Sunday, August 31, 2008

‘Hot Money’ Causes Serious Problems in China

By Wu Huilin
Special to The Epoch Times Aug 30, 2008
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Related articles: China > Business & Economy

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People love money. But few know that "too much money" could be dangerous—It can create bubbles in property and stock markets. It can also increase inflation. This phenomenon is often seen in developing countries and is causing very serious problems in China.

Excessive Foreign Exchange Reserves

"Foreign exchange reserves" can help us to do an analysis. Foreign currency has two major sources: trade surplus and net inflow of foreign capital, which enters a country without the sale of goods.

Clearly, foreign exchange should be used to purchase foreign goods but not to buy domestic goods. If surplus foreign exchange is used in the country, it will create “too much money chasing too few goods,” which is inflation. If used in stock and real estate markets, foreign exchange can create bubbles in money games. The more foreign exchange reserves, the greater the bubbles are. The question is: what are the proper foreign exchange reserves for a country?

It is commonly accepted that foreign exchange reserves should increase with a country’s import value and the instability of the international balance of payment. The proper foreign exchange reserves can be estimated as equal to the 10 percent of the GDP or three to six month import value of the country. However, China now has US$1.6 trillion of foreign exchange reserves, which equals 50 percent of its GDP or 15 months of its imports.

Chinese statistics are not transparent. We can only estimate according to other agencies or observers. According to Reuter’s New Agency, China's foreign exchange reserves increased $40.3 billion in May this year, and the trade surplus plus foreign direct investment (FDI) were only $28 billion. The difference is likely to be the "hot money" used for currency arbitrage.

Inflow and Outflow of Enormous ‘Hot Money’

In recent years, the Chinese communist regime employed the so-called "macro-economic control," which has been ineffective due to lack of respect for market mechanisms. The exchange rate control is the main reason for the inflow of an enormous amount of hot money. The economic bubbles and even a tsunami of economic crises are looming over the Chinese economy.

According to Logan Wright, an analyst with Stone & McCarthy in Beijing, the amount of the hot money influx into China between January and May reached $150 to $170 billion.

It was reported that there are various channels for hot money to flow into China. Chinese officials have said that most of these channels are illegal and the most commonly seen practices are the falsification of the amount of direct investment and international trade. Confronted with an incessant influx of hot money, Chinese authorities have repeatedly intensified capital control. Now, the regime is looking for ways to further enhance the censorship of outward remittance. These control measures are not effective, and they could also increase China’s economic risk.

The Best Practice is to Liberalize the Exchange Rate of the Yuan

Sherman Chan, senior economist at Moody International Consulting Inc., believes that drastic measures are needed to adjust the exchange rate of Chinese yuan to an appropriated level.

He pointed out, “If the government still wants to maintain its existing exchange rate system, speculative capital would definitely continue to influx for arbitrage.”

Even if trading control measures are tightened; foreign capital could still flow into China through other channels, including through the falsification of foreign direct investment capital. Some banks have said that capital control may lead to an upsurge of innovative money laundering channels. As a result, it is impossible to find an effective solution.

Hot money has given China’s future economic policy more concerns. The Chinese authorities are finding it a difficult challenge to the policy-making process.

According to the South China Morning Post, though China’s GDP growth rate reached a two-digit level in the first quarter of this year, the fixed assets investment hit a new low in the past five years. The growth rate of industrial profit in the first five months dropped from previous year’s 42.1 percent to 20.9 percent. The gross profit rate of China’s business also dropped to 8.2 percent in March, which was a new low in the past four years.

On the other hand, according to the Reuter’s reports, China’s inflation rate for the first half of this year was 7.9 percent, higher than official target of 4.8 percent. As a result, when making policies, the authorities must take into consideration both economic growth and inflation.

As to whether first priority should be given to growth or inflation, in addition to two fractions within economic experts, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao regards curbing inflation is the first priority, while the CCP leader Hu Jintao thinks the first priority should be given to growth. As a result, China faces a real dilemma. It seems one can't have the cake and eat it, too.

Plainly speaking, the easiest approach to control inflation for now is to appreciate the yuan or hike the interest rate. But both of the approaches may eventually result in the quicker inflow of hot money, and may in turn hasten the worsening of inflation. As mentioned by the 1976 Nobel Laureate and economic master M. Fredman in his book entitled “Free to Choose,” Whether inflation leads to unemployment, or the temporary side effect of curbing inflation leads to the rise in unemployment. In other words, it is impossible to solve problems without any cost. Therefore, the drastic measure to deal with the problem is to let the market decide the exchange rate of the yuan. Though there will be some hot money inflowing into China in the short term, it would happen only once and will get back to normal gradually.

[1] Hot money, also called speedy-flow capital, refers to extremely volatile short-term capital that moves with short notice to any country providing better returns. Powerful speculators can quickly pump massive sums into a high-yield economy, giving it an artificial aura of success and propriety. But, on a mere suspicion of a downturn or other negative factor, they can (and do) withdraw it almost overnight causing a near collapse of the country's financial structure.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

China Quake Damages Over 100,000 Homes, 25 Dead

Reuters via Epoch Times Aug 30, 2008
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BEIJING—An earthquake that hit southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces has killed 25 people, damaged or destroyed more than 100,000 homes and affected at least 440,000 residents, state media said on Sunday.

The epicenter of Saturday's quake, which struck around 4:30 p.m. (3:30 a.m. EDT), was about 20 miles southeast of Panzhihua, near Sichuan's border with Yunnan, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was about 6 miles deep.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.7, while China's official state media Xinhua news agency said it measured 6.1.

