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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When Chinese Has You for Dinner: Dim Summit Prospects for US/China


Petition (Movie) – The court of the complainants”

Hu’S on First: It Is China-US Summit Time by Danny Schechter

Pacific Free Press: On the eve of the Chinese President’s visit to the United States, and the intense speculation about his intentions—and ours—I found myself a dark room at the Anthology Film Archive in the East Village watching a spectacular documentary by Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang called Petition.

It's about the tens of thousands of people with grievances who seek redress in China at offices ostensibly set up to resolve their problems.

The right to petition is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution—yes China has a Constitution, but it is unevenly enforced like our own. Falun Gong first tried, but failed, to bring its human rights claims to a Petition office like the bureaucratic centers shown in the film as do a small army of individuals who every day, bravely—sometimes fanatically--- insist it is their human right to be heard. (In Falun Gong's case, they were outlawed and systematically repressed for more than a decade with a large cost of lives.)...

...Listen to the description of Petition: “Since 1996, Zhao has documented the ‘petitioners’ who come from all over China to make complaints in Beijing about abuses committed by their local authorities. Gathered near the complaint offices, living in most cases in makeshift shelters, the complainants wait for months or years to obtain justice. Peasants thrown off their land, workers from factories which have gone into liquidation, small homeowners who have seen their houses demolished but received no compensation, they pursue justice with unceasing stubbornness, facing the most brutal intimidation and most often finding that their hopes are in vain.”

So far, neither Washington nor Beijing have realized the apocalyptic projections of their many critics. Both states still pay lip service to their ideal, but both can be unraveling.
A fancy State Dinner will not bridge the gaps that separate our two countries and “paths of development,” as the Chinese say.

The US says it wants more democracy in China but officials like Tim Geithner are upset by the debates taking place there, and pine for the days when they could deal with a dictator like Mao or Deng who, as the New York Times explained, “commanded basically unquestioned authority.”

Our leaders prefer dealing with that type of authority and wish they had it here.”

Back in Beijing, in the shabby Petition Villages where Chinese citizens soldier on in their fight for justice, or in this country where our citizens are frustrated and angry with an economic crisis appears to have no end, no one will expect much from this summit in faraway Washington where diplomatic dances produce kabuki plays filled with smiles but no real changes. More...

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