Skip

China criticizes US on human rights
February 28, 2009 11:31 AM   Subscribe

China hits back at US criticism on human rights After the US needles China with human rights criticism, China responds with Human Rights Record of United States in 2008. From its preface: "As in previous years, the [United States'] reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but mention nothing of the widespread human rights abuses on its own territory."
posted by shetterly (76 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's bad news for human rights that we're a symbol of international human rights advocacy.
posted by grobstein at 11:34 AM on February 28, 2009


China puts this out every year, it's like a spring-time ritual. I think it's mostly for the benefit of the local press, it gives them something to talk about other than China's human rights in the days after the US releases its report. When I was living in China I always noticed it was a pretty major front-page story in the newspapers for a few days.
posted by bluejayk at 11:35 AM on February 28, 2009


It's not like the US is the shining city on the hill, bluejayk.
posted by Malor at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2009


bluejayk, yep. It's an annual game for both sides, the CIA and the NED versus the PRC.
posted by shetterly at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2009


Most of it looks accurate to me, but this sentence jumped out under section IV:

In border cities and townships like Juarez, more than 4,000 Indigenous women were killed or reported missing.

Memo to Beijing: Juarez is in Mexico, not the U.S.; those killings are not blamed on US actions; the number cited by local authorities as well as activists is usually "more than 400."
posted by beagle at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, the US does have more people in prison than China, even though China has four times the population. There's something going on there.
posted by eye of newt at 12:48 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beam/mote.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:51 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, the US does have more people in prison than China, even though China has four times the population. There's something going on there.

Workhouses. Factories.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did they mention the Chinese Uighurs at Gitmo who are cleared to be released, but how they (china) keeps trying to prevent any other country from taking them?
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Workhouses. Factories.

As opposed to the US Where no one works in factories? What are you talking about?
posted by delmoi at 1:11 PM on February 28, 2009


Well, the US does have more people in prison than China, even though China has four times the population. There's something going on there.

Yeah, it means that the average cost of keeping a person in prison in the US is $20K/year, and the average cost of letting a Chinese criminal starve in the countryside is zero. Prison in the US would be a godsend to those Chinese living on less than $2/day.

Just because China has a large economy does not mean that it's comparable to the United States. Our GDP/capita is 15x higher than that of the Chinese, which means that we can afford to send people to prison (where there are clean showers, 3 meals a day, televisions, gyms, and libraries).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 1:13 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is nothing more than an ad hominem attack. It says nothing about China's own record, it's merely an attempt to distract the rest of the world using the accuser's own faults.

Does the USA have human rights problems? Yes.

Does that have anything at all to do with the accusations America's report makes against China? Of course not.

China is a big fan of ad hominem attacks. I suppose that since so much of Chinese thought is based on pure authority, undercutting your opponent's reputation isn't considered fallacious.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


Actually, after eight years of Bush and company, I'm surprised that China's accusations weren't more, well, damning. They brought up the obvious points like Guantanamo and Iraq, yes. But anyone with half a brain still remembers Tiananmen Square. Then there's Tibet, the Great Firewall, the shamefully two-faced way they dealt with Olympics protesters (offering to let people sign up to protest then getting imprisoned for it).

The real difference, though, is that Bush is gone*, and it happened peacefully. Sure, someone like him could be back eventually, but we're in for at least four years of governmental sanity here.

*Again, allow me to add a little "yay."
posted by JHarris at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


As opposed to the US Where no one works in factories? What are you talking about?
I think you've got him backwards. He's probably talking about Wackenhut prisons, where prisoners are paid between 35 cents and $1.80 an hour.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 1:19 PM on February 28, 2009


USA, still not worse than China. Yay!
posted by vivelame at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2009


i say bully for china. the u.s. certainly doesn't set the bar, but there are lots of people in this country that believe the united states is infallible. most of those people will undoubtedly view the chinese report--if they ever even see it--as sour grapes and dismiss it out of hand. if it makes one or two people think, though, the annual repetition is worth it.

i especially loved this from the telegraph article: 'The condemnation came days after Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of State, disappointed human rights activists by conceding that the US would put economic ties above human rights in its dealings with China.' that last part should read 'the US would put economic ties above human rights in its dealings with [insert country here].'
posted by msconduct at 1:26 PM on February 28, 2009


Prison in the US would be a godsend to those Chinese living on less than $2/day.

Perhaps its just me, but given a choice between the two, I'll take China on $2 a day please, Alex.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:41 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


...we can afford to send people to prison (where there are clean showers, 3 meals a day, televisions, gyms, and libraries).

...and something else which we're not allowed to talk about here.
posted by gman at 1:52 PM on February 28, 2009


PeterMcDermott: Perhaps its just me, but given a choice between the two, I'll take China on $2 a day please, Alex.

Yeah, seriously. I bet $2 a day would buy you food and probably even housing in rural China. The only conceivable advantage I can see is that the US prisoner probably gets better medical care (unless, of course, the guards ignore him as he dies of appendicitis or something, which has happened), but then again the Chinese peasant isn't going to get shivved, so I bet that more than balances out.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:08 PM on February 28, 2009


I bet $2 a day would buy you food and probably even housing in rural China.