Xinhua said the quake had injured 192 people, and three more were missing.

It added that 656 schools had also been damaged and that heavy rain and difficult terrain were hampering rescue efforts, with mobile telephone communications patchy.

State television showed pictures of houses with large cracks in their sides and broken tiles on the road.

Parts of Sichuan province were devastated by an earthquake that killed about 70,000 people in May. The province, known for its pandas and fiery cuisine, has struggled to rebuild after the disaster, which left 10 million people homeless.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Olympic Clean-up Costs Another Life

Death of Falun Gong practitioner from abuse day before opening ceremonies revealed

Mr. Hu Heping before he was tortured.

Mr. Hu Heping before he was tortured.

NEW YORK (FDI) –A painter from Hunan province, arrested in a nationwide pre-Olympic roundup of Falun Gong adherents, died the day before the opening ceremonies from injuries incurred in custody. Detained in March, an emaciated Mr. Hu Heping (胡和平) from Yueyang city died August 7, 2008 according to recent reports received by The Falun Dafa Information Center. He was 55 years old.

According to sources in Hunan, Hu was arrested from his home without a warrant on the morning of March 18, 2008. He was detained by a local police officer by the name of Lu Ran, accompanied by two members of state-sponsored community watch groups, Li Yongfei and Zhang Yifei.

Over 8,000 other Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested in similar roundups during the months leading up to the Olympics. (news)

“Hu’s case is typical of the pattern of arrests and abuse in custody we’ve seen in the run-up to the Olympics,” says Erping Zhang, Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson. “While the world was preparing to watch the opening ceremonies, this man who was healthy in March was dying in his bed because of vicious treatment meted out by Chinese police.”

On the day of his arrest, Hu was reportedly taken to Dongtingguan Hotel, where he was interrogated for 24 hours, and then transferred to Yueyang City’s No.1 Detention Center.

According to sources inside China, Hu was tortured while in police custody, causing serious injuries to his internal organs and swelling to his feet and legs. He was seen coughing constantly, while his weight dropped from 120 pounds to 90 pounds. During his detention, Hu’s family was denied access to visit him by agents of the State Security Bureau and the 6-10 Office, an extralegal taskforce with the mandate to oversee the handling of Falun Gong cases.

Mr. Hu Heping after he was tortured.

Mr. Hu Heping after he was tortured.

Nearly three months after his arrest, on June 16, 2008, Hu was taken to Yueyang No. 1 People’s Hospital for treatment, where doctors found his internal organs severely injured and diagnosed him as suffering from liver damage. Fearing Hu would die in custody, the detention center authorities contacted his family on June 17 and released him into their custody the following day, though only after they made a payment to the police. By this time, however, Hu was already extremely weak. His abdomen and lower body were severely swollen, a symptom known to occur in those suffering from severe liver damage, and he had difficulty walking. Unable to recover from his injuries, he died on the morning August 7, 2008.

Prior Accounts of Persecution

According to sources close to Hu, he became a practitioner in 1997. In 1999 and 2000, Hu went to Beijing twice to appeal against the persecution of Falun Gong. On both occasions, he was detained for a total of 75 days at Hubin Detention Center.

On March 12, 2003, Hu was illegally arrested and sentenced without a trial to two years of forced labor. During his internment at Xinkaipu “re-education through labor” camp, he was reportedly deprive of sleep and injected with unknown substances for refusing to give up his spiritual beliefs. He was released at the end of 2004.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Voice Seeking Answers for Parents About a School Collapse Is Silenced

Diego Azubel/European Pressphoto Agency

Relatives and loved ones of the children who died in a school collapse after the May 12 earthquake staged a protest on June 1 in Mianzhu, China.

Published: July 11, 2008

NY Times: BEIJING — Three weeks after the earthquake in Sichuan Province, five bereaved fathers whose children died in collapsed schools sought help from a local human rights activist named Huang Qi.

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Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Protesting parents in Mianzhu clashed with the police on May 25. There is no official death toll for students.

Huang Qi, a human rights activist, was detained on June 10.

The fathers visited Mr. Huang at the Tianwang Human Rights Center, an informal advocacy organization in the provincial capital of Chengdu, where he worked and lived. They told him how the four-story Dongqi Middle School had crumbled in an instant, burying their children alive.

Mr. Huang soon posted an article on his center’s Web site,, describing their demands. They wanted compensation, an investigation into the schools’ construction and for those responsible for the building’s collapse to be held accountable — if there indeed was negligence.

A week later, plainclothes officers intercepted Mr. Huang on the street outside his home and stuffed him into a car. The police have informed his wife and mother that they are holding him on suspicion of illegally possessing state secrets.

“They’ve been using this method for a long time,” said Zhang Jianping, a contributor to the Web site who has known Mr. Huang since 2005. Nobody knows the grounds for his arrest, but many people have the same idea. Mr. Zhang said, “It may be because the schools collapsed, and so many children died.”

In the days after the earthquake, the authorities allowed reporters and volunteers to travel freely in the disaster zone. Some commentators even saw the dawning of a Chinese glasnost. In an interview with National Public Radio that aired in May, Mr. Huang said he believed that the human rights situation in China had greatly improved.

“He actually thought things were heading in the right direction,” said John Kamm, who is pressing for Mr. Huang’s release and is the executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation, which has helped free prominent Chinese political prisoners. “That’s one of the tragedies of his detention.”

