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Human Rights
March 15, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Dueling Human Rights Reports: The United States vs. China.
posted by homunculus (60 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meanwhile, in Tibet: more deaths, injuries in Lhasa as crackdown grows.
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read about this the other day, with a Chinese spokesman saying that the US had no right to condemn China's record of human rights when we're torturing and massacring little brown people with impunity in the name of FreeDumb. That may be so, but give me a fucking break. That's like Ted Bundy calling the guy who got drunk and shot someone in a parking lot a reprehensible murderer. As bad as we are, we ain't fucking China.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:26 AM on March 15, 2008


As bad as we are, we ain't fucking China.

While sticking to the records of the current governments, please supply your formula for calculating this. Please factor in relative imperialism, quantity of abuse, and the degree to which that abuse has been spread over a large planetary surface.

China is no saint, not by a long shot, but my napkin algebra doesn't look good for our old red white and blue here, either.

Comparing the calculated, widespread and ongoing approach of the current US government to an accidental drunken outburst is disingenuously apologetic, I think.
posted by rokusan at 11:34 AM on March 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Comparing the calculated, widespread and ongoing approach of the current US government to an accidental drunken outburst is disingenuously apologetic, I think.

Bad analogy. All I'm saying is it's someone who has done far worse condemning doing someone for doing the same shit. You don't need a formula, I mean come on: the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, executing people and charging their family for the bullet, and on and on. I'm not trying to be an apologist for the US, believe me, but China is the last nation that should be pointing fingers. It's like Iran condemning us for the puritanical Christians in our government.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:44 AM on March 15, 2008


Let me put it more strongly than rokusan did. The moment the USA adopted a policy of officially sanctioned torture, the moment GWB vetoed a bill forbidding torture, the moment the USA abandoned habeas corpus, the USA lost the moral high ground.

Right now we're arguing degrees of evil, and it grieves me that it has come to this. The fact that my country has been brought so low is shameful, and the fact that the US government continues to pretend it has any moral authority after the acts taken by Bush and so enthuiastically supported by so many Americans is gut wrenching. America, to my great shame and regret, has seldom been a force for good outside its borders, but under George W. Bush my nation has sunk to horrifying depths.

There is nothing to be proud of if the best you can say is "but China is worse".
posted by sotonohito at 11:46 AM on March 15, 2008 [10 favorites]


The Chinese report on America is a very fair, fact-based document. *shrug* It's not a pretty read, though.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:55 AM on March 15, 2008


America: Love it or leave it fix it.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


There is nothing to be proud of if the best you can say is "but China is worse".

It's certainly nothing to be proud of. It's like two rapists arguing which one is the worst. Neither one has any kind of moral high ground, is all I'm saying, and especially not a nation like China. In the article I read (I think I saw it on Reddit), the Chinese spokesperson was touting their "international praise for human rights improvement" or something like that. Yeah, congratulations China, you started applying a dab of lube before fucking your people in the ass with a steel girder.

The US has never had the "moral high ground", really, except in World War II. If we lost it, we lost it a long time ago. There's an article on the front page right now about Mai Lai, arming death squads in the 1980s, propping up murderous tinpot dictators like Pinochet and the Shah because they were enemies of our ideological enemies, and on and on and on. That we were ever the "good guys" in most of our lifetimes was an illusion of propaganda.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:18 PM on March 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Instead of launching ad hominem attacks on China, why not state your disagreements with what is in the report? Just because Ted Bundy calls someone a reprehensible murderer it doesn't mean they aren't.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:41 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


except in World War II

Japanese-American internment camps? Firebombing Dresden and Tokyo? We're back to degrees of evil again. The idea that there is a "moral high ground" for any nation-state to plant a flag on and hold is absurd.
posted by hackwolf at 12:54 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


China, as a leading global economy and regional power is simply issuing statements pointing out that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I'd say that's pretty valid.
posted by infini at 12:59 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just because Ted Bundy calls someone a reprehensible murderer it doesn't mean they aren't.

True, but it's kind of hypocritical for him to say it, isn't it?

