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The High Price of Diplomacy With China

Posted on Apr 23, 2008
Bo Xilai
AP photo / Bullit Marquez

Former Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai talks to reporters during a break at a 2007 economic meeting.

(Page 3)

Beijing Olympic Chief Linked to Torture

By Shahien Nasiripour

The president of Beijing’s Olympic Organizing Committee was once found liable for torture in a U.S. federal court, a review of court records by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found. The 2004 judgment against Liu Qi—a member of the country’s powerful Politburo—received little media attention at the time. The U.S. Olympic Committee was unaware of the allegations, according to recent interviews.

In an extensive legal opinion, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco determined that Liu was responsible for the illegal detention and torture of two Chinese nationals and a sexual assault against a French woman in China. The two Chinese women later sought refuge in the United States.

“What difference does it make?” asked Anita L. DeFrantz, the senior U.S. member of the International Olympic Committee, when informed of the judgment against Liu. “I care very deeply about human rights,” DeFrantz said. “[But] this doesn’t tarnish the Games.”

Human rights advocates, on the other hand, said the 2004 court finding against Liu reflects badly on the Olympic movement in light of Liu’s involvement in the 2008 Summer Games.

“These Games are pretty damned tarnished,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, upon learning of the court’s judgment against Liu. Human Rights Watch has criticized the International Olympic Committee for choosing China—which has long been criticized for its human rights record—as host of the Summer Games. “The IOC is operating in a moral void,” she said.


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Liu, 65, the man responsible for preparing Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games, is one of China’s most prominent political figures. After serving as mayor of Beijing, Liu was promoted in 2002 to Beijing Communist Party secretary and given a seat on the country’s 25-member Politburo, China’s top decision-making body. Last May, Liu made Time magazine’s “Time 100,” a list of “100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.”

Liu’s legal troubles in the U.S. began in 2002 when members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement sued him in San Francisco federal court under laws that allow foreigners to take legal action against their alleged torturers. Liu was served with legal papers at San Francisco International Airport while en route to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Chinese government in 1999 outlawed the Falun Gong along with certain Christian groups. The U.S. State Department has since reported in its annual International Religious Freedom reports that Falun Gong members have been subjected to a range of harassment and torture by the Chinese government, including shock treatments, and that some have died from repeated physical abuse.

The lawsuit alleged that as mayor, Liu directed security forces to violently crush the Falun Gong. The plaintiffs claimed that Liu’s forces subjected them to severe beatings, sexual abuse and “electric shocks through needles placed in [the] body.” Those suing included two Chinese nationals, two Swedes, one French woman and a dual citizen of Israel and the U.S.

Liu never responded in court to the accusations, but the Bush administration entered the fray, urging the court to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit “is not the best way for the United States to advance the cause of human rights in China,” the administration argued in court filings. “The United States Government has emphasized many times to the Chinese Government, publicly and privately, our strong opposition to violations of the basic human rights of Falun Gong practitioners in China.”

“We would respectfully urge the Court to fashion its final orders in a manner that would minimize the potential injury to the foreign relations of the United States,” the State Department said.

Despite the administration’s arguments, the court determined that the plaintiffs were subjected to “torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and arbitrary detention,” according to the 2004 decision. Liu was held liable.

But the default judgment—Liu did not contest the charges in court—was a hollow victory, said David J. Bederman, an international law expert and professor at Emory Law School. “[The plaintiffs] got their day in court, but they didn’t really get anything else.” No damages were awarded.

DeFrantz, the senior U.S. member of the International Olympic Committee, said this week that Liu’s alleged involvement in human rights violations will not negatively impact the 2008 Summer Games.

“No one will remember who the organizers were,” DeFrantz said.

Shahien Nasiripour is a reporting intern at the Center for Investigative Reporting. He has written for ESPN, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Providence Journal. CIR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to investigative journalism since 1977.

View the source documents these reports are based on.

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By lester ness, May 14, 2008 at 4:25 am Link to this comment

Ah, Texas, where Judge Roy Bean once ruled that it was OK to kill Chinese people, because they were not human beings!

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By Lester Ness, May 13, 2008 at 2:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

God forbid that USians do something to improve the lives of their own minzu (native peoples), like the Sioux, who have a life-expectancy of about 40, or grant independence to Hawai’i or Alaska.

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By Douglas Chalmers, May 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

They’re doing it everywhere with “live” donors, why not dead ones? There is no morality left in the West and it is only Westerners and other wealthy individuals who take advantage, uhh.