A volunteer at the Tianwang center, Pu Fei, 27, was detained minutes after Mr. Huang. He said that the officers who interrogated him demanded that he hand over the password needed to post information on their Web site. They also wanted to know whom Mr. Huang had met and where he had gone in the disaster zone. Mr. Pu was detained in a hotel for two weeks and then released.

Mr. Pu and other volunteers said the authorities might have singled out Mr. Huang because he disseminated information about parents whose children had died in collapsed schools — a group whose protests began to snowball into something like a movement in early June.

There is no official figure on how many children died in schools during the powerful May 12 earthquake. Seven thousand schoolrooms collapsed, according to Chinese government estimates. Thousands of students may have died, if not more, leaving behind bereft parents looking for answers.

During the brief period of openness in late May and early June, parents marched with photos of their children and gathered at the wreckage of schools to hold memorial services. They held sit-ins outside government buildings. In one town, the top Communist Party leader got down on his knees and begged parents to stop a march, but they refused.

But with the Olympic Games in Beijing approaching, the issue increasingly looked like a time bomb for the authorities, and they scurried to defuse it. The Propaganda Department banned coverage of destroyed schools in the domestic press. Paramilitary police officers blocked foreign reporters from demonstrations. Activists who tried to gather and publish information about school construction were detained.

On June 2, The Sichuan Economic Daily published an article saying that substandard construction methods contributed to the deaths of 82 students at a middle school in Yinghua Township. Afterward, an editor at the paper said, two reporters and an editor who worked on that article were fired.

Two fathers of children killed in schools said in separate interviews that officials had told them public gatherings and petitioning the government were no longer permitted. Zeng Hongling, a local crusader who wrote three articles lashing out at the government’s earthquake response, was detained on suspicion of inciting subversion, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a group based in Hong Kong.

Mr. Huang, who was detained on June 10, has not yet been formally charged with any crime. But if he is convicted on the murky charge of holding state secrets, it will not be his first time being jailed for a political crime.

In 1998, he and his wife, Zeng Li, founded the Tianwang Center for Missing Persons, an organization that focused on cases of human trafficking. Its name later changed to Tianwang Human Rights Center as its mission expanded.

In 1999, she and Mr. Huang helped the police rescue seven girls who had been sold into prostitution. The case gained the Tianwang center favorable attention in the state-run news media.

Mr. Huang also exposed a racket through which thousands of migrant workers sent to work on ocean-going fishing boats had been forced to pay for mandatory appendectomies at a government-run clinic. He published an article on his Web site. His wife said that Mr. Huang’s report stepped on the toes of high-ranking local officials who profited from the arrangement.

Mr. Huang continued to post articles about other taboo topics.

In March 2000, he wrote about a practitioner of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong who was beaten to death in police custody. The Chengdu police shut down his Web site days later, so Mr. Huang moved its content to a server in the United States.

Later that year, he posted an account of a 15-year-old boy who was detained in Chengdu during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing. The boy later died in police custody.

The police arrested Mr. Huang shortly thereafter. He was held for an extended period without trial, and he was ultimately convicted on charges of inciting subversion and was sentenced to five years in prison. Ms. Zeng, who has lived apart from Mr. Huang since 2006, said the experience changed him.

“When he came out, you could see scars on his head,” she said. “He became irritable, and he would forget things.”

To the surprise of some friends, Mr. Huang took up where he had left off when he got out of prison. He revived his dormant Web site, found citizen journalists throughout China to contribute articles and resumed his role as an activist. “He started helping petitioners — people who had been harmed, people whose homes has been demolished, people whose rights had been abused,” Ms. Zeng said.

State security agents watched him, Ms. Zeng said, but they did not interfere with his work.

Then the earthquake hit, and foreign reporters flooded the devastated towns. Mr. Huang knew the terrain of Sichuan well and did his best to help. He accepted interviews with the foreign press. He and his volunteers rented a truck and handed out bottled water, instant noodles and crackers to refugees. In June, he helped reporters from a British television channel contact parents whose children had been killed in schools destroyed by the earthquake. And he began acting as a clearinghouse of information for reporters.

Mr. Huang kept in touch with the five fathers whose children had died at Dongqi Middle School. They joined a group of experts to investigate the wreckage for clues as to why the building crumbled. Mr. Huang posted a short article on his Web site saying that, according to the experts, the school was structurally unsafe.

It was one of his last postings before his detention. Mr. Huang’s lawyers and family said that the Chengdu police have denied their requests to meet with him on the grounds that his case involves state secrets. Officers with the Wuhou District Public Security Bureau declined to comment, saying they were not authorized to speak with the media.

A conviction for the crime of possessing state secrets can carry up to three years in prison.

It is unclear whether the pressure to arrest him came from central authorities in Beijing or from local officials, who regarded his criticism of the collapsed schools as threatening. Mr. Pu said that some of the officers who interrogated him spoke with a northern Beijing accent, which is unusual in Sichuan, an area with a strong dialect.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Closed eyes to Beijing's brutality

By Paul Schratz

BC Catholic Paper: Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan will have an extraordinary opportunity later this week to put the rights of the disabled in full public view.

But don't hold your breath.

The disabled mayor has been named a torch-bearer at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing Sept. 6-17, so expect Sullivan to get lots of attention cruising around in his wheelchair, brandishing the torch with some gizmo like the one that helped him wave the Olympic flag at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Sullivan, who went to Beijing for the Summer Olympics and is staying on for the Paralympics, will probably continue to find some lapses in accessibility in Beijing, such as the bus stops, or the oversight that left him without access to Canada Olympic House until organizers constructed a last-minute ramp.

