Sunday, May 14, 2006
Remnants of Socialism: PRC and Latin America
But some countries are more equal than others.
The PRC maintains special relationships with four other remnants of the former 'Socialist Camp': the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Republic of Cuba - whose sole ruling parties maintain 'fraternal' links with the Communist Party of China.
While these relationships are sometimes strained, as experienced during the PRC's 1979 foiled invasion of Vietnam and the later clashes in the potentially oil-rich South China Sea, they continue to offer the 'Fraternal Four' the opportunity for intimate deals with the PRC outside of the constraints of international arrangements and alliances such as the Korea 6-party-talks and ASEAN.
Down Latin America way, Fraternal Fidel is networking the Socialist Camp into new oil deals.
Back to the Future: Andy Garcia's movie, The Lost City, is drawing attention to the condition of Cuba prior to the advent of Fidel Castro's communist regime. In his review, Humberto Fontova described 1958 Cuba as undergoing a rebellion not a revolution. "Cubans expected political change not a socio-economic cataclysm and catastrophe," he said. And now we rediscover that the Caribbean socialist paradise, a little larger that Taiwan but with an average income lower than China, was once the most prosperous country in Latin America. Here's a UNESCO report on Cuba circa 1957: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class ... Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than US workers. The average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 percent of gross national income. In the US the figure is 70 percent, in Switzerland 64 percent. 44 percent of Cubans are covered by social legislation, a higher percentage then in the US." In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages in the world. In the 1950s Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an 8 hour work-day in 1933 - five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it in the USA. Add to this: one months paid vacation. Cuba, a country 71% white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the USA. This period was marked by considerable construction of private highrises, and public tunnels and roads. Havana became the third most expensive and dynamic city in the world with more TV sets, telephones, and late model Cadillacs per household than any city in the USA. The Civic Plaza and all surrounding buildings, now renamed as Plaza de la Revolucin (Revolutionary Square), where Fidel Castro often speaks, was completed in these times.
General Fulgencio Batista y ZaldÃvar was the target of political dissatisfaction. The de facto military leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1940 and the de jure President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, he then became the country's unchallenged leader, after staging a coup from 1952 to 1959. He was the son of Belisario Batista and Carmela ZaldÃvar, Cubans who fought for independence from Spain and considered socially a mulatto (mixed African and Spanish blood). Of very humble origins, Batista was forced to work from an early age. A self-educated man, he attended school at night and is said to have been a voracious reader. In his last period of power, Batista's Wikipedia entry reads, "he achieved the full support of the labor movement including the communist party. During these years Batista created the program to bring education to peasants, building schools (although modestly), and implementing the minimum wage for farm workers, a measure deeply resented by the landowners. Despite the unprecedented economic prosperity of the 1950s, opposition parties like the Orthodox and the Autenticos managed to promote social unrest instigating university students to plant bombs and kill civilians and military personnel alike. Batista's responded with repression of the subversives. Ultimately, the existing government corruption, tinted with claims of close relationship with the mafia, saw a rise in general opposition to his regime from the rich and middle class Cubans." Fontova further revealed that the Castro-lead, anti-Batista rebellion "was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Here's the makeup of the 'peasant' revolution's first cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the anti-Batista fight: 7 lawyers, 2 University professors, 3 University students, 1 doctor, 1 engineer, 1 architect, 1 former city mayor and Colonel who defected from the Batista Army ... "
Human Rights: Last year a number of journalists, writers and showbiz figures, including Harold Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, Harry Belafonte and Tariq Ali, signed a letter claiming that in Cuba "there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959 ..." And now Cuba and the Peoples Republic of China have won seats on the new UN Human Rights Council. Prior to the election, Cuba's Ambassador to the PRC, Alberto Rodriguez Arufe, gave his regime's view of what was wrong with the outgoing UN Commission on Human Rights, which the HRC is replacing. The UNCHR had fallen into disrepute, he said as quoted by Patrick Goodenough of CNS News, because of the political manipulation, hypocrisy and double standards imposed by the United States and European Union. There was no point in replacing the UNCHR with the HRC if the new body did not confront those problems, Arufe added, citing as an example the fact that the commission had not taken up the issue of Guantanamo Bay.
Oil on Troubled Waters: China's interest in exploring oil and gas on Cuba's northwestern coast close to the Florida Keys has reportedly raised concerns in the United States about the threat that China may pose to US energy security. Last year, the Fidel Castro announced that Chinese drilling rigs would be used to further explore areas that had been identified by a Spanish company as promising. The Cuban government also signed a contract with Sinopec, China's second largest oil developer, to join the Cuba Oil Corporation (Cubapetroleo) to prospect for oil in a 1,700 sq km block to the north of the province of Pinar del Rio. The Shengli Oilfield Company, Sinopec's largest oil producing unit, will be responsible for the prospecting and the two partners will share production after commercial operations begin. Fu Mengzi, the director of the US Research Department of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, disagrees with US concerns: "The competition between China and the US in energy is not really a matter that 'you get more and I lose more', even though China's impact on the world energy market is growing due to the rapid economic development," he said. As the top two energy consumers in the world, China and US do have more common interests than conflicts, and "we should enhance mutual trust." she told the Interfax newsagency.
Meantime, China has been hoping to strengthen its position in Latin America, cultivating its links with the region's biggest oil producer, Venezuela, and also signing pacts with the newly-elected government of Evo Morales in Bolivia. Recently, PDVSA, Venezuela's state oil company, signed two cooperation agreements with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation and the China National United Oil Corporation, a branch of CNPC, the country's largest oil company, to buy 18 ships to optimize the marine transportation of crude and its derivatives to the expanding Asian market during the recent visit of its officials to the Beijing company. According to the deals, the Chinese oil monopoly will receive 100,000 barrels of heavy crude and 60,000 barrels of fuel oil per day from the Venezuelan company over the next two years. Venezuela has promised to supply 300,000 barrels of oil to China on a daily basis or 15 mln tons per annum within the next few years.
Pumping Tourism: China has listed Cuba as a priority destination for Chinese tourists since 2003, Vice General Director of the Chinese Tourism Administration Cu Shaoxi said, adding that the tourism ties between the two countries have been increasing. Cuba has so far this year received one million foreign travellers and the number is expected to reach 2.5 million in 2006, up 7.7 percent over the previous year. Cuba will open additional tourism promotion offices in China and Venezuela, bringing the total number of overseas offices to 30.
Chavez's The Man: The Socialist Camp's new best friend in Latin America is Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Who is he? "Is Chavez another Fidel Castro?" asked Alberto Garrido, a Caracas political scientist. "Is he a 19th-century caudillo? Or is he a Peron with oil?" His former lover, Herma Marksman, said he once shared a dream of "a prosperous Venezuela where justice would reign" but she now believes that he "is imposing a fascist dictatorship. A totalitarian regime is coming because he doesn't believe in democratic institutions. Hugo controls all the powers."
Venezuela's opposition leaders claim that behind the facade of a flourishing welfare program, Chavez has done nothing to improve a civic infrastructure riddled with fraud and ineptitude. "In Venezuela they say we have no good presidents or bad presidents," said Julio Borges, an opposition candidate in December's poll. "We have presidents who either benefit from high oil prices or suffer from low oil prices. Chavez had the luck to be a president with high oil revenues, but he's like a man who wins the lottery and at the end he spends it all and turns out more broke than before."
Saturday, May 13, 2006
One pioneer Red Guard really wanted 'democracy'
According to Jane Macartney in The Times (UK), Nie Yuanzi is now a frail, slightly stooped 85-year-old who lives with her two persian cats in a tiny, borrowed Beijing bedsit.
"The Cultural Revolution was a disaster so huge that we can only understand it if we study it," she told Macartney. "Chairman Mao used what I wrote to set alight the Cultural Revolution, but I never knew it would play such a huge role. I was very happy at the time, but I did not understand the deeper significance."
