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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

No More Appeasement, West Must Push China To Democracy

May 24, 2008

Dossier Tibet  (Italy)
Campagna di solidarietà con il Popolo Tibetano (Italy)
May 22, 2008

The West made a strategic error in adopting different approaches to
the Soviet Union and communist China. Ronald Reagan identified the
Soviet Union as an evil empire and accelerated the arms race with the
Star Wars program, thus bogging down the Soviet Union's fragile
economy, which led to its eventual defeat. At that time, China was
still played as the "China card" to reinforce US strength against the
"evil empire".

The West assumed China was developing into a friendly economy and
dropped its guard. This was a big mistake.

China has the same capacity as the Soviet Union did to become a
formidable foe of Western democracies. China has been allowed to
strengthen its power in a clandestine way under the guise of a
"peaceful rise". Its power has infiltrated the world and is now much
more difficult to address.

For Bill Clinton, China was a "strategic partner". For George Bush it
has been a "strategic competitor". I believe both of these
classifications are wrong. China is, ideologically, diametrically
opposed to democracy.
International economies are swarming to China to compete for its huge
market and their governments are rushing to appease the repressive
Chinese leadership - all for the price of a trade dollar. Those eager
to do business in China may believe the country is changing and their
trade and investment are helping to bring political liberalisation.

But as the Olympic Games in Beijing approach, China has jailed two
human rights activists, Hu Jia and Yang Chunlin, and suppressed the
peaceful protest of monks in Tibet by force.

China retains the repressive, undemocratic nature of a one-party
political system, and this situation needs to be re-evaluated as a
potential threat to international stability and security. Western
democracies, headed by the US, must create a sound global vision,
identify their objectives for the coming century and develop a
strategy to prevent the unexpected happening.

What will the world face once China has completed its "peaceful rise"?

China will have become an important world economic and military
power, and it will still operate as an unaccountable repressive
regime that does not respect human rights and democratic values.
Using the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a model, the International Olympic
Committee awarded China this year's Olympic Games, giving it a chance
to improve itself. The 1988 Games were regarded as the impetus for
South Korea to take its first step on the road to democracy. But
South Korea is not China.

South Korea was responsive to international political pressure, and
it has advanced accordingly. China is obstinate and resilient to
international criticism, and does not relent in its uncompromising policies.

China's Olympic bid was also politically motivated, allowing it to
cement its reputation as an emerging economic and political
powerhouse and to showcase Beijing as a world-class capital city. At
home, the Communist government can point to this international
recognition to legitimise the regime.

The belief that China would become more open once the Olympics had
been awarded was wishful thinking. There was no substantial evidence
to support this assumption. The Olympics is not moving the country to
greater political liberalisation; rather, it is allowing it to hold
political power in its grip.

To date there has been very little meaningful, constructive
international pressure on China to address its problems, due to the
lure of the trade dollar.

The Cold War has gone, but the battle between democracy and autocracy
is far from over. It is essential democratic leaders act with courage
and moral conscience when they make decisions that have global
ramifications. It is also essential the public votes with a strong
moral conscience to ensure the accountability of their leaders.

It is worth remembering the appeasement adopted by Neville
Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, which resulted in the tragedy of
World War II. Their silent consent to the Nazis provided a short-term
remedy but led to a long-term catastrophe.

We must leave no stone unturned in pushing China to become a
multi-party democracy. It is time to call for an end to the West
conveniently overlooking China's human rights abuses and opposition
to democracy. It is time to act against a permanently communist China
before it is too late.

Chin Jin
chairman of the Federation For A Democratic China
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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