Yet Sullivan is an unlikely campaigner for full rights for the disabled in a country whose communist ideology stresses the demand for a healthy populace.

China's brutal one-child policy, forced sterilizations, bans on disabled people marrying, and the routine abortion of fetuses with disabilities, makes the country an odd choice for host of the Paralympics.

Of course the country was an odd choice for the Olympics to begin with. There's no point listing the brutal human rights violations the country is known for. The Games took place, everyone held their noses, and all the talk in the aftermath is about whether London and Vancouver can ever hope to compete with the spectacle that was Beijing.

There's something more than a little disturbing, however, about hearing such gushing from people who should know better.

Sullivan was on radio last week, being interviewed about the Games and his reaction. "Everything impressed me," he said from Beijing.

The citizens were "engaged and so welcoming," he said, and on this, his third visit to the country, Beijing looks more cosmopolitan than ever.

The "culture of service" he found among the people was beyond what anyone expected, he said. "This really has been their coming out to the modern world."

Sullivan's accolades might sound naive, but what to make of his thoughts on the oppressive nature of the government?

"It doesn't feel like a dictatorship," he told a reporter. "I turned on the TV and I saw all the Western channels that were criticizing China, and I thought this doesn't really square with the feeling that people in the West have about what's going on in China. There is a lot of openness."

Whether these are the words of gullibility or wilful ignorance, it really does give one pause. The very day Sullivan arrived in Beijing, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour and David Matas, a human rights lawyer, released new evidence about the continued murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China for their organs, which are harvested for sale to Western countries.

On the day the Olympics ended, before the visitors had even returned home, the crackdown on human rights was back in full swing. Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo was arrested at his cathedral in Zhengding.

The 73-year-old bishop, who refuses to register with the Chinese government and has been arrested 12 times since 2004, was hauled away by police after he offered the Mass at the cathedral.

More than 1,000 Catholics attended, even though public security officers had warned Catholics in the diocese to stay away from the Mass.

Now here's the ultimate irony. Bishop Jia runs an orphanage that cares for disabled children, and there's speculation that his arrest might have something to do with the upcoming Paralympic Games.

Dear Mayor Sullivan, while you're in Beijing appreciating its cosmopolitan nature, would you please put in a word for Bishop Jia. He isn't finding the culture of service up to standard lately.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Olympic stars 'tainted' says Tory

Brian Coleman
Mr Coleman criticised those who took part in the "orgy of sport"

Britain's Olympic champions are poor role models who are "tainted with blood" over China's human rights record, a London Assembly member said.

BBC: Conservative Brian Coleman criticised the winning athletes in a column for newspaper North London Today.

"If you are looking for young heroes and role models, forget the highly paid athletes who leave their consciences at passport control," he wrote.

London Assembly Conservatives said Mr Coleman was entitled to his own views.

Mr Coleman, who also chairs the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, criticised athletes for taking part in the "two-week orgy of sport".

"While Britain's athletes may have won more medals than usual they must remember that they are tainted with the blood of Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, and Roman Catholic priests who are being tortured and held in labour camps just a few miles from the glittering 'Bird's Nest stadium,'" he wrote.

Mr Coleman added that "our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq" were more worthy of admiration than Britain's Olympic medallists.

Britain won 19 golds among 47 medals in Beijing, the best Olympic haul for a century.

On Sunday London Mayor Boris Johnson received the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony, as London prepares to host the event in 2012.

Team GB gold medal winners
Team GB won 19 gold medals

Labour London Assembly member Valerie Shawcross said Mr Coleman's comments were a "gross insult".

"Mr Coleman has gone out of his way to personally attack, insult and disparage the remarkable achievements of the British team," she said.

"We should be giving our young athletes all the resources and support possible, not rubbishing and going out of our way to put them down."

Mike Tuffrey, leader of the Liberal Democrats group at the London Assembly, said we should be proud of Britain's Olympic athletes, "medal winners or not".

"These athletes are not wealthy premiership footballers but committed and talented sportsmen, who often fit their training around a full time job," Mr Tuffrey added.

"There are of course concerns over China's human rights record but the way to combat this is not by denigrating our athletes."

A spokesman for the mayor said Mr Coleman was entitled to his opinion, but that Mr Johnson did not share the view that the Olympic athletes were "tainted".

"It is offensive to suggest so when these fine young men and women are not only doing Britain proud, but are helping to open China to the world, and the world to China," the mayor's spokesman said.

Mr Coleman declined to comment further. OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Call for Release of Chinese Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

Friday, 29 August 2008

Active ImageNGOs and Brussels Bar Association call for immediate release of human rights activist.

Below is an article published by Human Rights Without Frontier:

UNPO: On 26 August, a letter prepared by several international human rights NGOs and prominent human rights defenders which calls for aid in securing the release of Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng was presented to the head of the Brussels Bar Association.

Mr. Georges-Henri Beauthier, a member of the Brussels Bar Association, presented the letter together with representatives of Committee of Investigation on the Persecution of Falun Gong and Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l to the head of the Bar Association who stated that after familiarizing himself with Mr. Zhisheng’s case he will take the necessary steps to involve both his Bar Association and the European Bar association.

