This week China’s central gov’t continued to urge the development of Chinese culture, which no one is entirely sure how to do (at the hospital I have heard several times that we need to promote our hospital’s culture). Sensing that Confucianism hasn’t really caught on overseas, the gov’t promoted Daoism in a world conference. Sam Crane from “The Useless Tree,” was quick to point out that Daoist philosophy might undermine the Party’s authority; for example: “The people are starving, and it’s only because you leaders feast on taxes that they’re starving.”
A few days later, protests against taxes turned into riots in the town of Huzhou (if only they’d read the Daoist classics sooner). A reader who used to live in the city told me that protesters had been killed by a gov’t vehicle, and that’s when the violence spread (video of riot). While news sources pointed to the fact that many of their protesters were from Anhui province, it does seem that many locals were also involved. There are an estimated 180,000 protests each year in China, but rarely are they so large.
In Shandong province, the movement to free Chen Guangcheng continues to grow, but has been met with more violence. When Tom Lasseter from McClathchy Newspapers tried to visit the town, a local thug tried to pull his translator from the car, and resulted in a 100+ MPH chase. It seems at the moment that the case has become to large to censor, but even though the central gov’t has admitted knowledge of Chen’s illegal detention they have yet to act. Activists now are stepping out of the cyber-cafes and attempting to reach Chen’s village despite repeated beatings. This could be the start of more daring activism in China, so it is a story we will continue to follow as it progresses.
note: In an act of unbelievable naivete, an American movie has actually started filming near where Chen is being held. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to stop filming in Linyi and stop supporting this abuse of human rights.
Also Global Times published another fiery article warning Vietnam and the Philippines about expanding their claims in the South China Sea. The opinion piece said, “If these countries don’t want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons.” It definitely makes one question China’s claim of being a peaceful country.
But it wasn’t all bad news, it sounds like important changes are being considered in two laws that may slightly improve China’s human rights. The first being that social groups may finally be able to sue companies that damage the environment or threaten food safety before someone is actually hurt. In the past only individuals were able to bring claims. Secondly China is contemplating reviewing compulsory mental illness treatment, which in the past has been used to silence critics permanently (the psych evaluation was done by state psychologists, and no further evaluations were required).
If you are interested in the rights of the disabled, I highly recommend the detailed discussion of this new law.
There were also three more great articles that deserve your attention:
- The dangerous politics of internet humor in China– From the New York Times
- Chinese activists turn to Twitter in rights cases (not focused on Chen like it might sound)- From NPR’s Louisa Lim, who is always worth reading
- Chinese see communist land sales hurting Mao’s poor to pay rich– From Bloomberg