The Global Times, Translated

The Global Times (as one would expect) has decided to take this whole Ai Weiwei nonsense head on. For those of you who have trouble reading between the lines of Chinese newspapers (i.e., no one), we’re providing a translation. Note: this is our first ever gibberish-to-English translation ((Another note: this is meant to be funny, if you hadn’t guessed already.))

Political activism cannot be a legal shield

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is being investigated over “suspected economic crimes,” according to authorities Thursday. Some Western media outlets immediately questioned the charge as a “catch-all crime,” and insisted on interpreting the case in their own way.

Translation: Despite our explicit instructions to the contrary, you annoying foreigners have a habit of “interpreting” things based on sources, factual data, historical precedents, and common sense, rather than the Ministry of Culture’s press releases.

Western media claimed that Ai was “missing” or had “disappeared” in previous reports, despite their acknowledgement of Ai’s detainment. They used such words to paint the Chinese government as a “kidnapper.”

Translation: Look, just because we dragged the guy away, refused to admit it for several days, and didn’t tell anyone in his family doesn’t mean we kidnapped the guy! We prefer to call it surprise involuntary secret fun time.

Now they describe the police’s charge as “laughable” and flout the spirit of the law. They depict anyone conducting anti-government activities in China as being innocent, and as being exempt unconditionally from legal pursuit.

Translation: Just because we arrest a whole bunch of dissidents, you act like we’re cracking down on dissidents or something? Baseless. These guys just all cheated on their taxes. At the same time.

Diplomats and officials from countries such as the US and Germany on Wednesday rebuked China once again over human rights. A mayor from South Korea also issued a statement pressuring China to release Ai soon. Such intensive intervention has barely been seen in China of late.

Translation: We really enjoyed that downtime during the worst of the recession, when all of you shut up because you were afraid we would call in your debts.

Ai’s detention is one of the many judicial cases handled in China every day. It is pure fantasy to conclude that Ai’s case will be handled specially and unfairly. The era of judicial cases involving severely unjust, false or wrong charges has gone.

Translation: Look, our terrible track record is no reason to just assume this trial will also be rigged! After all, it’s not like our court system is totally beholden to some kind of political apparatus or…oh. Nevermind.

Nowadays, corrupt officials and the occasional dissident may view their own cases as being handled unfairly: The former believe their merits offset faults, and the latter see China’s legal system as maintaining an “illegal” existence. Ai once said China was living a “crazy, black” era. This is not the mainstream perception among Chinese society.

Translation: Forget about that whole “economic crimes” thing. That’s so five paragraphs ago. Ai is a dissident whose views are out of touch with mainstream society!

China’s legal system ensures the basic order of this large-scale country. It guarantees the balanced development of civil livelihood and social establishment. Besides, it maintains an economic order that not only propels domestic growth but also generates foreign exchange powerful enough to purchase US treasury bonds.

Translation: Before you criticize our legal system, remember you owe us money!

The integrated legal system is the framework of China. The West wants to bring changes to this framework, shaping it as they please, and transforming the nation into a compliant puppet. They have succeeded in creating many such puppets around the world.

Translation: Our legal system is very integrated, in that it is governed by and answers to the Party. Western, non-integrated judicial systems are merely imperialist plots.

China is not the dangerous place of Western description. Otherwise, Ai would not have returned to China from the US, and Western diplomats and businessmen would not view China as the best place for doing business. But like other safe places in the world, China is only safe for law-abiding citizens, and nobody is allowed to see illegal acts go unpunished.

Translation: China is not a dangerous place unless you break the law. Don’t ask which law, though. We prefer to just detain you first, and keep that whole law part a surprise until we’ve decided which one you broke.

The charge of “suspected economic crimes” does not mean Ai will be found guilty. The case should be handled properly through legal procedures, and Western pressure should not weigh upon the court’s decision.

Translation: That said, we might be totally making all this “economic crimes” stuff up.

If Ai’s “suspected economic crimes” are justified, the conviction should not consider his “pro-democracy” activities. The only relation between the two is probably the lesson that anyone who engages in political activities needs to keep “clean hands.”

Translation: Here is the part where we say something rational, to make you feel like everything else we said might have also made sense. But then we follow that up with a warning about how people who engage in politics need to be careful! Except, of course, actual politicians. Because who are we kidding, they can do whatever the fuck they want!