Mr. Gao Zhisheng, a Nobel Prize nominee and recipient of the 2007 Courageous Advocacy Award from the American Board of Trial Advocates, is a renowned Chinese lawyer known for his work concerning human rights abuses, religious persecution, corruption, environmental degradation and land appropriation in China. He has been missing since September 2007 when he was arrested after sending an open letter to the United States Congress in which he expressed his deep concerns over the worsening deterioration of human rights in his country.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Should Nevada accept despotic China's money?

LVN: The Summer Olympic Games in China ended five days ago, and I, like millions of Americans, was glued to the television set during the Beijing competitions, awed by the pageantry and cheering for our nation's winning athletes.

The 2008 Olympics, however, have left a legacy, a legacy that highlights China's escalating and calculated disrespect for human rights, civil liberties, freedom to assemble, freedom to speak one's mind and fear and distrust of inquiring and free press.

China's abuse of basic human rights is manifested in its denunciation, persecution and imprisonment of political dissidents, writers, professional journalists, artists, free speech advocates, religious faithful and virtually anyone it accuses as "harmful to the state" and "endangers national unity."

China, despite its emergence as a world economic and military power, is a totalitarian state. It lacks even the basic, accepted requirements that distinguish a nation from being civilized or uncivilized.

On a recent three-week pre-Olympics visit to China with my wife, I came face to face with China's totalitarianism and lack of freedoms. Even innocent questioning about China's treatment of Tibetan freedom adherents, its banning of "unapproved" churches, its jailing of members of the Falun Gong meditation and exercise movement, and its censorship of the media brought hostile replies such as "Why are you asking me this?" "What business of this is any of yours?" "This is China's concern, not yours."

When I attempted to locate these abovementioned topics on computers in Chinese hotels we stopped at up popped replies such as "not available" and "this cannot be found." The hotel computers were censored, I soon learned.

Reporters covering the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics also were unsuccessful in reaching the sites. As well, Internet sites such as the British Broadcasting System (BBC) Watch of America and Human Rights Watch were censored.

And worst of all, the International Olympic Committee, which, I had assured the world that China's press censorship and human rights violations would be relaxed during the games, caved in and showed great lack of spine when it refused to criticize the Chinese for continuing and even stepping up their repressive policies.

Thankfully, despite the alluring beauty and colorful spectacle of the just-concluded Olympics, several well respected international human rights organizations are reminding the world that China today is one of the world's most notorious violators of every aspect of human freedoms.

Amnesty International, for example, notes the the Olympics were used by the Chinese government to justify "its growing crackdown on Chinese human rights activists in the name of harmony or social stability." Another group, Human Rights Watch, issued a report charging the Chinese authorities with repeatedly obstructing the work of foreign journalists despite commitments to guarantee freedom to the writers.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, of which I am a member, has said the Chinese government "severely restricts and censors the domestic press" and further condemns the fact that 29 Chinese journalists are in prison. This makes China the world's worst offender in jailing journalists, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

"Vast censorship rules are in place in China and press attacks and harassment occur with impunity," adds the CPJ.

This criticism of basic freedoms in China brings me around to what is happening in Nevada in relationship with the Chinese government.

A year ago in this space, I wrote a column about a press conference I attended in Carson City where it was announced a $50 million Chinese Workers Museum is to be built on BLM land east of Carson to honor the Chinese laborers in Nevada who helped construct the transcontinental railroad in the1860s.

Gov. Jim Gibbons and several state officials joined high-ranking Chinese diplomats at the press conference, describing the ambitious project. The State Legislature has kicked in $50,000 toward the museum and a fundraising drive is to begin soon, reports Carson City architect Art Hannafin, a museum director and vice president.

Hannafin also told me this week that the initial $50 construction cost projection was much too low. The cost today is about $100 million, he estimates.

Although I appreciate the basic idea of a museum honoring the Chinese workers and admire its supporters, I am distressed at thought of Nevada falling at the feet of the Chinese authorities in soliciting funds and assistance from them.

Next May, China-sponsored film festivals, art exhibitions and industrial exhibitions to support the museum will be held in Carson City, Reno and Las Vegas, and I cringe at the spectacle of influential Nevadans and state officers cozying up with top-ranking Chinese leaders who represent one of the world's most oppressive regimes.

I thoroughly understand Nevada's need of Chinese tourism and trade, but the thought of a museum established in this state that is supported by Chinese money and the Chinese government gives me a feeling of unease.

China ranks near the bottom of every recognized survey that calculates civil liberties as practiced by the governments of the world's nations,

Unless the Chinese leadership gives strong evidence it is abandoning its human rights and censorship policies, Nevada should refuse Chinese funding and diplomatic support for the Carson City museum, even if that result in a smaller and less ambitious project.

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the LVN. OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The 2008 Beijing Olympics was a business bust

World Tribune: As the last strains of the kind of spectacular only authoritarian governments can throw filled architecturally “challenging” new structures, the Chinese are toting up the costs of an effort to prove to the world they have arrived. But whatever the bill for the government — it may have come close to $50 billion — the cash registers didn’t ring for the Chinese business community.

The flood of foreign visitors never arrived: Beijing had not many more than the 420,000 visitors it got last year, according to trade associations. A clampdown on visas for young foreigners — part of the intensive and extensive security arrangements — gave China Air, the national carrier about 20 percent less traffic this July than last year. Domestic visitors, too, decided it was better to stay at home and watch the Games on TV rather than risk possible terrorist episodes, the crowding and high costs of the Beijing Olympics boom.