She says she tried to curb the violence and now regards the turmoil as a terrible mistake that must not be repeated. "I could have committed suicide but I felt I must stay alive so that people understand the Cultural Revolution," she said.
Her involvement began soon after 16 May 1966 when the Communist Party of China's newspaper, People's Daily, published a coded attack on Mao Zedong's political rivals within the party. Nie, then Communist Party secretary of Peking University's philosophy department, says the attack inspired her to put up a poster charging the elite school of being under the control of the bourgeoisie. Mao had the poster read out over national radio, effectively giving his blessing to attacks on those in authority and triggering a decade of chaos.
"Students rose to oppose so-called revisionists, including bureaucrats, academics, officials and leaders. Radical students calling themselves Red Guards put dunce's caps on teachers and professors and paraded them through the streets. Government ministers were forced to kneel as they were beaten. Many committed suicide to escape persecution. As the turmoil gained momentum, student factions turned on each other. Hundreds of thousands of Red Guards gathered beneath the Tiananmen rostrum in Beijing, waving the Little Red Book of Mao's quotations and chanting 'long live Mao' in slavish adulation. Mao used the movement to regain the political initiative and supreme power that he had lost in the early 1960s after the disastrous famine caused by the Great Leap Forward," Macartney noted correctly.
Nie, apparantly, was detained in 1968 as Mao moved to regain control over the Red Guards and she spent the next 17 years in jail. "She now inhabits a bizarre limbo, with no pension, deprived of her political rights, banned from publishing or speaking and relying on the kindness of friends for food and lodging. She lives in a tiny flat lent to her by a former foe from Peking University," Macartney observed.
And her final assessment? "I thought we would build a democratic China, but today we are still ruled by a dictatorship," she said.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The South/SE Asian natural disaster affects us all
I notice that the Peoples Republic of China quickly allocated 21.63 million yuan (about US$2.7 million) in humanitarian aid to the earthquake and tsunami-struck countries in South and South East Asia and promised to airlift emergency equpment and supplies.
The Republic of China on Taiwan similarly announced immediate financial aid to Thailand, India and Sri Lanka and Indonesia and dispatched a 10-member medical team to Medan in North Sumatra along with 3,340 tonnes of relief aid.
My condolences to the families of the victims and my best wishes to all for the new year.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
PRC suddenly cancels meeting on workers' rights
The NewYork Times reports the PRC is claiming "inconvinient timing" as its excuse for blocking the meeting.
"This is the right time not the wrong time to discuss the rights of workers in China," John Evans, an OECD official based in Paris, said in a statement. "Labor standards of Chinese workers are now in the world spotlight and that spotlight is not about to be turned off."
According to the New York Times, US and EU labor unions have been pressing for years to communicate more directly with China's state-run union monopoly and the country's Communist Party leaders. Addressing worker issues under the aegis of the OECD, which includes 30 wealthy nations, was seen as a step toward that goal.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Torture "widespread and endemic" within PRC
"A growing number of people in China are standing up and demanding the basic rights that we in Europe take for granted. For doing so, they face arrest, torture and even death," said Amnesty International Media Director Mike Blakemore.
Amnesty's 42-page report said even though many of those campaigning for better rights - including health, housing, labour, religious and ethnic freedoms - are members of groups set up by the Communist Party-directed government itself, activists are vulnerable because their rights are limited and poorly defined.
"Torture and ill-treatment remain widespread and endemic within China's criminal justice system, particularly at the pre-trial stage when beatings or other forms of torture are often used by the police in an attempt to extract a 'confession' from detained suspects ... Human rights defenders and others with strongly held beliefs or opinions who refuse to 'confess' to their 'crimes' are at particular risk of torture or ill-treatment," the report said.
According to BBC News, activists inside the CPC "are careful not to call themselves as such ... preferring terms such as organiser." This was also noticed recently by the Washington Post's, Edward Cody who observed that labor walkouts are being organized in advance throughout the country "but not by formal labor groups or permanent worker committees".
Some EU members like Britain say such human rights violations should prevent the Union from lifting the arms embargo, which was imposed after the Peoples Liberation Army brutally crushed pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. However France, which first pressed for a review of the ban and is one of the EU's biggest arms exporters, and Germany are seen as supporting an end to the embargo to open trade opportunities.
The PRC's Xinhua newsagency highlighted the French Foreign Ministry's statement yesterday that European arms embargo imposed on the PRC "no longer corresponds to the reality of the partnership".
"Of course we are in favor of a lifting of the embargo. It no longer corresponds to the reality of the Euro-Chinese strategic partnership," French Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo said. "Member states of the EU agree on this ... The discussions are focused on the timetable and modalities for the lifting of the embargo," she said at a news conference.
Xinhua noted that while French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder favor an end to the arms embargo, the European parliament resolved on November 17 to oppose such a move until the adoption of a general EU code of conduct on all arms sales as well as concrete improvements in the PRC's human rights record.
However the newsagency commented that by announcing its intention to lift the embargo, at the EU-Chinese summit on Wednesday, the EU "would send positive signals to China ... without ... an immediate removal."
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Remnants of Socialism: PRC and its Fraternal Four
But some countries are more equal than others.
The PRC maintains special relationships with four other remnants of the former 'Socialist Camp’ – the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Republic of Cuba - whose sole ruling parties maintain ‘fraternal’ links with the Communist Party of China.
While these relationships are sometimes strained, as experienced during the PRC’s 1979 foiled invasion of Vietnam and the later clashes in the South China Sea, they continue to offer the ‘Fraternal Four’ the opportunity for intimate deals with the PRC outside of the constraints of international arrangements and alliances such as the Korea 6-party-talks and ASEAN.
'Socialist Camp' round-up
Cuba: The PRC and Cuba will expand their mutually beneficial co-operation to benefit both peoples, visiting President Hu Jintao said in his talks with Cuba's President Fidel Castro in Havana (23 Nov). Castro spoke highly of Cuba's traditional friendship with the PRC, adding that the Communist Party of China has demonstrated that "socialism will definitively remain as the only real hope for peace and survival of our species." The PRC is now Cuba's third-largest trading partner, accounting for 10 percent of the island's foreign trade. Under new accords, Cuba will begin provide 4,400 tons of nickel annually to the PRC from next year. The PRC has agreed to invest $500 million in a new nickel plant in Moa, allow Cuba a 10-year extension to repay four interest-free loans provided between 1990 and 1994, during Cuba's severe post-Soviet economic crisis, finance one million television sets for the Cuban market and donate $6 million to Cuban hospitals.
Vietnam: The Vietnam-PRC Friendship Meeting Programme for young people was launched in Guangxi (28 Nov) by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee and the China CommunistYouth Union Central Committee. The two groups stressed that the friendship is a "significant factor in the success of each country's revolutionary cause". In Nanning (2 Nov), some 200 Vietnamese enterprises are to participate in the first China-ASEAN Trade Fair which includes a China-ASEAN conference and a Vietnam-China business forum.The state-controlled Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has held a number of seminars on construction of two economic corridors involving the PRC's southwestern Yunnan province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and five Vietnamese localities of Hanoi, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Lao Cai and Lang Son. Bilateral trade, which reached $4.6 billion last year, is expected to surpass $5 billion this year.
Laos: The PRC and Laos will "further strengthen cooperation" through the official visit of premier Wen Jiabao to Laos during the 10th ASEAN summit, Ambassador Liu Yongxing said (26 Nov). Bilateral trade was $63.95 million in 2002 and reached at $110 million last year. The target is $200 million in 2005. Chinese-funded companies have taken about one third of the Lao market of construction projects and the PRC has become the seventh largest investors in Laos. About 97 percent of the motor cycles used in Laos are imported from the PRC. Amongst other projects, the PRC has built a national cultural museum and a hospital in Luang Prabang, the five-star Don Chan Palace Hotel in Vientiane and a Sino-Lao cement joint-venture has "already taken one fourth of Lao's market share". Besides trade and economic cooperation, the two countries have "also strengthened bilateral cooperation in national defense, public security, culture and education".