If Ai is found not guilty, his acquittal should transcend politics too. However the authorities should learn to be more cautious and find sufficient evidence before detaining public figures next time.

Translation: We are starting to feel a little nervous about this whole thing, though.

Comments

This is just meant as a humor piece. In actuality, the Global Times is right that if Ai Weiwei has actually committed economic crimes, he should be convicted, and that his “pro-democracy” activities shouldn’t affect his sentence in this case one way or the other. However, even if these crimes are real — and there’s not a shred of evidence yet that they are — one wonders if all the manpower spent on investigating the finances of a man who makes art installations for a living might be better spent investigating the guys who make tofu buildings, poisoned foods, and fake baijiu for a living (or, better yet, the government workers who “supervise” them!).

In actuality, if there are crimes, China certainly has the right to make that case, and I don’t see why the police should be required to present evidence to the media at this juncture. That said, from a PR standpoint, they must understand that in the overall context of the past few months and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, journalists really have no choice but to interpret the arrest as political. And the long delay in naming the reason for Ai’s arrest (and confirming he was arrested at all) did not look good. If this is a totally legitimate case, China has a right to prosecute it, but it’s hardly fair to get upset at people for drawing one conclusion if you refuse to give them any evidence that points toward the other.

For the Nth time, China needs to hire some PR people who understand the Western media. Either that, or stop caring what the Western media says.

Me, I’m a fan of innocent until proven guilty, so: Free Ai Weiwei.

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0 thoughts on “The Global Times, Translated”

  1. You missed the last paragraph (intentionally?):

    “This case affects Ai Weiwei’s personal life immensely. We sympathise with him at a personal level, and we hope he will be fine this time …”

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  2. Of course it doesn’t care. But it cares what people inside the country are saying. Judging by the tone of the GT, I bet Ai will be fine this time.

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  3. “or stop caring what the Western media says.”

    What makes you think they care?

    They only care about one thing. They don’t how ridiculous, infantile, repressive or just downright stupid they look and are. They only want to keep their “power”. Power to be inept and hold China back.

    Everyone worries about how China is becoming more powerful. If these drunken, aged lunatics (Chinese Communist Party) got out the way, China would have taken over years ago!

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  4. If the PRC is going to start prosecuting “economic crimes” will any princeling be safe?

    “Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.” (Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight – Bob Dylan)

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  5. I agree that GT probably care less about what Western Media says, rather that they are trying say something before the Western Media start running their rumor mill on full speed.

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  6. Please note: the linked english GT commentary (“head on”) is NOT the English translation of the Chinese one. Only some parts are used, the worst chauvinistic and arrogant parts are not included – guess why! GT editors are a very cunning and unscrupulous bunch of politbureau sykophants. Their publication principle is: there is nothing more successful than success. Of course their method only works under Chinese characteristics: nobody is talking except GT. And nobody takes them head on. As you did, in a wonderful way: Thank you for the complete translation!

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  7. @pug_ster: Sorry, please clarify which “Western Media” you’re referring to–is it NPR? Fox News? Whitehouse.gov? Drudge Report? Infowars? Counterpunch?

    Pug_ster, here’s a tip for how you’re perceived by the many readers of this site: Throwing around the term “Western Media” probably makes nice fodder on the China Daily forum, but those who read and post comments here tend to have a more nuanced view of how the media works in “The West,” and know that, unlike the carefully monitored press here in China, the “Western Media” is actually much more complicated than you suggest.

    Actually, I suggest you go to the six (American) news sites I mentioned above and see how many news items you can find that are treated the same. Good luck, pug_ster.

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  8. Jorg-M. Rudolph: It’s true that a Chinese and an English version of a GT article are still two different stories. However, they have become much more similar to each other than they were in 2009.

    Other websites have adopted the GT’s pioneering Ai-Weiwei coverage by now, Custer –
    China National Radio, for example.

    Seems it has been found to be the right stuff for a Chinese readership.

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  9. Mr. Custer, you might recall recently you translated a piece in Chinese into English and you were “a little bit” off. People tried to help you and you said you were “attacked”.

