China not living up to its promises for Human Rights

China not keeping its word on human rights, report says
By Maureen Fan

The Washington Post

BEIJING — The 2008 Olympic Games have become a catalyst for more repression in China, not less, according to an Amnesty International report released Sunday and aimed at pressuring the Beijing government a year before the start of the world’s premier sporting event.

The 22-page report says China’s illegal detention and imprisonment of activists and other measures have overshadowed some modest reforms, including how the Chinese legal system reviews death-penalty cases and the loosening of some restrictions on the foreign press.

To win its first Olympics bid, China promised in 2001 to improve human rights, increase environmental protections and address the city’s traffic problems. The Games are expected to attract 500,000 visitors, including thousands of journalists, giving China a chance to showcase itself before a huge international audience.

In recent weeks, however, various groups have begun arguing that China has not done enough.

Last Wednesday, four American tourists were detained after unfurling a banner at a base camp on Mount Everest that read, “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008,” a play on the Beijing Olympics motto.

On the same day, French presidential candidate Segolene Royal said that if elected president, she would not rule out a boycott of the Olympics unless China used its influence with the government of Sudan to stop ongoing atrocities in the Darfur region. “All means must be used,” she said. China, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, has major oil investments in Sudan.

Furious Chinese officials have accused critics of trying to politicize the Games.

“We believe that it’s against the goodwill of the people from all over the world to boycott or oppose Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics with any excuse or political reasons,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, who promised that China would host a distinguished Olympics “with its unique characteristics.”

Amnesty International and others said the Olympics provide a rare opportunity to effect change in this image-conscious nation.

“It’s only about a year to go and we don’t see any genuine effort by the Chinese administration to improve human rights,” said T. Kumar, advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific for Amnesty International. “The efforts they’re taking are stopgap — the public statement about extra review for the death penalty, the additional movement for international journalists. It’s just enough to keep the criticism at bay.”

Chinese authorities have been using the Olympics to round up those they consider potential troublemakers, including human-rights defenders, housing activists, lawyers and people attempting to report on human-rights violations, the Amnesty report said.

Referring to the warnings of public-security officials that they might force drug users into yearlong rehabilitation programs, the Amnesty report said, “Fears remain that these abusive systems are being used to detain petty criminals, vagrants, drug addicts and others in order to ‘clean-up’ Beijing ahead of the Olympics.”

The report welcomed one official reform: the restoration of Supreme Court review of death-penalty cases. But Amnesty said it worried that a “limited paper review” would not expose human-rights violations such as police use of torture to obtain confessions.

Amnesty also took the International Olympic Committee to task for not living up to its stated commitment to act if it did not see progress on security, logistics or human rights.

IOC members have said they expect Beijing to keep its word. The organization, whose top leaders just returned from two weeks of meetings with the Chinese government in Beijing, said officials needed more time before commenting on the Amnesty report.

China and the US against prevention of global warming

U.S., China team up to water down climate report
By Michael Casey

The Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — The United States and China want to water down a proposed plan for fighting climate change, arguing that action to reduce greenhouse gases will be more costly and time-consuming than scientists claim.

They also play down the benefits of reducing emissions, disputing recommendations by European governments that greenhouse gases be capped at around 445 parts per million in the air. The current level of greenhouse gases is about 430 ppm.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of 2,000 scientists, drew up the plan. Governments have spent the last few weeks reviewing the proposals and are meeting with the scientists this week to work out their differences.

The U.S. and Chinese comments, in documents reviewed by The Associated Press, are a precursor to what delegates expect will be a fight for much of the week to preserve the key conclusions of the draft IPCC report, which says emissions can be cut below current levels if the world shifts away from carbon-heavy fuels like coal, invests in energy efficiency and reforms the agriculture sector.

The plan must be unanimously approved by the 120-plus governments that participate, and all changes must be approved by the scientists. A spokesman for the U.S. delegation declined to discuss the American position until the final report Friday.

