What a relief

This isn’t the only China-focused site where threads magically transform into circuses. Check that thread.

Via eswn.


Bill Gertz’s Journamalism

No other journalist has done more to bang the drum for the “China threat” meme than Bill Gertz of the Moonie Times. Today he’s outdone himself in a story that would make any serious journalist blush. China, he states matter-of-factly, is arming the world’s terrorists and the US knows it but doesn’t say a word because China is good for big business. Of course, no one will go on the record about it, and he doesn’t seem to have asked anyone in the administration whether it’s true or not.

New intelligence reveals China is covertly supplying large quantities of small arms and weapons to insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, through Iran.

U.S. government appeals to China to check some of the arms shipments in advance were met with stonewalling by Beijing, which insisted it knew nothing about the shipments and asked for additional intelligence on the transfers. The ploy has been used in the past by China to hide its arms-proliferation activities from the United States, according to U.S. officials with access to the intelligence reports.

Some arms were sent by aircraft directly from Chinese factories to Afghanistan and included large-caliber sniper rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and components for roadside bombs, as well as other small arms.

The Washington Times reported June 5 that Chinese-made HN-5 anti-aircraft missiles were being used by the Taliban.

According to the officials, the Iranians, in buying the arms, asked Chinese state-run suppliers to expedite the transfers and to remove serial numbers to prevent tracing their origin. China, for its part, offered to transport the weapons in order to prevent the weapons from being interdicted.

The Bush administration has been trying to hide or downplay the intelligence reports to protect its pro-business policies toward China, and to continue to claim that China is helping the United States in the war on terrorism. U.S. officials have openly criticized Iran for the arms transfers but so far there has been no mention that China is a main supplier.

Just look at the first sentence. He doesn’t say that unnamed sources are alleging there’s new intelligence proving China’s ties to the terrorists. No, he simply states that it’s a fact that new intelligence proves it is so. That settles that.

Is it true? I s China arming the Taliban and the Iraqi insurgents? It may be true, but nowhere does Gertz seriously explore the question the way a real journalist would. It’s written from a thoroughly ideological standpoint and, as usual, its goal is clearly to rally the neocon nutcases. Gertz was clearly successful, as the story was promptly picked up by Free Republic and other wingnut blogs.

Gertz does quote an ex-State Department official now at the Heritage Foundation, John Tkacik, but if you look carefully, nowhere does Tkacik say that China is arming terrorists. No one from the government is asked whether there is any truth to the allegation. It’s pure innuendo and speculation.

In the most vile example of journamalistic abuse, Gertz boldly states the following:

Iran is adding Chinese-made small boats armed with anti-ship cruise missiles to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy that can be used in attacks on shipping in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, according to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

Reading this, you are led to believe the ONI spokesperson had made some reference to China. Only he never did. Here’s the actual words:

“Iran still states that the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy] will employ swarming tactics in a conflict,” ONI analyst Robert Althage said in an e-mail, noting that the paramilitary organization “continues to add boats armed with anti-ship cruise missiles, such as the FL-10, to its inventory.”

Gertz then says the FL-10’s are made and supplied by China. So you see, it’s Gertz who is referencing China, not Althage. He has misled readers into believing ONI singled out China when it never happened. Gertz is using a cheap journamalistic trick to make it seem that way. This is gutter journalism and proves all my worst fears about Gertz.

It amazes me that Gertz can get away with this. Whenever you hear him cited as a source, be very suspicious Every word he says must be taken with a huge grain of sea salt.


Slave labor in Shanxi province

Thanks to commenter Keir for bringing this shocking story to my attention. I’d heard for years about slave labor in many parts of China but never saw much solid evidence. I did know of people who basically were paid only with food and lodging and who had nowhere else to go, and who were, for all intents and purposes, slaves. But today’s breaking news is about the real thing, and it’s made uglier by the involvement of a son of a party official. Some of the slaves were beaten to death, the article says.

It’s past 10 at night and I’m still in the office and can’t give this more than a moment. But it’s one of the worst stories I’ve read about massive, pre-meditated abuse here in a longtime.

