This is a piece I wrote a few years back for another website but it is still equally relevant today and it is an interesting read. On PostApocalypticSurvival.com the emphasis is clearly on aspects of survival without modern comforts; however I find it to be poignant to discuss geopolitics as it not only evokes a great deal of passion within me, it is the most likely culprit for shtf or post apocalyptic society.
I also get a kick out of the e-mail and comments that this type of article invokes. Especially from the Chinese perspective. My favorite e-mail so far was from a pro-communist Chinese citizen who simply said:
“Do not talk like a cowboy American talk always like a wise people”
The hotly contested issues of freedom of speech and censorship in China create a maelstrom of political debate around the world. This article addresses the actual laws used to prosecute dissidents in China, as well as the brave freedom fighters who are political prisoners under the grip of communism. Freedom of speech should be a universal right of mankind, the People’s Republic of China disagrees and persecutes those who speak out against tyranny accordingly. Censorship in China is rampant, but not everyone is silent on the issue.
In the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it states: “Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people”. The 1982 constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees freedom of speech to the people of China. This apparent right, clearly granted by the constitution, sadly could not be further from the truth.
Freedom of speech in China is “Subverting state power”.
Many in China are shackled and thrown into prison as part of the oppressive communist regime’s crackdown on Chinese dissidents. What gives the government the power to do this is an amendment passed on 03/04/1997 article 105 of the Chinese criminal law that states:
Article 105(2): Use of rumor mongering or defamation or other means to incite subversion of the national regime or the overthrow of the socialist system shall be punished by a sentence of five years or less of imprisonment, criminal detention, supervision or deprivation of political rights. Criminal leaders or those whose crimes are particularly severe shall be punished by a sentence of five years or more of imprisonment.
This amendment has grossly perverted basic human rights to allow the arrest of countless people under the crime of “inciting subversion of state power”. This is a sad example of an oppressive regime subverting internationally recognized human rights to keep a tight grip over the minds of individuals residing within their jurisdiction. Since its inception, thousands of Chinese have been jailed and silenced for any criticism of the People’s Republic of China or its abysmal human rights record.
Chinese propaganda and a lack of freedom of speech in China.
The state often releases a prisoner or two prior to high profile meetings with any ranking western diplomat, which the international community heralds as progress. However, countless Chinese citizens are imprisoned for even speaking about democracy. Western companies such as Google and Yahoo even cave to the Chinese government’s censorship laws for fear of losing access to such a large market and offensive words such as “democracy” return no results in Chinese Google searches.
In China, even discussing the countries ancient past can be considered a crime. Professor Yang Siquan of East China University was accused of being “counter revolutionary” for blogging about ancient Chinese culture. It is quite obvious to the western democratic observer that the “freedom of speech” guaranteed by the Chinese constitution only applies to language that conforms with the communist states accepted positions.
The revolutionaries fighting for freedom in China.
Hu Jia, a Chinese human rights activist was imprisoned in 2007 for defending Chinese peasants whose land was taken from them for urban development. He is one of the greatest advocates for the exercise of free expression in China. Hu Jia was arrested after a number of peasant leaders issued a manifesto requesting broader land rights. He was taken into custody and sentenced to 3.5 years after pleading not guilty to “subversion of state power”.
Huang Qi, who runs a website designed to offer information on people missing in China, was arrested for “illegal possession of state secrets”. He is currently serving a 3 year prison sentence after he helped victims of the massive Great Sichuan earthquake which killed over 69,000 people and injured over 300,000.
Another example is the case of Liu Xiaobo who was arrested for his contribution to Charter 08. Charter 08 is a manifesto with over 300 Chinese intellectuals to promote democratization and political reform in China. He was charged with subversion of state power six months after he was detained by Chinese authorities.
These are only a few of the more prominent cases showing the disregard for freedom of speech in China. Countless other freedom fighters have been detained or gone missing over the years of the oppressive Chinese communist regime. For all the economic strides China has taken in recent years it still lags behind the rest of the world in basic human rights. Censorship by the Chinese Communist Party continues to be prevalent today with the state strictly controlling all forms of media and the internet. As Winston Churchill famously stated, “Dictators ride to and fro on tigers they dare not dismount”. This seems to explain the Communist party of China’s insecurity. This insecurity drives policies such as the aforementioned article 105(2) increasing the states authoritarian control.
Human rights, freedom of speech and a global call to action.
Rights possessed by all individuals by virtue of being a person, regardless of their status are human rights. Freedom of speech is a basic human right. It is the right that allows people to evaluate their government and decide to cast that government off if necessary. It is essentially the right that guarantees all others.
The censorship in China is a relic of Maoism. It is a throwback to a time when political instability fueled a witch hunt to weed out the capitalists and pro democracy voices of the era. The country has shed its centrally planned economic system and adapted a hybrid of a capitalistic economy with a one party communist rule.
The country now boasts the second largest GDP in the world. Long gone are the days of the Maoist revolution, the time has come for change. While one person’s views are silenced anywhere in the world, liberty suffers everywhere. Freedom of speech and censorship in China affect the world as a whole and people who believe in human liberty around the world must unite in solidarity to free the people of China from their inhumane oppression.
“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless, not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Boenhoffe – Nazi political prisoner and Lutheran pastor, executed by hanging in 1945.
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