China’s Unsavory Friends – Gary J. Bass

From The Washington Post (link):

In years past, the Chinese government’s poor human rights record was only a problem for you if you happened to be Chinese. But as China’s power and influence in Asia grow, its hostility toward human rights is becoming a problem for non-Chinese, too. Propelled mostly by economic opportunism, China is fast becoming the friend of last resort for some of the world’s most isolated dictators and bad guys — in Asia and beyond.

The examples are mounting. On May 13, 2005, thousands of Uzbeks rallied in the city of Andijan, including some armed people who had led a jailbreak as well as unarmed people protesting the repressive government of President Islam Karimov. In response, Karimov’s security forces fired indiscriminately into the crowds, in what Human Rights Watch has called a massacre of hundreds of people. But China seemed untroubled. “We consistently staunchly support the Uzbekistan government’s striking at the three forces, which are terrorism, splittism and extremism,” declared the Chinese foreign ministry.

See also “China and Sudan, Blood and Oil” by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times (via Peking Duck, link):

…There are two good reasons to complain to President Hu. First, he has presided over a broad clampdown on freedom of expression in China, including the imprisonment for 19 months of my colleague Zhao Yan, an employee of The New York Times.

Second, China is now underwriting its second genocide in three decades. The first was in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and the second is in Darfur, Sudan. Chinese oil purchases have financed Sudan’s pillage of Darfur, Chinese-made AK-47’s have been the main weapons used to slaughter several hundred thousand people in Darfur so far, and China has protected Sudan in the U.N. Security Council.

Indeed, it’s because of China’s support that Sudan felt it could get away this month with sending a proxy army to invade neighboring Chad…

Last month in a village on the Chad-Sudan border, I interviewed a man who told how a Sudanese militia had grabbed his baby boy, Ahmed Haroun, thrown Ahmed to the ground and shot him in the chest. The odds are overwhelming that that gun and those bullets came from China.

Likewise, the women and children I’ve seen torn apart by bullets in Darfur and Chad ” that lead and steel was molded in Chinese factories. When women are raped and mutilated in Darfur, the gun barrels pointed at their heads are Made in China.

Let’s hope China’s 13 million bloggers take up this issue, for this has received very little attention in China but it is not so sensitive that discussion of it will get anyone arrested.

One of the central questions for the 21st century will be whether China’s rise will be accompanied by increasingly responsible behavior in its international relations. Darfur is a test, and for now China is failing.

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