Tens of thousands of police raided brick kilns across central China this week in a hunt for more than 1,000 children kidnapped and sold into slave labour in a revival of abuses associated with the poverty of the 1930s and 1940s.

The scandal involving negligent law enforcement and even collusion between government officials and slave masters burst into the open only after the domestic media ran a series of hard-hitting investigative reports.

The children, as well as many adult workers, were guarded by fierce dogs and thugs who beat their prisoners at will and were forced to work 16 hours a day with little food. They lived in squalid conditions, sleeping on filthy quilts on layers of bricks inside brickworks working at full pace to keep up with the demands of China’s construction boom.

The doors were sealed from the outside with padlocks and the windows barred with pieces of wood to prevent their escape. Some had festering wounds on their black feet and around their waists, apparently from burns in the kilns.

Some were even beaten to death. Zhao Yanbing, the foreman who fled a brickworks where 31 men were rescued a few days ago, described on state television how he had beaten a man in his late 50s for not working hard enough. “His performance was so bad, so I thought that I would frighten him a bit. When I raised the shovel over him I never thought that he would get up and confront me, so I slammed the shovel down on his head.” The man never got up again.

And now some will say you can’t believe it because it’s in the Western media. Sorry, but it’s being told in the Chinese media as well. It’s true, and it’s revolting.


Growing up in Mao’s China

Check it out.


Chinese hospitals using fake blood protein in patient drips

You might want to rush to blame this all on the questionable source, as some tried to do recently with the NY Times report on Chinese toothpaste. Only this time the source is…China.

Since this story is blocked in China, I’ll paste it all. (By the way, Peking Duck is currently partially blocked in China due to some keyword in the Kristof thread below. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out what word is causing the trouble and fix it.)

Chinese investigators say nearly 60 hospitals and pharmacies in north-eastern China have been using fake blood protein in patients’ drips. Albumin, or plasma protein, is used to treat patients suffering from shock and burns and during open-heart surgery.

Experts suggest that the fake product could be life-threatening for those already in a serious condition. The scandal is the latest to expose weaknesses in China ‘s regulation of food and drug standards. The food and drug administration in the north-eastern state of Jilin found 18 hospitals and more than 30 pharmacies sold or were selling false batches of the albumin.

“There was no element of protein, so it could not perform its intended function,” said the administration’s deputy director, Xu Fei. “These were out-and-out fakes,” he added.

Officials did not say whether anyone had died or fallen ill through using the false protein, though one Chinese newspaper said it had led to one death. China Central Television cited an official saying those making the false albumin were making a 300% profit, assisted by shortages of the genuine product.

The administration said its investigations had “effectively cleaned up the market”. China has launched a nationwide clampdown on counterfeit products after a series of scandals. In one of the worst cases 13 babies died from malnutrition after being fed fake baby milk.

Last month the country’s top food and drug regulator was sentenced to death for taking bribes to approve medicines not properly tested for safety. Toothpaste, anti-malarial drugs and pet food have also been found to contain contaminated or fake ingredients. The tainted toothpaste has been blamed for dozens of deaths in Panama.

The US and EU have expressed concern over food and drug imports from China , and have pressed Beijing to improve its oversight.

I realize the US has been named for selling salmonella-tainted fish or whatever. It really doesn’t compare to companies getting together to plot the sale of fake health products to rake in faster, easier profits, knowing their greed can kill people. The tainted infant formula was the crowning example – 40 separate businesses connived to boost profits by, in effect, endangering the lives of babies. I guess you have to admire their sheer chutzpah, as you also damn them to hell.


Nicholas Kristof: Repression in China

A column by Nicholas Kristof [Word file] that is directly relevant to some of our recent threads which have, one after another disintegrated into a back and forth – “China did something bad” countered by “Your government did bad things, too, so it’s hypocritical to point a finger at China.” And on and on and on.

Kristof is consistently my least favorite Times columnist. (Though Dowd is a close second nowadays.) Still, this column is well worth reading. The comparison between the plight of a Chinese woman fighting for fairness and an Al Jazeera journalist rotting in Guantanamo is chilling.