Get a clue.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 2:26 PM on February 28, 2009


If $2 a day didn't buy food and housing in rural china, then those people would all be dead, and thus not 'living' on the money anymore.

The idea that being an average citizen in a very poor region is somehow worse then being an actual prisoner locked up, with the potential to be sexually and physically assaulted by other prisoners or guards is absolutely absurd.

Lack of clean water wouldn't be fun, but unless we're talking about industrial pollutants, we're talking about people's standards of living are about equal almost everyone other then kings and elites throughout almost all of human history. It's only in the past few centuries that we've even begun to see large numbers of people living better then that. And your "get a clue" link doesn't even talk about China specifically, just about poverty in general. And furthermore over the past few decades the quality of life in China has been rising very quickly.

Would you, personally, rather be in a U.S. Prison then live in rural China? At least you would get to interact socially with whoever you wanted, including wives and girlfriends, and the rest of your family, something you can't do in prison.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I can fuckin' live in rural China on under $2 a day, a local most certainly can.
posted by gman at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2009


The Soviets used to put out things like this. Didn't turn out so well for them. Won't for the Chinese Communists either. Hypocrisy is corrosive, and will be the end of them. Sic semper tiranus.
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:21 PM on February 28, 2009


Do we really have freedom-loving folks who think being in prison in the US is better than being free in China? Head hurts now.

JHarris, the Tibet issues really isn't as simple as the CIA, the NED, and their fronts would have us think. My favorite starting point for people who don't want a rightwing US source or a Chinese one: Michael Parenti's Friendly Feudalism.
posted by shetterly at 3:29 PM on February 28, 2009


This happened last year too.
posted by homunculus at 3:56 PM on February 28, 2009


We seriously need to legalize cannabis. First, it's less harmful than alcohol. (It's even arguably beneficial!) Secondly, as a matter of practicality, we don't have the prison space or money to keep non-gang pot heads imprisoned. Thirdly, pot being illegal creates demand, which is filled by Mexican drug gangs, who use it to buy guns in the U.S. to bring back to Mexico and use on their police, and that is destabilizing their country. (Not to mention getting piles of civilians killed.)

I'm guessing Obama's at least pondering this issue. He probably won't even bring it up this term, because of the politics, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he might do something to correct this problem in his second term, if he gets one, which he'd better.
posted by jamstigator at 4:12 PM on February 28, 2009


Why can't we all just get along ?
posted by doogyrev at 4:16 PM on February 28, 2009


This report is unfortunately shoddy. It really reads like one guy ran a bunch of web searches and listed all the news stories that reflect poorly on the US. Color me disappointed.
posted by grobstein at 5:33 PM on February 28, 2009


China is a big fan of ad hominem attacks. I suppose that since so much of Chinese thought is based on pure authority, undercutting your opponent's reputation isn't considered fallacious.

This is so perfectly, exceptionally ironic that I am frightened to comment on it. All I can say is congratulations, and thank you.
posted by stammer at 5:50 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


I bet $2 a day would buy you food and probably even housing in rural China.

Get a clue.
posted by SeizeTheDay


Well, from your link:
However, it appears that much of the poverty reduction in the last couple of decades almost exclusively comes from China:

* China’s poverty rate fell from 85% to 15.9%, or by over 600 million people
* China accounts for nearly all the world’s reduction in poverty
* Excluding China, poverty fell only by around 10%
Is that what we're supposed to get a clue about?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:54 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nation-states criticize each other for violating human rights, in an attempt to smear their rivals and draw attention away from their own human rights violations. Film at 11. I understand the US and the Soviet Union did this to each other a lot back in the Cold War days (stories about the plight of black Americans were very common in Soviet media, apparently) and as in that case, neither party involved here has any credibility on this subject whatsoever, even if they paint an accurate picture of the crimes of their rivals. A condemnation of American human rights violations by the Chinese government is about as interesting and relevant as the reverse, and no less disgustingly hypocritical.

shetterly: JHarris, the Tibet issues really isn't as simple as the CIA, the NED, and their fronts would have us think. My favorite starting point for people who don't want a rightwing US source or a Chinese one: Michael Parenti's Friendly Feudalism.

*sigh* Time for another round of this, I guess... Parenti is, in my opinion, a terrible introduction to the Tibet issue. He isn't a Tibet expert, and on other issues he has already proven himself to be capable of some grotesque distortions of reality. The man made Slobodan Milosevic out to be some sort of noble socialist defender of the poor and tried to deny, justify, and minimize every atrocity Milosevic carried out, to the extent of becoming the head of the American branch of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic. (Milosevic himself wrote the preface to a book of Parenti's translated into Serbian.)

