With the worldwide celebrations of China’s 60th birthday, Conor Feeney argues that such festivities should not be supported
China last week marked 60 years since Mao Zedong’s bloody revolution created the largest Communist state in the world. Ironically, the centre of the celebrations took place in the same square where, 20 years ago, thousands of courageous young idealists stood up to say no to repression. Today, although the reality may seem changed, the Chinese regime remains rotten to the core. Vast wealth should not mask inherent malevolence.
UCD marked 30 years of close ties to China last week, as the university’s Confucius Institute presented an evening “Chinese cultural performances in splendid fashion.” While such an event might sound wonderful, it represents a shocking dismissal of what matters most: that for 60 years, a corrupt Chinese hierarchy have done everything in their power to exact absolute control. Was the subjugation of Tibetan culture, the quelling of all people of faith, rampant state forced abortions, the masses of interned political prisoners conveyed in this act? The answer is no – a word that most Chinese have become all but used to.
UCD is not the only culprit of ignorance. In New York, the Empire State building was adorned with the Chinese colours of red and yellow, soliciting sharp criticism from the American media outlets. Sadly the event is a strong demonstration of the power the Communist regime now holds worldwide. When John F Kennedy said “let every nation know that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, support any friend and oppose any foe to ensure the survival and success of liberty,” it can probably be assumed he didn’t intend to make an exception for anniversaries.
Although the Chinese culture is both remarkable and steeped in history, this is not a time to remember and glorify a legacy of murder. Ordinary citizens were not allowed attend the celebrations in Tiananmen Square, representing a stark reminder of the Communist Party’s self-admiration. The invitation-only admissions policy was in place to “avoid complications.” Instead the people, the drivers of China’s vast economic growth, were told to watch the celebrations on TV. The BBC noted an “eerie silence” in Beijing during the hours preceding the event.
One argument today is that through co-operation, transformation to a democratic system will eventually transpire. Prior to the celebrations, according to Amnesty International, “Chinese authorities have increased surveillance, harassment and imprisonment of activists ahead of the country’s 60th anniversary on 1st October to prevent them from raising human rights concerns that challenge the authorities’ image of social harmony.” Clearly change has not come fast enough.
The Chinese government has also continued to exercise its values abroad. In Sudan, for example, the regime has frequently used its veto to block stronger sanctions, actions which are largely attributable to close economic ties between Khartoum and Beijing. The prominent human rights website, savedarfur.org, has called people to action, asking “President Hu Jintao of China to use his influence over Sudan to help end genocide in Darfur.” President Jintao will not act, because his uppermost concern is that of maintaining power and generating wealth. There is no code of moral principles guiding this indifferent man and his coldhearted regime.
China’s reality is built on a dictatorial system which cannot be allowed to foster in an increasingly cynical world. Major issues still outstanding include Taiwan – the Communist Party still lays claim to the island, and is committed to its re-integration with the mainland. The US, for its part, still considers Taiwan as a major ally – presenting this as a possible conflict point in the future.
North Korea recently welcomed President Hu on an official state visit to Pyongyang. Thus far, any firm actions against the rogue state have been blocked, due to fears that this would lead to an overflow of refugees into China. Not surprisingly Chinese officials have described North Korea as an “ideological little brother.” No matter how many suffer the status quo will remain: this ruthless regime is incapable of moral action.
The Chinese Communist Party has systematically and willingly repressed the everyday rights of its ordinary citizens, smiling and saying ‘no’ while we shake hands and say ‘yes’. That is not what a western country should stand for – apathy of the worst kind where the perceived benefit for a few overshadows a silenced cry for justice. It should not stand or be tolerated under the smokescreen of any hollow celebration. The Communist regime is not to be rejoiced – it represents an affront to Western values; an insult to common good.