Archive | June, 2011

Ministry of Rails Discovers “Part-time Cadres” Running Enterprise-owned Businesses

30 Jun

This comic at QQ  refers to a problem that the Ministry of Rails discovered during an audit report in 2010 that six of its board-level cadres were each running other enterprise-owned businesses on the side, part-time as it were.  One cadre was acting as CEO for 18 different businesses.  The Ministry says that it has been trying to clean up and regulate the problem of its “part-time cadres” (干部兼职).  One comment posted for this item says, “Corruption is a natural part of China’s national condition.  Happy 90th birthday, China!”

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Chinese Mining Company Uses “Art of War” Strategem to Buy Up Farms in Australia

30 Jun

The China Digital Times has pointed out a story in The Australian about a sixth generation farming family in Australia that has resisted the temptation to sell his farm to the Chinese mining giant Shenhua Watermark Coal (神华集团) that has been buying up many coal-laden farms throughout the New South Wales in Australia.

Mr Clift does not begrudge those who have sold up and moved out. All but one of the neighbouring properties are now owned by Shenhua. But he’s “disgusted” at how the federal government’s failure to regulate such a large-scale foreign takeover of valuable farming land has effectively killed a local community, turning it from a farming region to a mining hub almost overnight.

“A community has been torn apart – everyone’s gone,” he said.

Leave it to the Chinese to find a way to exploit a community for the sake of profit.  It’s exactly what the Chinese government has been doing to communities throughout China with forced demolitions of old houses that are either in the way of larger construction projects or are considered eyesores.

Apparently, the article says that those who sold their farms to Shenhua were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement about talking about the sale. The Chinese bought all around one farm, which was then forced to sell or they would be surrounded by coal mines and what farm wants to be surrounded by coal mines?

The problem with selling to Chinese companies is that many of them are owned by the Chinese Communist Party, which controls the Chinese government.  The article continues with a quote from an individual who is familiar with foreign capital flows:

“Certainly in my last two or three years on foreign investment, there was a greater concentration of investment in Australia by companies controlled by foreign governments, rather than foreign entities, and that is always a concern,” he said.

“Virtually every company that does invest in Australia out of China really is controlled by the Communist Party.”

Chinese Mental Health Act Debates Rights for Those Who Have Been “Deemed Mental”

29 Jun

China’s Ministry of Health, in addition to its announcement of establishing a blacklist for journalists and netizens who write about food and
health scandals, has published an update to the Mental Health Act (“精神卫生法”) which has prompted much debate over the rights of those who are commited to mental institutions by the authorities.  As the headline from an article on QQ points out, at issue is who has the authority to commit someone to a mental institution?  When someone is deemed “被精神病” they are labeled as having a mental problem, aka “deemed mental.”  Once you’ve been “deemed mental” by the authorities, you have entered the “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

An article on SOHU points out that the Mental Health Act provides that those responsible for institutionalizing people will be held criminally liable.  Apparently there has been considerable abuse by authorities who want to dispose of people who speak out against injustices in local communities.  One way to do that has been to commit people to mental institutions against their will, as this cartoon illustrates.

The cartoon below appears with an article posted on Phoenix Net, a Hong Kong-based news outlet, that highlights the fact there are 16 million Chinese patients suffering severe psychosis, 70% of whom have not received standard treatment and who continue to suffer, while at the same time, there are perfectly sane citizens, who because of complex social events, have been institutionalized and tortured. The article says there are
six major disputes associated with the issue of “institutionalizing” citizens who are mentally healthy.  The cartoon below refers to a case in Shenzhen in which a nurse was “deemed mental” because she had once filed a petition with the authorities to seek relief from perceived injustices.

The six issues raised by the Mental Health Act are:

1. 保护精神障碍者及时治疗,还是防止正常人“被精神病”?

Is it protection and timely treatment of patients with mental disorders or is it prevention of institutionalizing people who are normal?

2. 精神障碍的诊治究竟是医学范畴还是司法范畴

Is the treatment of mental disorders in fact a medical category or a judicial one?

3. 监护人的权限有多大?

How limited are the rights of guardians?

4. 非自愿住院治疗,使用医学标准还是法律标准?

Does involuntary hospitalization involve the use of medical standards or legal standards?
5. “扰乱公共秩序能否作为非自愿诊断和收治标准?