Doctor pushes Australian organ sales

Anyway, FalunGong in China was a health kick (taiqi) not a political agenda.

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By lester ness, May 10, 2008 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

I doubt they harvest falungongists organs, either.  Most Changchun falungongists were quite elderly, and didn’t have the organs anyone would want for transplant!  Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and that means something besides a website.  It’s not true just because you read it on the web.

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By Douglas Chalmers, May 9, 2008 at 2:21 am Link to this comment

By lester ness, May 5: “You don’t achieve anything in China with….  “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,”

USA and France in particular want to learn this lesson the hard way again with Burma as well as China.

Stamping their feet and demanding that Western aid be accepted AND Western rescue experts be allowed in instead of from China, India and the wealthier ASEAN countries in the region is only getting their own noses put out of joint.

Again we see things being misrepresented in the media to make it look like nothing can be achieved except by Westerners and especially Americans. It is far from the truth. In fact, the USA is culpapable in supporting the military regime there viz-a-viz Chevron, etc

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By Lester Ness, May 8, 2008 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mostly rice and veggies, noodles and a bit of pork or chicken.  Most of the veggies and meat are produced and sold locally. 

Gloria, why not come visit China?  Live here a while?  You could keep your prejudices, but you would no longer be totally ignorant.

Lester Ness

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By lester ness, May 5, 2008 at 3:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The same is true in the US and everywhere in the world.  “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” as the saying goes.

Most of the anti-china folks here have never been in China, don’t know Chinese language or anything about modern Chinese history or society.  Probably their most profound Chinese experience is an Americanized “Chinese” restaurant!  Yet they can’t figure out why real Chinese people don’t obey them like dogs when they shout or throw a tantrum!  Grow up, folks, do some studying.  Learn to apply the Golden Rule.

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By Douglas Chalmers, May 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

Well, that Bush dude does come from Texas….....

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By lester ness, May 1, 2008 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You’ve gotten your nouns confused: US diplomacy vis a vis the Chinese (and humanity) consists of ordering them to bend over and spread.

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By lester ness, May 1, 2008 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

More likely, ordinary savers in China will end up cheated, stuck with the equivalent of Confederate money.

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By Lester Ness, April 30, 2008 at 1:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I used to live in Changchun, birthplace of Falungong, so I know lots of devotees, too. They are all Chinese!  I doubt many are eager to give away 1/4 of their country by “freeing” Tibet. 

Most of the criticism I’ve heard about China/Tibet range from ignorant and bigoted and to pig-ignorant and KKK-level bigoted.  Return California, etc., to Mexico, grant independence to Hawai, Alaska, the former Confederacy, and Chinese people MAY take US complainers seriously. 

Lester Ness

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By denk, April 29, 2008 at 1:52 am Link to this comment

cia psyop

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By denk, April 29, 2008 at 1:14 am Link to this comment

ned, soros and otto reich

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By tres, April 28, 2008 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

There is a famous novel which basically tells a story of a man’s illusion about everyone around him trying to eat him before he became a madman. You are dangerously close.

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By Lester Ness, April 28, 2008 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Folks, if you really want to help ordinary Tibetans (not just see your face on TV), come teach their children English!  Xining Teacher’s College, in the capital of Qinghai Province, is always begging for foreign teachers.  80% of your students would be Tibetans, the rest other minorities.  Of course, you do have to take a year off from your comfortable suburban life, do some real work.

Lester Ness
alive in the bitter sea

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By TDoff, April 28, 2008 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

Sometimes, diplomacy works.

For example, Leezaa recently convinced Bo Xilai to drop his plans to offer an Olympic Waterboarding demonstration/event, as an homage to the US at the Beijing Olympics.

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By Jane, April 28, 2008 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nobody cares anymore about money, yet we still have to pay the rent/mortgage, except for the Republican operatives who got paid!

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 28, 2008 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

The Italians do it. Just ask Robert Giaccobe…....

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By jane, April 27, 2008 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Did Condi Rice just mentioned that we (The US) just signed a certain agreement with China that benefits this fasc. state. Did they put pressure on Cheney-Bush since we owed them so much money?

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 27, 2008 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

Quote: Dharamshala’s hope, of course, is that if the crisis is stopped it could go back trying to negotiate with Beijing. In spite of all that has happened in Tibet our leaders completely fail to see that this will never happen. It is far too late for anyone, even Beijing, to stop this revolution. Samdhong Rimpoche and his Solidarity Committee can no more stop it than they can stop a tsunami by standing before it. To my leaders in the exile government (which will always be for me the true government of Tibet) I say this with due respect but also with genuine concern: Step out of the way…!!!’t+Stop+the+Revolution!+-+Jamyang+Norbu

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 27, 2008 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

I have known Falun Gong practioners and Tibetan Buddhists. Mostly they are good people and they project good positive energy and are worthwhile and valuable citizens in any country.