DPRK: Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, said PRC-DPRK relations have seen steady progress and that the PRC government will "consolidate and deepen the bilateral friendly cooperation in all areas" (20 Oct). Separately, PRC president Hu Jintao also said that,"under the guidelines of carrying forward tradition, facing the future, being good neighbors and friends and strengthening cooperation, China will continue to step up exchanges and cooperation between the Communist Party of China and the Workers' Party of Korea." The PRC is the DPRK's biggest source of fuel oil and aid. On the matter of the DPRK's attitude to the continuing postponement of the 6-party-talks on its nuclear program, the PRC is assuring the USA, Russia, Japan and South Korea that the DPRK is committed to the dialogue but not yet ready to resume due to perceived "US hostility" (30 Nov).
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
PRC escapes Burma-style grilling over labor strife
"Some [factory owners] have concluded that the raw era in which rootless Chinese villagers would accept whatever job they could get may be drawing to a close, raising questions about China's long-term future as world headquarters for low-paid outsourcing," the Post's Edward Cody reported.
"The growing assertiveness of factory workers has posed a particular political problem for the governing Communist Party, which ideologically should champion poor laborers struggling against capitalist managers. But local governments have become shareholders in many of the factories, steering officials toward the management side of labor relations ... "
Apparently eager to show solidarity with restless workers, the government-run All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the only legal union in the country, recently issued a reminder that the law requires foreign as well as Chinese companies to accept federation branches wherever workers demand it. The official federation announced that Wal-Mart, the American merchandizing giant, had agreed to allow unions in its factories in China.
"But factory owners and workers in the Pearl River boom zone said the official union does little to represent labor, even in the rare cases when branches are formed, because it is a spinoff of local governments that own or rely on the businesses ... Even when they do not directly own companies, local governments have a high stake in preserving the Pearl River Delta's role as a magnet for U.S., Japanese and other firms seeking cheap labor unencumbered by unions ...
"The result has been a near-total lack of representation for the millions of workers, most of them 18- to 22-year-old women, who toil on assembly lines more than 60 hours a week for wages that amount to about $120 a month. According to standard practice, most live at their factories in company-provided dormitories and eat in company cafeterias -- and then hand back a third of their pay for food and lodging.
"Some villagers, unhappy with such meager leftover savings, have gone home, and factory managers have begun to encounter labor shortages for the first time, " Cody noted.
According to Tony Latter, visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong, escalating domestic food prices are also encouraging labourers to return to rural districts.
"One might wish that soaring costs in the cities would eventually drive businesses to the cheaper regions. But, as other countries have found, market forces seldom deliver that result, at least not on the desired scale. The magnet of agglomeration is very strong. Even once necessary transport infrastructure is in place, remote locations may struggle to attract sufficient investors to reverse the tide of labour heading the other way in search of fortune. It would probably require a vast further commitment of public funds to redress the balance. But, paradoxically, any reduction in the march to the cities - and tentative signs have emerged of a slowdown as rising agricultural prices reduce the incentive to leave the land - might constrain growth and government revenue. This in turn also cuts back on the available means to fund the regional support needed to break the cycle," he wrote in the South China Morning Post (25 Nov).
Cody observed that the labor walkouts are being organized in advance "but not by formal labor groups or permanent worker committees" and most are resolved without violence within a few hours. "Nevertheless, they signaled that docility among Chinese migrant workers can no longer be taken for granted. "
In the latest unrest, about 1,000 workers staged a walkout on Nov. 7 at the Shanlin Technology appliance factory in nearby Guangzhou, demanding higher overtime pay and more days off, according to the government-run New China News Agency. The workers returned to the assembly line a day later after receiving assurances that overtime pay would rise by 12 cents to 36 cents an hour and that they would get two days off a month, the agency reported.
However the PRC is one of the small minority of International Labor Organisation member states that has still not ratified either of the two core ILO conventions (Nos. 87 and 98) on freedom of association, the right to organize and the right to engage in collective bargaining, Robert Munro pointed out in the Fall edition of Perspectives On Work.
"This means that despite the government's wholesale and egregious suppression of the independent labor movement in China - a crackdown that has continued unabated since the brief nationwide flowering in May 1989 of 'workers' autonomous federations' - [the PRC] cannot be subjected to the kind of intense grilling and criticism by the ILO's supervisory bodies that a country like Burma/Myanmar, which ratified the ILO's Forced Labor Convention (No. 29) back in 1955, is nowadays subjected to at every major ILO conference.
"Unfortunately, the same logic dictates that China is unlikely to ratify Conventions 87 or 98 at any time in the near future.
"The Chinese government and its official trade union want to enjoy the benefits of membership in the world labor club, but without having to shoulder the major duties and responsibilities of that role."
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
If You Go Carryin' Pictures of Chairman Mao ...
To the Communist Party of China, ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ was never a change to universal Marxism-Leninist ideology but its development through application to Chinese conditions. Nowadays, the CPC’s ‘people's democratic dictatorship’ and its ‘socialist market economy’ is guided more by ‘Deng Xiaoping Theory’ and the ‘Three Represents’ and the radicalism of its defining Chairman is as quarantined as Lilburne’s Levellers and Röhm's brown shirts in their waning days.
Worldwide, beyond the control of the PRC security forces (and, perhaps, biding their time within), hundreds of Maoist political organisations disagree. To them Maoism remains “a spiritual atom bomb of infinite power” and the political and military blueprint for defeating ‘US imperialism’, for the struggle against (and sometimes allying with) the ‘last’ superpower’s ‘Coalition of the Willing’ and for leading numerous people’s wars of liberation to victory and then through to the realisation of communism.
Maoist insurrectionist weekly round-up
Nepal Battles: Over 200 fighters of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are believed killed in an attack on their Pandaun sub-regional training centre by Nepal government security forces. Elsewhere (23 Nov) a landmine placed by Maoists blew up a vehicle carrying five staffers of the Parsa Wildlife Conservation Area in Belawa forest of Parsa, killing all five; security forces gunned down one Maoist area committee member and arrested six others when they were attempting to extort money in Bastipur VDC-5 of Siraha district; Maoists tried to storm the police office at the Nepalgunj district headquarters; Maoists blocked all roads leading to Gulariya and detonated bombs in the municipality; a police inspector was killed and two other officers injured by underground bomb planted by the Maoists at the Nuwakot police training centre (22 Nov) and a seven-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl were killed while playing with a stray bomb placed by the Maoists on the window of Bhairab Pre-Primary School building; the office of the Annapurna Post (20 Nov) was damaged when a bomb planted by Maoists exploded in the toilet of a printing press located in the basement; an eight year old boy, a 60 year old man and a young man, all belonging to Naumule village of Dailekh district, were killed by a group of 20 armed persons, who also abducted six villagers, because of the community's open opposition to Maoist activities (20 Nov) and in Ghorahi Municipality of Dang the Maoists exploded a powerful bomb at the electricity distribution substation of the Nepal Electricity Authority disrupting electricity supply in the municipality; and Indra Bahadur Acharya, the deputy controller of examinations of Tribhuvan University, was killed in Pokhara by Maoist insurgents (19 Nov) who also burnt three bus passengers in Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi districts.
Naxal Terror Watch: The recent merger of the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre will “amplify” the Naxal threat, India's Home Minister Shivraj Patil said. The two Naxalite groups, now forming the Communist Party of India (Maoist) account for 90 per cent of deaths countrywide. There is “regular exchange of men and material” between the Naxalite groups with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) with plans to spread into new areas to carve out a “compact revolutionary group”, spreading from Nepal, through Bihar and to the Dandakaranya region of AP".