If he's capable of such distortions of reality and apologia for atrocity when it comes to the Balkans, I have to wonder what sort of information he's leaving out with his Tibet article, which is most certainly not an even-handed piece. It criticizes China some, but it does it in the way that a Bush supporter might criticize the Iraq War- some mistakes have been made, but the basic mission was noble because look how bad it was before. It attempts to justify the Chinese occupation by pointing out how Tibet was feudalistic and oppressive under the rule of the lamas, which I don't doubt was the case, and which is quite irrelevant to the question of whether the Chinese occupation is right or just in any sense, just as Saddam Hussein is irrelevant to the American occupation of Iraq now. Given that Tibet's system in the past is the focus of Parenti's article, the article's only value (if it has any- I do not trust Parenti at all, but am not enough of an expert to say how accurate it is on the specifics. For the sake of argument, though, I'm assuming for the moment that it is) is perhaps to dispel overly romanticized ideas of what Tibet was in the past. As an introduction to the present situation, it's worthless.

Another noteworthy thing about Parenti's article is that when he uses Tibetan sources (which he only does twice), it's always as a negative example. All of the sources he takes as good information are either Western or Chinese. It seems to me that any article on the Tibet issue that completely ignores the perspective of the Tibetans themselves can be no more even-handed or accurate a view of the issue than an article on the Israeli/Palestinian situation that exclusively drew on Western and Israeli sources and dismissed all Palestinian ones would be. In understanding any situation like Tibet or Israel/Palestine, I feel that the most important voices to listen to are those of the people who are directly affected. Parenti, in the typical fashion of apologists for imperialism everywhere, ignores these almost entirely.

So, as far as an introduction to the Tibet issue goes, I definitely wouldn't take Parenti as a good one at all. For a better introduction, I haven't read it yet, but the book "The Dragon in the Land of Snows" by Tsering Shakya is one that I have often seen highly recommended- the author is both a Tibetan himself and an expert in the field, and everything I have heard about the book indicates that it's genuinely and impressively even-handed.
posted by a louis wain cat at 5:56 PM on February 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Is that what we're supposed to get a clue about?

No. I can't seem to understand if people are willfully obtuse around here. My first comment was making the point that we (in the US) have more people incarcerated than China (which I haven't seen proof of, BTW, but whatever) because we can afford to do so (in an effort to maintain a civil society). The comment I made was to directly refute the innuendo of the previous commenter.

My second comment was to state that those living on $2/day have a horrific life (much, much worse than any prisoner in the US), and that over 300 million of them live in China. To put a number on it, just based on $20K/year that we spend on incarceration, prisoners have a quote unquote GDP/capital that is 6 times higher than the AVERAGE Chinese person, let alone that of 300 million of their poor. The audacity that some people in this thread have shown that somehow $2/day is livable is appalling, and has caused me to seek counseling for my anger.

Neither of my comments are really concerned with the original post, which may be part of the problem. And BTW, none of my comments are related to China's progress (though God knows that was mostly caused by US consumption). And the fact that it was reported that 20 million Chinese lost their jobs and moved back to the countryside should serve as ample evidence that any progress China has made in the last decade was tenuously, tenuously related to US over-consumption and their savings and production were not based on an evolving economic environment, but one based a kind of pseudo-colonialism whereby they made all our stuff. The bright side now for them (maybe) is that they hold a ton of our debt, but in the coming years that may prove to be as worthless as the electronic sheets of paper they're written on.

But since I'm ranting here, this little comment is delicious:

Do we really have freedom-loving folks who think being in prison in the US is better than being free in China?

Free in China? Seriously?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:18 PM on February 28, 2009


Hypocrisy is corrosive, and will be the end of them.

*cackle*
posted by mph at 6:18 PM on February 28, 2009


My second comment was to state that those living on $2/day have a horrific life (much, much worse than any prisoner in the US), and that over 300 million of them live in China.

Yeah, except it didn't. You linked to a page that talked about global poverty levels, and gave some statistics about it. The biggest problem is probably the lack of potable water, but this is how humans have lived for thousands of years. It's what we evolved too and only recently have things been better for more then a few a elites at the top. Living in that kind of poverty isn't fun at all, but as I pointed out, I'd rather live in a shack with my friends and family and be free to do whatever I wanted within the limits of my budget then be trapped in a cage with a bunch of violent people and a high incidence of homosexual rape and physical assault. Oh I might need to boil water before I drink it!? Oh no!

$2/day for food, assuming you live in a house that your family has owned for generations and you don't have rent and utilities to pay isn't that bad. It's plenty of money for rice and basic food. If you have a stable social structure support you, there's a big difference between someone living a traditional rural life and someone who's stuck in a disintegrating country with civil war and violence and the breakdown of society (like Zimbabwe or whatever).

And anyway, like I said you haven't pointed out exactly what is so horrible about it. What exactly is so bad about living on $2/day in rural china that makes it worse then being in prison? Your link doesn't begin to make that point at all.
posted by delmoi at 6:33 PM on February 28, 2009


SeizeTheDay, free in China versus free in US prisons? Damn straight.
posted by shetterly at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2009


a louis wain cat, you speak of "the Tibetans" like a Republican speaking of "the Cubans" who means "the people who profited from Batista's brutal rule, then fled after the Cuban Revolution."

I can't say anything about Parenti on Milosevic. I haven't researched that. But I've researched Tibet a good bit. I haven't found any source of substance to refute Parenti, and I've found a great deal of, well, to be as gentle as possible, misstatement by the CIA/NED-funded groups.