Can “disturbing public order” be used as a standard for involuntary diagnosis and treatment?

6. 非自愿住院治疗的最后判定,能否由司法鉴定机构作出?

Can the final determination of involuntary hospitalization be made by forensic institutions?

The cartoon above appears on SINA.com and shows someone (perhaps a hospital administrator?) looking through a rule book on mental health provisions for the special economic zone of Shenzhen standing on a black hat representing those who are committed to mental health institutions and thinking to himself “this way is much safer.”

This cartoon from the ST Daily illustrates the idea that the Mental Health Act is arguing that authorities cannot force a person to have his or her mental health examined and called into question. At least there is some form of debate on the issue of protecting the rights of people who are targeted for examination of their mental health.  We might say that it’s a real Ken Kesey “Cuckoo’s Nest” moment for China.

Ministry of Health Announces Journalist Blacklist

27 Jun

The China  Media Project has highlighted an announcement about a planned journalist blacklist that is being promoted by Mao Qun’an  (毛群安) the head of the news and publicity office of China’s Ministry of Health.  The blacklist would maintain records of media journalists who make false reports on food safety and other health problems.  Chinese journalists are understandably upset and have criticized the blacklist as “unnecessary,
ineffective,  irresponsible and an overstepping of the ministry’s authority.”

A headline on the Chinese web site Rednet sums up the journalist blacklist issue as unfortunate because of the problems that it causes for
journalists who criticize the government and its handling of food and health safety scandals.   Minister Mao’s proposed blacklist is meant to intimidate journalists and netizens alike from investigating problems that concern public welfare.

The headline to an article from the Daily Times, a commercial spin-off of the Liaoning Daily, reads: ‘Journalist Blacklist Seems More Like a “Kangaroo Court.”’ (记者黑名单疑似“私设公堂”)

The article criticizes the proposed blacklist as “laughable” and “without any legal basis.” (建立记者黑名单的想法是可笑的,也是没有法律依据的). It continues:

No measures from organs of public power can be undertaken with such liberty, but must be authorized by law before they are done. What law is there that authorizes the Ministry of Health to deprive a journalist of his right to engage in supervision by public opinion [or watchdog journalism]? (China Media Project translation.)

公权部门的任何举措都不能随意而为,都要遵循法无授权不可为的原则。哪条法律授权卫生部拥有剥夺一名记者参与舆论监督的权力?

The Nanfang Daily also has an article that goes into depth on the proposed blacklist.  The cartoon that accompanies the article reads: “Blacklist for those who purposely mislead the public.”  The three figures being pierced by the arrow are journalists.

Spies, Spies, Spies, Yeah. They Gonna Get You!

25 Jun

The China Digital Times picked up on a story in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper on China’s voracious appetite for spying.  According to the article, China, aka the Chinese Communist Party, has opened up a series of National Intelligence Colleges on campuses throughout China.   MI5, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, believes, according to the article, that China, aka the Chinese government, aka the Chinese Communist Party, represents one of the most significant espionage threats to the U.K.

In a related article in the Telegraph, a comment like this from “Buzz” makes fun of the British government’s concerns and frustrations with
the onslaught of Chinese espionage that is now threatening Britain’s national infrastructure:

MI5 are so concerned about the hacking threat that they have just started developing code to counter it. The programming has been outsourced to an Indian company which in turn has outsourced it to a Chinese company.

Ha! LOL!  And speaking of outsourcing, the US-China Economic and Security Commission recently held a hearing on just this subject regarding “China’s Five-Year Plan, Indigenous Innovation and Technology Transfers, and  Outsourcing.”

The Telegraph article highlights the story of Chinese espionage by noting that with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s upcoming visit on Monday with Britain’s prime minister, “both men already know that their countries are in a state of undeclared war.”

If James Bond got them into this mess, then maybe Austin Powers can get them out.  Yeah, baby!

Why Is Okinawa Forced to Continue to Live Under De Facto U.S Martial Law?

25 Jun

I was watching NHK World News and was reminded that memorials were held in Okinawa, Japan to mark the anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa which had lasted for three brutal months from April 1 to June 23, 1945.  One in four Okinawans died in this battle.  The Imperial Japanese military government made Okinawa the front line of defense to fight the Americans in World War II.  Almost six weeks after the Battle of Okinawa ended, the Americans dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to put two  exclamation points that would mark the end of the war in the Pacific.

