Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Obama's best is not good enough

The China Support Network is not impressed by U.S.-China policy, despite revaluation of the RMB currency

By John Kusumi

In America these days, public opinion polling consistently finds Jobs to be the top concern of Americans, and it very much seems that U.S. President Barack Obama has delayed his long-promised move to "pivot and focus on jobs."

The pivot and focus seemed to be delayed first by health care as a big issue, and then by financial regulation as a big issue, and then by the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps Obama doesn't want to focus squarely on jobs, because then he would see the failure of NAFTA, WTO, PNTR, and the like -- the neo-liberal trade agenda. To regain American industrial jobs, Obama needs to reverse that trade policy, and he is clearly in no hurry to do so.

Or perhaps, in focusing on jobs, Obama would see the failure of his own stimulus. The 2009 stimulus did little to stimulate aggregate demand in America, but Obama succeeded in one thing -- he stimulated the economy of Communist China, where exports have recently surged by nearly 50%.

Due to the neo-liberal trade program, consumption leaks out to Communist China.

Currency adjustment announced

It has long been an objective of U.S. politicians to get the Chinese government to raise the value of its currency, which was artificially pegged to the U.S. dollar -- ensuring that imports would be cheap in the U.S., and that the export sector of China would grow larger than it otherwise would have in the absence of the currency peg.

This past weekend, China announced that it would permit the value of its Yuan / RMB currency to rise. The U.S. side had fostered a consistent drum beat of criticism for China that served to brow beat its leaders about this issue.

This week, Toronto Canada is hosting a summit meeting for leaders of the G-20, a group which represents 42 nations in world economics. China's move permits it to escape criticism at the G-20, which otherwise would have continued the drum beat that was critical of China on this matter.

However, the currency will not be freely floating; it is going to rise slowly with a collar, or trading band, that will serve to slow down the appreciation of the currency.

China Support Network takes exception with both East and West

I too have denounced Chinese currency manipulation, from my perch at the China Support Network, a human rights group which was formed to stand in support of China's pro-democracy dissidents. In this video, I said,
The simple fact is that the manipulation of the currency is economic dirty pool. It tilts the playing field. And I believe that any U.S. President ought to care to have a level playing field for the business concerns here vis-a-vis the business concerns in China.

And so to level the playing field, the currency corrective tariff is important, but so too is that labor tariff which I spoke about, simply because the employment of slave labor is another means of tilting the playing field.
American leaders would do well to review the video I quoted, and in particular to study my line above -- "so too is that labor tariff which I spoke about...the employment of slave labor is another means of tilting the playing field." It is factually true that speaking in economic terms, China's labor practices are similar to currency manipulation in that both are economic dirty pool. Both practices result in unnaturally low prices of Chinese exports that become U.S. imports. Both practices add to the U.S. trade deficit, and delete U.S. jobs. It's flatly true.

It's flatly true, but the recent drum beat about Beijing's currency manipulation revealed that something is wrong with U.S. policy makers and opinion leaders. I would really like to confront President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Senator Chuck Schumer, and even Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about this. I'd like to hear how they excuse their lack of concern about the issue of slave labor in China.

I am given to believing that in that case, I would be confronting four sociopaths. Why did they fight currency manipulation? --Because it is economic dirty pool. What is slavery in economic terms? --It is economic dirty pool. Just as much so -- both practices are equally vulnerable to criticism on economic grounds. Why, then, make an issue out of one, and treat the other as a non-issue?

I believe that it is entirely due to the evil natures of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Tim Geithner, and for that matter all of the talking heads, chattering class, and analysts in U.S. journalism.

American leaders share an ingrained snooty outlook. They respect white collar jobs, and ONLY white collar jobs. Those jobs are outposts within Corporate America, jobs held by people. Conversely, other kinds of jobs are only held by "unpeople." "Unpeople" are never talked about, except at election time when politicians want the votes of those "unpeople."

Currency manipulation is an issue surrounding foreign exchange (forex). Forex is a white collar job, a job held by people. On the other hand, slave labor in China involves the slaves themselves -- performing work that is blue collar, rather than white collar, in nature. The work involved is performed by "unpeople." U.S. politicians don't even need votes from those "unpeople" in other lands, and (e.g.) CNBC anchors would never lower themselves to talk sympathetically about "unpeople."

So, they'll talk the currency issue and ignore the labor issue. To my eyes, they thereby reveal themselves for being the evil sociopaths that they are. Shame on them.

Before concluding this article, let me restate: The China Support Network demands that Beijing immediately abolish the systems of Laogai (labor/slavery camps) and Laojiao (administrative detention). We will continue to brow beat the powerful on this issue, because we know that currency revaluation is only half the battle. Indeed, China also needs to raise its environmental standards, its consumer protection (including product safety!) standards, and its intellectual property standards. In that light, currency revaluation is LESS than half the battle.