I put two collections of links together, one with primarily rightwing or mainstream capitalist sources for conservatives and one with primarily leftwing sources for liberals and socialists. (Though I admit my judgment call may be quirky in some cases.)

For a second source for people hunting an objective source, this article from the Atlantic Monthly is a bit conservative, but good: Tibet Through Chinese Eyes.
posted by shetterly at 7:45 PM on February 28, 2009


Free in China the USA? Seriously?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:18 PM on February 28 [+] [!]


Tedious.
posted by mek at 7:57 PM on February 28, 2009


a louis wain cat, I followed your link and started reading the sample. The second page reveals the prejudice of the writer. He refers to the "shift in the balance of power that marked the beginning of the demise of Tibet as an independent state."

But the truth is Tibet has not been recognized as an independent state by any other nation since the Emperor of China gave the Dalai Lama his title centuries ago. (If you wish to quibble, you can point out that in 1911, Tibet and Mongolia declared independence. Then I get to say, "And who recognized that independence?" And the discussion is over.)

Now, you may say that Tibet should've been allowed to keep slavery and become independent in 1950. If you believe the Confederacy should've been allowed to secede and keep its slaves, I can't argue with you.

I just skimmed Blood in the Snows. Tsering Shakya concludes with a defense of the Dalai Lama's call for an autonomous region greater than the Dalai Lamas ever controlled. If you think that call is reasonable, you might be interested in Five impossible points in the Dalai Lama's Peace Plan.
posted by shetterly at 8:15 PM on February 28, 2009


*sigh* Time for another round of this, I guess...

The Wheel of Samsara never stops turning.
posted by homunculus at 9:16 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then I get to say, "And who recognized that independence?"

Or you could say "Did they have a flag? No flag, no country!"
posted by homunculus at 9:21 PM on February 28, 2009


homunculus, regarding the Tibet thang, uh, I didn't start it? Okay, that's lame, but honest, it is possible to talk about China without talking about Tibet. There are, what, 55 other ethnicities in China, after all.

As for flags, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, my camp site had a flag. Arizona has an awesome flag. I should check to see if Tucson or Pima County have flags. Shoot, if flags are all you need, the Confederacy would've whupped the Union's ass, because the Dixie battle flag has a much better design than the US's national flag.

Really, to be a nation, you need to be recognized by other nations, and like the Confederacy, Tibet never got any international recognition. I have sympathy for the argument that Tibetans should have the chance to vote on freedom, and the states of the Union should have that right, too. But pretending Tibet was an independent nation is just more faux-justification by the people who dream of having power in Tibet again.

A moment later: Oops. If I didn't mind looking like an idjit, I would delete the previous paragraphs. I have seen that clip before. I love it beaucoup. Thanks for sending me back there!

And I'll try to play moderator with myself and stick to China if this thread continues.
posted by shetterly at 9:41 PM on February 28, 2009


Tu quoque!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:37 PM on February 28, 2009


Prison in the US would be a godsend to those Chinese living on less than $2/day.

I have to agree with PeterMcDermott on this one. Give me the two dollars a day in China. If you want to go to U.S. prison over any other option, clearly, you know little about U.S. prison. Which way to the anal rape/23 hour lockdown block?
posted by IvoShandor at 11:14 PM on February 28, 2009


"And who recognized that independence?" And the discussion is over.

Mongolia?

It's a bit more complicated than "the discussion is over". That's for sure. I wish the world were is simple as you perceive it to be.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:18 PM on February 28, 2009


This is so perfectly, exceptionally ironic that I am frightened to comment on it. All I can say is congratulations, and thank you.

If that comment made you frightened then this one ...

The Soviets used to put out things like this. Didn't turn out so well for them. Won't for the Chinese Communists either. Hypocrisy is corrosive, and will be the end of them. Sic semper tiranus.

That is stunning, seriously I don't even know what to call it. I reckon if I say it enough times then I'll get sucked into a wormhole through my monitor and end up in George W. Bush's head. Like being John Malkovich but with more puppetry.
posted by fullerine at 2:07 AM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


a louis wain cat, you speak of "the Tibetans" like a Republican speaking of "the Cubans" who means "the people who profited from Batista's brutal rule, then fled after the Cuban Revolution."

I am definitely not just speaking of Tibetan exiles when I refer to "the Tibetans", and it's strange that the first thing you assume is that any reference to the Tibetans as a people must refer to them alone. I don't consider what the exiles say to be valueless by any means (I don't believe that they can all be generalized as feudalist aristocrat oppressors easily as you do- it's not like the PRC hasn't given the Tibetans many compelling reasons to want to escape their rule, and I'm pretty sure the exiles aren't all wealthy landlord types), but I certainly would deem the most important voices to consider to be those of the Tibetans within Tibet- the problem is, it's difficult to find out very much about what they think, thanks to the Chinese government's control of the media within the area, which itself says a great deal. Furthermore, the Tibetans within Tibet are not free to say what they think about the Chinese government. (Neither, admittedly, are Han Chinese, though that hardly seems like much of a defense of the PRC.)
What we do hear, though, does not paint a picture of a people happy under the benevolent leadership of the Chinese government, to say the least. See articles like this, or look up Woeser (who would be an example of a Tibetan voice who's actually in Tibet, and who does not have much good to say about the PRC at all), or do a search on Amnesty International's site for "Tibet".


