A short word on China

I have been very critical of the USA and of my own country, Australia. I have been criticised because I have not written similar pages on other countries that have equally bad, or perhaps worse governments. The reason I have concentrated so much on the USA is because the government of my country (both major parties are equally bad on this point) follows and supports the USA government in almost all its excesses. The reason I concentrate on the government of Australia is obviously because it is the government of my country.

In this page I pick on one of the other of the great countries of the world, China.


This page created 2009/05/09, last edited 2020/07/11
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©




Freedom of speech and information

The freedom to say and read anything is a great and important freedom. It is highly questionable that any government has the right to limit what a citizen can read or say. In particular, what right does the illegitimate Chinese government have to decide what the citizens of China read?

It is very unlikely that the Chinese government will allow the Chinese people to read this page. They will deny their people that right.

The Chinese Government

The present Chinese Government was not elected by the people of China and therefore is not a legitimate government. It has forced itself on the people of China. China has never had a government that had the mandate of the Chinese people.

Western governments criticise the governments of nations like Burma, Fiji, and Zimbabwe because they do not represent the people of their respective countries; those same Western governments rarely criticise China because they do not want to offend such an important trading partner.

 
As a form of government, democracy has many faults, but because it is the only form of government in which the people choose who is to govern them, it is the only legitimate form of government. All other forms of governments are tyrannies of one sort or another.

Tibet

All indications are that the people of Tibet do not want to be ruled by China. Why should they not have the right to self-determination? The essence of democracy is that a people have the right to be ruled by the government of their choice.

I have written more on the subject of secession elsewhere on this site.

 
This section added 2020/12/01

China's treatment of the Uighur minority

Over a number of years and continuing up to the time of writing of this section the Chinese government has treated this predominantly Muslim minority very harshly.

Rather than me trying to detail this case of man's inhumanity to man I suggest reading about it on the Internet. You might start with the BBC News, "The Uighurs and the Chinese state: A long history of discord".

Nuclear test deaths

Forty tests of nuclear weapons were carried out in Xinjiang province between 1964 and 1996 at the Lop Nur site. Research published by Japanese physicist Jun Takada in his book, Chinese Nuclear Tests (Iryokagakusha, 2009) includes an estimate of the probable number of deaths among the Uygur population: 194 000, from acute radiation exposure. He estimates that another 1.2 million would have received doses of radiation high enough to induce leukaemia, solid cancers and foetal damage. He also stated that "My estimate is a conservative minimum."

If Takada's estimates are correct, and they should not be accepted without confirmation from other researchers, this was a terrible 'crime against humanity' committed by the Chinese government against the Uygur people. If true it probably should be considered to be genocide.

 
Scientific American carried an article on the subject on 2009/07/01. This crime can be compared to the estimated 650,000 dead and several million displaced resulting from the illegal, unethical and counterproductive USA/UK/Australian invasion of Iraq in 2003.



 
This section added 2020/05/11

The China of 2020

 

The betrayal of the people of Hong Kong

In mid 2020 China ignored its commitment to the people of Hong Kong and legislated to take freedom from the Hong Kong people. It seems that for the foreseeable future Hong Kong people will suffer from the same tyranny as the remainder of China.

Further from a government with a mandate of the people

Xi Jinping holds both the largely ceremonial post of President and the much more powerful position of General Secretary of the Communist Party. In 2018 he was declared President for Life; whether this is meaningful is questionable, but clearly putting so much power into the hands of a single man who is not elected by the people of China is not justifiable democratically or in any other way.

Agression

China has been using its power and wealth to claim islands in the South China Sea that it has very questionable right to, at the expense of neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. It has even built artificial islands in order to try to justify its claims. The Chinese government seems to be strongly of the view that "might is right".

Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid pandemic that spread around the world in early 2020 came from China. It seems very likely that it came from an animal that was sold in one of the 'wet markets' in Wuhan, the capital city of the Chinese province of Hubei.

At the time of writing this section, the pandemic virus had infected more than four million people world-wide and killed at least 280,000.

A number of governments, including that of my own country Australia, have very reasonably called for a wide-ranging investigation into the source of the pandemic. The Chinese government has opposed this.

China and Australia

Early in 2020 Australia banned Chinese company Huawei from supplying 5G communication technology to Australia because of perceived close links between Huawei and the Chinese government. Australia has opposed China's power grabs in the South China Sea, and as mentioned above, Australia has very reasonably called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

China has responded with trade sanctions against Australia. This is not the behaviour of a responsible member of the world community, it is more the behaviour of a spoiled child in a kindergarten playground spat.

One would have to wonder how much this behaviour is for domestic consumption. Is the Chinese government so concerned about dissatisfaction at home that they are trying to direct the Chinese people's angst against external bodies?

While the Chinese economy was growing quickly the Chinese people might have been willing to overlook the lack of civil rights, but with the Chinese economy shrinking 9.8 per cent in the March 2020 quarter the Chinese people might be becoming restive.

 





In China's favour

Energy

China is burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, it is often said that China is effectively building a new coal-fired power station each week. However, China's per-capita rate of greenhouse gas production is a fraction of that of nations like Australia and the USA and there is much to be said in favour of China in the renewable energy area.

China is by far the most advanced nation in the use of solar thermal energy; International Energy Agency (IEA) figures for 2004 showed that China had 43 400 MWth (megawatt thermal) installed; the second nation was Japan with 5400 MWth.

 

Update, April 2018

China's adoption of renewable energy has continued. The 2017 report by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, stated that "China continued to lead global capacity additions, installing nearly half of all new [renewable energy] capacity in 2017."

China is also a leading nation in the adoption of electric vehicles, large and small; in 2017 there were far more electric bicycles in China than in the rest of the world.

In 2005 China invested US$7 billion on renewable energy development (mostly small hydro and solar hot water), twice as much as the USA. China's wind power targets are 5000 MW by 2010, 15 000 MW by 2015, and 30 000 MW by 2020 (Australia had 1877 MW of wind power at the end of 2009).

China has more small hydro-power than the rest of the world combined. (China invested a further $10b in large hydro-power in 2005; this is not usually considered to be renewable energy.) (These figures were from Renewable Energy World 2006/07.)

China had 1260 MW of wind power installed in 2006 (Wind Power Monthly). In November 2009 China had 220 factories producing solar photovoltaic panels, at the time my country, Australia, had none.

The one child policy

China has often been criticised for this. In my view, not only is the criticism unfair and ill-informed, but China should be congratulated for the one child policy.

China is overpopulated, many of the world's countries are overpopulated, the world itself is overpopulated; if the world had half it current population then the climate change problem would be half as bad as it is; many other problems would be much less severe as well.

China took on the very difficult overpopulation problem in what was probably about the most humane way that it could. Many other countries have just ignored the population problem because it was seen as too hard. Perhaps this is one of the advantages of a non-democratic government.