Human Rights in Post Olympics China
By Jackie Bong-Wright
Concerns from Advocates
The Asia Democracy Alliance hosted a forum for 21 advocacy organizations on Capitol Hill on September 12. Cong. Loretta Sanchez and Cong. Frank Wolf co-sponsored the event.
Dr. Binh Nguyen, moderator, invited speakers to voice their concerns on human rights issues after the Olympics. She called upon the Chinese government to heed international appeals and respect the cultural, political and religious freedoms of its neighboring countries.
Dr. Wen-yen-Chen, Executive Director of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, declared, “China promised to improve its human rights records when it applied to host the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing. In spite of international condemnation, China continues to support countries such as North Korea, Burma, and Sudan. It continously builds up military forces with thousands of missiles pointing at democratic Taiwan threatening Taiwan if Taiwan refuses its demand to become a part of China.”
Other prominent advocates followed suit. “In the past two decades, the world has seen the coming down of the Berlin Wall, the dismantling of the USSR, the successful struggle for political independence of many countries. So how can you let the Chinese government continuously get away with brutal suppression of human rights and freedom in Tibet,?” exclaimed Dakyab Tenzin Jamchen, President of Chushi Ganddruk, New England Branch.
“Since its invasion in 1949, 1.2 million Tibetans have died, over 6,000 monasteries and cultural and historical buildings destroyed. Precious resources were mined and moved to China.” Jamchen pleaded, “We need your help in demanding the Chinese to stop the use of brutal force on Tibetans who are continuously led towards a peaceful solution by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. We demand complete independence.”
The Honorable Bo Hla Tint, Member of Parliament and Member of the Council of Ministers of the Overseas Government of Burma, denounced China’s role in Burma, “China has increasingly been collaborating with the Burmese generals and helping them in every aspect. As of today, we have more than 2,000 political prisoners, including 21 MPs-elect, Buddhist monks, ethnic leaders, students and women. Since 1989, our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 12 years under house arrest.”
Mr. Tint continued, “China and Russia exercised their veto power to defend the Burmese military junta at the UN Security Council. As a consequence, efforts to find a peaceful solution to Burma’s problems through dialogue process and under UN mediation have all but failed. Hence, the democracy movement of Burma firmly believes that progress toward democracy in Burma is firmly linked to democratic changes in China.”
Mr. Tran Tu Thanh, a former prisoner of conscience and chairman of the Vietnam Nationalist Party, was more adamant. He talked of the “gunboat policy” of China in the South China Sea, especially around the Paracels and Spratley archipelagoes, which, he said, belonged de jure to Vietnam. In 1974, China took over a group of islands after a bloody battle with Vietnam; then, in 1988, went further south to occupy more islands, including these two archipelagoes, disregarding protests from neighboring countries.
Thanh denounced China’s efforts to redraw the map to annex the South China Sea and monopolize its vast mineral and biological wealth, including its large reserve of oil. He enumerated a list of China’s objectives – to reinforce her navy through purchase of an aircraft carrier from the Ukraine, to augment the size of its submarine force to include nuclear units capable of long-range operations, to acquire mid-air refueling techniques from Iran to increase the operating range of its fighting planes, and, finally, to build a naval base in the Paracels with an airfield capable of operating fixed-wing aircrafts.
“The People’s Republic of China must stop their hegemonic and expansionist policy now so mankind can live in lasting peace and harmony,” exclaimed Thanh.
Denunciations from Religious and Political Entities
Commissioner Michael Cromartie from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said that China hoped that the Olympics would showcase its country’s rapid growth and the rise of power to the rest of the world. “On the contrary, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, unregistered Christian groups, and spiritual movements such as the Falun Gong faced increased repression, restrictions, surveillance, arrests, detentions, and beatings.”
Cromartie added, “North Korean women have been trafficked to China as brides, laborers, and prostitutes. Between 300,000-500,000 North Koreans are reportedly hiding in China, living under constant fear of deportation. It is time the international community made refugee protection in China a priority – including at the UN and in the Six-Party Talks on North Korea.”
Rep. Frank Wolf provided a report of his trip to Beijing with Rep. Chris Smith at the end of June, citing repressive treatments of Chinese citizens and showing that China is not progressing but regressing. They both urged the U.S. administration to publicly raise cases involving human rights and religious persecution and push China to help end the genocide in Darfur by not selling weapons to the Sudanese government.
Rep. Chris Smith said that he was skeptical of Liu Jingmin, vice-president of the Beijing Olympic bid committee, who asserted that “by allowing Beijing to host the games, you will help the development of human rights.” “Instead, the Olympics triggered a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyong reach all those whose views differ from the official “harmonious” government line,” Smith stated.
Rep. Ed Royce highlighted China’s injustices and aggressive behavior during the Games. “Beijing literally beat members of the media into submission, expelling some and using force on others. Reporters Without Borders found that 22 foreign journalists were either attacked or imprisoned for their “unfriendly” portrayal of the games. Radio Free Asia was denied access for its reporters, first during the opening ceremonies and then again for the closing ceremonies.” He continued, “All 77 people who filed formal petitions with the Chinese government for the right to protest were denied. Two 70-year old women who wanted to protest the flattening of their homes to make way for redevelopment in Beijing were sentenced to one-year of hard labor in a Chinese labor camp.”
On that note, Mr. T. Kumar of Amnesty International strongly urged the 100 activists attending the forum to “get together, form alliances, help each other express their demands for human rights, and organize to fight for a common cause.”