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Tag Archives: China

In English yesterday, my teacher asked everyone what we did with the $900 a large fraction of the population received recently, as a gift from the government. Most people answered, “I went shopping,” or, “I bought clothes,” and these responses completely infuriated one of my classmates.

“People, you’ve all wasted your money! You bought stuff?? Did you remember to check that everything you bought was Australian-made, to make sure your money stays in Australia? NO! I bet you bought all Chinese-made products, benefiting CHINA’S economy instead of our own! Do we want to benefit CHINA’S economy, or ours? You should have been spending on services — at least then you know the money stays here!”

He wouldn’t listen to reason, and even an explanation of how economies actually work wouldn’t change his mind. He insisted that we were all acting traitorously, supporting China instead of ourselves. Which is crap. Read More »

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Two days ago, on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, President Bush condemned China’s human rights record. From the safety of Bangkok, Bush referred to Chinese crackdowns on dissenters in the lead-up to the Games, and declared1:

The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings.

Impeccable timing! The very next day, the US announced their intention to deprive Salim Hamdan, a poverty-stricken Yemeni taxi driver, of his fundamental liberties. Hamdan’s crime was the identity of his employer — he was Osama bin Laden’s driver. For over five years he was locked up at Guantanamo Bay, awaiting trial. Over the last couple of weeks, he was duly tried, and the military tribunal decided that driving around a known terrorist is a crime, but that it was his only crime. He was sentenced to 66 months. He has already served 61.2

In any freedom-loving society governed by the rule of law, you’d expect that he would be released in five months. However, the US is no freedom-loving society governed by the rule of law. (As further proof of this, see again who tried him.) On the subject of Salim Hamdan’s fate once he’d served his time, the Pentagon had this to say3:

He’ll still be retained as an enemy combatant.

WTF, USA? You have established a military base on Cuba and decided no national law applies there. Among your inmates are respected journalists (e.g. Sami al-Hajj) and you torture these people for years on end hoping they’ll divulge something you can charge them with. You pretend all of this is legitimate, that you’re still the land of the free despite it all, but how can you keep pretending? That military tribunal was your pathetic attempt to restore some semblance of respectability to the joint, and you’ve just announced that you intend to ignore it?

China’s certainly not a free country, but China doesn’t pretend to be. There is no freedom of speech in China, no freedom of the press, and they even have labour camps they send their citizens to without trial4. However, China’s not the one pretending to be the “leader of the free world”. China makes no secret of where they stand. They cop a lot of flak because of it, but at least they’re honest. In that regard, they’re one step ahead of you, USA.

  1. Reuters: Bush scolds China on rights day before Games
  2. Reuters: Bin Laden’s driver gets 5 1/2 years in prison
  3. BBC News: All sides claim Guantanamo trial win
  4. BBC News: Chinese man held for quake photos