But the truth is Tibet has not been recognized as an independent state by any other nation since the Emperor of China gave the Dalai Lama his title centuries ago.

The Emperor of China did not give the Dalai Lama his title- that is flat-out wrong. (And what exactly does being "recognized as an independent state" mean here? It's not exactly easy to define what that means in a pre-modern context. They certainly were basically independent of foreign control much of the time.) Altan Khan, a Mongol leader (not Chinese- in fact, he was an enemy of the Ming Dynasty who attacked Beijing, burned the suburbs there, and forced concessions from the Ming emperor), referred to the first person to take that title as that, and the title stuck. In a sense he gave him the title, but it was not at all the equivalent of a king granting his servant a title of nobility- Sonam Gyatso's power was not bestowed upon him by Altan Khan, and furthermore China had no control over Tibet at that time. Since the Mongols ruled over China and Tibet during the Yuan Dynasty, this did technically mean it was under control of the emperor of China during that period, but he was emperor of China in the same sense Julius Caesar was emperor of Gaul. After the fall of the Yuan Dynasty the area was under Tibetan control again, and the institution of the Dalai Lama came into being during this time. From my understanding, there wasn't any Han Chinese control of Tibet until the 1700s, and that didn't even cover all of the country for a while, and wasn't particularly solid. The claim that it has always been part of China isn't true in the least, and Mongolia probably has at least as good a claim over it as China, if historical precedent is the only consideration here. (Which it never is.)

On another note- if I recall correctly, you're strongly against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. I would note that almost all the arguments you have used here work just as well to defend the Israeli occupation. After all, there's never been an independent (not even de facto independent, as Tibet was), internationally recognized Palestinian state, and the leadership of the Palestinians have often been a pretty nasty bunch. It would be quite possible (in fact, this article probably exists somewhere) to write a well-footnoted article, a la Parenti's Tibet article, on the atrocities committed by Arabs against Jews during the time of the British Mandate (things like the 1929 Hebron Massacre), on the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem's support for Hitler, and on how there's never actually been an independent Palestinian state. All perfectly true and verifiable (and blatantly one-sided, of course.) And these things have nothing at all to do with whether or not the Israeli occupation is just, or whether or not the Palestinians should have a right to self-determination. I am sure you would agree, in that case. Why is Tibet different?


Tsering Shakya concludes with a defense of the Dalai Lama's call for an autonomous region greater than the Dalai Lamas ever controlled. If you think that call is reasonable, you might be interested in Five impossible points in the Dalai Lama's Peace Plan.

I followed your link there, and I'm just not seeing what makes the Dalai Lama's requests so outrageous. On point one, you may think the Dalai Lama asks for too much, but I do not have the impression he would be averse to compromise on this point, and as far as nationalist aspirations go, what he asks is downright modest, when you consider he's not even asking for full independence. (And I would note that Hamas has made much more extreme demands for land than the Dalai Lama here- namely, all of Israel. But I don't think you're of the opinion that this means the Israelis therefore shouldn't negotiate with them.)

Continuing with the link, on your point two- well, I guess there isn't any problem with Israeli settlers, then. (I have heard defenders of Israeli settlements make the exact same argument you do there, and I don't see very much difference between the Chinese government moving Han Chinese settlers into Tibet and the Israeli government moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank. The reasons for the policy are basically the same in both cases, I believe.) I kind of agree that asking the Han Chinese currently there to leave is problematic (I suspect a great many would leave of their own accord anyway, just as the West Bank settlers likely wouldn't want to stay in a Palestinian state), but the Dalai Lama doesn't say anything about forbidding Han Chinese from moving to an autonomous Tibet of their own accord. He just asks that PRC government-backed settlement be stopped, which seems no different from asking that the Israeli government stops building settlements in the West Bank.

On point three, you claim that "by Chinese standards, Tibetans are treated well." Your only source for this claim, which is kind of the crux of the whole issue, is... a TV station controlled by the Chinese government. Wow. That's like getting your information on what Palestinian life is like from the Likud. I'm actually kind of shocked.

