Tuesday, 22 December 2020

 China: There are none so blind as those who will not see

A facility believed to be a re-education camp on the outskirts of Hotan in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Picture: AFP
A facility believed to be a re-education camp on the outskirts of Hotan in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Picture: AFP

Bob Dylan once asked “How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?” His summation? “The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” History is proving him correct when it comes to China and its position in the world today. Human rights abuses are rife but countries like ours, which are supposed to be the benchmark of democracy and freedom, blink when it comes to China because its trade is so vital to our own economic wellbeing. We are prepared to ask how a disease escaped but we don’t ask, or if we do it is always sotto voce, why so many are imprisoned in a place that has a legal system where you are found guilty before you get to court.

The gulag system is alive and well in China, as is the sheer brutality of a regime that will harshly punish the family of any dissident who might speak out in any country in the world. Cruel and heartless though it may be, it does succeed in suppressing some criticism at home and abroad. Chinese security forces are hard at work at home and abroad in monitoring anyone who dares to speak out. Totalitarian regimes have never welcomed the truth. They do the best they can to obscure and quash it.

In past years, the Beijing bosses could fairly easily manage what news was received by their population. The development of a new, younger, educated class has made news censorship far more difficult. This now-educated class is anxious to know what is happening around them. Eventually this will cause serious problems for the regime. The restlessness of the young will collide head on with the conservatism of the ageing ruling class. It will be fascinating to see how this conflict is eventually resolved. The old knee- jerk reaction of the Central Committee to repress any alternate thought is nearing the end of its effectiveness.

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