Bush has deprived America of what was – after we stopped exterminating the Indians and ended slavery and Jim Crow, and after the Tuskegee Experiment and Kent State, etc., etc. – our moral high ground. Can we ever gain it back? Can we ever talk about human rights in China without having Guantanamo shoved down our throats? And not without some justification, I might add. (Don’t believe me? Read the Kristof article.) What a f*cking shame.


Bad Sino day

Sinosplice hacked and unavailable. [Update: fixed]

Sinocidal blocked in China. [Update: Still blocked]

What next?

Update: Well, the answer didn’t take too long to materialize. Another of my favorite sites hacked. [Update: I removed the hyperlink because a commenter said when she clicked it a virsu tried to infect her computer. It’s Bokane.org. UPDATE: fixed] Shit, what’s going on?


Bill Stimson: Democracy is not for China

The following is a contributed post from my friend in Taiwan Bill Stimson. I do not necessarily agree with all of Bill’s points and I offer some commentary of my own at the end.

“Democracy Is Not For China”
by William R. Stimson

Out from China comes the repeated argument that it can handle its own internal affairs without meddling advice from foreigners about democratization. True, China will likely evolve a unique mode of government that fits its needs and aspirations. But, to the extent those aspirations include global leadership, that government better be a democracy.

This is because of the kind of exceptional individuals China will need, not just in politics, but in all areas, if it sets out on this course. As regards exceptional individuals, we turn naturally to the work of psychologist Abraham H. Maslow, who made a study of these, and who believed that to those nations most successful in producing them belongs the future.

Maslow tells us that the fullest development of human potential requires a good society, which he defines as one that is anti-authoritarian and anti-controlling. It places a greater stress on spontaneity and autonomy than on stability and external control. Healthy and superior people, Maslow found, do not like to be controlled. They can make their own choices and need to be free to do so in order to bring out their full potential.

For China to be global leader it must lead the way in solving some tough problems that face all nations – the erosion of human trust, the destruction of the environment, the persistence of poverty, exploitation, and inequality of opportunity. Problems of such magnitude only stand a chance of being solved to the extent we mobilize all of our individual and collective inner resources, and bring out in our societies, our communities, our families, our individuals – and our approach to problems – more of the whole human capability that we all have within as a latent potential. These farther reaches of our human nature await the right environment to emerge and to express themselves. That environment is an open and free democratic society; where corruption, mismanagement, greed, and waste can be challenged; and where ordinary people can organize in ways of their own choosing and disseminate whatever ideas they want.

Democracy is not for China. It’s not for the Chinese. It’s for every country, every people. To lead, China will have to become its champion because democracy is more urgently needed at this time in history than ever – not for outer reasons, but for inner ones: to call up the human intelligence, creativeness and sensitivity required to solve the
really big problems ahead.

* * *

William R. Stimson is an American writer who lives in Taiwan.

All I want to add is this: I am no believer in a rush to Western-style democracy for China. However, I do get frustrated by arguments that “China isn’t ready for democracy,” made by some of my best and smartest friends here. I would agree that China’s system is not ready for democracy. After more than half a century of near-totalitarian rule, there is no other entity aside from the CCP that has the infrastructure and organization to rule China. This power vacuum was created by the CCP’s intolerance and it speaks to the inherent badness of the system. But the vacuum is real, and it means for now there is simply no alternative. The CCP stays.

But I agree with Bill that democracy is necessary for China, at least at some point in the future. Maybe not democracy as we in the West practice it, but there has to be representation for those who are taxed, and the people must be given an opportunity to have their voices heard. Today’s top-down system, where local officials answer only to the central party and not to those they ostensibly represent is a formula for exploitation, brutality and lawlessness.

This begs the question, Is anyone “ready for democracy”? Looking at America’s last two presidential elections, it can be argued Americans aren’t ready for it, either. Wedge issues, attack ads and litmus tests (abortion, taxation, etc.) manipulate the populace to vote against their better interests. And look at Iraq: we gave them democracy, and they voted for a theocracy.