Somehow I've gotten into a position for being an apologist for the US, and that's something I certainly don't want to do. Both of them are bad is my only real point here.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:00 PM on March 15, 2008


When the pot calls the kettle black, it's only a laugh if the kettle isn't actually black. Instead, I'll cry.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:08 PM on March 15, 2008


China has over a thousand years of history as a meritocracy, while here in the US we're looking at the possibility of replacing one president's son with another president's wife. Oh, and the US already owes China over (pinky to mouth) one trillion dollars. The winners write the history books, and I have a feeling that the history books in a hundred years aren't going to be kind to the United States.
posted by mullingitover at 1:16 PM on March 15, 2008


China sets Tibet protest deadline: The authorities in Tibet have given anti-Chinese demonstrators until Monday to surrender, following violence that officials say left 10 people dead.
posted by homunculus at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2008


A++, would use secret torture camps again.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on March 15, 2008


I can see why Tibetans are pissed, but mob violence against Han Chinese and Hui Muslims isn't exactly the best way to generate sympathy for their cause. For a lot of educated Chinese who might be somewhat sympathetic of the Tibetan cause in private, reports like that are really going to get them off the fence.
posted by pravit at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2008


pravit writes "I can see why Tibetans are pissed, but mob violence against Han Chinese and Hui Muslims isn't exactly the best way to generate sympathy for their cause. "

I think their problem with the Han is that China has been moving them to Tibet en masse in order to ethnically cleanse the region of Tibetan culture. Imagine if China took over your region, destroyed thousands of your cultural and historical landmarks, and then moved millions of Chinese people there. I imagine you might have a problem with that.
posted by mullingitover at 2:49 PM on March 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Like I said, I understand why Tibetans are pissed. But the violence against uninvolved Han Chinese and Hui Muslim residents is entirely unjustified.

A Western tourist in the city told the BBC: "[The rioters] seemed to go for all the Chinese shops and the Chinese people as well. I saw quite a few Chinese people beaten up... it turned totally crazy."

Ethnic Tibetans then turned their anger to shops, market stalls and vehicles owned by Han Chinese, the predominant ethnic group in China, the witness said. A Han girl who spoke to CNN from Lhasa said she was in the hospital after being beaten by a group of Tibetans.

The Chinese government, as usual, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they need to protect the lives of people being targeted by the mobs. On the other hand, anything they do to stop the violence will be criticized by Western governments and watchdog groups.

moved millions of Chinese people there
Actually, I think a lot of the Chinese moved there of their own will to set up businesses or further develop the tourism industry. You might argue that the presence of Chinese "dilutes" Tibetan culture or whatever, but it gets sticky when we start talking about preventing people of a certain ethnic group from moving and living somewhere. A lot of the Western tourists who go to Tibet complain about the many Chinese tourists there, despite patronizing the Chinese-built tourism infrastructure and arguably "diluting" Tibetan culture with their presence as well.
posted by pravit at 3:11 PM on March 15, 2008


Actually, I think a lot of the Chinese moved there of their own will to set up businesses or further develop the tourism industry.

That sounds to me like a distinction without a difference, since it was their country's invasion of Tibet which created the opportunity for them to move there. If China hadn't conquered Tibet, I doubt the Tibetans would be inviting the Chinese to move there in such large numbers.
posted by homunculus at 3:28 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


pravit writes "Actually, I think a lot of the Chinese moved there of their own will to set up businesses or further develop the tourism industry. You might argue that the presence of Chinese 'dilutes' Tibetan culture or whatever, but it gets sticky when we start talking about preventing people of a certain ethnic group from moving and living somewhere. "

Let's travel back in time about 400 years:

"Actually, I think a lot of the Europeans moved there of their own will to set up businesses or further develop the [insert industry name here] industry. You might argue that the presence of Europeans "dilutes" Native American culture or whatever, but it gets sticky when we start talking about preventing people of a certain ethnic group from moving and living somewhere."

See how easy that is? I doubt the Tibetans really want the Native American treatment, but they certainly don't seem to have any immigration control over what is nominally their 'autonomous region.'

However, the Chinese have the most weapons, and they'll certainly make themselves look brave and honorable in their history books just like we do with our history here in the US.
posted by mullingitover at 3:29 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in Iraq: The situation for women in Iraq has become a "national crisis" since the US-led invasion in 2003, a report by an international women's group has warned.
posted by homunculus at 3:32 PM on March 15, 2008


Fuck, I've got to find more cheerful things to post about.
posted by homunculus at 3:33 PM on March 15, 2008


Here is China's view of the current riots. In case the link breaks, the coverage is summed up nicely in the headline: Dalai-backed violence scars Lahsa,
posted by shothotbot at 3:37 PM on March 15, 2008