With half or more of the battle still ahead of us, it is too early for U.S. leaders to declare victory and go home. It would be good of them if they would step up and escalate the Chinese labor/slavery issue to equal urgency and prominence as the Chinese currency issue.

If they step up and actually do so, then I would revise my assessment of these U.S. establishment figures. Was it premature for me to call them evil? --Time will tell.

I hope that they prove me wrong by way of deeds. I hope they stand with the China Support Network against Beijing's systems of Laogai and Laojiao.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Goddess-gate Update

Authorities in Hong Kong test the patience
of the pro-democracy movement

The Goddess of Democracy, herself, is the main character in this year's activities surrounding the 21st anniversary of China's Tiananmen crackdown. The Goddess of Democracy was originally created by students at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts, and installed during the "June 4" uprising at Tiananmen Square. It stood from May 30, 1989 - June 4, 1989, when the army demolished the statue upon reaching Tiananmen Square after shooting their way through the streets of Beijing, killing at least 3,000 innocent civilians.

What is at hand is a developing story based in Hong Kong. Something new has occurred each day since Saturday, May 29. This update simply repeats the news in chronological sequence, for a timeline or reference of events to date.

Translation note: The China Support Network, in this report, is applying the "gate" suffix to indicate a scandal. It is not standard formal English to do so, but ever after the Watergate scandal brought down the U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1974, it became a conventional practice of American journalists to append "gate" as a suffix onto words, for a shorthand way to indicate that a political scandal exists in connection with a word.

Goddess-gate, Day 1, Saturday May 29, 2010:

First Goddess Captured

Hong Kong police arrest 13 and seize the first (6.4 meter) Goddess of Democracy Statue and another piece of artwork. The 13 activists of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China were at the Times Square shopping mall of Causeway Bay, to diseminate information about the pro-democracy cause and this year's activities for the 21st anniversary of the June 4 crackdown. The activists were freed on bail later on Saturday. Via a Facebook group, Alliance members threatened to surround North Point police station - where the art was kept - if the items were not returned by Thursday evening, in time for annual June 4th commemoration in Victoria Park.

The official justification for the action named the Food and Environmental Hygiene department as the department objecting to the unlicensed display of the Goddess. However, it's not just that department. If one looks ahead in the story to “Goddess-gate Day 5,” one can see the Hong Kong immigration department also participating in this episode of political suppression.

Goddess-gate, Day 2, Sunday May 30, 2010:

Second Goddess Captured

Defiant demonstrators paraded a smaller (2.2 meter) Goddess of Democracy Statue through the streets of Hong Kong. This, too, was seized by police. Several protesters tried to prevent the removal by lying on the road. Two activists, Alliance vice chairman Lee Cheuk-yan and member Leung Kwok-wah, were arrested. A group of at least 20 sympathizers gathered outside the North Point police station calling for their immediate release. Some even tried to force their way into the station. Lee and Leung were released on bail at 10:30pm.

Goddess-gate, Day 3, Monday May 31, 2010:

A defiant demonstrator dressed up as the Goddess of Democracy for another march in the streets of Hong Kong. The police could not confiscate the live demonstrator.

Goddess-gate, Day 4, Tuesday June 1, 2010:

Two Goddesses Released

After a two hour negotiation with Alliance activists at the North Point police station, Hong Kong police “free” the two statues. According to the Hong Kong Standard, “Acting Chief Superintendent Anna Tsang Yim- sheung of the Police Public Relations Branch said the statues were released early as a goodwill gesture. Tsang added: ’We understand the organizers had an urgent need to set up the statues for the vigil on June 4. So we made an appropriate arrangement.’”

The Standard also noted that “Alliance officials refused to sign a document in which they would have acknowledged violating the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance with their Times Square activities and pledging to make applications in future.”

The Goddesses were moved to Victoria Park for the upcoming June 4 memorial vigil.

Sculptor Chen Weiming flew to Hong Kong from Los Angeles to inspect his statue for damage.

Goddess-gate, Day 5, Wednesday June 2, 2010:

Chen Weiming Deported; Nancy Pelosi Issues Statement

The government of Hong Kong refuses entry to Chen Weiming and deports him. The Associated Press quoted opposition lawmaker James To as saying, “We are very annoyed. Why is Hong Kong denying him entry for political reasons? He is a very humble sculptor.”

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement for the 21st anniversary of Tiananmen, and noted the Goddess-gate controversy in Hong Kong.

She said, “This year for the first time [in Hong Kong], police arrested activists and confiscated the Goddess of Democracy replica statue that is the symbol of the Tiananmen movement. This crackdown on freedom of expression will only succeed in shining a spotlight on the courage of Hong Kong’s democratic movement. The United States must stand solidly with the people of Hong Kong in their desire for democracy and freedom of speech and assembly.”