Wang Zhenghui, director of China's Hotel Association in Beijing, told the Los Angeles Times that occupancy during the Olympics was only 50 to 60 percent, a long way from the overflow that had been expected. Of the 20,000 apartments listed with Olympics officials for short term lease, only 8,000 were rented.

Given the lack of transparency and the accounting creativity of the Chinese government, the cost to the economy of the industrial and traffic cutbacks in an attempt to stem pollution during the Games will probably never be known. The Beijing authorities had not only temporarily closed down many karaoke rooms and sleazy entertainment facilities deemed capable of corrupting the athletes and their friends, but industrial plants were also sequestered. The alternate-day, even-odd controls on traffic not only penalized Beijing’s wealthier commuters, but made for additional costs for food and other necessity deliveries.

Many if not most Beijing residents would welcome back a return to “normal” conditions in the megapolis.

"Otherwise it would be too inconvenient for people . . . and will largely decrease the efficiency of the city," said Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology. "Actually, nowadays, many ordinary people sincerely hope that the Games could finish sooner."

Given the Chinese penchant for enormous state pageantry — an inheritance that preceded even the Communist state theater Beijing copied from the Soviets and the Nazis — the elaborate and pace-setting major construction for the Games will probably be put to use in future state functions. That’s a net gain over many other former “Olympic cities” — Athens, for example — where the facilities have become white elephants and contributed to near bankruptcy for their sponsors.

But none of this economic and business history seems to have dimmed the enthusiasm as Beijing faded and the British picked up the Olympic torch for the 2012 London Games.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Closing Ceremony to Wash Off a Century of National Disgrace?

Chen Po-kong
Radio Free Asia via Epoch Times Aug 27, 2008
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Related articles: Opinion > Viewpoints

As fireworks light up the sky next to the National Stadium, the ever present image of a totalitarian state is evident.
As fireworks light up the sky next to the National Stadium, the ever present image of a totalitarian state is evident. (Chen Po-kong/Radio Free Asia)
2008 Olympics: Coverage Behind the Scenes

On August 24, the 2008 Olympics came to an end. According to General Director Zhang Yi-Mou, the closing ceremony was to create a “grand celebration for humanity.” However, that night, China did not have a celebration, nor did Beijing or Tiananmen Square. Beijing was still under military control and the atmosphere was reserved. Civilians were isolated far from the Bird’s Nest Stadium and central Beijing. The luxurious, bustling, and well-lit Bird’s Nest was like the Titanic sitting in the dark, waiting for everything to end.

A “harmonious society” and “harmonious world” are political slogans of Chinese leader Hu Jintao. Hence, Zhang had a giant Chinese character of “harmony” at the opening ceremony to fulfill the political mission given by the Chinese Communist regime. However, this “harmony” is only a façade for foreigners. The regime invited heavyweight political figures from 80 countries to attend the Games but ordered the locals to stay home and not hold public gatherings, parties or protests. The regime plans to reach harmony with foreign countries by signing gross trade contracts or trading off its territory, but will never loose its iron grip on its people to reach internal harmony. “One world, one dream” is for foreigners and power politics is for locals.

The foreign political figures had witnessed Beijing’s powerful governance—all dissidents in Beijing were imprisoned or expelled; those who wanted to use the protest zones were warned or sent to forced labor camps. Beijing would rather have empty stands in the Bird’s Nest than giving any group a chance to show up; numerous soldiers and police occupied every corner of the city.

Now, Hu held up his cup in the banquet and said, in effect, to foreign leaders, we would like to be at peace with you. No matter how totalitarian and tyrannical we are, that is our business. We close our doors to straighten our people, please don’t ask why. As long as you mind your own business, you will benefit. Everything China has will be used to please you, since we control everything in China…

Beijing’s voice to Chinese people ran a different tone. It has been Beijing’s magical tool to blame foreigners for the misfortunes in modern China. Beijing claimed to use the Olympics as a way to wash off a century-long national disgrace and sorrow, and to give the Chinese the dream of the century—in order to win the people’s heart.

However, in the last century, the Chinese Communist Party has ruled China for 59 years and most of the catastrophes and misfortunes have happened during that time. From 1949 to 1978, during Mao’s era, China’s economy collapsed, its culture was ruined, elites suffered, and tens of millions of people starved to death.

Celebration and harmony are empty promises. It takes balance to create harmony. Most countries in the world are democratic and in their government meetings voices from different parties, groups and interests are heard. The Democratic National Convention had its opening ceremony the day after the Olympics closing ceremony. In the Pepsi Center, the only voice is against the Republican Party and the only goal is to replace it. Different voices in a society show the political and social balance. The U.S., instead of sinking into chaos, flourished and became a superpower because of it. Social balance is the base for social harmony. It will probably take China another century to be like the U.S. and perhaps by then the Chinese people could wash off another century-long national disgrace and sorrow.

No matter what happens, Beijing will celebrate the “success” of the Olympics for sure. The Chinese Communist regime will believe this is a success of dictatorship. And hence, after the Olympics, Beijing is going to hold on and strengthen its one-party ruling and listen to nothing.

The Olympics, looking at it from another angle, is a game between the professional players from totalitarian countries and amateur players from democratic countries. China gained the most gold medals by applying the Russian-style state system to train its athletes. From now on, Beijing will budget more for the “gold medal project.” It is an extremely heavy economical burden on the Chinese people’s shoulders.

The Beijing Olympics pushed extravagance and wastefulness to the extreme. It shows a sense of national inferiority instead of confidence. However, this inferiority came from the Communist regime, not the people. The most expensive Olympics in history presented the brightest contrast to the numerous people living in extreme poverty in China.