    Now you are “translating”, again, a piece in English into English. That is a tough one to comment, because English is not my native language. I am not qualified to judge if you do it well or not. Presumably you have done quite brilliantly based on a few people commented above are all praising you this time.

    One of the things I don’t understand and very interesting is, invariably, in China, whoever comes out against the government is called “pro-democracy”, “human right” something, …. I have not lived in the Mainland and you seem to have been there for years. Have you ever seen anyone who is against the Chinese government is not a “human right” campaigner, “pro-democracy” activist ..? Or, whoever does not shave is not an artist?

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  10. >Pass vague, provisionary laws
    >Form wide legal basis to do anything
    >Enforce selectively
    >Spin any kind of unwanted activity into matters of law
    >Persecute under legal justification
    >De jure “nation under law”
    >De facto dictatorship
    >trollface.jpg

    Oldest trick in the book people. You gotta admit, it still works.

    Also Global Times, retarded, not news, etc.

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  11. @tc : I didn’t say that people criticizing the translation were attacking me; what I said was that the only people criticizing the translation were the ones who do frequently attack me in their comments on other posts.

    As for your question, sure, there are lots of people who dislike the Chinese government but aren’t “pro-democracy activists” or whatever. But most activists/writers/whatever do end up being pro-democracy and human rights, simply because you can’t publicly oppose something for very long without being forced to answer the question: “What do you want to replace it?”

    So, while there are plenty of people that dislike the current government, those who do something about it (write about it, mostly) do end up being pro-democracy and/or human rights “activists” because democracy is a fairly natural alternative to the current system, and respect for human rights is the natural alternative to the current lack of respect for them.

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  12. @democracy is a fairly natural alternative to the current system, and respect for human rights is the natural alternative to the current lack of respect for them.

    I almost puked. A democracy like USA who jails Bradley Manning and treat him like dirt and threaten Julian Assange for prosecution if entering United States.

    A democracy like Germany who threatens wikileaks with criminal prosecution by the head of Germany’s spy agency Ernst Uhrlau, President of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

    A democracy like Australia who’s president doesn’t protect her own compatriot and become a lapdog of United States.

    A democracy like France who sides with US to ban wikileaks from their servers.

    ———-

    A democracy like India who jailed human rights activist Binayak Sen over fabricated evidence.

    A democracy like Taiwan when Chen Shui Bian who lead a Gestapo raid on Next magazine on exposing Lee Teng-hui’s funds.

    —-

    This respecting human rights in democracy is a myth just like how this utopia society in a Communist country is one too.

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  13. “For the Nth time, China needs to hire some PR people who understand the Western media. Either that, or stop caring what the Western media says.”

    This is a weirdly common sentiment (presuming this is not actually sarcastic) throughout the China blogs. Let me put this simply – the Chinese government had better PR, it still wouldn’t change the fact that they’re by-and-large corrupt, venal, and dictatorial. Even the best PR in the world won’t hide this.

    My guess it’s just the kind of catch-all sentiment which can be easily shared by a group of people who actually disagree with each other. There are those, and I hope I would not be presuming to much by including Ben Ross and Kaiser Kuo in their number, who actually largely support the CCP, believe that they are reforming, assert at every dissident’s arrest that the CCP will quickly realise their mistake and release them, and that the CCP’s main problem is that they have failed to get their message across. There are others, I’m sure, more critical of the party, but who also include the PR of the CCP in their criticism.

    Anyone who lived through the Blair/Clinton years knows what government by PR looks like. It didn’t do much to cover up the ways in which their respective governments sucked – Blair is now generally despised, and Clinton owes his good reputation mainly to the even worse record of his successor as president. The idea that good PR rather than, I don’t know, greater respect for human rights, might improve the situation in China, is somewhat ridiculous.

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  14. FOARP, I was just making the point that even if the CCP are 100% right about Ai Weiwei (unlikely, yeah, but bear with me here) they’d never convince anyone of it. I wasn’t suggesting that good PR would actually improve anything, though.

    That said, it might. Presumably, a competent PR firm would have steered them away from this whole massive crackdown in the first place, given that it accomplishes virtually nothing but annoying people domestically and internationally. Sure, it’s not going to bring any kind of systemic change, but a PR firm they actually listened to might cut down on the pointless arrests. (I wasn’t at all suggesting that in the post, though, just thinking about it now). I agree that PR is not going to solve anything, though.

