China's Repression Doesn't Tickle Me Elmo

Human Rights Watch reports on Chinese repression of internal voices as part of China’s staging its Olympic Games next summer.

With one year left until the Beijing Olympics kicks off, the Chinese government has been “gagging” dissidents and clamping down on domestic journalists to stave off potential political instability, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

China, long been criticized for its human rights record, views the Olympics as a huge source of pride. In order to control what the Communist government perceives as threats, it has choked any expressions of dissent more than one year before the Aug. 8, 2008 opening ceremony, the group said.

“The government seems afraid that its own citizens will embarrass it by speaking out about political and social problems, but China’s leaders apparently don’t realize authoritarian crackdowns are even more embarrassing,” Brad Adams, Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.In bidding for the games back in 2001, Chinese leaders promised International Olympic Committee members that the Olympics would lead to an improved climate for human rights and media freedom.

Instead, there has been “gagging of dissidents, a crackdown on activists and attempts to block independent media coverage,” Adams said….

Human Rights Watch also criticized Beijing’s ties with oppressive regimes and dictatorships in Sudan, Myanmar, Cambodia and Zimbabwe. China has been accused of not doing more to stop the bloodshed in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others displaced since February 2003.

Reporters Without Borders reports on China’s repression of Internet voices.

The closure of the civil rights website Zhonghua Shenzheng (http://www.shenzheng.cn) on the information ministry’s orders since 30 July was condemned today by Reporters Without Borders as yet another case of censorship of the Internet, which is still one of the few ways Chinese can access news and information that have not been vetted by the official agency Xinhua.

“At least 11 websites have been definitively or temporarily closed or blocked since 1 July, while others have been forced to remove content that upset the authorities,” the press freedom organisation said. “We are witnessing a crackdown on the Chinese Internet that could be linked to the preparation of the next Communist Party congress in October.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The cyber-police and information ministry are intervening with increasing frequence …

China doesn’t tickle me Elmo either (having young children):

China leapt to the defense of its products Thursday after Mattel Inc. said it was recalling 1.5 million Chinese-made toys worldwide because their paint may contain too much lead.

The recalled toys made for Mattel’s (Charts) Fisher-Price unit include popular preschool characters such as Elmo and Big Bird and dozens of other items. The case is the latest in a deluge of product safety scares that have tainted the “made in China” brand.

But, I’ve been looking out for Chinese and Vietnamese manufacture of toys, including give-aways with Kids Meals at McDonald’s, since I discovered they were produced with virtual slave-labor. See Things Not Jolie For Vietnamese and links.

Bruce Kesler

(cross-posted at Democracy-Project.com)

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