When the Mayor of London Boris Johnson took over the Olympics Torch at the closing ceremony, he said one thing that should make the Communist regime, which held the most expensive and unprecedented Olympics, feel ashamed, “Without wasting tax payers' money, I am convinced that we can do just as well in 2012.”

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008


27 August 2008 at 20:22 by Mathew Hulbert

Amnesty UK: IN TERMS of sport and spectacle the Beijing Olympic Games were undoubtedly one of the best ever.

For the Chinese Government the 29th Olympiad were truly an excercise in global good publicity.

But behind every Gold medal win, behind every firework, was the real truth about China.

The massive human rights abuses, the crackdown on normal democratic norms like the Internet and proper journalism.

Add to that the situation with Tibet and it's hard not to believe that these Games, no matter how good they were, will be forever tainted in the minds of everyone, including myself, who puts Human Rights ahead of all else.

Before these games started I called for some athletes to peacefully protest during the games.

To the best of my knowledge that didn't happen.

Some brave members of the public did, however, and deserve the praise of all Amnesty International supporters.

Who can know what punishment(s) they'll have to endure?

The International Community must maintain its gaze on China, for the sake of countless numbers of people who currently wallow on its dark underbelly.

Mathew Hulbert.

Find out more about me at:

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

2 men with Philly ties recall harsh Olympic venue: Prison

By KITTY CAPARELLA - Brian Conley and Jeffrey Rae documented only one pro-Tibetan protest during the Olympics in Beijing.

But the two Philadelphia-area men came back with an eye-opening look inside a Chinese prison, where they were interrogated for six days before being deported Sunday.

Conley, 28, of South Philadelphia, co-founder of Small World News, which produces two Web sites, and his friend Jeffrey Rae, 28, a Wayne native who works for a labor union in New York City, were among 13 Americans detained in three incidents this month in connection with protests organized by Students for a Free Tibet.

"This experience was way different from anything I've ever had before," Rae said. "The price we paid was minimum compared to a Chinese man sentenced to two years of hard labor for practicing his religion."

Detained separately, Rae and Conley met Sunday at the Beijing Airport, where they were forced to buy $2,000 tickets on Air China to Los Angeles, even though they already had booked return flights.

"I was told point-blank we were detained longer" than the protesters who were deported within 15 hours, "because we were more dangerous and more offensive - even though we were doing media work," said Conley, a videographer.

The two pals had covered students unfurling a "Free Tibet" banner on a pedestrian bridge above an intersection at Ethnic Minority Park, near the Olympic Stadium.

Other protesters interlocked their bikes to prevent passers-by from entering the park, and unfurled another banner: "Tibetans are Dying for Freedom."

Their work was posted on a Students for a Free Tibet Web site.

About 1 a.m. Aug. 19, Rae said, he and others were leaving a restaurant when "a sea of cops" with video cameras suddenly came down the street and arrested them.

Rae said he was taken to the "unmarked" Hainan Hotel, where he was interrogated for 22 straight hours. He said he repeatedly had been asked: "Who sent you?" and "Why are you here?"

Meanwhile, Conley, who was feeling sick, had stayed at the Hotel Bo Tai - near where Rae was being detained - when a knock on the door awoke him.

Police told him they were conducting a routine investigation about Chinese threatening tourists - the first of many misstatements - and asked him to go with them, Conley said.

Sitting in the rear of an unmarked car, Conley said, police were putting Rae's and his belongings in the trunk. Conley said he was taken to a fancy hotel-restaurant.

After 22 hours, the two men were taken to the Chong Wen Detention Center and held separately in a 12-by-30-foot room with 10 to 12 others.

Each inmate was assigned a wooden bed, with a drawer underneath, and all the beds were pushed together, like a platform, on one side of the room.

Rae said he was given a "blanket reeking of urine, a dirty Tupperware-like bowl and filthy spoon, in which rice and vegetables were dumped. Drinking water was available for only 15 minutes early in the morning - if you could find a bottle. Otherwise you won't have water that day," he added.

To wash dishes, inmates showed him how to use a little toothpaste with water and shake it up in a bottle.

For seven hours at a time, Rae said, he was interrogated in a metal chair with a high back and a metal bar on his lap, with bars in front of him, as if he was in a cage. Seven cops threw questions at him.

Rae told them the truth: He was a photojournalist documenting pro-Tibetan protests.

Police said "what we were doing was far more egregious because we were trying to split Tibet from the motherland and send images around the world," Rae said.

"What I'm doing is not against the law," Rae told them. He cited China's agreement with the International Olympic Committee to allow protests, and journalists to cover them, but it didn't matter.

He refused to give police the passwords to his laptop or cell phone, though he had backed up his images on memory cards.

Then came the threats:

"We don't know what to do with you, either shoot you or slit your throat," he was warned.

"Are you afraid of me?"

"No," he replied.

"Are you afraid of Osama bin Laden?"

"Maybe George Bush is, but I'm not," he said.

"The way the conversation was going was absurd," Rae said.

Asked if he had been beaten, he said he was repeatedly slapped on the shoulders. "After you're up for 36 hours straight, pushing is magnified a bit," Rae said. "They were extremely angry with us."

Meantime, at the recommendation of Students for a Free Tibet, Conley claimed he was a tourist and listed what he had videotaped: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Dirt Market.

He contended that he was just visiting, noticed the protesters and filmed them.

"I stonewalled them,"Conley said.

