Posted by Damozel | When China bid to get the Olympics, it promised to do a better job protecting the rights of its citizens, including, presumably, Chinese dissidents.(BBC News) Remember that?
Today, in a move that Condoleezza Rice called 'deeply disturbing,' the Chinese sent dissident Hu Jia to jail for three years.(BBC News) Hu Jia has been an outspoken critic of China's human rights records for years.
Correspondents say he had become a kind of one-man clearing house for information, passing it on to journalists, organisations and foreign embassies.
Evidence presented against Mr Hu in court included interviews he gave to foreign media and political articles that he wrote for the internet, lawyer Li Fangping said. (BBC News)
Can you imagine what the west would look like if this were a crime?:
"Hu spread malicious rumours, libel and instigation in an attempt to subvert the state's political and socialist systems," Xinhua said, quoting the court ruling.
As word of her blog spread, other people started contacting Ms Zeng to tell her about their own stories, which she then retold on the internet.
"I want people to know that not only me, and not only my husband, face such a situation," she says.
"Actually, in China many people are under house arrest or are illegally detained or are under surveillance for the whole year."
Her activities - predictably - attracted the attention of China's security services.
Ms Zeng's blog is now blocked in China and secret police keep constant watch outside her suburban Beijing home. (BBC News)
But she keeps on blogging regardless. (BBC News) In the whole of human history, all meaningful change has always begun with words. This is the reason why the US---assuming that the Bush Administration really is as interested as advertised in 'freedom'---ought to take a firm stand on the arrest of Hu and others like him.
Mr Hu's conviction comes only two weeks after another activist, Yang Chunlin, was jailed on similar charges.
On Wednesday, UK-based rights group Amnesty International accused Beijing of carrying out a "wave of repression" ahead of the Olympic Games.
The authorities were targeting those who criticised the government in a bid to present a stable and harmonious image when the Games began in August, the group said. (BBC News)
Westerners just don't get how highly the Chinese value the appearance of propriety and perhaps that's the problem. Human rights? They can have all the rights they want as long as they don't make the country look bad to its citizens or the world. The upshot is that the impending games may be worsening the human rights situation in China. (BBC News) They have responded to criticism by redefining 'human rights.' It claims human rights have more to do with providing people with food, clothing and shelter than with freedom of speech.
Liu Jingmin, executive vice-president of the Beijing Olympics organising committee, claimed in October that the games were promoting human rights in China.
"The Olympic preparatory work is progressing concurrently with China's development," he said. (BBC News)
And therein lies the problem: the western concept of natural rights doesn't have much weight in China compared to the social compact. In Chinese, the word for 'harmony' sounds like 'river crab,' but the crab is also a symbol of bullying. (BBC News) For the Chinese, "social harmony" is the goal; disruption and discontent are the disease.
And I don't know what you do about that. Go on leading by example, I guess. And Amnesty has some ideas.
It urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and world leaders to speak out against abuses, including China's handling of protests in Tibet.
US President George W Bush is facing calls to boycott the Games' opening.
"It would be clearly inappropriate for you to attend the Olympic Games in China, given the increasingly repressive nature of that country's government," a group of 15 US politicians wrote in a letter to Mr Bush on Tuesday.