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2010 June 4 Events

Events to commemorate
21 years since Tiananmen Square

- Hong Kong police have seized two Goddess of Democracy
statues in advance of June 4, 2010 -

For the Chinese democracy movement, it's the biggest day of the year. For seven weeks in the spring of 1989, the pro-democracy uprising--led by Beijing college students--was in control of Tiananmen Square. On June 3-4, 1989, Chinese troops of the oddly-named 'People's Liberation Army' shot their way into Beijing and retook Tiananmen Square, killing over 3,000 peaceful unarmed civilians in the process. It is famous as the "June 4" massacre. Here are events happening this week around the world to commemorate the 21st anniversary of that bloody June 4:

Remember June 4, Pass On The Flame Vindicate June 4, Persist To The End
Free/Release Wang Bingzhang Free/Release Zhou Yongjun
Free/Release Liu Xiaobo, Support Charter 08 Free/Release Gao Zhisheng
Oppose Political Persecution, Protest Political Suppression

Hong Kong, June 4
Who: Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
What: Candlelight Vigil
Where: Victoria Park, football fields
Date: Friday, June 4, 2010
Tiime: 8:00pm

This event continues the annual tradition of observances for the June 4 anniversary. In 2009, some 150,000 people attended this event to mark the 20th anniversary of the June 4 massacre.

Note: Police in Hong Kong broke up a demonstration and arrested activists on May 29 as they tried to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Tiananmen Square, outside Times Square shopping mall in Causeway Bay. Because the police also confiscated a statue, the Goddess of Democracy (a replica of the statue which students erected in Tiananmen Square), there is a Facebook group that is threatening to march on the police station, if they do not return the statue by June 3.

From here at CSN, it looks like marching on the police station is not officially on the program of the Alliance. It appears that the Alliance and the Facebook group are two unrelated entities. Because we do not know otherwise, we would suggest that to march on the police station is a separate and distinct matter, "extracurricular" to the Candlelight Vigil. The vigil is the yearly ritual of the Alliance.

Who: Stage64
What: "Edelweiss," a theatrical play in Cantonese (love story centers in Tiananmen Square, '89)
Where: Auditorium of HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity
Date: Five shows on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, June 5, 6, and 7, 2010
Time: 3:00pm and 8:00pm
Tickets: HK$80 through the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union
More: Discounts for students, seniors, disabled, and social security recipients; the first show on June 5 is a "special show for students" at half price.
URL: http://stage64.hk/eng/

New York, June 4
Who: New York area China Democracy Party, China Support Network, and other groups
What: Street protest
Where: Chinese Consulate on the west side of Manhattan, 42nd St/12th Ave
Date: Friday, June 4, 2010
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
More: Speakers may include Wang Juntao, Wang Youcai, and other leading dissidents; event to include musicians playing acoustically

Washington, June 2 and 3
Who: Initiatives for China
What: "A Peek Behind The Wall" open mic forum
Where: "Bus Boys & Poets," 5th and K Street, NW, Washington DC
Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm
More: Chinese citizens from the mainland and abroad will speak of what it's like to be a citizen of China today. The open question: "How Has China Changed For Ordinary Citizens Since Tiananmen, 1989?"
Contact: Jim Geheran at 202.290.1423

Who: Initiatives for China, The Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars (IFCSS), and co-sponsoring groups
What: Events at the Victims of Communism Memorial
(A.:) From 3:00-6:00, Initiatives for China continues "A Peek Behind The Wall" open mic forum (see above).
(B.:) From 6:00-9:00, IFCSS conducts the Candlelight Vigil in Washington -- an annual tradition to observe the June 4 anniversary.
Where: New Jersey Avenue/G Street, NW, Washington DC
Date: Thursday, June 3, 2010
Time: (A.:) 3:00-6:00pm; (B.:) 6:00-9:00pm
More: The Victims of Communism Memorial includes a statue of the Goddess of Democracy. It is found two blocks west of Union Station in downtown Washington, DC.

Mainland China

The activist, Yang Jianli, is known for his "Gong Min Walk" of 2008 in which he walked 500 miles from Boston to Washington, DC. He thanked Americans for their support (he had been a political prisoner, 2002-2007) and raised awareness of China's human rights abuses in advance of the anniversary of the June 4 massacre -- and in advance of the Beijing Olympics that year. Gong Min Walks have been replicated around the world by other activists, and now one is occurring inside Mainland China.

Yang Jianli says, "The idea of Gong Min walking as method of non violent protest is becoming recognized as an effective way for ordinary citizens to express dissatisfaction with government actions and policies while minimizing the threat of arrest....We do not expect a one shot success. We will take one step at a time. I believe citizens' rights have to be earned with patience and perseverance. Gradually China will change and advance towards democracy."

Yang Jianli heads the group, Initiatives for China, where the contact person is Jim Geheran at 202.290.1423. Initiatives for China is withholding the names and locations of Gong Min walkers in China to avoid tipping off the Chinese authorities with these details. The group will release more information upon the completion of related actions.

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