspaper would have required the approval of President Hu Jintao, ‘seen as further evidence of the President’s commitment to cracking down on dissent.’
At the beginning of this year, I blogged my thoughts on the editorial staff walk-out at the Beijing News, which highlighted yet another incident of the Politburo’s crackdowns.
What gets me is why Red China, which on one hand talks about how fast it is growing (with speculation that it has overtaken the UK and France), acts so like a tin-pot small country, giving away territory to smaller nations and acting hypocritically against its own constitution. Does the Politburo not know the contradictory message it is sending, and has it no example of how large, successful countries behave? Does it also not realize that this merely brings suspicion over all its claims about its high growth or its claim there is no state control over its currency?
China itself was once an example of freedom and progress, and all today’s Politburo needs to do is to re-examine its own history. Confucianism, for starters, is founded on education and libertarianism. Freedom of information and the press would have been quite comfortable in a Confucian system.
Singapore remains the closest example (though the presence of so much legislation wasn’t part of the philosopher’s deal), and despite being geographically tiny, has the sort of growth that can’t be ignored. It even behaves like a large nation, with a presence on the world stage in so many areas.
Red China, if it really wants to play on the world stage, might want to take a leaf out of the Singaporean book. It’ll help the nation brand—unless, of course, China merely wants to be the world’s sweatshop, devoid of innovation.
All the better for India if that is China’s choice. Posted by Jack Yan, 14:00
Update: Boing Boing reports that China is not alone, with Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan in the same boat.Post a Comment
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