Across Continents

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Dissenting voices

All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it– Samuel Johnson, English author, 1709-1784, busy chap

Human rights. Where China’s concerned there are two groups that fret over such issues. Bona fide Chinese dissidents. And foreigners. Usually Westerners. Ordinary people. for the most part, content with their lot. For, whatever their society’s shortcomings, its darker side, the ruling regime seems to be delivering what the masses want. Life just keeps on getting better.

The West’s pre-occupation with civil rights annoys the Chinese Government. Compounded of late by the awarding of a Nobel Prize to one of their more well known dissidents. They assert that criticism of what they deem to be internal matters to be unfair. Overlooking all the very positive changes they’ve made. Improving the lot of their citizens. An argument I’ve some sympathy for.

Besides, there are far worse offenders than China. Too numerous to list. An arbitrary spotlight? Not exactly. More the recognition of China’s emergence as a major economic power. And the other countries? Either they’ve something the West wants. Or we just don’t care.

Where I struggle with China is with what appears to be harsh treatment of those engaged in legitimate public protest or campaigning. Not seeking to undermine the political system. Just wanting to draw attention to everyday issues. Those that impact directly on the lives of ordinary people. Staple of the chattering classes the world over.


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