Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bush Team's Olympic Class Doublespeak

To show the world that economic progress does not translate into human rights improvement, the U.S. State Department removed China from its list of most systematic human rights abusers. Huh? Here's the quote from the BBC article:

A state department official said there was no back-pedalling on China's record. She said the new categorisation was meant to counter the argument that economic progress leads to improved human rights and freedom.

If that's the case, why not keep China on the list with Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Sudan, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan? Instead China dropped off and Syria got added. Isn't Syria one of the countries housing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees?

So now that we know China's huge trade surplus hasn't translated to rights for their people, what will the Bush administration do, other than remove the Red Storm from its list of abusers? Is is a one year Olympic pass? The article went on to say:

Unlike in previous years, China, which will be hosting this summer's Olympic Games, was not grouped with the world's most systematic human rights violators.

China was described as an authoritarian regime undergoing rapid economic and social change, which had "not undertaken democratic political reform".

"The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest and imprison journalists, writers, activists and defence lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under law," the report said.

Tough words, an exemption, and more Bush doublespeak. This is from the Q & A on the State Department report:

QUESTION: I just wanted to go to China for a moment because it – I mean, I didn’t feel like you answered the previous question, which was, yes, we’ve seen the report, I’ve seen the preface or the introduction and all these things about China. At the same time, there is a list of systematic abusers of human rights, the worst of them, and China is not on that list and it was last year. So was that a gesture to the Chinese? Does it have anything to do with the Olympics? Can you please explain it?

MR. FARRAR: Sure. I think if you look at the introduction, you’ll see that what we say about China – I could even flip to it if you give me a second.

QUESTION: No, I’ve read it.

MR. FARRAR: Is exact – is exactly accurate.

QUESTION: Actually, there’s a discrepancy. That’s exactly why I’m asking because the report says many things about China, but it’s not on that list of the worst offenders and it was last year. Why is it not on the list? That’s my question.

MR. FARRAR: I would say China is listed under a section dealing with authoritarian countries undergoing economic reform where the democratic political reform has not kept pace. And that is a completely accurate assessment.

Earlier in the session the State Department representative had this to say about China:

QUESTION: There’s been lots of focus on China in the lead-up to the Olympics. Can you highlight some of the key issues that you think should be highlighted?

MR. FARRAR: I think the reports highlight that generally that the human rights record remain poor; that there were, as I mentioned earlier, efforts to tighten controls in some areas, including on religious freedom and on the internet; the increasing difficulties of some human rights dissidents in China. And in general, you know, the human rights record remain poor.

QUESTION: Well, can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: Elise Labott with CNN. It also seems that the Chinese Government is forcibly relocating people to make way for Olympic projects. So do you think that in kind of tandem with their physical clearing of the neighborhoods for these Olympic projects, do you think that China is making a concerted effort to get rid of anybody from the Beijing area where the Olympics are going to be that it deems kind of unsuitable as the Olympics approach? Is that of greater concern now as the Olympics approach?

MR. FARRAR: I think if you look at the report, it does describe how -- the increasing difficulties for petitioners in Beijing, which I think covers that area.

Does that mean Chinese citizens can't have their voices heard or get their questions answered? Hmmm, that sounds very familiar...

But don't worry your pretty little head over such things, there's an Olympics to celebrate! Wasn't that the prize intended to drive China to improve its human rights record? No wonder we need Bush levels of doublespeak to cover up the "lack of improvement" from prior poor levels. Creating a new category, that's dastardly Rovish! Give the man a medal...