Fair enough - it's not my place to argue about Tibetan independence, I just wanted to give some perspective as to why the Chinese might be responding so harshly. The violence in Lhasa from both sides is really disappointing. I think we can agree that beating/stoning people and setting fire to their shops/religious buildings because of their ethnicity is wrong, regardless of any independence movements it may be linked to.
posted by pravit at 3:45 PM on March 15, 2008


And since we're all drawing historical parallels here, I think things in the US and India might have turned out very differently if the civil rights/independence protesters, instead of demonstrating peacefully, went around beating up white/British people and looting white/British-owned businesses.
posted by pravit at 3:53 PM on March 15, 2008


What a foolish argument.
posted by zennie at 4:05 PM on March 15, 2008


China has over a thousand years of history as a meritocracy

Especially when the People's Republic was formed, when Mao had the country's best marksmen blow holes in a good number of the country's intellectuals and professionals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:14 PM on March 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Instead of launching ad hominem attacks on China, why not state your disagreements with what is in the report?

OK, sure. This statement below:

Almost every American, even ex-criminals with felony records and minors, has firearms.

is imbecilic. And untrue.

It's a propaganda caricature of my country, issued by some bureaucrat who clearly has never visited the place.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:58 PM on March 15, 2008


VIII. Americans all have big fat asses.

IX. They drive big gas-guzzling SUVs

X. LOL
posted by jason's_planet at 5:02 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Neither one has any kind of moral high ground, is all I'm saying.

Great. Now that you have said it, how about reading the fact-based document and acknowledging the truth of what it says. You're attacking the messenger. That may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but it doesn't help improve things.

The first step in recovery is to acknowledge there's a problem.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:40 PM on March 15, 2008


Or "what they said." RTFT, Fish.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:44 PM on March 15, 2008


This is kind of offtopic, but I've always wondered what would happen if China went the Japan/Singapore/Sweden/Russia route and became democratic, but basically had only one party that ever won the elections (dominant-party system is the term I'm looking for). That way they could keep the stability of one-party rule but lose the stigma associated with being a totalitarian state. Of course, there's always the small possibility of them losing, but then maybe they could split the communist party into two major competing parties that were more or less identical, but differed on superficial details.
posted by pravit at 6:11 PM on March 15, 2008


Chinese repress like this, while Americans repress like that.

AMIRITE?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:13 PM on March 15, 2008


five fresh fish: ... how about reading the fact-based document and acknowledging the truth of what it says. You're attacking the messenger. That may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but it doesn't help improve things.

Hm. Well, I read them both. As far as human rights reports go, China's document on the US human rights situation is laughable. The document is a list of hyperbolic generalizations, interspersed with statistics from US governing bodies and critical press pieces (mostly from US sources), and at the end is a big razzing tongue and a bit of name-calling. Of course, the US document on China's human rights situation is also a less than stellar example. At heart they're both propaganda pieces.

If anyone's really interested in reading about human rights, try a non-government organization like Amnesty International, whose mission is to monitor human rights. Their reports aren't completely objective, but at least they're third-party observations.

Here is Amnesty's Annual Report for last year. Here's the section on the USA, and here's the section on China.

But, for the purpose of the current topic, what really illustrates the story to me is Amnesty's organization itself. Here's the USA. Here's China.
posted by zennie at 6:33 PM on March 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


And here's the reports from Human Rights Watch on the USA and China for 2007.
posted by pravit at 6:41 PM on March 15, 2008


I happen to agree we're no China. But what kills me is how much ground we've lost because what happens domestically can be related to and carry weight in foreign policy...
...kinda reminds me of Spitzer and the whole "he was set up" thing. It's a lot easier not to get nailed for something if, y'know, you're not doing it.

It's the old "But do they call me Angus the bridgebuilder? No, no." joke - but torture ONE prisoner.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:57 PM on March 15, 2008


God fuck USA
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:04 PM on March 15, 2008


My brother is currently camped out at the Lhasa Hotel. I haven't received email from him in a day or so, and I'm assuming they've lost power there (some of the news reports say that power outages are widespread).

The last I heard, he was being required to remain in the building, and much of the surrounding area is occupied by the Chinese forces.
posted by ninjew at 8:30 PM on March 15, 2008


And since we're all drawing historical parallels here, I think things in the US and India might have turned out very differently if the civil rights/independence protesters, instead of demonstrating peacefully, went around beating up white/British people and looting white/British-owned businesses.
posted by pravit at 6:53 PM on March 15 [+] [!]