That doesn’t stop them from being deceived by certain factors with another agenda and it doesn’t stop the FalunDafa from being taken over and used for other purposes they ordinary membership is unaware of.

For Tibetan Buddhists, it is more complex as many Tibetans are against the DL and want independence regardless of the cost in bloodshed. They have disrupted his efforts to strike a deal with the PRC.  He has become more of a politician now than ever as a result of fighting those factions.

As for the white European/American, etc members of these groups, they should have stayed out of the politics as they are being fooled by those on both sides (“whites” and Asians) who have an interest in things other than peace or enlightenment. They are very naive, even in regard of their own countrys’ politics….......

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By TDoff, April 27, 2008 at 1:37 am Link to this comment

Picchetti’s obsession with the gastronomic whims of the world, probably stems from her being on no one’s menu.
And what about that rumor that she likes to eat horses?

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By ST, April 26, 2008 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Uhm, Gloria? You didn’t check that link before you posted it did you. You might want to check links before posting them for the world to see lest you end up looking foolish (as you do here). There is nothing at that site about organ harvesting, other than the url. It is parked web site with nothing but advertising on it… doh!

Anyhoo, you can find a web site to back up ANY old claim. I’m sure I can find web sites that claim that George Bush is a good president, man never landed on the moon or that Fox News is fair and balanced but that doesn’t make any of it true. You need proof. Good, solid evidence from reputable sources otherwise you can claim all you want and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. For example, if you were to quote a publication like The Epoch Times (a Falun Gong newspaper) as a source for some article critical of China… it would be worthless. Kind of like quoting the People’s Daily to back up an argument critical of the Dalai Llama.

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By Gloria Picchetti, April 26, 2008 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

you should eat your parents, children, and/or your spouse. I hope I never meet you nor anyone like you anywhere anytime. You are simply out of my mindset.

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By Gloria Picchetti, April 26, 2008 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

I realize reading Vanity Fair is a bit much. The articles are rather long but you can do it.
You highly doubt Falon Gong organs are being harvested? Try

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By Gloria Picchetti, April 26, 2008 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

Brain-dead hypocritical and ill-informed statements - Who gave you the living brain honest & informed statement card? I am an American Citizen who sees the Falun Gong on a regular basis in the James Thompson center or in the Federal Buidling Plaza. I assume the government of the United States of America would remove these people after more than fifteen years gathering to share their message.
What is China doing to help people survive?

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 26, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

By the way, IOC President Jacques Rogge said the international community should cease all criticism of China, despite recent movement on the country’s part regarding talks with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the Financial Times reported Saturday.

“You don’t obtain anything in China with a loud voice,” Rogge said of such efforts. “It took us 200 years to evolve from the French Revolution. China started in 1949,” he added

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By M Henri Day, April 26, 2008 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

If the price of diplomacy with China is high, how high is not that of diplomacy with the United States, which runs its pleasant little torture centres all over the globe ? Perhaps the «Center for Investigative Reporting» should devote some of its seeingly ample resources to investigating who is paying for articles like the present one….


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By jackpine savage, April 26, 2008 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Who’s “they”?  The leadership that we elected?  Our corporate titans that we patronize?

What the Chinese government has done is obviously a course of its own best interest.  Whether that best interest is short or long term remains to be seen.  I have no personal problem with the Chinese people or the Chinese government.

I am careful to moderate my intake of Chinese goods, but not for anti-China reasons.

There is a very good reason why the Chinese are doing what they can to unload those dollar reserves without causing a panic.  It is the same reason that China is working so hard to diversify its exports.  And it should be noted that China is both capable and willing to meet EU consumer safety regulations embodied in the REACH laws.

The tainted, toxic products that find their way to America are because we don’t care enough to say “no”.  The Chinese are just being good capitalists. 

Unfortunately, for the Chinese, the multinational corporations will leave China when wages get too high and China starts enforcing environmental laws.  And then a generation of Chinese workers will gnash their teeth about good jobs being shipped overseas.

We have done our best to exploit China for our own desire to consume cheaply.  It is not for us, who support the system with our spending, to decry what we don’t like about life in China.  But it is for us to look at our leaders (both commercial and political) who structured the current system…and to hold them accountable.