Democracy can suck big time. Yet it’s still the best system we have. In the case of America at least, it tends to self-correct, as we saw in last year’s elections. Meanwhile, democracy at the village level in China has shown promising success, and I have to wonder why some very smart people stick to the mantra of China not being “ready.” At what point are people ready? Again, if people are forced to pay taxes to support their government, they should have at least some say in what that government does, no matter how educated they are. Those voting in the village elections are at the very bottom, yet many took the time to vote and saw it as a privilege. When the local officials can take away the people’s homes and brutalize them with taxes and cheat them on a regular basis, and when the people have no choice because those officials answer only to a bureaucrat in distant Beijing, we know the system is utterly rotten. And democracy is the only solution. Maybe if the CCP were ruled by a Lee Kuan Yew-type “benevolent dictator” who could do what was best for his people while tightly controlling corruption and abuse – maybe then China wouldn’t need democracy. But considering the sheer size of China and its population, such a solution seems unlikely, to say the least. Lots of people had high hopes Hu Jintao would be such a leader, and we were all mightily disappointed.

So bottom line: Yes, China needs some form of democracy. How and when it can achieve this remains unclear. And yet, many things in recent memory seemed impossible, but happened anyway: Apartheid was ended, the Berlin Wall fell, the USSR was dismembered. China’s chances of becoming a democracy within our lifetimes seems highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened. It will have to be a slow, grinding process; you can’t fill China’s power vacuum overnight. Still, the more the Chinese people demand it, the more likely it is to happen. Let’s hope the cause continues to move forward, no matter how impossible it may seem at the moment.

Bill, sorry for hijacking your post, but my comments are directly related.


Toxic toothpaste made in China for sale in the US

Sounds bad,

Consumers were advised yesterday to discard all toothpaste made in China after federal health officials said they found Chinese-made toothpaste containing a poison used in some antifreeze in three locations: Miami, the Port of Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.

Although there are no reports of anyone being harmed by the toothpaste, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the Chinese products had a ‘low but meaningful risk of toxicity and injury’ to children and people with kidney or liver disease.

The United States is the seventh country to find tainted Chinese toothpaste within its borders in recent weeks.

I just bought a tube of Chinese toothpaste (Shu Shuang is the brand) a couple of weeks ago. A shame, that I have to throw it out. “Made in China” was becoming a positive phrase, a sign of good workmanship – at least for me. A pity that a few greedy gold diggers seeking fast profits irrespective of the health of their customers had to fuck it all up. When I read about the infamous infant formula scandal a couple for years ago I never imagined they could be so careless as to allow such dangers to seep outside China’s borders. After all, exports are China’s lifeblood. I hope we don’t see a backlash against all things China-made, but if we do, greedy Chinese businesses, spurred on by a lack of regulation, have only themselves to blame.

Update: For some balance, China offers a rebuttal.

Also, here’s an interesting piece on how nearly all the vitamin C we take is made in China. The post also notes China’s charges that the US exports lots of salmonella-infected salmon into China. Is it true, and is intentional? I don’t know.


Neocons tried to push for Iraq-style conflict with China…?

Congressional Quarterly has a bombshell of a story. I’m just going to offer a sample and suggest you check it out. (Still recovering from serious jet lag after my ill-fated trip to Germany.)

The same top Bush administration neoconservatives who leap-frogged Washington’s foreign policy establishment to topple Saddam Hussein nearly pulled off a similar coup in U.S.-China relations – creating the potential of a nuclear war over Taiwan, a top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell says.

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army colonel who was Powell’s chief of staff through two administrations, said in little-noted remarks early last month that ‘neocons’ in the top rungs of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China – an act that the communist regime has repeatedly warned would provoke a military strike.

The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan at the time, Douglas Paal, backs up Wilkerson’s account, which is being hotly disputed by key former defense officials.

Considering the source and considering the ongoing shenanigans of the Cheney neocon cabal led by Doug Feith, I find this story all too easy to believe. Bush himself actually emerges as one of the saner players in this little melodrama. It’s the Cheney neocon nuts we all need to be scared of. Let’s hope Bush clears lots of brush to stay in good health; the only thing more terrifying than our current president is his vice president.