    Knowing Kaiser a bit, I’m also not sure your description of his viewpoint is entirely fair, but I could be wrong, and it’s not my place to speak for him. I don’t know Ben Ross, so I can’t speak to that at all.

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  15. @C.Custer:
    “… what I said was that the only people criticizing the translation were the ones who do frequently attack me in their comments on other posts.”
    That’s not (“true”, stricken over) accurate, Mr. Custer. I “criticized” your translation, but I’ve never “attacked” you or anyone. Unless you take “disagreements” as “attacks”, which is another 108 thousand miles off.

    And, thanks for answering my question. Could you do some statistics showing us what percentage of Chinese citizens “dislike” their
    government comparing with other countries. And, how many people, in other countries, “dislike” their governments, are called “human right activists”, “pro-democracy campaigners” … . And, (this one is the best) how many people in foreign countries who “dislike” their government made a video posted on world wide web to “Fuck the Motherland”. That will be a very interesting statistics, and could be a superb topic in your next post to show you are not a bias person, a great opportunity for you to build up your credibility. Thank you.

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  16. @TC – Why not go and get the statistics yourself? Better still, why not make your own blog showing them and see how many people read it? Some statistics on how many Chinese people voted for their government might be nice.

    @Custer – This crack-down does accomplish something – it eliminates the CCP’s biggest domestic enemies outside of Tibet and Xinjiang. Is this a golden hello for “redder than red” Xi Jinping? Will this political crack-down be extended further into society? Who knows.

    As for a PR firm advising against arrests, legal advice is not their area. If anything, the formulation of policy based on what is good PR makes for worse, not better policy, and in the long term, that is bad PR. PR is there to help sell policy, not to decide it.

    And yes, even if the CCP were 100% right (given the circumstances they’re almost certainly not), this would still be politically motivated, since it would show selective application of the law against political enemies. No amount of good PR can fix this.

    My view of Kaiser Kuo’s view is based on what I’ve read and heard from him, but not having had the advantage of meeting him myself I will bow to your judgement. My view of Ben Ross is based on some of his tweets, but once again, I may have misread them. However, I do not think that the China blogging community should be reticent about calling out apologists simply because they are members of the same community.

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  17. How come no one here sees the crackdown as part of the inner party struggle going on in the CCP? One recent article (see http://cmp.hku.hk/2011/03/31/11281/) states that “the fundamental reasons for the fall of the CPSU and the break up of the Soviet Union lie not in the “Stalinist model” (斯大林模式) and the Soviet mode of socialism, but in the fact that from Khrushchev to Gorbachev [the CPSU] withdrew from, departed from and ultimately betrayed Marxism, socialism and the fundamental interests of the great masses.” Contrast that with another article (see http://www.solidarityeconomy.net/2011/03/03/china-think-tank-gorbachev-correct-but-failed-on-political-stability/) which states that “The direction of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform was correct. The crucial point is that he failed to maintain political stability when carrying out the reform, and the chaos soon spread to other sectors.” One article condemns Gorbachev for betraying socialism while the other praises him but for some mistakes of implementation. This is the fundamental conflict between proponents of “universal values” (see http://english.caing.com/2010-10-25/100191970.html) versus the Chinese model and Chinese exceptionalism. To my mind this is a schism between neo-liberals and neo-Maoists (or hard-liners if you will) in the Chinese leadership. With the transition to the 5th generation of leadership next year people are jocking for position and what better way to prove your mettle than cracking down on dissidents. I’m sure the neo-liberal are trying to protect Ai as he shares their values. That’s why the Global Times article seems to vacillate between chest thumbing and reconciliation. To see just the proximate cause (the turmoil in the Middle East) and to ignore the ultimate cause (the inner party political struggle) is to not see the forest for the trees.

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  18. tc: As I recall — and I may be remembering it wrong, in which case I apologize — you have indeed said some nasty things about me personally in the past.

    Regarding your other questions, TONS of people in other countries have done things like “Fuck Your Mother, Motherland.” Artists in the US do stuff like that all the time.

    That said, I’m never going to make a post like that because THIS IS A WEBSITE ABOUT CHINA. If you want to talk about cases like that in the US, go to one of the seven bazillion websites that discuss US politics, human rights, etc. etc. etc.