I realise that you are specifically talking about the Civil Rights movement in the United States, but at first I thought you were talking about American independence - when pro-Independence activists did actually go around beating up British-sympathisers and looting their businesses, then had a civil war. So the US has the experience of both violent and non-violent change.

posted by jb at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2008


Fuckin' Bjork. See what you did? See?
posted by saysthis at 11:46 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


When the pot calls the kettle black, it's only a laugh if the kettle isn't actually black. Instead, I'll cry.

I'm not sure I want to jump in with DecemberBoy here, but that really isn't how that idiom works.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:23 AM on March 16, 2008


We all have a long way to go before global civilization
posted by francesca too at 7:44 AM on March 16, 2008


At least 80 people were killed in anti-Chinese protests in Tibet, exiled Tibetans say - far more than China claimed.
posted by homunculus at 9:33 AM on March 16, 2008


I don't agree with the way the Chinese government is dealing with the problem, but being Han myself it's hard to side totally with the Tibetans. There are many historical factors underlying China's claim over Tibet. Should any country grant independence to every area that comes along and asks for it? If China was a bit more democratic (like Spain & the Basque area) would it be less reviled for this?
posted by monocot at 10:08 AM on March 16, 2008


A Western blogger reports from Lhasa about the mob violence against non-Tibetan bystanders, including pictures and video.

"Before I continue with some updates from today and videos from yesterday, I want to make one thing clear because all of the major news outlets are ignoring a very important fact. Yes, the Chinese government bears a huge amount of blame for this situation. But the protests yesterday were NOT peaceful. The original protests from the past few days may have been, but all of the eyewitnesses in this room agree the protesters yesterday went from attacking Chinese police to attacking innocent people very, very quickly. They appeared to target Muslim and Han Chinese individuals and businesses first but many Tibetans were also caught in the crossfire."

posted by pravit at 10:57 AM on March 16, 2008


Whoops, forgot to insert the link to that quote. Here it is:

This motorcyclist, who I assume the protesters identified as Han Chinese, was simply riding up Beijing Street when the video took place. He was not army, not police, not doing anything other than riding his motorcycle.

posted by pravit at 11:09 AM on March 16, 2008


'Hands off' isn't enough for Tibet.

The film We're No Monks is online.
posted by homunculus at 11:24 AM on March 16, 2008


Wait, no it isn't. Curious.
posted by homunculus at 11:25 AM on March 16, 2008


but at first I thought you were talking about American independence - when pro-Independence activists did actually go around beating up British-sympathisers and looting their businesses, then had a civil war.

Speaking of which, the HBO series on John Adams starts tonight.
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on March 16, 2008


China blocks YouTube over Tibet videos
posted by homunculus at 2:14 PM on March 16, 2008


More at BB: China blocks YouTube, protests spread, bloggers react
posted by homunculus at 5:18 PM on March 16, 2008


Lhasa Faces a Deadline
posted by homunculus at 11:24 AM on March 17, 2008


Images and News of Tibet Riots Seep Onto Web, Despite Chinese Authorities' Clampdown
posted by homunculus at 3:13 PM on March 17, 2008


Burmese Monks Condemn Crackdown on Tibetan Monks
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2008


Dalai Lama threatens to 'resign' over Tibet violence
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2008


1,000 Tibetans arrested in Chinese crackdown
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on March 18, 2008


America: Love it or leave it fix it.

You know, this strikes me as the winning statement right there. We constantly have this, I'm sad to say, liberal, complaining, constant diatribe around here about how bad America is and how aweful Bush is and how America has this history of racism and imperialism and materialism and its run by a bunch of fundamentalist whack-os, etc. but nobody does a fucking thing about it but whine. Yeah China sucks. Yeah America suck, get off your lazy ass and fix it. No body is going to do it for you you spoiled little shits!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:20 AM on March 18, 2008


A survey shows that European in-house lawyers would rather face litigation in China and Russia than in America. Ouch.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 PM on March 18, 2008


What a stupid survey! Of course they would rather face litigation in a place where they could pay off the judge or they can cake-walk through a system of priviledge as opposed to a place where they'll have to work for a living. Remember these are the attorneys for corporations, that means that they fear a place where consumers actually have the right to sue corporations, you know, a place like the US. I find that to be a good thing.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2008


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