Human rights abuses continue in China

Beijing's folly: Closed society and open economy cannot long coexist in one country, however great.

March 05, 2001

THE MORE freedom China grants its people as consumers and economic creators, the more it fears what they may be thinking, saying or praying.

It wants them to have access to the Internet, but to control what they find there. It wants them to create the new economy, not a new politics. It recognizes religion, which it wants them to reject.

People need no longer chant the cliches of Communist propaganda, as long as they don't chant anything else.

All this is behind the Chinese government's brusque collision with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, after she criticized China's suppression of Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and members of the Falun Gong exercise-meditation movement.

The former Irish president proved an impolitic guest. Dissidents and whistle-blowers were shadowed or shoved away during the visit of International Olympic Committee members considering Beijing's application to host the 2008 Summer Games.

China ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, supposedly giving workers the right to strike, even though they still are denied the right to form true trade unions.

This is a show for the International Olympic Committee, as well as a pre-emptive move before a United Nations human rights conference in Geneva. The Bush administration plans to sponsor a resolution there condemning China's abuses.

China has banished 260,000 inmates to 300 camps, without trial, for up to three years of hard labor. These "re-education" camps are relics of the cruder years of Communist control.

There are reports of abuse of psychiatric facilities for the same purpose, another throwback to brutal Stalinism and Maoism.

Moral pressure on China from the world community is entirely in order. In an age of globalization of ideas, Chinese Communists cannot shut the country down intellectually and spiritually while opening it up economically.

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