The Naked Truth

Stopping the world’s spin.

How the Beijing Olympics got their logo

There’s mounting talk about boycotting the Beijing olympics. One the one hand, it is the world’s stage and any message sent would be very clear. But do we really want to hold our athletes hostage? They’ve trained for most of their lives and too take away the opportunity of going to the Olympics would be a real shame. And for what, so China can win more gold metals than they should? Boycotting just the opening ceremonies, I guess, can be another option.

Where do you stand? Please comment.

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March 25, 2008 Posted by | beijing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uprising in Tibet

Jonathan Kay, of the National Post writes:

I see that Tibet is a flame, with at least 100 dead in street protests. (edit – The unrest in Tibet began on March 10, 2008, the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against China’s rule of the region.)

The broad narrative here is eerily similar to another, somewhat less obscure “conflict zone”: Local activists rise up against a power they regard as a brutal colonial occupier. The occupier fights back. Blood flows in the street. The Tibetans haven’t yet started blowing themselves up in restaurants or mowing down Chinese students with machine guns. When they do, the Palestinian precedent shows, the world will solemnly pronounce them to be locked “in a cycle of violence.”

Tibet protests

The Tibetans have a far better claim to the world’s sympathy than the Palestinians. After China’s 1950 invasion, Chinese troops killed a million Tibetans — that’s about two decimal orders of magnitude above the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel over the last six decades. (Which means that, if Islamist claims of a “Holocaust” in Gaza and the West Bank are to be believed, then Tibet has suffered at least 100 holocausts. Wow — that’s a lot of Holocausts.) On top of that, there’s the massive flood of ethnic Chinese migrants, who’ve made the Tibetans a minority population within their own territories (for some odd reason, the media never refers to these folks as “settlers”); not to mention the destruction of 6,000 Tibetan monasteries (a figure that is roughly 6,000 more than the number of mosques destroyed by Israel). And on and on it goes — though you never hear about any of this in the media most days.

This coming from a pro-Israel paper of course. Alright, we support both the Palestinians and the Tibetans. Happy now? After all, whether it’s “Liberation” or “Terrorism” depends on your perspective.

Please comment.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | china | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US drops China from worst human rights list

The United States has dropped China from its list of the world’s worst human rights violators, offering the communist giant a propaganda coup ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The US State Department’s Human Rights Report for 2007 removed China from the same category as countries such as North Korea, Iran and Burma.

tibetprotest.jpg

No reason was given, but China has been a partner in talks with Washington to remove nuclear plant from North Korea. Beijing’s staging of this summer’s Games has raised hopes that it will improve its human rights record.

The government is concerned that the event will be used by activists, and athletes, to criticise China over its treatment of Tibet, its support for the Sudan regime and other areas of concern.

However, the report acknowledged that China’s “overall human rights record remained poor”. It described alleged torture, including the use of electric shocks and beatings. There is an account of a prisoner strapped to a “tiger bench”, which forces the legs to bend, sometimes until they break. It also notes claims that people were forced from their homes to make way for Olympic projects in Beijing.

Syria, Uzbekistan and Sudan have been added to the list, with Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus and Eritrea completing the top 10.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | china | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the U.S. is in Afghanistan, the Hidden Agenda

The media and the Bush administration states that this is a war on terror, to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda, and remove the Taliban regime. Is this the complete truth?

Bin Laden opened the way for the military might of the U.S. to be committed to make the Caspian Sea and Central Asian region safe for the U.S. led oil and gas pipelines. There is a great battle between Russia, the United States, China, Iran and the European companies, for control of the vast oil and gas resources, estimated at $4 trillion by US News and World Report. Afghanistan’s significance stems from its geographic position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes proposed U.S. led multi-billion dollar oil and gas export pipelines through Afghanistan to Pakistan and down to the Arabian Sea. The problem with existing and proposed routes, across northern Russia, or to ports on the Black Sea, or under the Caspian Sea and down to Turkey, is that they all lead to European markets. Further, the facilities are by and large under the control of Russia. Of course, the corporate-controlled U.S. media giants don’t ever report any of this.

Caspian Sea pipelines

The advantages of the Afghanistan route is that it would terminate in the Arabian Sea, which is much closer than the Persian Gulf or northern China to key Asian markets, where demand is high. The proposed pipeline would be beneficial to Central Asian countries because it would allow them to sell their oil in expanding and highly prospective Asian markets. The pipeline would benefit Afghanistan, which would receive revenues from transport tariffs. On a regional level, the pipeline would promote stability and encourage trade and economic development between South Asia and Central Asia. Finally, because of the combination of short pipeline distance and the relatively low cost of tankerage, this southern route will result in the most competitive export route to the Asian market.

