Across Continents

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Tolerant society?

January 10th, 2011

Falun Gong - web

I’d taken one of the Star Ferries from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. Alighted only to stumble across a small, silent protest. Highlighting alleged human rights infringements by mainland Chinese authorities on members of the Falun Gong religious sect.

Some very graphic images of physical abuse purportedly inflicted on followers. Whatever the merits of their claims – and most independent observers do support them – most striking is the fact that such public displays are tolerated at all.

At least the Chinese seem true to their word – "One country. Two system" – leaving much of Hong Kong largely unchanged since it ceased to be a British colony over fourteen years ago. Not that it was ever perfect. No universal emancipation for example.


Dissenting voices

December 30th, 2010

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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