Afghanistan Maoists Unite: Mobilised by the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, an organisation sponsored by the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA, a congress of Afghanistan Marxist-Leninist-Maoists has united the Communist Party of Afghanistan, the Organization of Struggle for the Liberation of Afghanistan and the Revolutionary Unity of Workers of Afghanistan into the new Communist Party of Afghanistan (Maoist). Financial assistance from the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) was acknowledged as was the inspiration of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Communist Party of Peru "in the path of people's war". The CPA (M) will lead the "people's resistance movement" against the "US and its allies".
Shining Path Trial: Experts on the Communist Party of Peru's Shining Path insurgency are concerned about the state's lack of preparation for the upcoming retrial of the Maoist leader Abimael Guzman in a civilian court and warn it could lay the legal basis for hundreds of high-level guerrillas eventually being freed. Guzman, 69, founder and mastermind of a bloody insurgency initiated in 1980, was captured in 1992 and sentenced by a secret military tribunal to life in prison without parole. Last year, Peru's Constitutional Tribunal annulled Guzman's life sentence as unconstitutional and ordered him to be retried in a civilian court. A truth commission has blamed the Shining Path for 54 percent of the nearly 70,000 deaths caused by rebel violence and a brutal state backlash.
Profile - Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
* Promotes defeat of US and allies in Iraq
* Associated with listed terrorist groups
The Revolutionary Communist Party is a United States political organisation directed from Paris, France. Its ideology is 'Marxism-Leninism-Maoism' and its objective is to seize power in the USA and establish a 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' under its exclusive control. It expects 'US imperialism' can only be toppled by armed struggle and has built an international alliance, the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, with Communist parties engaged in violent ‘People’s War’ in Asia and South America.
The RCP evolved from the Revolutionary Youth Movement II (RYM II) faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the major USA campus force during the 1960s that was capable of mobilising hundreds of thousands of students nationwide for anti-Vietnam war activities. Following a power struggle in 1969, SDS split into three factions, each influenced by a version of the Marxist-Leninist view of the chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong: the 'Worker Student Alliance' faction controlled by the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), the SDS National Office's 'anti-imperialist' Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM I) which degenerated into the terrorist Weather Underground and RYM II, associated with the Bay Area Revolutionary Union of northern California.
Lead by a local Berkeley activist, Robert Avakian, the Revolutionary Union took advantage of the disintegration of SDS and expanded nationally through absorbing smaller Maoist-oriented groups. It suffered a split in 1971 when a senior leader, Stanford professor H. Bruce Franklin, left to form a short-lived, Guevarist-influenced terrorist group, Venceramos, which was committed to immediate armed struggle.
However Vietnam veteran Carl Dix was already organising the RU's infiltration of the militant 'Vietnam Veterans Against the War' whose leadership group at that time included John F Kerry. In April 1971, as a member of the VVAV's Executive Committee, Kerry testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, accusing US soldiers of widely engaging in officially sanctioned war crimes in Vietnam. In November the VVAW leadership debated and voted down a plan to assassinate several pro-war US senators. Kerry subsequently resigned from the executive but continued to represent the organisation for several months. By April 1973, the RU dominated the organisation and refocussed it to "fight US imperialism". After a split in 1978 the Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist continues the 'revolutionary' connection.
When the PLP condemned Mao Zedong for meeting US President Richard Nixon in 1972, the RU quickly positioned itself as the new leading 'Mao Zedong Thought' party in the USA and began a five year period of loyal support to the CPC through numerous foreign policy twists and turns. RU organiser C. Clark Kissinger established the US-China Peoples Friendship Association and RU leaders got to enjoy travelling extensively and lavishly in China as VIP guests.
By 1976, Avakian, Kissinger and Dix confidently turned the RU into the Revolutionary Communist Party but international events again intervened. The death of Mao Zedong that year was followed by the arrest and trial of Mao's wife and closest advisors ('Gang of Four’) and with the rise of Deng Xiaoping as paramount leader of the CPC, the RCP split again. In 1977, Avakian supported the 'Gang of Four' and denounced and expelled RCP central committee members M. Jarvis and L. Bergman and their supporters as “economists” and “revisionists”.
When Deng Xiaoping visited President Jimmy Carter in 1981, the RCP led protests at sites throughout Washington, DC and Avakian and others broke in to the White House grounds during the presidential welcome in the Rose Garden. As a result of criminal indictment for the break-in, reportedly threatening a 241 year prison sentence, Avakian fled to 'exile in Paris'.
Despite being denied status as a political refugee, Avakian continues to lead the RCP from France. Under the 'democratic centralist' rules of the party, Avakian's word is final. This is backed up by a 'personality cult' that portrays him to his US followers as a distant but all-knowing genius:
"Because I have followed and studied Chairman Avakian I do have answers and something to say to people! To know that there is somebody that we can have so much confidence in. let me tell you, things can get really crazy in the middle of such an intense struggle. We need to shift things--are we going to have Bush all puffed up and ready to rule the planet or are we going to have him with his pants pulled down in front of the world looking humiliated and naked? It's easy to stress out in the middle of all this, but it's important to step back for a minute and see that our Chairman is leading us to solve all these problems," is a typical accolade.
Avakian's residence in Europe in the 1980s put him at the hub of anti-American and third world radical movements including South America, Asia and the Middle East. Connections with extremists, from violent communists to Islamic Jihadists, were cultivated.
In October 1983 the RCP founded the ‘World Without Imperialism Contingent’ to block deployment of US Pershing and cruise missiles in West Germany and the RCP's Kissinger lead an eight-week tour of Germany through November-December. Already the WWIC contingent included members of the Communist Party of Peru (the 'Shining Light').
The RCP continued its activity in the anti-war movement within the United States. It was an initiator of 'No Business As Usual' in 1985, a national action day against anti-Soviet Union defences in Europe and the 'Refuse & Resist!' organization in 1987 which continues to work against national security preparations, even after the attacks on 11 September 2001. In 1992 the RCP and R&R openly supported what they called "the Los Angeles Rebellion," one of the worst riots in American history leaving 58 people dead, some 2,300 injured, and 5,300 buildings burned.
In the Middle East, the party had supported the Iranian Islamic revolution and sent cadres to visit the seized US embassy in Tehran. It subsequently opposed the US-lead liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and organized the 'Not In Our Name' organisation in the USA in 2002 to disrupt US assistance to the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and Al Queda in Afghanistan and against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
The RCP is also sponsor of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) established in London in 1984. It has developed into an effective international alliance of Maoist parties, including three known to be the most active insurrectionists in the world - the Communist Party of Peru, Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - each of which have been listed on the US government's list of foreign terrorist organisations.
RIM's founding Declaration asserted: "Today ...the forces fighting for a revolutionary line are a small minority encircled and attacked by revisionists and bourgeois apologists of all stripes. Nevertheless, these forces represent the future."
And its 20th anniversary statement triumphed: “Today, the RIM's accomplishments, and the challenges before it, can be seen right in the immediate situation in Nepal, where the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a participating party in the RIM, has led an eight-year-long people's war which is now approaching a struggle for countrywide power. Nepal, a small country, threatens to shake the South Asian subcontinent by inspiring hundreds of millions of oppressed.”
And of RCP’s role and commitment: “The RCP, USA has been part of these struggles in the RIM, and gladly takes up its responsibility to do all it can, facing all reactionary attacks, to advance the revolutionary struggle in the US, to work to strengthen the RIM, and to develop the heartfelt enthusiasm and deep support among the people for the revolutionary struggles led by the Maoists of the world.”
“To do all it can”.
Once were Maoists ...