I think I'll stop there, as all of this is only somewhat on topic, but leaving it on that note, I'll just say that I think you're giving the PRC take on the situation way, way more credibility than it deserves. Their propaganda may have a veneer of "leftism", but this does not mean that they actually care about human equality, human rights, etc. They do not. (Which actually kind of brings things back to the original topic of the post...)
posted by a louis wain cat at 2:21 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Quick self-correction- the ruling Chinese dynasty of the period in the 1700s I mentioned (the Qing) were Manchus, not Han, though they can probably be considered "Chinese" to a much greater extent than the Yuan Dynasty, so the point basically stands.
posted by a louis wain cat at 3:04 AM on March 1, 2009


Why would one consider the Manchu to be more "Chinese" than the Mongol rulers of the Yuan dynasty? If anything, I would think that because of their spoken and written language, and their ancestral homeland that they would be more likely to be considered exactly as Chinese as the rulers of the Yuan dynasty.
posted by wobumingbai at 5:54 AM on March 1, 2009


SeizeTheDay wrote:
My second comment was to state that those living on $2/day have a horrific life (much, much worse than any prisoner in the US), and that over 300 million of them live in China. To put a number on it, just based on $20K/year that we spend on incarceration, prisoners have a quote unquote GDP/capital that is 6 times higher than the AVERAGE Chinese person, let alone that of 300 million of their poor. The audacity that some people in this thread have shown that somehow $2/day is livable is appalling, and has caused me to seek counseling for my anger.

All of us are probably assessing the desirability of rural life in China vs. life in a US prison from a position of some ignorance, since probably none of us has seen both conditions at first hand. A number of us have, however, been to China and met some of its rural residents. I'm guessing that SeizeTheDay has not. It's useless and silly to pretend that the amount of money that the richest country in the world spends to keep a person locked up can be compared to what it takes to live in another country with a much, much lower cost of living.

I would much rather live in the midst of my supportive family and friends in the countryside, on subsistence money, than be locked in a concrete box in the midst of antisocial strangers, on no money at all. I seriously doubt that you'd choose otherwise, if you had to choose. The freedoms that you disparage may not include the ability to choose a government - which is unavailable in either case - but do include the freedom to avoid people who would do you harm, to associate with those you like, and the possibility - however remote - to better your condition.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:11 AM on March 1, 2009


I'm guessing that SeizeTheDay has not.

China? No. India? Yes.

We're arguing two different positions. At some point political/social freedom became entwined with economic living standards in this argument. I was arguing that from an economic perspective, the US prisoner has a much better life than the $2/day person. I made no comment on their political or social freedom, and will continue to not do so.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:16 AM on March 1, 2009


Here's what you said:

Prison in the US would be a godsend to those Chinese living on less than $2/day.

Then you added, with no apparent awareness of the irony:

Just because China has a large economy does not mean that it's comparable to the United States.

You have not introduced any evidence that a person living in rural China on $2 a day would be facing hardship. Nor have you shown any reason that such a person would be grateful to be locked up in a US prison. Please explain why you think either of those things are true, or that the concept of "having a better life" does not contain any aspect of social freedom.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:37 AM on March 1, 2009


This is my last comment here. I never said "having a better life". You did. If you want to have a discussion, fine. But try sticking to arguments that I actually made, as opposed to strawmen that you'd prefer, just so you'll have something to argue. I also mentioned the size of China's large economy as an example that the sheer size doesn't tell the whole story. Yes, their economy is large. But they still hold one of the largest portions of world's poor.

You have not introduced any evidence that a person living in rural China on $2 a day would be facing hardship.

This continues to boggle my mind. Besides the link I posted above, there are literally thousands of documents across the internet that describe ridiculously shortened life expectancy, malnutrition, and (easily curable) illness, not to mention significantly higher infant mortality rates, and no chance of moving out of the vicious cycle at such levels of poverty, leading to continued generations of equally impoverished living (i.e. much of Africa over the last century).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:54 AM on March 1, 2009


I never said "having a better life".

No?

I was arguing that from an economic perspective, the US prisoner has a much better life than the $2/day person.
. . .
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:16 AM


Besides the link I posted above, there are literally thousands of documents across the internet that describe ridiculously shortened life expectancy, malnutrition, and (easily curable) illness, not to mention significantly higher infant mortality rates, and no chance of moving out of the vicious cycle at such levels of poverty, leading to continued generations of equally impoverished living (i.e. much of Africa over the last century).

And yet, you don't bother to link to even one of those documents. The only one you've linked to is one that says practically all the reduction of poverty in the world recently has happened in China. Sort of argues against "no chance of moving out of the vicious cycle at such levels of poverty" WRT China, doesn't it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:22 AM on March 1, 2009


Of course we have more people in prison than China does. They have executionmobiles.
posted by oaf at 9:53 AM on March 1, 2009


oaf, I know you're probably just making a joke, and I don't want to seem like I think China is just the most wonderful place to live, because I don't think it is. Still -from your link:
Amnesty International estimates there were at least 1,770 executions in China in 2005 — vs. 60 in the United States, but the group says on its website that the toll could be as high as 8,000 prisoners.

Even 8000 fewer prisoners wouldn't make much of a dent in the US prison population.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:01 AM on March 1, 2009


Why would one consider the Manchu to be more "Chinese" than the Mongol rulers of the Yuan dynasty? If anything, I would think that because of their spoken and written language, and their ancestral homeland that they would be more likely to be considered exactly as Chinese as the rulers of the Yuan dynasty.

I'd already taken up a lot of space there, so I didn't elaborate as much on that as I wanted to, but I didn't mean that they were more "Chinese" in a cultural sense- more that the Qing Dynasty seems to have much more continuity with the modern Chinese state. The borders of their empire were very close to the present borders of the PRC, it was much closer in time to the modern state than the Yuan, and the modern PRC seems to see itself as the successor to the Qing state to a degree that that it doesn't with the Mongol empire.