At one point, he text-messaged his pregnant wife, Eowyn Rieke, a physician: "In jail. All fine."

Later, he e-mailed his and other Twitter social-networking accounts.

Two inmates stayed up all night to watch the other inmates, and the pair were rewarded with little things by the guards. In the evenings, inmates were allowed to watch only one program, usually table tennis, on CCTV, the Chinese network.

Through a surveillance camera and loudspeaker, guards kept watch on the TV-watching inmates, who all had to sit upright in chairs next to each other. If someone slumped, the TV was shut off, Rae said.

For exercise, they had to walk in circles around the room all at the same time, Rae said.

Most foreigners were jailed for alleged visa problems, but one 22-year-old Chinese man confided that he had been sentenced to two years of hard labor for practicing Falun Gong, a religion banned in China.

"My people are tortured when they go to labor camps," he said. "I'm really scared."

Two days later, he was moved.

Rae realized that the U.S. Embassy must have been taking some action when his interrogators complained that he and other protesters were causing problems between their countries.

Conley, meantime, was suffering from asthma problems for several days, until finally a doctor brought him an inhaler he had been requesting.

Before they were taken to the airport, Conley and Rae had to sign and fingerprint each page of an apology. It was one of several documents, written in Chinese, that they were forced to sign after each interrogation.

The Chinese wanted to "save face," Rae said.

But Conley nearly blew it at the airport when they were being videotaped and he gave the cops the finger. They rushed him, knocking his glasses across the room.

Conley then joined the others for their flight. *

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beijing: Don’t Forget Wu Dianyuan or Wang Xiuying

Permalink 08:16:57 am, Categories: Voices, 801 words

Harv Oberfeld

Keeping It Real...

The People's Voice: The two names most likely to be remembered long after the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube begin to rust are Michael Phelps (swimming) and Usain Bolt (running). But two people who really should NOT be forgotten are Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying.

Wu, 79, and Wang, 77, were arrested , tried, and sentenced in the blink of an eye during the Beijing Olympics to “re-education through labour” and whisked away for merely APPLYING for a permit to protest their forcible eviction from their homes in 2001 to make way for redevelopment.

In fact, the Chinese government made complete fools of the International Olympic Committee by promising to allow non-violent protests to take place during the Games; setting aside a park area (well away from the real action) but even then NOT granting ANY of the 77 applications for protest permits. And when the seniors refused to take NO for an answer and kept applying for a permit to protest: the Chinese authorities took them away.

A police state remains a police state … despite all the marching mandarins, colourful choreography and programmed pawns, performing with pomp and precision under the pretense of “public” participation and pageantry.

The opening ceremonies were fantastic (if partly faked); the venues were magnificent;the games were seemingly very well run; the closing beautiful to watch. But, as I wrote at the BEGINNING of these Games, the real legacy of Beijing 2008 will transcend sport: the world will instead remember China’s Olympics for:

“OPPRESSION: the eyes of hundreds of millions of people around the world have been opened WIDE to the massive degree of suppression the people of China struggle under day after day: protests and demonstrations disallowed or strictly restricted/controlled; Internet censored; police surveillance and intimidation beyond our imagination; and media censored/controlled/banned. (Any more?) I suspect that, until now, most people knew that China wasn’t exactly liberated, but with the spotlight pointed at China over the past several weeks/months, now we all know so much more about how Chinese people are denied liberty by their own leaders, under the boot of the ironically-named People’s Liberation Army.

TIBET: the ill-fated uprising there in the run up to the games focussed the world on Tibet, the Chinese occupation and violent crackdown on dissidents in the region in an unprecedented way. And the horrors of Tienamin Square have also been brought back into public consciousness.

RELIGIOUS SUPPRESSION : the Falun Gong is not alone; news stories leading up to the Olympics have detailed the way police regularly persecute, raid and arrest “unauthorized” religious churches. leaders and their followers (including Christians), seizing even their religious texts and imprisoning believers.

CORRUPTION: more than 1 million Beijing residents had their homes literally bulldozed in front of their eyes to make way for “redevelopment” to prepare for the Games and China’s economic growth. Many of them received little or no compensation, thanks to corrupt officials doing deals with developers. (Where is the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association, when you really need it?)”.

Now with the Games ended, I believe my earlier predictions will indeed hold true.

The people of China have much to be proud of: their warmth and friendliness … and yes, their longing for freedom and the bravery of many in standing up against the dictators who rule over them … came through the physical smog of Beijing and all the political smog laid down by their political masters.

We understand … we sympathize … and our continuing work towards expansion of their personal and political freedoms SHOULD be the legacy of the 2008 Olympic Games.

And please … don’t forget Wu Dianyuan or Wang Xiuying.

The Chinese Embassy in Canada: E-mail:

Beijing Olympics makes 1.5 million additional people homeless
The Canadian

According to a report, One World, Whose Dream? Housing Rights Violations and the Beijing Olympic Games, PDF Link, released by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 1.5 million people have been displaced by the Beijing Olympics.

The report claims that since China started implementing economic reforms, the Chinese government has committed large scale human rights violations, illegal evictions and displacement and this has only increased in preparation for the Olympics Games.

The COHRE report says that the International Olympic Committee is also responsible for the violation of housing and human rights in China because they were aware of the violations and still claim the human rights have improved.

A new book entitled Olympic Industry Resistance: Challenging Olympic Power and Propaganda claims that evictions, human rights violations and displacement come hand in hand with hosting the Olympic Games in any city.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008