My point was that from one side of our leaders’ mouths there is talk of China as a threat, and from the other side we go begging.

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By ST, April 26, 2008 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

1. I highly doubt they harvest organs from the Falun Gong. That sounds like exaggerated, made-up, silly talk to me. You’d need some pretty compelling evidence to make that stick.

2. They eat bull testicles, Buffalo and deer in America. What is your point? You should be aware that most Chinese do NOT eat cat, dog or horse. Most Chinese have these animals as pets, not food. The areas that do eat these things are a minority. Regardless, as jackpine said, so what?

3.Africa/Darfur? What about it? Africa is a continent and Darfur a region. Are you implying that China is somehow responsible for the violence there? If so… how about Iraq? Palestine? Bosnia? Somalia? the Native Americans? What is your point?

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By jackpine savage, April 26, 2008 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

What’s wrong with eating cats, dogs, and horses?

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By TDoff, April 26, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

Considering our relative position vis a vis the Chinese, US ‘diplomacy’ with them consists of US saying ‘How high, how far, and do you want me to bend over first?’

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 26, 2008 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Quote Gloria Picchetti: “Let us give China the once over twice….”

Brain-dead hypocritical and ill-informed statements like these are quite unhelpful. Compared with the selfishly subsidized EU and USA farm sector, China is actually doing a lot to help people survive…....

China’s pledge not to stop rice exports lauded

A senior UN official has praised China for not stopping rice exports amid an international food crisis, calling it a “politically responsible stance”....

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 26, 2008 at 2:04 am Link to this comment

And “empty rice sacks” are all people will get!

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By ST, April 25, 2008 at 9:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are some very informed responses (Douglas Chalmers in particular) and then some incoherent and uninformed ones like this one by Purple Girl but the overall tone of the article is the real issue I have. It reads like a Fox News hit piece on the Clintons would undoubtedly read. I’m a liberal and when I see a site entitled Truthdig I expect to see some truth being dug. Not more closed minded, biased and unreasonable junk like Fox News.

It’s too bad because I value the truth and what we are getting here is “pile-on”, anti-China propaganda. Not the truth. Not even a shade of it. How about some real journalism that examines the issue from an objective point of view? Please? We don’t need the left-wing equivalent of the biased, sanctimonious lying that we get so much of from the right. Sadly, from the tone of this article this site (which won a webby award for crying out loud) looks like it is little better than the Matt Drudges of the reporting world.

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By Gloria Picchetti, April 25, 2008 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let us give China the once over twice.
1. They harvest organs from the Falun Gong.
2. They eat cat, dog, & horse. If your horse that was stolen then transported in a double decker truck so it could not hold it’s head up. If it traveled with no food nor water while injured they liked the meat better. They love misery, pain, & torture. Of course, so does Bush.
3. Africa/Darfur? Better brush up on your Vanity Fair articles.

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By Purple Girl, April 25, 2008 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

Any Perosn who agreed to take a Loan, do business or sell Real Estate in this country to th eChinese should be the ones beinging shipped over to Repay their Debts- after we extract what they have stolen from US first.
We never agreed to any contract with the Chiniese Gov’t- or their companies.
Send the Con men who falsely claimed We Were Co signing any agreement with them.
They have not only been sold a Non existent ‘Bridge’ they have been lead to believe WE are NO Longer a Democratic Society and Are these Criminals money ‘Reserves’. Let the Chinese do what ever they want with those who Tricked them out of their Money. We do Not ned their Crap products, Nor their insane doctrines in our country.
We shouldn’t be sending Athletes we should be seending ‘Investment Bankers’ and “Public Servants” to ‘work’ off their exorbanant Debt! In fact send their Kids too- since they levied the Deals on Ours!

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By Lester Ness, April 25, 2008 at 5:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve long expected that the sorts of blood-thirsty do-gooders, responsible for perhaps a million dead Iraqis, to turn on China, the Chinese people. Instead of millions, they could slay tens of millions, and feel good about it.

Lester Ness

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By Lester Ness, April 25, 2008 at 5:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Strange, you SOUND like a routine bigot. “They” are responsible for your problems, not your own foolishness.

By the way, buying a lot of T-bills will probably turn out to be a mistake for the Chinese government, not a means of controlling the US government.

Lester Ness

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By jackpine savage, April 25, 2008 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

It sounds as if you are not American (lucky you).  The short answer is “no”.  The long answer would, necessarily, examine American exceptionalism.