As well, my impression is that the Manchus, who are quite assimilated at this point, are within China generally thought of as more "Chinese" now than the Mongols- Manchu identity can now be seen as something fully "Chinese" in a way that Mongol identity can't, given the existence of an independent Mongolia. That of course wasn't really the perception in the time of the actual Qing dynasty, but it does somewhat affect the view of history there, as I understand it.
posted by a louis wain cat at 11:32 AM on March 1, 2009


a louis wain cat, I very much appreciate your thoughtful reply. Okay, I sometimes very much appreciate MeFite snark, but not on complex issues. (Digression: You might be amused by BBC bans charity single ‘Palestine, Look, it’s Actually Really Complicated’.)

I apologize for thinking you used "Tibetan" to mean "Tibetan exiles." Many people on the CIA/NED side do, just as they'll refer to "Cuban sources" and mean Miami-area Cubans.

However, you can get word from inside Tibet. Did you read the Washington Post article I linked to? This sounds very true: "While love for the Dalai Lama overflows in Tibet, few Tibetans would welcome a return of the corrupt aristocratic clans that fled with him in 1959 and that comprise the bulk of the Dalai’s advisers. Many Tibetan farmers, for example, have no interest in surrendering the land they gained during China’s land reform to the aristocratic clans. Tibet’s former slaves say they, too, don’t want their former masters to return to power."

I think the situation with Woeser reeks. But then, I think the situation with the Cuban Five and Leonard Peltier and other US prisoners reeks.

Sorry about the Altan Khan goof up. But you're very right here: "the Mongols ruled over China and Tibet during the Yuan Dynasty, this did technically mean it was under control of the emperor of China during that period." As for the Dalai Lama's title, "Dalai" is a Mongolian word. Some claim it's only a translation of the Tibetan "Gyatso", but based on the evidence, that claim would appear to be a retcon. I think it's very significant that the Dalai Lamas have always been known by their Mongolian name.

What "independent" means before the 20th century is indicated by maps and treaties. Homunculus's point about flags is funny, but maps and documents stay significant.

As for comparing Tibet and Palestine, I wish China and Isreal would let Tibetans and Palestinians vote on whether they would like viable free nations. But, historically, the situations are very different. The Palestinians had been in their land from the days of Canaan, yet they were dispossessed by the Israelis. If you want to say more about Israel and Palestine in this thread, go ahead, but I won't respond.

Back to the subject: China's one-child policy doesn't apply to ethnicities of less than, I think, ten million people. Whatever the exact number (a little googling will bring it up), Tibetans and a few other ethnicities live under a three-child policy. (Or maybe it's more. All I remember just now is it's more than one.) Also, Tibetans are taught in Tibetan--there's no attempt to end the language.

Your comments about the Han and Tibet make me suspect you didn't read the Atlantic article I linked to. Honest, it's very good. A friend who follows the Dalai Lama said he thought so.

As for the Dalai Lama's wish for a land grab, we'll just have to disagree. But if you wonder how power was divided in Tibet around 1911, the Encyclopedia Britannica entry from that year is interesting. I quoted it here.
posted by shetterly at 1:48 PM on March 1, 2009


oaf, I know you're probably just making a joke

Well, not entirely. If China were to abolish the death penalty, or even upgrade to the (rather lax) U.S. standards for it, its prison population would probably swell noticeably.
posted by oaf at 1:58 PM on March 1, 2009


China - Bad human rights record. Quasi-dictatorship.
USA - Severely flawed human rights record. "The Land of the Free"

Who do we think should be held to a higher standard? If an authoritarian government can criticise your human rights record as hypocritical then you shouldn't retreat into a jingoistic shell of patriotism, but maybe, just maybe, consider attempting to sort things out.
posted by knapah at 5:04 PM on March 1, 2009


This is my last comment here.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:54 AM on March 1 [+] [!]


Yes, leave right after you are shown to be a liar. Good idea.
posted by mek at 9:44 PM on March 1, 2009


$2 a day

Just to be clear: when you see those statistics that address the number of people living on less that a certain number of dollars a day, it's not that those people actually have the local exchange rate equivalent of US dollars. Economists convert the BUYING POWER of $2 to the local economy, and that's what these folks are living on. In other words, they're living in abject poverty, just as we all would be if we only made $1500 a year in a major US city. I think a lot of people see that figure and it's so infinitesimally small that they think it must be a trick of mathematics. But it's not. $1500 is what I spend on coffee in a year, and yet 2.5 billion people have to pay for housing, energy, food, education, and medicine with that money. Incredibly, that figure also includes government and charitable expenditures for public goods that the poor consume.

That's why:

26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty.
2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation.
1.8 million child deaths each year are a result of diarrhea
Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.
1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity
2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuelwood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking.
Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.