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  19. Regarding your other questions, TONS of people in other countries have done things like “Fuck Your Mother, Motherland.” Artists in the US do stuff like that all the time.

    Name one famous one.

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  20. I couldn’t name a famous American artist at all. But there are plenty of examples of art like that, for example here’s a bunch.

    I don’t know anything about art, so I can’t speak to what “famous” artists have done, but it’s a bit different. Ai Weiwei is famous BECAUSE he makes art like that, and because he’s Ai Qing’s son. But vulgar modern art isn’t exactly fresh in the US, and “Fuck Your Mother, USA” wouldn’t attract more than a Fox News headline even if you were a pretty famous artist, I suspect…but there’s plenty of art like that out there.

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  21. Americans probably don’t believe that the U.S. has a mother – but do a google search with “god fuck america” and click some links.
    A bit more sophisticated: “God save the Queen” isn’t popular among Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Britney Spears and a lot of others, because (one reason) it’s a crap tune, and a dirge.
    Consequences: Death through more than a few raised eyebrows. Geez.

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  22. “Me, I’m a fan of innocent until proven guilty, so: Free Ai Weiwei.”

    Personally I think many if not most people on the Chinablogs are heavily biased, either believing most the stuff which the Chinese government says, or disregarding everything which the Chinese government says. This means that even if the Chinese government manages to prove that AiWeiWei is guilty of some sort of crime, most of his supporters will simply regard the evidence as “propaganda” and still say that Ai is innocent. Since people are entitled to their opinions this makes the whole debate essentially pointless.

    “So, while there are plenty of people that dislike the current government, those who do something about it (write about it, mostly) do end up being pro-democracy and/or human rights “activists” because democracy is a fairly natural alternative to the current system, and respect for human rights is the natural alternative to the current lack of respect for them.”

    I disagree with this in that there are plenty of people within the current Chinese government who are reformers. Often the protests and riots only give the hardliners more power(for example TAM, Tibet and Xinjiang) so I do happen to think that Western media’s involvement in some of these events are counterproductive to their cause.

    I also believe that human rights and democracy are merely empty slogans which do not necessarily address specific issues a government faces. On the issues of corruption, nepotism, lawlessness, and all of the faults of China which people often mention, you can easily argue that India has more of it than China and yet India has more human rights and is a democracy. In another post I have expressed my view that wealth doesn’t equate to happiness either. Way too many people have been bought into the neocon idea of simple solutions to very difficult and complex government problems. If you want to advocate change then you better have some good proof that these changes you are advocating will address the specific issues, especially given the fact that you (the non-Chinese citizens) will not share the responsibilities afterward.

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  23. C Custer,

    I couldn’t name a famous American artist at all. But there are plenty of examples of art like that, for example here’s a bunch.

    I don’t know anything about art, so I can’t speak to what “famous” artists have done, but it’s a bit different. Ai Weiwei is famous BECAUSE he makes art like that, and because he’s Ai Qing’s son. But vulgar modern art isn’t exactly fresh in the US, and “Fuck Your Mother, USA” wouldn’t attract more than a Fox News headline even if you were a pretty famous artist, I suspect…but there’s plenty of art like that out there.

    I don’t think that Ai Weiwei is famous because he’s Ai Qing’s son. As I said earlier, I said that he was ‘famous’ in Western circles because of his anti Chinese government stance.

    The rumor mill in Chinese blogs are saying that he made millions of dollars over the years without paying his taxes. He is already demonized that his child was born out of wedlock while having an affair with another woman. Boy, it looks like this guy will have the easier time getting the “Chinese traitor treatment” than Liu Xiaobo.

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  24. @lolz:”Personally I think many if not most people on the Chinablogs are heavily biased, either believing most the stuff which the Chinese government says, or disregarding everything which the Chinese government says”.

    Bias there may be indeed, but bias also has it’s own roots and builds from something. If the chinese government wouldn’t have been so desperately trying to prevent Ai Weiwei from making his list of the dead children in the Wenchuan earthquake; if the police in Sichuan wouldn’t have gone down on him to the extent he required surgery; if the chinese governnment would show some more leniency towards people trying to bring forward claims against the monsters that killed their children to make a quick buck on poisoned milkpowder; if the chinese government would only listen for a second to a lawyer trying to bring to the attention the plight of people with AIDS … then you might have a claim. As situation stands, however, I tend to see this “bias” as only a natural reaction to what is going on.