There are multiple reasons for Bush/the US government backing away from trying Chinese government officials.  One is economic, but the other is about precedent. 

If we start trying foreign officials, then foreign officials might get it in their head to try American leaders for human rights abuses.  And so we return to the idea of American exceptionalism.

Why are we the exception?  Well, because we say so and we’ve got more bombs than anyone else.

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By Brad A Aldrich, April 24, 2008 at 11:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I keep getting this mental image… Politicians wondering about aimlessly with empty rice sacks over their heads muttering something about campaign contributions for upcomming elections and how they are the ones best qualified to fix the problems they made.

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By tres, April 24, 2008 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

State of Texas took children into state custody just because their parents have different, political incorrect, values. Terrible human rights abuse in my book. So should I be able to sue Bush, the ex-governor of Texas, and the head of the federal government in another country?

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By jackpine savage, April 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

Uh huh…it must be as bad as it sounds since nobody’s talking about it.

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By ST, April 24, 2008 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This sort of article is typically vapid of the “blame China” crowd that has grown so vocal of late.

A San Francisco federal court finds a foreign defendant guilty of committing a crime in another country against other foreign nationals. On top of that the defendant was not directly responsible for the “crime” AND he was found guilty by default simply because he failed to travel from China to California in order to defend himself. Defend himself against charges that were brought by members of a pseudo-spiritual cult. I mean WTF?! Do people actually think this is anything other than a dog and pony show? How is this worth reporting?

Imagine if a government court in a city China held a trial on behalf of the Branch Davidians and found the former head of the BATF guilty for actions taken in Waco, TX against them? Would ANYONE take it seriously? Jesus! This is beyond ridiculous.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2008 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Quote: “Falun Gong, an offshoot of Buddhism and Taoism, was officially banned by the Chinese government in 1999…”

Falun Gong was the name given to so-called “master” Li Hongzhi’s revival of traditional Chinese QiGong classes which were widely popular. But his organiztion is actually named “FalunDafa” which was set up with a website in the USA where he now lives

The current website bears no resemblance whatsoever to the original one which had some 4,000 pages, as I recall, and was a real mess. Like the Tibetan Buddhist pro-independence game, he and FalunDafa became politically suspect as they aligned themselves with various interests in the West, like the CIA.

They continued to use Qigong as a front for their political purposes and the PRC government in BeiJing had to step in and put an end to the links with the West for obvious security reasons. Pity that Washington couldn’t do the same with AIPAC, uhh, but now the US is running after the Dalai Lama instead, uhh!

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By Conservative Yankee, April 24, 2008 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

...and yet another day begins without mention of the “crisis at the grocery stores” 

You think “terrorism” is related only to Arabs?  Just wait till you have your hands on a Cheerios box that someone else wants for their children.  Maybe someone with a Glock 9.

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By bachu, April 24, 2008 at 6:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How about a law suit on behalf of millions of dead and maimed Iraqis who did not get a shot at forced labor?

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2008 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

Yeah, right, another gratuitous article on smearing China simply to make the USA look less bad on human rights a million dead and 4 million displaced/ refugees in Iraq), renditioning and waterboarding (torture), and Emron, etc etc ad infinitum (corporate plundering and corruption), uhh!

“Center for Investigative Reporting” - what a wank!!! Whose front organization is that?

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By jackpine savage, April 24, 2008 at 4:27 am Link to this comment

Yes, it is quite difficult to deal with the Chinese diplomatically.  After all, they hold enough dollars in reserve to sink us overnight…and they have threatened, in no uncertain terms, to do it if we provoke them.

The Clinton administration decided that it wasn’t worth forcing concessions from the Chinese government before giving them the trade deals and status that they desired.  The Bush administration has made China America’s banker.  It sure seems like both of those administrations have done more for China than they have for the United States.

And the money that China gets from us is being used to undermine us financially throughout the world.  It is not just a matter of purchasing US assets.  The money that China is currently pouring into Africa is forcing the United States to play catch up…and the Chinese don’t put political/human rights stipulations on foreign aid.  We don’t have a new found respect for Africa: there’s oil there and the Chinese are getting to it first.

You’ll hear the DoD talk about the rising threat of China, but you won’t hear them explain that we are financing it.  And you certainly won’t hear the politicians explain that we need to borrow more money from to China to counter the rising threat of China.

Thank you Mr’s Clinton and Bush: you wanted/needed a threat to replace the Soviet Union and you made one.

(Note: i am not anti-Chinese; i am against the way the US has structured its relationship with China.)

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