Two previous IPCC reports this year said unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 11 degrees by 2100. Even a rise of 3.6 degrees could subject up to 2 billion people to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20 percent to 30 percent of the world’s species, the U.N. panel of scientists said.

Scientists have said global warming could increase the number of hungry in the world in 2080 by between 140 million and 1 billion by contributing to widespread droughts and flooding. Diseases like malaria, diarrhea and dengue fever could spread as temperatures rise and weather becomes increasingly erratic, affecting the poorest of the world’s poor.

The third report says the world must quickly embrace a basket of technological options — already available and being developed — just to keep the temperature rise to 3.6 degrees.

But the United States wants to take a longer-term approach with mitigation measures, a position that will likely anger island nations and other developing countries already feeling the effects of climate change.

The U.S. wants language inserted into the report that says the cost of available current technologies to reduce emissions “could be unacceptably high” and calls for putting greater emphasis on “advanced technologies.” Many of the latter, like carbon sequestration, are aimed at extending the use of coal.

“Mitigation efforts over the next two to three decades can reduce the rate of growth of greenhouse gas concentrations,” the U.S. said. “However, development and commercialization of advanced technology and implementation of advanced practices will have a large bearing on long-term greenhouse gas concentrations.”

The United States and China also dispute the economics in the report, which concludes that achieving the 445-534 ppm range might cost under 3 percent of global gross domestic product over two decades.

The report’s conclusion compares favorably to global economic growth that has averaged almost 3 percent annually since 2000. The damage from unabated climate change, meanwhile, might eventually cost the global economy between 5 percent and 20 percent of GDP every year, according to a British government report last year.

The United States also raises concern that switching away from coal would be “bad for energy security,” questions the benefits of fuel efficient cars and attempts to minimize the economic benefits of mitigation including job creation.

“The co-benefits of balance of trade improvement, wealth creation and employment” are not substantiated,” it says. “The supposed benefits are, in most cases, merely a transfer between regions and sectors rather than a general acceleration in global growth. The mitigation policies will have costs and are unlikely to result in a win-win.”

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the climate change panel, wouldn’t address the U.S. comments directly. But he said “every country” would have a chance to express its views and “ultimately its a balanced assessment of the science that will prevail.”

“The science certainly provides a lot of compelling reasons for action,” Pachauri said. “But what action and when is what the government will have to decide.”

China warned on global warming effects

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — Global warming could devastate China’s development, the nation’s first official survey of climate change warns, while insisting economic growth must come before greenhouse gas cuts.

Hotter average global temperatures fueled by greenhouse gases mean that different regions of China are likely to suffer spreading deserts, worsening droughts and floods, shrinking glaciers and rising seas, the National Climate Change Assessment states.

This environmental upheaval could derail the ruling Communist Party’s plans for sustainable development, a copy of the report obtained by Reuters says.

“Climatic warming may have serious consequences for our environment of survival as China’s economic sectors, such as agriculture and coastal regions, suffer grave negative effects,” the report states.

Fast-industrializing China could overtake the United States as the world’s top emitter of human-generated greenhouse gases as early as this year, and Beijing faces rising international calls to accept mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions from factories, fields and vehicles.

But underscoring China’s commitment to achieving prosperity even as it braces for climate change, the report rejects emissions limits as unfair and economically dangerous, citing what it says are uncertainties about global warming.

“If we prematurely assume responsibilities for mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the direct consequence will be to constrain China’s current energy and manufacturing industries and weaken the competitiveness of Chinese products in international and even domestic markets,” it says.

The 400-page report was written over several years by experts and officials from dozens of ministries and agencies, representing China’s first official response to global warming.

With its mixture of dire warnings and caveats, it bears the markings of bureaucratic bargaining.

China was one of a few countries that challenged claims about global warming presented in a draft report at a U.N. climate change meeting in Brussels earlier this month. That report was approved after some claims were softened and passages removed.