(XML001) José Manuel Durrao Barroso: New president of the European Commission, former Prime Minister of Portugal. "As a young man, he was an activist in the extreme left-wing Maoist Party, the Movement for the Reorganisation of the Party of the Proletariat. It used the Lisbon University Law Faculty as its base. Of all the radical groups which sprang up in the Portuguese revolution of 1974, the MRPP was the most radical – and Mr. Barroso was one of its most radical members." (Mail on Sunday, 3 Oct 04). Mr Barroso "grew up and left Chairman Mao’s fold in 1977 at the ripe old age of 21. Three years later he joined Social-Democratic Party (PSD), where he remains to the present day." (more at Fabian's Archive).
(XML002) Jose Pedro Simoes Ferreira: Retired brother of Teresa Heinz Kerry. In a November 1974 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on her thoughts on the political unrest transpiring at the time in her native Mozambique she said "she did not mind Maoists in the government, and she mentioned that Ferreira had been a Maoist when he was younger." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 31 Oct 04).
(XML003) Bernard-Henri Lévy, ex-Maoist, ex-journalist ... a moralist in philosophy, a nominalist in world view, and an anti-totalitarian in politics. He discovered, in a mood of "the darkest and most tragic pessimism," that the Marxism he once believed in is a lie: "No socialism without camps, no classless society without its terrorist truth." (New York Review of Books, 24 Jan 80). Lévy is a bestselling writer, philosopher, political campaigner, pundit and luscious-locked superstud in France (The Observer, 16 June 03).
(XML004) CK Yu, the son of a Taiwanese general, ran a Maoist bookshop in California during the 1970s. Staffed by 15 young women dressed up in fake ears, fluffy bottomed skirts and fishnet stockings, Mr Yu has opened the Buck and Bunny bar in Sanlitun, Beijing's diplomatic district. Apart from the police and cultural ministry officials who dropped in to warn that the skimpy uniforms were unacceptable, the bar has been almost empty. Customers say it is hard to tell whether the club is behind or ahead of the times. (The Guardian, 10 May 04).
(XML005) Yemane (Jamaica) Kidane, former Maoist fighter against the Ethiopian military junta with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front. His poems from the 1970s were published this year in English in "Soaring Spirits" (Commercial Information Agency). He is now a retired civil servant who believes in an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one. “‘I am rather sobered by the experience of life. In hindsight, Haile Selassie’s continuation with a peaceful transition would have been much better than what we have now. Had the violent period of the Derg been avoided, we could have brought about economic development through a peaceful struggle. I was an idealist then, I am a realist now. A realist and pragmatist." (Walta, Sep 04)
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Socialist-theocracy alliance weakens trade embargos
Last month, the two countries signed a preliminary accord worth $70 billion to $100 billion by which China will purchase Iranian oil and gas and help develop Iran's Yadavaran oil field, near the Iraqi border. Earlier this year, China agreed to buy $20 billion in liquefied natural gas from Iran over a quarter-century.
Iran wants trade to grow even further. "Japan is our number one energy importer for historical reasons . . . but we would like to give preference to exports to China," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said this month, according to China Business Weekly ...
China's trade with Iran is weakening the impact on Iranian policy of various U.S. economic embargoes, analysts here say. "Sanctions are not effective nowadays because we have many options in secondary markets, like China," said Hossein Shariatmadari, a leading conservative theorist and editor of the Kayhan newspapers.
Accurate trade figures are difficult to get, in part because trade is increasing so rapidly and partly because China's large arms sales to Iran are not included or publicized. But at the second annual Iran-China trade fair here in May, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said trade had increased by 50 percent in 2003 over the previous year, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
Beijing has also provided Iran with advanced military technology, including missile technology, U.S. officials say. In April, the Bush administration imposed sanctions on Chinese manufacturers of equipment that can be used to develop weapons of mass destruction ...
Update: The father of the Pakistani atomic bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, delivered weapons grade highly enriched uranium to Iran in 2001 and Iran aims at getting a nuclear bomb next year, charged Farid Soleimani, senior official of National Council for Resistance in Iran. Khan has admitted to being the ringleader of a smuggling network that supplied Iran, Libya and North Korea with sensitive nuclear technology. Khaleej Times
Update: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has denounced what he said are crimes - "massacre of civilians, women and children by the thousands, the execution of wounded, the destruction of homes, mosques and other places of prayer" - committed by "infidels" in the Iraq city of Fallujah. AFP via iranvajahan.
Update: The USA has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon, further evidence that the Islamic republic is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb," Secretary Powell said. Washington Post via MSNBC
Update: Secretary Powell said the USA is insisting on referring Iran's nuclear programs to the United Nations Security Council. Under prodding from the United States, the IAEA set late November as the deadline by which Iran must comply with demands that it do more to disclose its nuclear activities of face sanstions. Xinhua
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Democracy Lite: Powell's parting thoughts on China
Powell's most recent interviews suggest, at the least, a generously accomodating view of the PRC's drive to a one-party, "socialist market economy":
P J O'Rourke for The Atlantic:
P J O'Rourke: I was wondering whether we should be concerned about issues like, we've got some countries out there that seem to be trying to decouple the idea of economic freedom from personal liberty and political liberty something we once would have called Fascism.
Secretary Powell: Yes, without naming countries, we're nervous about this trend, but I don't think it works. Because if you are going to be economically successful you can't really constrain your people too much. Your people are the ones who are going to make it happen for you. You have to turn them loose. They may originally start out being robber barons, but so did we. The society eventually catches up with them and makes something useful. We had robber barons in the last century and we had junk bond dealers and a number of them went to jail. But, man, before they went to jail, did they get something going. The cellular industry, the computer industry it was junk bond guys who did that in the '80s. We probably wouldn't have advanced as quickly as we did if it had not been for junk bond dealers who went to jail.
Clearly Powell did not answer O'Rourke's question.
The WSJ Report with Maria Bartiromo:
Maria Bartiromo: Let me ask you a bit about China. You and the President are headed there on an important trip to the Asia and Pacific countries next week. We have a large trade imbalance with virtually all of Asia, particularly I really want to hit on China, though. What points will you be making to the Chinese to try to improve that?
Secretary Powell: We have said to the Chinese, and I was in China just a couple of weeks ago, that we're pleased that we have such a strong economic relationship with them. We'd rather be competing with them in the world of economics than in other kinds of worlds, and we see China as an important trading partner. But we need them to buy more of our products and they have significantly increased their imports from the United States over the past year, by a factor of a couple. And so they're doing more to purchase from us. We want to see them do even more. We want them to protect property rights, intellectual property rights. This is a major issue that we have with them.
And so we know that the Chinese are sensitive to this trade imbalance and they're doing more to buy more from us, and we expect them to do even more. They also say they help us a great deal by their direct investment in the United States, so to some extent that offsets it to a degree. But we have a good relationship with China. I would submit it's the best relationship that the United States has had with China in over 30 years. And the important manner in which we've crafted this relationship doesn't rest on a clich or a slogan. When we agree about things, we talk about that agreement.
When we disagree about things, such as proliferating companies or entities in China or human rights problems in China, when we feel a problem with China, we bring it to their attention and we talk to China about it, as two mature nations dealing with each other in a mature fashion.
Maria Bartiromo: But, most people expect China's power, influence and economy to only get larger over time. Should the U.S. be taking a more cautious stance?
Secretary Powell: Well, we are both cautious and open. We are watching what they do. We watch their military improvements and modernization and we improve and modernize our forces. We're more interested in what their attitudes are with respect to their neighbors and are they working with their neighbors to deal with regional problems.
I have found the Chinese leadership over the last three or four years that I've been Secretary of State to be very helpful as we worked our way through problems on the subcontinent, the challenge that we faced two years ago between India and Pakistan. I found China to play a helpful role in the resolution of that problem. China is playing a very helpful role in the resolution of the problem with North Korea. It's China that's been hosting these six-party talks and playing a leadership as well as a hosting role.
So what we want to do is engage China, watch how they develop in the future, watch it with caution, but not with fear; watch it for the purpose of moving along with China and not trying to contain China. China is an important country. It's going to be a more important country and it's going to have needs. It's going to have huge energy needs that we're now just starting to see manifested in the international oil markets. It's going to have huge needs for investment. There are still a billion people out there who are not yet benefiting in the miracle that we see in the eastern part of China along the coast.
And so there are many things we can do together with China, watching them with caution but at the same time not with fear, looking at them as a partner, looking at them as a country with whom we have friendly relations in the economic area, and we can do more and more working with them and our other regional allies -- Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia -- to make sure that Asia remains a stable, safe place. There are no wars going on in that part of the world right now. We have problems in North Korea. We have problems in Burma. Otherwise, we have relative stability in Asia and in the Pacific region and we want to keep it that way.
A peculiar turn of phrase to describe the PRC's dealing with/responding to its human rights problems as one of a "mature nation" in a "mature fashion". Caution to the extreme and, arguably, appeasing.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Updates on military, energy and political posts
The vessel spent about two hours near the southern island of Okinawa, the site of major US military bases, that lies near islands and gas resources eyed by Japan, China and Taiwan. Japan sent two destroyers along with a P-3C surveillance plane that tracked the submarine until it left Japanese waters.
Two days earlier, Kyodo News agency reported that Japan has charted out scenarios for a Chinese attack against Japan which could be triggered by disputes over Taiwan or energy resources. It said the outline for potential Chinese attacks was part of a confidential defense strategy study drawn up by military planners in September.
A spokesman for the Defense Agency declined comment on the Kyodo report, but confirmed the agency filed a report in September on Japan's defense capability. According to Kyodo, the defense planners called for diplomatic efforts to avoid conflicts with China.In the case of a clash between the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan, the PRC could attack parts of Japan to prevent aid from US forces based in the country, the study said.
Under a second scenario, Beijing would try to take over disputed islands between Taiwan and Japan -- called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China -- to rally support if public criticism challenged the communist leadership.
The study listed a third scenario in which the Defense Agency believes the PRC could take military action to secure its interests in the East China Sea where Tokyo and Beijing dispute the development of gas fields near their maritime boundary.
Beijing reacted strongly to the report on 9 November. "The parties concerned should give up their Cold War mentality and work to promote peace and development in Asia, and the world as whole," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said. Beijing accused Tokyo of trying to meddle in the Taiwan issue, and said such comments and actions are an affront to its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The two countries are already in dispute over energy resources in the East China Sea and PRC research and naval ships have repeatedly entered Japan's exclusive economic waters without prior notice.
Adam Crouch of The Raw Prawn posted an extensive review of our article "PRC a tough new competitor for global oil resources" with useful references to a Congressional Commission that concluded that China has been giving nuclear technology to Iran in exchange for oil and evidence that China has provided information about nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and Libya.
"China's leaders seem to be so blinded by their desire to keep natural resources flowing in and to keep the economy growing at lightning speed, that they've treated some real long-term problems for both themselves and the rest of the world," he commented.
Also noticed was Logan Wright’s posting at his Survived SARS blog on the PRC's new energy deals with Iran and the call by Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, for the issue of Iran's nuclear power program to stay out of the UN.
"I [told] colleagues that, to my knowledge, Iran is having a pretty good cooperation with the IAEA," he said. "And I also opened my mind to them that according to my reading of the pictures, according to my analysis, to bring the matter to the Security Council will only make the issue more complicated and more complex than necessary and more difficult to work out," Li said.
"This is vaguely similar to China's position on Darfur--self-interested but procedurally sound--in which they sort of dodged a bullet as the crisis alleviated somewhat," Wright commented.
And for those interested in further back-grounding of Zhao Ziyang, the former premier of the Peoples Republic of China and former Communist Party of China general secretary, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday under house arrest, visit Foreign Affair’s website where the entire text of The Tiananmen papers are available online.
Here is a sample - an exchange between Zhao and the true master of the Communist Party of China, Deng Xiaoping, on 13 May 1989, discussing the continuing pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing in the days leading up to the visit by Soviet Union leader and ‘glasnost’ promoter, Mikhael Gorbachev:
Deng Xiaoping: As I've said before, the origins of this incident are not so simple. The opposition is not just some students but a bunch of rebels and a lot of riffraff, and a tiny minority who are utterly against opposing bourgeois liberalization. ... This is not just between the students and the government.
Zhao Ziyang: The consensus in the Politburo has been to use the policies of guiding and dividing, winning over the great majority of students and intellectuals while isolating the tiny minority of anticommunist troublemakers, thereby stilling the movement through democratic and legal means.
Deng Xiaoping: What do the ordinary people in society think?
Zhao Ziyang: The protests are widespread but limited to cities that have universities. The rural areas aren't affected, and the farmers are docile. So are urban workers, basically. The workers are unhappy about certain social conditions and like to let off steam from time to time, so they sympathize with the protesters. But they go to work as usual and they aren't striking, demonstrating, or traveling around like the students.
Deng Xiaoping: ... We must not give an inch on the basic principle of upholding Communist Party rule and rejecting a Western multiparty system. At the same time, the Party must resolve the issue of democracy and address the problems that arise when corruption pops up in the Party or government.
Zhao Ziyang: ... When we allow some democracy, things might look "chaotic" on the surface; but these little "troubles" are normal inside a democratic and legal framework. They prevent major upheavals and actually make for stability and peace in the long run.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Could Zhao have led the struggle for democracy?
According to The Epoch Times, veteran party members and former CPC officials have pleaded for Zhao’s freedom. They claim that Zhao has been deprived of his rights as an ordinary citizen, rights which should be protected by China’s Constitution:
Hu Jiwei, once the chief editor of People’s Daily and a member of the Standing Committee of the Peoples’ Congress, was removed when the pro-democracy movement was suppressed with the Tiananmen Square massacre. He said, “I can’t remember how many times I’ve spoken out for Zhao. Limiting his freedom now doesn’t make any sense at all. Hu Jintao (the current Party General Secretary) emphasizes the importance of China’s constitution, and he is right. But he is facing two challenges. First, he must unconditionally comply with China’s constitution and protect peoples’ human rights, and secondly, he must firmly stop any unconstitutional acts, which include Zhao’s case.”
The Epoch Times also reported on the “Zhao Ziyang and China’s Reform" conference conducted by Columbia University’s Modern China Research Center on 16 October.
Yan Jiaqi, the former director of the China Institute of Political Science, spoke about two of Zhao’s major contributions to the PRC. First, he recalled the political and economic reforms during the 1980s. He said no one could beat Zhao’s contributions in initiating foreign capital.
Secondly, Zhao had advocated democratic and peaceful means to legally solve the student protests in Tiananmen Square. When Beijing was flooded with university students and teachers mourning the death of former CPC general secretary Hu Yaobang and calling for a rebirth of his democratic ideals, the CPC split.
Li Peng, the premier, had advocated a crackdown on the students, while Zhao had pressed for dialogue and compromise. Zhao was overruled, and eventually accused of splitting the party by siding with the students. He was deprived of his political career and confined to his house, where he remains today.
Yan suggested that if China had been able to follow Zhao’s leadership, the country would be more democratic today. He also said that if Zhao ever gets the opportunity to guide the market economy, establish China’s economic base and implement democratic principles, China will be able to take its place in a peaceful and democratic way in the 21st century.
Hu Ping, chief editor of Beijing Spring magazine, said that looking back over these 15 years, he has seen that time only makes evil stronger. While people’s memories have grown dim, the evil permeates and corrodes people’s thinking. Since 1989, although Chinese society has changed drastically, hardly any abuse seems surprising anymore.
According to Hu, the government now openly uses violence against its people, acts that would have been unimaginable in the 1980s.
Spectre of unhappy, organised masses haunts CPC
"One important reason was that in their long time in power, their system of governing became rigid, their ability to govern declined, people were dissatisfied with what the officials accomplished, and the officials became seriously isolated from the masses," Zeng said, as quoted by The Washington Post.
There were more than 58,000 major incidents of social unrest in the country last year, about 160 per day on average, according to the Communist Party magazine Outlook. That was an increase of 15 percent over 2002 and nearly seven times the figure reported by the government just a decade ago.
Another study of police statistics, by Murray Scot Tanner, a scholar at US-based Rand Corp, concluded the demonstrations were growing in size while violence, including attacks on party and state officials, was also on the rise. He said statistics indicate the number of "mass incidents" jumped from 8,700 in 1993 to 32,000 in 1999 and has kept increasing.
Most protestors appear to be victims of the economic disruption caused by the change to a market economy in the Peoples Republic of China and who have been unable to protect their rights through approved channels.
The PRC’s courts received nearly four million petition cases in total last year; the national legislature had nearly 20,000 petitioners, one-third more than in 2002, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Communist Party officials argue that the CPC’s recent call to improve governance is an attempt to address this problem by making officials more responsive to the public and less corrupt. But the party continues to rule out democratic reform as an option.
“Except in the largest, most volatile situations, the government's approach is to monitor demonstrations and allow them to end peacefully. It reacts later, in some cases addressing the complainants' issues, but almost always aggressively prosecuting the organizers to send a message that further activities will not be tolerated,” the Chicago Tribune commented.
In one recent example in Beijing, the police declined to use force when suburban villagers - upset over a government land deal - blocked school buses bringing foreign children to the International School of Beijing. A few days later, the police rounded up seven or eight protesters and pressed serious criminal charges against three of them.
Chinese Communist anti-corruption fighter busted
Huang Jingao, party secretary for Lianjiang county in Fujian province, attracted attention in August when he posted an open letter on the CPC’s People's Daily website complaining that his efforts to investigate and prosecute corruption were being thwarted by party leaders and government officials because of what he called "the underlying rules" by which unscrupulous functionaries protect one another.
Huang's anti-corruption efforts centered on what he described as crooked deals in which officials took bribes to confiscate peasants' land and sell it at below-market prices to developers.
Within days, the letter disappeared and Huang was accused of "individualism" by higher-level, Fujian officials and ordered to "do a complete self-examination."
Taking to wearing a bullet-proof vest after receiving 26 death threats, Huang has since found himself effectively replaced by his deputy as the county's party secretary and confined to his home or office.
"Lianjiang county officials have been told to make a clear break from Huang Jin'gao and march in step with Fuzhou," a government official told Reuters.
Huang's office, home and cell phones are bugged and he is watched around the clock, other sources said. His request to attend the Central Party School in Beijing, which trains Communist Party apparatchiks, has been rejected.
He declined to be interviewed, saying that as a Communist Party member for more than 30 years, he was not allowed to talk to foreign media without the permission of his superiors. "I can't talk to foreign media. I would be breaching party discipline," Huang told Reuters by telephone.
Beijing and Jakarta talk on 'rejuvinating weaponry'
The USA imposed military equipment bans on the PRC following its massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, Beijing in 1989 and also on Indonesia following widespread allegations that gross human rights abuses took place when East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.
Bara Hasibuan, a former congressional fellow and the National Mandate Party's director of international relations, said that for the sake of his global campaign against terror, President Bush will persuade the US. Congress to lift its embargo on the Indonesian military. "But the Indonesian government must be proactive in reaching out for it and leave its passive approach behind," he added.
"The Bush administration considers Southeast Asia as a breeding ground for terrorism and Indonesia will continue to be its partner in fighting terrorism," he said, quoted by the Jakarta Post.
The newspaper reported scepticism that approaches from Indonesia will bear fruit as the Indonesian military “has steadfastly refused to acknowledge its poor human rights record”.
Meantime, visiting Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan said he had met with President Yudhoyono, discussing broad bilateral issues including defence cooperation. "We held talks on defence cooperation and we have agreed to increase cooperation and consultation on security," AFP reported.
Separately, Foreign Minister Wirayuda said Jakarta hoped from the talks China could "provide ways to help (us) rejuvenate our weaponry."
President Hu Jintao's also extended an invitation for Yudhoyono to visit China, Tang said, adding that the two leaders could possibly hold separate bilateral talks at the 22 November ASEAN summit in Laos.
Last week, delegates to a meeting of Asia's biggest security grouping called for closer military cooperation amid concern about terrorism and North Korea's nuclear program. The three-day meeting in Beijing brought together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the USA, PRC, Japan, India, Russia, the two Koreas, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.
Delegates plan to take up "the role of the armed forces in coming days in combating regional threats," the Peoples Republic of China envoy, Gen Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, as reported by AP.
"It is our common mission to maintain regional peace and stability, to strengthen trust among militaries and promote cooperation among countries and capabilities to properly meet the challenges and changes," he said.
PRC adds panache to nationalism to 'lead' E Asia
Writing in The Japan Times, he said the PRC itself “is now convinced” that having provoked the disintegration of the USSR and “successfully moved into Central Asia, India and the Middle East (notably Afghanistan and Iraq)”, the USA “seeks to curb China's rising power by blocking trade access to the Pacific”.
As a result, Beijing is pursuing a more active diplomacy around its southern periphery in Southeast Asia where, Cheow stated, “Beijing has shown real panache and sophistication” in dealing diplomatically with individual members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand), while touting an ASEAN-China free trade agreement.
Recent PRC initiatives in ASEAN include a $400 million soft loan to the Philippines for a rail link between Manila and Clark ("which prompted Manila to conclude a defence cooperation pact" with the PRC); an "early harvest" agreement a year ago on fruits and vegetables with Thailand (which lead to the Asian Cooperation Dialogue hosted in Qingdao); and convincing Vietnam to delay "tourist excursions" to the disputed Spratley Islands after discreet backdoor intervention by the Communist Party with its Vietnamese counterpart.
“In all cases, Beijing has been using nationalism and the ‘glories of the Chinese civilization’ to try to instill a sense of unity among Chinese nationals in and outside of Southeast Asia”, Cheow concluded.
“Although Beijing may acknowledge that rampant nationalism poses a danger to its own internal stability, it has astutely harnessed it to build a ‘new’ Asian pride that it hopes will help establish a new Asian system of politics, economics, security and culture within the ASEAN-plus-Three (Japan, South Korea, China)" framework - which Beijing hopes will be transformed ultimately into an East Asian community under its leadership.”
The PRC's trade with its ASEAN has risen on average 20 percent annually since 1990 and should surpass US$ 100 billion dollars this year.
The economic co-operation framework agreement in signed by the PRC and ASEAN in 2002 is designed to lead to the world's biggest free trade zone of more than 1.7 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $2 trillion by 2010.
In September, the two sides completed negotiations on the trade of goods and will begin to implement tariff cuts in 2005. The next phases of an FTA will concern trading of services and investment.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Maoists increase intimidation of Nepalese media
18 August 2004: Following the brutally killing of Dekendra Raj Thapa, a Dailekh-based journalist affiliated to state-owned Radio Nepal, Nepal News reports that Maoists have issued ‘execution orders’ against ten more journalists in the country. Harihar Singh Rathour and Bed Prasad Timilsina, affiliated to Kantipur Publications, are among those targeted. According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has killed six journalists in the last eight years and is suspected to be behind the disappearance of three more.
19 August 2004: Nepal News reports a Nepalese American Journalist Association (link in Nepalese) press release asking underground Maoists to immediately stop all human rights violations, to respect press freedom and the fundamental rights of the people.
24 August 2004: Nepal News reports a Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) statement asking the CPN (M) leadership to make clear the party’s view on press freedom within a week otherwise all the news related to the Maoists would be boycotted. The FNJ asks for immediate release of three journalists Dhan Bahadur Magar, Parek Rai and Kul Bahadur Shahi who are in Maoist captivity and urges the rebels to stop intimidation of journalists.
3 November 2004: Dallas/Fort Worth's Channel 8 reports that a convenience store employee died Monday night (1 Dec) after being shot in his South Zang Boulevard store. Keshav Lal Shrestha was found injured in the back office of the Zang Food Store about 1:20 pm with gunshot wounds to his face and stomach. A witness told police that Mr Shrestha was at the front of the store during the shooting and called home before stumbling into the back office.
4 November 2004: Nepal News reports an "unidentified group" shot and killed Keshav Lal Shrestha, a Nepali journalist living in Texas, USA. Shrestha was known as publisher and editor of Makwanpur’s oldest weekly newspaper, "Kurakani". The Federation of Nepalese Journalists and Kurakani weekly, issuing separate statements, expressed deep sorrow at the news.
5 November 2004: Nepal News reports that the CPN (M) has imposed a ban on journalists in the mid western district of Rukkum. Maoist district secretary Bishal said reporters must obtain permission of the ‘people’s government’ before traveling to any part of the district for collecting news.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is supported in the USA by the Revolutionary Communist Party, publisher of the Revolutionary Worker.
PRC a tough new competitor for global oil resources
“The country's industrial base is gobbling up vast amounts of petrochemicals to make everything from fertilizer to Barbie dolls. The number of cars on mainland roads - about 20 million -i s expected to increase by 2.5 million this year alone. Even if China's blazing GDP growth of 9.4% this year moderates to 8% in 2005 … the country is now a permanent major player in the global competition for oil,” Time Asia reported.
And just as oil is seen driving American foreign policy, the PRC's geopolitical strategies are "increasingly influenced by the country's inability to meet its energy needs solely through domestic production".
For instance, news of the discovery of a new offshore oilfield in northern Vietnam last month was warmly welcomed by Vietnam and fellow South East Asian nations but harshly criticised the by PRC which claims "indisputable" sovereignty in the South China Sea. "China is seriously concerned and strongly dissatisfied," PRC Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.
The two Communist Party-ruled neighbours fought a significant land war in 1979, which Vietnam was considered to have won, and their forces clashed in the South China Sea in 1988 and 1992 when the Chinese emerged victorious.
The oil find, announced by a partnership of Petronas Carigali Overseas of Malaysia, American Technology Inc Petroleum, Singapore Petroleum Co and PetroVietnam's Petroleum Investment and Development Co, is at the Yen Tu field, about 70 km east of Vietnam's Hai Phong seaport. It is the "first oil strike" in the waters off northern Vietnam with estimated preliminary reserves at 181 million barrels.
The PRC’s territorial claims cover 80% of the South China Sea, sections of which are also claimed by the Republic of China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. In the mid-1990s, the Chinese put up what it called shelters for fishermen on islets claimed by the Philippines, fueling concerns in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations about increased aggression by China and "prompting increased diplomacy to engage Beijing".
The PRC is also disputing Japan’s sovereignty over natural gas reserves in the East China Sea and is preparing to begin exploiting large gas reserves in the Xibu Trough, just west of the line Japan claims as the boundary of its exclusive economic zone.
The trough, which lies 400 km east of Shanghai, contains the Chunxiao gas fields, the largest gas deposit yet discovered in the East China Sea, with reserves estimated at about 300 billion cubic metres.
Beijing rejects Tokyo's claim as an infringement of sovereignty, and has signalled it will not jointly explore the Chunxiao gas field with the Japanese. "Why should we consider a demarcation border when there wasn't one in the first place?'' asks a spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China. Some Chinese officials have talked of military conflict with Japan over the rights to the gas.
No doubt leaders in Beijing want to avoid numerous military confrontations and, where possible are looking to invest in exploration and development in countries that have oil fields but lack the capital or technology to exploit them. Once PRC state-woned companies have a stake in oil coming out of the ground, even if it originates abroad, they'll have secured long-term supplies.
The PRC’s state-owned CNOOC and CNPC, for example, now control over 12% of Indonesia’s own oil production, acquired from exiting US and European companies.
In North Asia, the PRC is trying to entice the Russian Federation to build a 1,500-mile pipeline from Russia's Angarsk, near Lake Baikal in Siberia, to China's Daqing to ship up to 700 million tonnes of oil between 2005 and 2030. However, the Japanese also know how to play hardball.
The PRC project has been slowed by environmental worries and is now threatened by a competing plan to route a pipeline to Japan. Russian President Putin says he prefers Russia to build a pipeline to the Pacific coast near Japan rather than the proposed link to China. Japan, keen to become a major Russian oil buyer, is offering Moscow up to 900 billion yen to develop an associated oil field in Eastern Siberia.
Elsewhere the scope of the PRC’s energy diplomacy is extensive:
Two weeks ago Iran and China signed an MOU to award development of the Yadavaran oil field to China's state-owned Sinopec. The countries also decided to form a joint oil and gas committee to follow up strategic cooperation in the area of energy including joint investment in construction of an LNG refinery in Iran.
Iran also spoke of it's readiness to cooperate with Chinese companies in oil-related activities in Central Asia. In June, PRC's President Hu led a delegation to Uzbekistan to start building relations with the oil-and-gas-rich, ex-Soviet republics.
Other reported Asian projects include a 600-mile, $2 billion pipeline from Burma's deepwater port of Sittwe, which will follow a projected railway line to China's south-western province of Yunnan. Another is the development of Gwadar Port in Pakistan, which China hopes to use to ship oil and gas from the Gulf. A pipeline to Xinjiang over the Karakoram Pass will follow.
The PRC is investing in West Africa's oil fields in the Gulf of Guinea, and to Central Africa, where oil production in several countries is also coming on line, VOA reports. In recent interviews, China's deputy foreign minister Zhou Wenzhong said the PRC will pursue its oil interests in Africa without political restrictions or concerns. He has been quoted as saying China tries "to separate business from politics."
The state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, for instance, is developing oil projects in Chad, which has diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
West Africa's oil currently comes mainly from Nigeria, Equatorial-Guinea, Congo-Brazaville and Gabon. Other countries like Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Niger are also trying to develop oil production. PRC companies are reportedly signing oil contracts in many of these countries, even though few of the deals are getting much publicity.
During President Hu's visit to Gabon, though, one new arrangement was made public. The China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation refinery, Gabon and France's Total Gabon signed agreements guaranteeing China a steady flow of Gabonese oil.
Most controversial is the PRC’s efforts to prevent the United Nations’ Security Council imposing sanctions on Sudan over the crisis in the Darfur region to protect its oil imports from the country. For the past six years Beijing has been the Sudanese government's main backer, buying 70% of its exports, servicing its $20 billion debt and supplying the Khartoum government with most of its weapons.
The PRC was identified by diplomats as the member responsible for watering down September’s Security Council resolution which threatened to halt Sudan's oil exports if it did not stop atrocities in the Darfur region, where Arab militias are terrorising African villagers.
Sudan is the largest recipient of PRC overseas investment and some 10,000 Chinese are working in the country. Since 1999 China has poured up to $3 billion into developing several oil fields and building a 930-mile pipeline, refinery and port.
Sudan's attraction to the PRC, "other than its pariah status," the Independent reported, " is that it holds Africa's greatest unexploited oil resources, even greater than those of the Gulf of Guinea. China has helped to boost Sudan's crude oil production from 150,000 barrels per day in 2000 to an expected 500,000 bpd in 2005. All this comes from oil fields in central and south-central regions which may hold only 15 per cent of Sudan's total reserves".