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Andrea Worden, November 25, 2018     Over the past several years, the Chinese government has steadily been promoting its own version of human rights –– “human rights with Chinese characteristics”–– at the UN, and maneuvering to insert language trumpeted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with Xi Jinping as its core wordsmith, into various UN resolutions, with an eye toward assuming a leadership role in global human rights governance. China’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the Human Rights Council (HRC) on November 6, 2018 provided a high-level global forum for the government to announce its newly formulated five-pronged “human rights development path with Chinese characteristics.” In a press conference following the review, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun claimed that more than 120 countries […]


Andrea Worden, October 9, 2017     In January 2017, after his success at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Xi Jinping traveled to Geneva to deliver a rare, invitation-only speech at the UN’s Palais des Nations. Most of the top UN officials were present, and Secretary- General António Guterres gave opening remarks that failed to include even a mention of human rights. Human Rights Watch described Xi’s reception in Geneva by UN officials as an “obsequious red carpet treatment,” and said the measures to protect Xi and ensure the event unfolded without disruptions were “highly unusual.” These measures included emptying the complex of many of the approximately 3,000 staff who work there, closing parking lots and meeting rooms, and prohibiting accredited nongovernmental organizations […]


By Liu Yu, published: February 25, 2015 “You see?  No hands are raised by those who are absent in the classroom.  Everyone is here. What a wonderful class!”   I complain about China now and then, and a friend of mine pointed out my failing to appreciate it. “China is in great shape now,” she pointed to the window. “Can’t you see? It is now in many ways a lot more advanced than overseas!” I guess I have to agree. Following the direction of her finger, I can see the gleaming facades of skyscrapers, the new cars of all makes and models, and the hustle and bustle of daily activities, even with the polluted air and reduced visibility. The prosperity is real. And add to […]


As we looked at yesterday, China may not be as welcomed in Africa as some authors might argue. My friends told me a few stories after reflecting on our first discussion that I thought should be shared, but didn’t quite fit into yesterday’s post.* Friend from Zambia You know, it’s probably not fair to think that the Chinese are only bad for Zambia. If they weren’t there many of the mines would have closed. Any job is better than no job. The people working in the mines just consider how much better things were for them when the mines were operated by the gov’t, rather than thinking about what it would be like without any job at all. If we were rational we’d probably be […]


Over the past few days, I’ve mentioned the village on the cliff several times, but haven’t yet discussed one of the biggest questions I had on my mind during my time there, Why didn’t the gov’t build this village a road? Why is it being left to charities to do the gov’t’s work? I should say that we aren’t just talking about a single road, the majority of the projects we visited were infrastructure projects. One involved repairing an irrigation system, another was to fix a broken water pump, and the third was to build a water pump. Throughout China this charity is also involved in rebuilding schools, roads, bridges and village clinics. This ties back into an important argument made by economists who say […]


This year a crowd of economists and social spectators have started to wonder aloud if 2012 will be the year China’s system collapses (to be fair, this is an annual tradition). This time they are pointing to mass incidents, economic troubles, growing evidence of corruption, a Grand Canyon sized gap between rich and poor, and scandals that seem to rock the country on a bi-weekly basis. These are challenges China has overcome before, but on a much smaller scale and without having to contend with the openness of Weibo. Some might go so far as to say that what has already been set in motion makes it impossible to avoid such a catastrophe. However, there is a single problem underlying many of China’s greatest woes: […]


It’s early morning, the sun is shining through  kitchen windows, aroma of coffee wafts pleasantly as toddlers squirm and squeal at your feet. The husband is off busying himself for the office, life could not be better. On the other side of the world, in a village in China, another person is preparing for his day at work. He, too, has a wife who stands in a small area where the cooking is done, also, a happy toddler wriggles and squeals on the floor. But this man will not be going to an office. He will head off to a different type of job for twelve hours, probably for his sixth day in a row. That job is back-breaking, dirty and pays very, very little. […]


Wednesday we looked at part of the reason why Chinese officials like massive projects, and today we’ll be looking at the another major reason: corruption. This factor helps to explain why local governments are so eager to build infrastructure, but struggle to find money for schools, and why the National government continues to favor single major projects. It’s no secret that China has thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?) of officials who use their positions for extra gains. Starting at 1:58 (What do you want to be when you grow up?) Boy: I want to be an official Interviewer: What kind of official? Boy: A corrupt official, because they have many things. This endemic corruption is essential for understanding not only infrastructure projects, but China as […]


I have wanted to write this series since I went back to the US this February and noticed a palpable change. It seemed like people were no longer talking about China as a kind of economic miracle, those thoughts had been replaced by a growing anxiety over what it might mean for China to be a superpower. This week we are going to be taking a look at what it means to be a superpower, and try to gauge how close China is to meeting the criteria. For this series we’ll be looking at four areas of power and China’s ability to project them. These four areas are: economic, political, military and cultural power. Economic Power Today I thought I would begin with the most […]


It seems that despite my thorough explanation of why China is not a rich country, even though it has the second highest GDP in the world, major governments have started to cut aid to China. The UK’s department for distributing foreign aid actually had it’s budget grow by 1/3 this year, so it’s not just budgetary reasons for cutting their aid to China. The argument is simple, a country growing 10% a year is not in need of foreign aid.Japan has been a major mover of money in China’s direction, since 1979 they have given over $40 billion to China. They made an argument similar to the UK’s this morning, why should they be giving aid to a country that has a larger GDP than […]


It’s no secret that China has environmental problems (my other posts about China’s environment), today even the Environment Minister acknowledged that “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today.” Also on Sunday Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in an online chat, “We must not any longer sacrifice the environment for the sake of rapid growth and reckless roll-outs, as that would result in unsustainable growth featuring industrial overcapacity and intensive resource consumption.” He is saying this partially in light of the recent news that up to 10% of China’s rice is contaminated by heavy metals, and Beijing’s air pollution was 10x higher last week than the WHO recognizes as “safe.” Like […]


Yesterday I lead you through a crash course in Economics, and showed you that China’s GDP doesn’t mean that it’s a developed country, I would suggest reading that first. I think for many American’s (and probably many Europeans) China’s rise is met with mixed feelings. On my recent trip to the States something felt different this time when I told people I lived in China. It seems that China has moved from being seen as the place where people carry little red books, make our cheap socks, and fawn over baby pandas, to being the country that is on track to unseat us as number one. For my Chinese readers, just so it’s clear, this scares the heck out of practically every American born before […]


2011 has already set record highs for food prices, and that means another step backward for development. Now add to that news that China’s wheat-producing region (one of the largest in the world) is bracing for the worst drought in a century, and you have the makings for a disaster. In 2008 the world saw record high food prices. They led to riots in some countries, and crime waves in others. My brother was in the Dominican Republic at the time, and faced a number of threats on his life, as desperate people looked for ways of providing for their families. At that time I was in Longzhou and there were daily questions from the restaurant owners about the cost of goods in America. In […]


Yesterday we were looking at how cold it is outdoors and in here in China. Today I want to get to the meat of the problem that lies just beyond that thought. Is it possible for China (or any country) to develop without destroying the fragile environment? I’ll start with something I’m not so proud of; my wife and I are currently running 3 space heaters full blast, all the time. Not because we’re trying to recreate the climate of sunny Florida, or even temperate San Francisco, this is just what it takes to keep our apartment from feeling like winter in Minnesota. At the office we also have two heaters running non-stop, and still I have to pause between sentences to hold my hot […]


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