The construction of this route can only begin if and when an internationally recognized government is formed in Afghanistan. The U.S. is determined to make this happen. Some have even suggested that the entrance of the U.S. into Central Asia serves as a springboard from which to prevent China from expanding its influence in the region.

Central Asia map

March 16, 2008 Posted by | war | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China Supplying Arms in the Darfur Conflict

Chinese sales of assault rifles and other weapons to Sudan have grown rapidly during the conflict in the Darfur region despite a UN arms embargo, according to a US-based rights group.

Human Rights First said on Thursday that a study of Sudanese and UN trade data showed that China was virtually the only supplier of small arms to Sudan.

Khartoum pays for the weapons it buys from Beijing with its growing oil revenues, the rights group said.

“The people of Sudan’s Darfur region will endure more death, disease and dislocation, and this will be due in no small part to China’s callousness,” the report said.

The group called on Beijing to stop all arms sales to Sudan and urged the world to link that campaign to the Beijing Olympics.

“We believe that China is particularly vulnerable in the lead up to the Olympics, Betsy Apple, a spokeswoman for Human Rights First, said.

“We want to see China’s concrete action that matches its rhetoric.”

The report came as Britain’s Channel 4 television’s Unreported World programme interviewed Mohammed Hamdan, a commander of the Arab Janjiwid militia accused of carrying out attacks on Darfur’s black African population.

Hamdan said that his men had received orders and weapons from the Khartoum government, including heavy artillery which appeared to have Chinese markings.

The Human Rights First report said that Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles, grenade launchers and ammunition for rifles and heavy machine guns have all flowed into Darfur.

China sold Sudan $55 million worth of small arms from 2003-2006 and has provided 90 per cent of Sudan’s small arms since 2004 when a UN arms embargo took effect, according to the report.

China’s embassy in Washington said, in a response to the Channel 4 programme, that China, “in line with relevant UN resolutions and China’s own policies regarding arms sales, requires normal defensive usage by the buyer country”.

Khartoum has previously denied any connection to the Janjiwid groups who are accused of abuses and crimes across the region.

Peacekeeping mission

Meanwhile, the commander of the international peacekeeping force in Darfur has admitted they may have to stay in the region for up to 10 years before they will see a resolution to the conflict.

“There are so many factors that have to come into play. We have to have a peace deal. We have to go through a period of disarmament,” General Martin Luther Agwai, a Nigerian army officer, said.

“If all these things happen quickly and everyone is committed to it, it could be a matter of two or three years. But if people don’t want a peace deal and people are not committed, we could be here for many years.”

Officials with the joint United Nations-African Union mission on Thursday said that there had been two confrontations with Darfur’s warring parties in the past week.

On Saturday, Sudanese soldiers opened fire for more than 15 minutes when a Unamid vehicle approached a government checkpoint close to South Darfur’s capital Nyala, Adrian Edwards, a Unamid official, told the Reuters news agency in Khartoum.

“It was dark so it was unclear whether they were firing into the air or targeting anyone,” he added.

“No one was injured and we received an apology from the local authorities.”

A day later, Unamid officers had to cut short a meeting with rebels in the Jabel Moun area of west Darfur, when they received reports of nearby fighting.

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Africa, china | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dueling Human Rights Reports

Every year, the U.S.-China exchange of human rights reports is one of my favorite events to observe. Not only does it invariably produce some amusing bureaucratic sniping, but of late, it’s also become one of the best front seats from which to witness the increasingly awkward dance that ensues when the U.S. tries to take on the role of human rights cop abroad.

This week, the countries traded their usual flurry of barbs: the United States censured at China for being repressive, while China, indignant, hammered back against the U.S.’s own record with gusto. While the exchanges are always testy, in recent years, with the persistence of secret prisons and Guantanamo, as well as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, China’s had an especially rich vein of cases to mine. (It didn’t help that the White House formally endorsed torture as a form of official U.S. policy just days before releasing its China report.)

I’m no apologist for the Chinese regime, but whatever moral currency the U.S. could once claim on human rights has long since been squandered. (Or as the French foreign minister put it yesterday: “The magic is over.”) When a PRC bureaucrat looks at America and sees a country that incarcerates 1 out of 100 people and accounts for two-thirds of child executions worldwide, it’s no wonder the force of U.S. scrutiny seems somewhat misplaced.

source:  thenation.com

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Human Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment