Monday, 26 January 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choy


Welcome to the year of the Ox as today in the Chinese New Year. The greeting translates as "congratulations and be prosperous". While I'm not not disputing that the Chinese economy is certainly prosperous it is not and should not be the only measure.

In July 2001 when China were awarded the 2008 Olympics, government authorities promised improvements in human rights. However seven years on, China remains a country that executes, tortures and silences its citizens. In many areas, human rights have deteriorated because of the Olympics. The positive legacy that many around the world hoped for is becoming increasingly unlikely.

Amnesty International lists 4 distinct areas and various indicators in each that would be a measure of just how China is measuring up. You can view that checklist on the Amnesty website but be warned it makes grim reading. The four areas are:

  • The death penalty

  • Fair trails and the prevention or torture

  • Human rights defenders

  • Freedom of expression

On the death penalty there are still 68 crimes on the Chinese statute books that are punishable by execution including tax fraud, counterfeiting money and smuggling cultural relics. As for fair trails and prevention of trail the Chinese have continued to maintain their practice of "Re-education through labour" and even swept up undesirables from the streets pf Beijing in the run up to the Game.

Human rights defenders such as Shi Tao, Chen Guangcheng, Ye Guozhou and Hu Jia are amongst some that are currently detained while carrying out what in most of the world is considered peaceful dissent and disagreement.

Foreign journalist are still restricting from reporting on certain issues. And Internet access while relaxed for foreign journalists was not completely uncensored and Chinese such as Huang Jinqui and Yang Tongyan, who are serving 12 year sentences, face imprisonment for legitimate use of the Internet if it disagrees with the state.

Those named and the many other, less high profiled, victims of China's human rights injustices really do need to have a 新年快乐 - Kung Hei Fat Choy. But they do not need theirs to be merely financial.

Footnote: There were links in the article but when I posted they came up with invalid links and blogger prevented me posting. There were too many to do a quick check so I will take a look later and try and direct you to the right sources.


  1. 恭喜发财 is actually what you wanted to write. You have written Xing Nian Kuai Le (Mandarin) which translates as Happy New Year.

  2. Sorry, that should be Xin Nian Kuai Le! Apologies.

    Keep up the good work in highlighting human rights abuses in China Stephen.

  3. Thanks for the correction and the kind, encouraging words Toby.