China’s own national report says “uncertainties over climate change issues” justify rejecting international limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Disasters
But other parts of the report assert that the country’s brittle environment will be severely tested by climate change.

By the end of the century, glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet highlands that feed the Yangtze river could shrink by two thirds. Further downstream, increasingly intense rainfall could “spark mud and landslides and other geological disasters” around the massive Three Gorges Dam.

Coastal cities will need to build or strengthen barriers to ward off rising sea levels.

Unless steps are taken, water scarcity and increasingly extreme weather could reduce nationwide crop production by up to 10 percent by 2030. Wheat, rice and corn growing capacity could fall by up to 37 percent in the second half of the century.

“If we do not take any actions, climate change will seriously damage China’s long-term grain security,” the report states.

China has repeatedly ruled out accepting mandatory international emissions limits, saying that rich countries are responsible for the accumulation of greenhouse gases and should not look to poorer countries for a way out.

“For a considerable time to come, developing the economy and improving people’s lives remains the country’s primary task,” the report says.

China aims to further tame Web

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday launched a campaign to rid the country’s sprawling Internet of “unhealthy” content and make it a springboard for Communist Party doctrine, state television reported.

With Hu presiding, the Communist Party Politburo — its 24-member inner council — discussed cleaning up the Internet, state television reported. The meeting promised to place the often unruly medium more firmly under propaganda controls.

“Development and administration of Internet culture must stick to the direction of socialist advanced culture, adhere to correct propaganda guidance,” said a summary of the meeting read on the news broadcast.

“Internet cultural units must conscientiously take on the responsibility of encouraging development of a system of core socialist values.”

The meeting was far from the first time China has sought to rein in the Internet. In January, Hu made a similar call to “purify” it, and there have been many such calls before.

But the announcement indicated that Hu wants ever tighter controls as he braces for a series of political hurdles and seeks to govern a generation of young Chinese for whom Mao Zedong’s socialist revolution is a hazy history lesson.

“Consolidate the guiding status of Marxism in the ideological sphere,” the party meeting urged, calling for more Marxist education on the Internet.

The Communist Party is preparing for a congress later this year that is set to give Hu another five-year term and open the way for him to choose eventual successors. In 2008, Beijing hosts the Olympic Games, when the party’s economic achievements will be on display, along with its political and media controls.

In 2006, China’s Internet users grew by 26 million, or 23.4 percent, year on year, to reach 137 million, Chinese authorities have estimated.

That lucrative market has attracted big investors such as Google and Yahoo. They have been criticized by some rights groups for bowing to China’s censors.

The one-party government already wields a vast system of filters and censorship that blocks the majority of users from sites offering uncensored opinion and news. But even in China, news of official misdeeds and dissident opinion has been able to travel fast through online bulletin boards and blogs.

Authorities have also launched repeated crackdowns on pornography and salacious content. The latest campaign against porn and “rumor-spreading” was announced earlier this month.

The meeting also announced that schools and sports groups would be encouraged to use healthy competition as a way to shape youth, the report said.

“Sports plays an irreplaceable role in the formation of young people’s thinking and character, mental development and aesthetic formation,” the meeting declared.

writing…

Just wanted to put out a short update.
I have been working hard on the book, the editing of the blog is finished and the entries have been cataloged and edited. Its quite a process, but I am aiming for 10 pages a day, three days a week, thats 30 pages a week at a minimum. I am trying to have the first draft completed by June 15th, with the final draft ready for the end of summer.
The initial publication will be self published and hopefully sent off to publishers, who will then set up a royalty package… 🙂 but I will not be holding my breath for that.
The main need for publication is purely selfish. I want to be able to tell the stories of the true Chinese, not just in the places that are westernized and covered by the western media. I want the opportunity to express the views of China from my perspective before the Chinese government begin the propoganda parade for the Beijing Olympics next summer. This gives me one year.
Please stay tuned, I will be adding bits of content for review…