And yet despite so many years since the war’s end, the Okinawan people continue to live under a modified version of U.S. martial law
in which they are forced to be exposed to more than 25,000 U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force personnel, whose presence on the island essentially results in obstructing the Okinawan people’s right to self-determination.  The irony is that the principles of the United States, which are supposed to be enshrined and espoused by the US Department of State, are completely lost when it comes to putting them into practice.  The further irony is that the Okinawan people are some of the most peace-loving people on the planet; they had maintained exceptional relations with China over hundreds of years of tributary relations.  In fact, the Okinawans kept peace between Japan and China through their expertise in commercial and
political diplomacy.

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has been closely involved with the US base problem on Okinawa.  His web site describes the Okinawan people’s opposition to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to another part of the island:

The issues related to downsizing the US presence on Okinawa and transferring some of these functions to Guam are militarily complex, potentially costly, and politically sensitive. The US and Japanese governments have been working for fifteen years to come up with an acceptable formula. A general framework has now been agreed upon, whereby the US will relocate many of its bases from the populous southern end of Okinawa, moving some forces to the less populous north and also rebasing 8,000 US Marines on Guam. However, a stalemate has ensued, with many in Okinawa growing intransigent and, to a lesser extent, many on Guam losing their enthusiasm.

On Okinawa, the most difficult issue regards the long-standing dilemma of relocating the US Marine Corps air facility at Futenma, now operating in a highly populated section of the island and the subject of numerous protests. The Marine Corps insists that any relocation must remain on Okinawa due to the unique air / ground partnership that is characteristic of Marine Corps operations. One option – moving Marine Corps helicopter and other functions from Futenma to nearby Kadena Air Force Base – has been opposed because it would bring increased noise levels to Kadena. Many Okinawans, including many leaders, are adamant that the facility should be relocated off-island.

The present compromise reached between the US government and the Government of Japan calls for the construction of a contiguous, partially offshore replacement facility to the far north at Camp Schwab. The US government and the GOJ seem determined to pursue this option in order to bring final closure to the debate, but it is rife with difficulties. This would be a massive, multi-billion dollar undertaking, requiring extensive landfill, destruction and relocation of many existing facilities, and in a best-case scenario, several years of effort – some estimate that the process could take as long as ten years. Moreover, the recent earthquake and tsunami around Sendai in the north of Japan is creating an enormous burden on the Japanese economy and will require years of reconstruction.

If they move the Marines to the northern part of the island, they will be disturbing virgin habitat that is home to some of the rarest species in Asia.  In effect, they will be creating new ecological disturbances that will surely have harmful side effects.  What’s more, Okinawa has already been forced to rely far too heavily on the US Military for its economic survival.  Okinawa’s economy is largely a Base Economy, just like the Philippines was until Subic Bay was vacated.  I think that is what Okinawa would like to see happen for its own situation.   With the US Military on the island of Okinawa, all it does is paint a gigantic target symbol over every Okinawan living on the island.  If the Chinese wanted to attack, they could take out the island fairly quickly and the people who are going to suffer the most are of course the Okinawans, who want nothing to do with war.    This is a debate that is ongoing, full of hypocrisy and lacks total respect for the rights of others.  A previous referendum has shown that the Okinawan people want the US Occupation on Okinawa to end.  How the U.S. Department of State can continue to claim to represent the values of America and Americans stands in stark contrast to the reality that is Okinawa.

Chinese Communist Party Ready to Celebrate 90th Year as Beijing Drowns

24 Jun

The ChinaMedia Project has noted that with the Chinese Communist Party getting ready to celebrate its 90th anniversary, there are still some newspapers in China that have tried to keep their eye on the ball by continuing to report the news and not get caught up in the hype of the Party’s big birthday party.   The guy looking at a monitor on the wall is Liu Yunshan (刘云山), chief of the Central Propaganda Department.  And while the CCP gets ready to celebrate its birthday, Beijing looks to be under water.  The crazy thing is that while Beijing has been turned into a massive lake, other parts of the country are baked to a crisp.

And here’s the famous Forbidden City in Beijing, with a lake that wasn’t there before.  And it hasn’t been digitally enhanced, either. The photo on the front page of the Southern Metropolis Daily below is water flooding down into the entrance of a subway in Beijing.