    Remember Confucius whom China suddenly dug up from the dungeons of oblivion again: the benevolent ruler leads by virtue of the good example. If you screw up the example, “bias” will be the least of your concern. And let that be the part that the chinese government maybe understands best …

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  25. “As situation stands, however, I tend to see this “bias” as only a natural reaction to what is going on. ”

    What you are doing is trying justify your bias by giving out some examples where the Chinese government is lying. However, the fact is that not all of the stuff which the Chinese government says are wrong, often it’s the activists who are doing the lying (for examples just look at some of the stuff which Epoch Times publishes). Heavy bias, let it be anti-Chinese government or pro-Chinese government, only contributes to the spreading of ignorance.

    I agree that ultimately bias doesn’t matter because you can’t fool the people all of the time with propaganda. However I think bias does matter because it clouds sound decision making. As I wrote, the bias which was planted by the NeoCons (that overthrowing a brutal dictator and force a democracy would magically make things better) heavily affected the support of the war. Though what the NeoCons have been pushing have some truths in them, the result in Iraq was a disaster for everyone but the war profiteers.

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  26. @lolz:

    I am not trying to justify anything. My point is that bias has been, is and always will be part of the discourse at either side of whatever divide, for we are all products of our own society with it’s own system of education, it’s own set of values and … why not … it’s own propaganda, which I by no means regard as only limited to “autocratic” states. So you can fight it as much as you like, bias is here to stay.

    This being said, the key question is to determine the portion of bias as opposed to rightful indignation in relation to any issue. My contention is that in the cases I mentioned the chinese government has crossed the limits of decency to such an extent that the rightful indignation totally outweighs the bias factor.

    I’m totally in agreement with you that what the chinese government is saying is not all a bunch of lies. Personally I hold a very schizophrenic attitude towards that government: on the one hand admiration (and not just a little bit) for where they have brought the country today in a timespan of only a few decades; on the other hand, that same government and it’s attitude towards it’s people is also the reason why I don’t see myself living in the country again. I am seeing the limits of the capitalist system being reached here in the West, but at least for now I don’t see a valid alternative emerging in China neither. Not as long as there is the sort of harassing going on of people who tend to challenge the official Party doctrine, even in a legal and peaceful way.

    No regime can sustain on a discourse of only lies, so I wouldn’t be surprised (as I saw on the news today) if there is some evidence found that Ai Weiwei did some tax evasion (where I live, it’s some kind of national sports). Fine, let it be established and let him be fined for it. But if anyone in the know of all the past episodes with Ai Weiwei can believe that, even with this sort of evidence in hand, that is the only reason for his arrest, then I consider this incredibly naïve at best or willful obfuscation of the truth at worst.

    Last, about your remark on the activists lying just as well. Of course sometimes they are. It’s war out there. It’s a war of opinions, convictions and a war for the sympathy of the masses, because that will give you the power to proclaim and maybe realize your ideas. All wars tend to get ugly, at all sides, but at all sides, it’s people fighting that war, with their good and their weak sides. Now if you have taken to task to challenge the authority of that behemoth that is the CCP, you better have some tricks up your sleeve as well, lest you will be crushed without anyone ever having heard the first word from your mouth. Game over before it started. I’m not condoning it, but in chinese context, I consider it as inevitable as bias.

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  27. Actually you did, “democracy is a fairly natural alternative…[who] respect for human rights.”

    They only hide behind the democracy cloak while they abuse individuals like Bradley Manning, intimidation and defamation tactics against Manning’s supporters like Glenn Greenwald, David House, and Jacob Appelbaum.

    @That said, most democracies have a much better human rights record than China does.

    Sure but the wrath of those democracies that of wanting to prosecute Julian Assange and pundits/politicians from around the globe who jokingly wanted to murder him and CCP comrades-like Joe Lieberman and Éric Besson, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Digital Economy in France whose calls a shut down of wikileaks, makes the countries that are democratic and has a higher ranking in human rights, capable to follow China’s authoritarian stance-just as simple as switching the light.

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