Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tyranny of the People's Republic of China.

First of all, I despise the name People's Republic of China. Calling the ruling party the Communist party doesn't make the country communist or even socialist, any more than my calling myself the "Duke of awesome" makes me royalty. They're fully neo-liberal or corporatist on the economic spectrum.

On the social spectrum, they're in line with Stalin, true, but also with Hitler and Pinochet-staunchly fascist.

The latest outrage is the Three Gorges Dam, detailed by the New York Times in their series on the problems posed by China's pollution. For an American like myself, this dam is a net positive. It's an alternative to building more coal power plants, and this dam does minimal global damage.

But for the Chinese people, it's severely damaging.

Last year, Chinese officials celebrated the completion of the Three Gorges Dam by releasing a list of 10 world records. As in: The Three Gorges is the world’s biggest dam, biggest power plant and biggest consumer of dirt, stone, concrete and steel. Ever. Even the project’s official tally of 1.13 million displaced people made the list as record No. 10.

As you can imagine, the Chinese people aren't that keen on getting displaced. Of course, they have riot police to quell resistance.

Resettlement remains a volatile issue. Two years ago, more than 100,000 people protested the Pubugou Dam project in Sichuan Province, until the riot police crushed the demonstration.

This is one advantage our political system clearly has on China. As much as our Congress loves pork, Congress would never willingly force 350,000+ Americans to relocate-we are, after all rebuilding New Orleans. Of course, by the same token, we'll never be able to store our nuclear waste anywhere-a solution might be to pay the Ukraine to make a sector of the Chernobyl region the world's nuclear waste dump; it's already uninhabitable, after all. And unlike us, they're not giving any sort of compensation or doing insurance reform (they may not have the hell of insurance yet in China)

Residents now are supposed to relocate to a new village site less than a mile away. But many people did not get enough compensation to pay for new housing. “We have three family members,” Ms. Han said. “We only have 10,000 yuan (about $1,300). With such a small amount of money, I can’t even build a first floor.”

Farther upstream, people in Jianmin Village are in the same predicament.

Around daybreak on June 22, Lu Youbing awoke to the screams of her brother-in-law and the sickening sensation of the earth collapsing. Her mountain farmhouse in Jianmin Village buckled as a landslide swept it downhill. In all, 20 homes were demolished. Five months later, Ms. Lu is living in a tent, fending off rats and wondering where her family can go.

“We have nothing left,” she said. “Not a single thing.”

At any rate, these are just some of the latest human rights abuses in China. And the U.S. continues to do nothing to pressure them; according to Senator Joe Biden, we could take action against them through the WTO. According to Representative Dennis Kucinich, we could modify our most-favored nation status with them and take action that way. But we haven't done so. We just don't value human rights enough.

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