Certainly, China accounts for the majority of the world's poverty reductions, but that's one of those statistics that only makes sense against a background of immense deprivation. It still sucks to live on $2/day. But the difference between $1 and $2 a day is also amazing: it might mean clean water and a quarter fewer child deaths (1.3 instead of 1.8 million each year) it might mean sanitation, it might mean a couple hundred extra calories, or a slight decrease in the amount of indoor air pollution from burning biomass as fuel. But it's still worse than prison, and not because of any evil on the part of the Chinese government, but just because the extreme deprivations of poverty are THAT BAD.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:18 AM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


2.5 billion people have to pay for housing, energy, food, education, and medicine with that money.

Just to clarify 'pay': the world's poor don't generally have access to the currency to pay for these goods, either. They generally generate $2/day in goods through their own labor, barter, and collaborative work like water-gathering or shared cooking fires.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:26 AM on March 2, 2009


anotherpanacea, I'm generally with you, but for a healthy person, freedom in China is better than prison in the US. Now, for a poor person with health problems, it's better to be in a US prison, because at least you can count on some health care--and there are people who say they commit crimes to get arrested because it's better to be in prison in the USA than to live in extreme poverty here.
posted by shetterly at 7:49 AM on March 2, 2009


anotherpanacea, I'm generally with you, but for a healthy person, freedom in China is better than prison in the US.

This doesn't seem helpful. A healthy person constantly faces risks of becoming an unhealthy person (risks which are worse in societies without good health care), so even someone who is healthy right now derives significant benefit from having access to health care just in case. Furthermore, the bar for health is set lower in poorer societies. A "healthy" person may die in his 40s of "natural causes" in a poor society; that life would not be "healthy" in a rich one.
posted by grobstein at 7:58 AM on March 2, 2009


Of course China doesn't mention its own human rights record, they released the "Human Rights Record of United States in 2008". Duh.

Aren't there some Americans on this site who look at the report and just admit that there are things that need working on and prioritize them without mentioning Tibet, Tienanmen square and peasants? I'm sure that robot making dude would not appreciate American jails.
posted by captaincrouton at 8:02 AM on March 2, 2009


Aren't there some Americans on this site who look at the report and just admit that there are things that need working on and prioritize them without mentioning Tibet, Tienanmen square and peasants?

Yes
Yes, indeed
Uh-huh

After that, the discussion went off into Tibet and peasant vs. prisoner and stuff, but there are clearly Americans here who acknowledge that we're not perfect on human rights (as much as we'd like to be).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:32 AM on March 2, 2009


Yes
Yes, indeed
Uh-huh


And I would include myself, though maybe I've been too subtle.
posted by grobstein at 8:34 AM on March 2, 2009


Actually, I considered using the comment you linked to with "too," but it looked kind of under-the-top, if you know what I mean. Thanks for putting your $2-worth in, though.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:37 AM on March 2, 2009


I'm glad there are some of you out there. I wish I didn't have to ask.
posted by captaincrouton at 9:55 AM on March 2, 2009


for a healthy person, freedom in China is better than prison in the US.

I don't know how else to explain it, so let me just say this: if you live in China, you are much (much, much) less likely to be healthy than if you live in the US. I don't know why you insist on making this about freedom, because it's not. It doesn't matter how much freedom you have if your kids are malnourished and you're probably going to die of an easily treatable disease at a young age, having spent your whole life working to survive and failing to even subsist. Civil rights are immensely important, especially as tools for promoting prosperity and visibility for the world's poorest, but ultimately, economic development is a "grub, then ethics" proposition, just as it ought to be.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:56 AM on March 2, 2009


Grobstein, The average national life expectancy up to 72-years-old, compared with the world average of 67. I would take my chances with that.
posted by shetterly at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2009


Oops, edited myself too quickly. That's China's life expectancy that's around 72. Higher for women at some sites, but I didn't spend much time on googling this, I confess.
posted by shetterly at 10:01 AM on March 2, 2009


Okay, checked List of countries by life expectancy. The US's overall life expectancy at birth is 78.06. China's is 72.88. If we're talking about freedom versus prison, I'll take China, please.
posted by shetterly at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2009


You do realize that that's an average right? (And an average on the basis of suspicious measurements: social and economic statistic in China are subject to both official propagandistic manipulation and plain old fashioned bad data gathering.)

If the choice is between being Chinese and middle-class or an imprisoned American, of course I agree. But if the choice is between spending your life in a US prison or in abject poverty, no matter where, you'd be highly irrational to choose abject poverty. Perhaps you really believe that you'd choose that, but until you demonstrate that you have some conception of what poverty is I'm going to assume you're just being naive.

1/3 of Chinese live in abject poverty. In contrast, roughly 1/3 of Americans live below the US's official "poverty line," which is almost THIRTY TIMES higher than the global poverty line of $1/day.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:30 AM on March 2, 2009


Sorry, that should be -1/8- of American live below the poverty line, though almost 40% of Americans will fall below the poverty line at some point in a 10 year span.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:35 AM on March 2, 2009


And... Gah. 1/3 of Chinese live on less than $2/day, though the UN estimates only 1 in 10 Chinese live on less than $1/day.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:40 AM on March 2, 2009


« Older DDoS on SoCal Time Warner   |   MacTutor History of Mathematics archive Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post