Tibet, The Greens, Fox TV, Air Pollution, The Olympics, You and Me.
What do all of these things have in common? China.
Recently many media organisations, politicians, commentators and editors all have had a lot to say about China recently in the lead up to the summer Olympics 08.08.08 Bejing.
Fox news this morning had a report on the amazingly outrageous air pollution that China has and the affects that would have on the athletes. This was fine and interesting, with the Chinese govt planning on shutting down factories and withdrawing up to 1million cars off the road during the olympics with a ‘blue sky’ policy. Having been to Hong Kong only several weeks ago, I can attest the state of the atmosphere just off the mainland. It was incredible, and while the air didn’t smell or hurt to breathe, it was depressing to be able to only see several hundred meters in front of one’s self.
However the Fox report (in true American-Fox ‘we are better than you guys’ style), they also included a piece on how the Chinese are ‘learning’ to line up for things line for busses, to be polite and not to spit. Apparently the spitting is out of control and Fox could almost paint a picture of the Marathon runners swimming through the spittle on the road. Again, having just been to Hong Kong, it’s easy to see that culturally the Chinese are different to westerners with how they get on and off public transport etc, but that’s just a cultural thing and there is not intention to be rude or whatever. However my time in Hollywood was most revealing, in that the streets were filthy, more filthy than anything I could find in Hong Kong, and the politeness of the people in Hollywood was debatable. While I have never met a more polite and helpful people as those in Hong Kong. Try traveling through LA International Airport and then Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong, there is no comparison.
Tibet, understandably is a problem. Sure the Chinese shouldn’t be in Tibet, it’s a sovereign nation which has been occupied by the Chinese and other powers on and off for several hundred years. Indeed the Kingdom of Tibet was itself an occupying power, extending it’s boarders down past present day Myanmar (Burma). But then the US occupies part of the evil empire Cuba, Guantánamo Bay. In a agreement not too dissimilar to that of the UK – Hong Kong territorial occupation, Guantánamo Bay has been in perpetual lease to the US, while the current Cuban government has deemed it as an occupation. And we are all too aware of the illegal detention and torture of civilians of other countries that has been undertaken as part of so called ‘war on terror’. Also it would be prudent to remind us that Northern Ireland, has been a political thorn in the side of the occupying UK Govt since 1921 (well long before that really). But then other areas of the world are not without blame with respect to occupying of sovereign land and conflict – Israel and the Palestinians, Kosovo, Russia and Georgia among others. There are few governments which are without blame as far as occupations and colonisation goes.
As for Human Rights, do we mention once again Guantánamo Bay, the ‘Boat people’ of Australia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet block countries), Kenya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel as explicit examples of the inhumane treatment of others by governments. However there are also less explicit denials of Human Rights which have been pinned on many nations and non nation groups such as the UN in Darfur. Don’t get me wrong, China has atrocious Human Rights records, which are continuing today.
However all of these have linking to the Olympics and you and me. China is possibly only 1 of 2 world superpowers and will be the worlds biggest economy in many ways very soon. Their greatest asset is also their greatest weakness, people. With the clash of the Communist styled politics which the nation is built upon recently, and that of the increasing capitalist trade which is invading the very heartland of the nation, the people of China are both making great strides in human rights and economic consumption.
I applaud the Green Party of NZ for continually criticising the Chinese government for the treatment of the people within the borders of China. However at the same time, the govt of NZ is pursuing a ‘free-trade’ agreement with that country. We bemoan the ‘slave labour’ and sweat shops which are fueling the economic transformation of China. Yet while we applaud the likes of Macpac and other New Zealand manufacturers for taking advantage of the favorable manufacturing conditions in China, they and us are complicit in supporting the Chinese government.
If we are serious about the human rights of China, we need to take a look at ourselves and wonder do we really need NZ Chinese made products, and are we really that squeaky clean when it comes to environmental and social standards.
Criticism of the Chinese government in valid and very important, however we need to look at ourselves and see if indeed we are part of the problem or solution in China. I have a great admiration for China and it’s people, they have every bit as rich and intriguing history as the west, and with a little help, will regain international respect again soon.