Archive | 9:14 pm

Developing Horizons from China

22 May

writes about the growing pains of Chinese civil society:

Ali Askouri is trying to stop a dam. He came to the Shanghai NGO meeting looking for allies in China. He wants to publicize the fate of 70,000 of his fellow Nile villagers in Sudan, who are being displaced by a dam funded by China Eximbank.

But he had little success in reaching the ears of China’s top brass.

As president of the Leadership Office of Hamdab Dam Affected People, his campaign has linked up with a global NGO, the International Rivers Network, with the goal of shaming ABB, the Swiss engineering giant, into withdrawing from Sudan. His group is also trying to put pressure on Alstom, a French company that is also involved in the project. But Mr. Askouri will be leaving with little expectation, at the moment, of Chinese activists joining his cause.

"NGOs here have too little experience and too little [political] space," says Askouri. "I’d love to see them put a lot of pressure on Eximbank, but it is hard to know how they might do it. And they might put themselves at risk. It’s a hard issue for Chinese NGOs to get into at this stage."

But, if homegrown NGOs are struggling for a role, .

Villagers and visitors to several counties of the Guangxi autonomous region in southwestern China said rioters smashed and burned government offices, overturned official vehicles and clashed with the riot police in a series of confrontations over the past four days.

They gave varying accounts of injuries and deaths, with some asserting that as many as five people were killed, including three officials responsible for population control work. A local government official in one of the counties affected confirmed the rioting in an interview by telephone but denied reports of deaths or serious injuries.

The violence appeared to stem from a two-month-long crackdown in Guangxi to punish people who violated the country’s birth control policy. The policy limits the number of children families can have legally.

Corruption, land grabs, pollution, unpaid wages and a widening wealth gap have fueled tens of thousands of incidents of unrest in recent years, many of them occurring in rural areas that have been left behind in China’s long economic boom.

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Freedom House Indicts North Korea

22 May

has issued this press release:

Based on recent interviews with former North Korean political prisoners in the kwan-li-so or "control zone" labor camps, the report carefully details the criminal acts prohibited by Article 7 of the (Rome) Statute of the International Criminal Court that are being carried out in North Korea on a massive scale. Written by David Hawk, author of the acclaimed study Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps ­ Prisoner Testimony and Satellite Photographs; the report also outlines the international forums where other states and non-governmental organizations can seek to persuade North Korea to improve its human rights record. "The report calls for two immediate measures," says Hawk.

"First, the international community should recognize that the severe human rights violations in North Korea rise to the level of crimes against humanity." Mr. Hawk continued, "Second, the DPRK should begin the measures necessary to bring their policy toward the kwan-li-so labor camps into compliance with international norms, and amend the practices that run afoul of standards set forth in international law."

As detailed in the report, the scores of thousands of political prisoners held in the kwan- li-so encampments have been and continue to be subjected to many crimes against humanity: enforced disappearances, deportation, arbitrary imprisonment, and
enslavement and forced labor. Additionally, the prison-labor camps are rife with murder, torture and "other inhumane acts," as these crimes are now defined in international law.

In North Korea, the children and even grandchildren of parties presumed guilty are
imprisoned under the government’s yeon-jwa-je system of guilt-by-association. As now
defined in international law, they are "innocent victims of persecution." The report also outlines that women prisoners coerced into having sex with guards and prison officials–
not uncommon in North Korean prison camps–are victims of rape and "enforced
prostitution," as defined by the judges at the Rwanda and Yugoslav tribunals. And the
extremely high levels of deaths in detention in the labor camps, along with the
prohibitions on marriage and childbirth, are the result of another crime against humanity, that of "extermination."

Concentrations of Inhumanity concludes that the DPRK has only a few years to dismantle the camps before the preponderance of evidence of crimes committed in the labor camp system come within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

No More Bogeymen

22 May

Prologue: Barnett takes on on China.

Beware the Panda!Main (depressing) story: The US is set to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s against Japan, and on a more massive scale. Both and agree that the economic problems with China are not a matter of "an undervalued yuan", but a profligate US.

Lost in Translation

This turns the whole debate about China’s exchange-rate policy on its head. It is China that has the most to gain from allowing the yuan to rise. If the spat between America and China were to ignite protectionism or financial instability, it could endanger the whole world economy. All the more foolish, therefore, that economic relations are based on misperceptions on both sides. America needs to stop making China a scapegoat for the failures of American policy. Only if it gets its own economic house in order, by boosting domestic saving, will its “advice” to Beijing seem credible. Likewise, China has no right to criticise American policy when its own economy remains unbalanced.

America is right that China needs to revalue, but for the wrong reasons. And arguing that a revaluation helps America’s economy makes it less likely that Beijing will act. Moreover, if George Bush foolishly slapped harsh trade sanctions on China, America’s economy would be the biggest loser. Likewise, China is foolish to resist a more flexible exchange rate partly because it does not want to be seen as caving in to America’s demands, when it is in its own interest. If the world’s two leading engines of growth remain at loggerheads, everyone will pay the price.

Along with this nonsense comes . Not even will assuage fears of the dragon.

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