While You Aren’t Looking, Beijing Is Being Locked Down

Our personal sources in Beijing have informed us of several recent development which are scarcely being reported in the Western mainstream media, whose attention has been distracted by Tibet.    Various powers in Beijing have taken advantage of this situation to escalate arrests of perceived dissidents, and to ratchet up other forms of information control.

Inter alia, two prominent Beijing lawyers – meaning, REAL lawyers (in contrast to CLB, the Blob) – have been assaulted, arrested and illegally detained in the past two weeks, but presently the only available information is in Chinese, so I must leave it to Catherine to translate those stories for you a bit later.

Note from Catherine:

Those two lawyers are Teng Biao and Li Heping.  Teng was kidnapped on 6 March and was illegally detained for 2 days before he was released without charge.  Within 10 hours after Teng’s kidnap, the car of another lawyer Li Heping was rammed by a police vehicle.  Li was kidnapped and severely beaten by unknown assailants in October 2007.  Chinese Law Prof Blog (NOT to be confused with the odious “China Law Blob, CLB”) has a post about this incident with relevant links.

Internet connection in some major cities in China is said to be suffering from nanny’s zealous screening at the moment.   Activities have been significantly slowed down.  I am now posting a translation from China Digital Times for the convenience of a few friends behind the Great Wall.  It is the translation of a 12-point petition issued by a group of writers and scholars in China with regard to the situation in Tibet:

 

March 22, 2008
Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibetan Situation by Some Chinese Intellectuals

 

1. At present the one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating an already tense situation. This is extremely detrimental to the long-term goal of safeguarding national unity. We call for such propaganda to be stopped.

 

2. We support the Dalai Lama’s appeal for peace, and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt with according to the principles of goodwill, peace, and non-violence. We condemn any violent act against innocent people, strongly urge the Chinese government to stop the violent suppression, and appeal to the Tibetan people likewise not to engage in violent activities.

 

3. The Chinese government claims that “there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique.” We hope that the government will show proof of this. In order to change the international community’s negative view and distrustful attitude, we also suggest that the government invite the United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights to carry out an independent investigation of the evidence, the course of the incident, the number of casualties, etc.

 

4. In our opinion, such Cultural-Revolution-like language as “the Dalai Lama is a jackal in Buddhist monk’s robes and an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast ” used by the Chinese Communist Party leadership in the Tibet Autonomous Region is of no help in easing the situation, nor is it beneficial to the Chinese government’s image. As the Chinese government is committed to integrating into the international community, we maintain that it should display a style of governing that conforms to the standards of modern civilization.

 

5. We note that on the very day when the violence erupted in Lhasa (March 14), the leaders of the Tibet Autonomous Region declared that “there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique.” This shows that the authorities in Tibet knew in advance that the riot would occur, yet did nothing effective to prevent the incident from happening or escalating. If there was a dereliction of duty, a serious investigation must be carried out to determine this and deal with it accordingly.

 

6. If in the end it cannot be proved that this was an organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated event but was instead a “popular revolt” triggered by events, then the authorities should pursue those responsible for inciting the popular revolt and concocting false information to deceive the Central Government and the people; they should also seriously reflect on what can be learned from this event so as to avoid taking the same course in the future.

 

7. We strongly demand that the authorities not subject every Tibetan to political investigation or revenge. The trials of those who have been arrested must be carried out according to judicial procedures that are open, just, and transparent so as to ensure that all parties are satisfied.

 

8. We urge the Chinese government to allow credible national and international media to go into Tibetan areas to conduct independent interviews and news reports. In our view, the current news blockade cannot gain credit with the Chinese people or the international community, and is harmful to the credibility of the Chinese government. If the government grasps the true situation, it need not fear challenges. Only by adopting an open attitude can we turn around the international community’s distrust of our government.

 

9. We appeal to the Chinese people and overseas Chinese to be calm and tolerant, and to reflect deeply on what is happening. Adopting a posture of aggressive nationalism will only invite antipathy from the international community and harm China’s international image.

 

10. The disturbances in Tibet in the 1980s were limited to Lhasa, whereas this time they have spread to many Tibetan areas. This deterioration indicates that there are serious mistakes in the work that has been done with regard to Tibet. The relevant government departments must conscientiously reflect upon this matter, examine their failures, and fundamentally change the failed nationality policies.

 

11. In order to prevent similar incidents from happening in future, the government must abide by the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of speech explicitly enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, thereby allowing the Tibetan people fully to express their grievances and hopes, and permitting citizens of all nationalities freely to criticize and make suggestions regarding the government’s nationality policies.

 

12. We hold that we must eliminate animosity and bring about national reconciliation, not continue to increase divisions between nationalities. A country that wishes to avoid the partition of its territory must first avoid divisions among its nationalities. Therefore, we appeal to the leaders of our country to hold direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama. We hope that the Chinese and Tibetan people will do away with the misunderstandings between them, develop their interactions with each other, and achieve unity. Government departments as much as popular organizations and religious figures should make great efforts toward this goal.

 

 

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3 Responses to While You Aren’t Looking, Beijing Is Being Locked Down

  1. Adriana says:

    Are there any online petitions that we may forward to the Chinese government – preferably one that contains the unspoken threat of boycotting “made in China” products?

  2. Ned Kelly says:

    Adriana,

    Catherine would know more about such petitions and their likelihoods of effectiveness than I, as she is ethnic Chinese and I am not. She will probably answer your question in her own way when she’s available.

    Meanwhile, as a general rule I can tell you that the Chinese government – and in particular the Central Propaganda Department which is especially instrumental in harassing designated “dissidents” and shutting down access to foreign information – fears loss of “face” more than it fears loss of money. A boycott of the Olympics, or even boycotts of Olympic ceremonies such as the Torch relay, frighten China’s Central Propaganda Department much more than boycotts of Chinese products.

  3. C.A. Yeung says:

    Dear Adriana,

    You are absolutely correct about the need for the international community to actively intervene in order to make sure that China keeps the promises that it has made to the international community for hosting the Olympic Games. Our governments (in the US & in Australia) have been unwilling to confront China over its human rights record, citing fear of upsetting trade opportunities. So it is very much up to us, citizens of the world who are concerned about cases of religious persecutions, media censorship, corruption and a general lack of rule of law in China, to bring our concern to political leaders in our own countries and to urge them to act on our behalves.

    Signing a petition is an effective way of bringing your concern about China to your government and to other international organisations. I agree with Ned that at the moment targeting the Olympics (or even the Torch Relay) is the most effective way of putting pressure on China to stop persecuting dissidents. You may want to consider signing a petition at Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The RSF petition targets the Olympic Games. Here is the link.

    Alternatively, you can also write directly to legislators or congressmen in your region to lobby for their support. In my experience it works. I contacted senators in my electorate last week about my concern of what’s happening in Tibet. Consequently their Federal colleaques in Canberra issued a joint statement to warn China about the need to resolve ethnic conflicts in Tibet in a peaceful way.

    I read this morning that the Green World Foundation (GWF) in Bangkok has decided to withdraw from torch-running at the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games as a way of condemning China’s ongoing crackdown in Tibet. GWF is invited by Coca Cola to join the torch-run as a way of boosting the image of a green Beijing Olympics. A “green Olympics” is another promise that Beijing has made to the International Community. I’d like to thank members of the GWF from the bottom of my heart for their moral courage.

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