Here’s the question. Is the Chinese Government an extremist organisation as defined by the British government?
The British Government set out its policy on extremism in its Tackling Extremism in the UK report which defines extremism as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”. This country will host Xi Jinping this October who will visit as China’s President. We will welcome him with the red carpet, he will be guest of honour no doubt, at a state banquette, meet the queen and sign lots of contracts helping British and Chinese trade. But does this man endorse British values? Lets see….
Democracy: there was a small glimmer of hope for democracy in China 26 years ago when Students occupied Tienanmen square. It wasn’t just students who occupied the square, ordinary people were also involved, downing tools and joining the protests. I remember speaking to a friend of mine who was there attending a conference on Astrophysics that Beijing was hosting. He said ‘… the hotel staff gave us our breakfast and then got on a lorry and went to join the protest…’ That small glimmer of hope was crushed by tanks of the PLA. Recently the people of Hong Kong have expressed a desire to elect their leaders who freely stand. The ‘Umbrella Movement’ is currently in deadlock with a party authority determined to rule. So in terms of democracy, that’s a FAIL!.
The rule of law: The law has traditionally been used by Communist party leaders to purge its rivals. Xi Jinping is currently promoting a war on corruption that allows him to consolidate power and eliminate any opposition. There is basically no separation of powers in China where the ruling executive (Communist party) is separate from the judiciary. In fact they are one of the same thing allowing court verdicts to be given that are only in line with Party policy. Other examples are the laws providing special privileges to minorities and laws that govern pollution. These laws are rarely enforced because outcomes would again conflict with Party objectives. In the case of minorities the Party wants uniformity within society, one language, one culture. Minorities are therefore only allowed to be themselves as part of a growing tourist industry. Asserting ‘Tibetan-ness’ learing Tibetan in schools as a first language will get you locked up. In the case of industry and pollution, the party knows that it must maintain the 8%+ growth rate that allows the process of industrialisation to continue to push into the agricultural provinces so Pollution is a price worth paying and the laws are ignored. In summary the rule of law is a joke that most Chinese people know all to well. FAIL!
Individual liberty: There are numerous examples of people being locked up without being accused or convicted of a crime. The artist Ai Weiwei spend 80 days in captivity where the authorities did not confirm his detention or whereabouts. In England and Wales police detention is undertaken with respect to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, (PACE) where a 24 hour period of detention is allowed on arrest. When the time expires the detainee must either be charged or let go. The Officer in Case may appeal to a senior Officer or open Courts for an extension to that time limit. China has no such rules governing arrest. FAIL!
Mutual respect: You only have to list the Chinese Nobel Peace Laureates to understand how China values mutual respect. One of them is in exile (The Dalai Lama) and the other is in prison (Liu Xiaobo) serving his 4th sentence. The latter can be read about on his wikipedia page of which the following is taken that illustrates the paranoia of the Chinese government that fuels their FAILURE to exercise mutual respect.
On 18 May 1995, the police took Liu into custody for launching a petition campaign on the eve of the sixth anniversary of 4 June massacre in Tienanmen Square, calling on the government to reassess the event and to initiate political reform. He was held under residential surveillance in the suburbs of Beijing for 9 months. He was released in February 1996 but arrested again on 8 October for an October Tenth Declaration, co-authored by him and another prominent dissident Wang Xizhe, mainly on the Taiwan issue that advocated a peaceful reunification in order to oppose the Chinese Communist Party’s forceful threats towards the island. He was ordered to serve three years of re-education through labour “for disturbing public order” for that statement.
In 2003, when he started to write a Human Rights Report of China at home, his computer, letters and documents were confiscated by the government. He once said, “at Liu Xia’s [Liu’s wife] birthday, her best friend brought two bottles of wine to [my home] but was blocked by the police from coming in. I ordered a [birthday] cake and the police also rejected the man who delivered the cake to us. I quarrelled with them and the police said, “it is for the sake of your security. It has happened many bomb attacks in these days.” Those measures were loosened until 2007, prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In January 2005, following the death of former Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, who showed sympathy to protesters of the student demonstration in 1989, Liu was immediately put under house arrest for two weeks before realizing the death of Zhao. In the same year, he published two more books in the US, The Future of Free China Exists in Civil Society, and Single-Blade Poisonous Sword: Criticism of Chinese Nationalism.
His writing is considered subversive by the Chinese Communist Party, and his name is censored. He has called for multi-party elections, free markets, advocated the values of freedom, supported separation of powers and urged the governments to be accountable for its wrongdoings. When not in prison, he has been the subject of government monitoring and put under house arrest during sensitive times.
Tolerance of different faiths and beliefs: Enter the 11th Panchen Lama and the frankly weird attitude of the Chinese Communist Party. Only Chinese government would proclaim themselves to be atheist and then insist on all religions in China requiring official permission to exist and party officials being part of their administration. This has extended to choosing a rival Panchen Lama from that chosen by the Dalai Lama, the 5 year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who subsequently ‘disappeared’ together with his family and has not been seen in public since. The Chinese Government have insisted that the Dalai Lama will reincarnate and they will find the next incarnation.
So Tibetan Buddhism is regarded as deeply ‘splitist’, Falun Gong is band and Islam is seen as an armed enemy. Different faiths and beliefs are ‘Different’ and therefore a threat to the ruling Communist party. FAIL!
The Chinese Communist Government fails on all these, so when Xi Jingping comes to visit we can welcome him with Tolerance and Mutual respect of his atheism, Democratically give him the liberty to travel the country and the protection of the rule of law even though he’s an Extremist as defined by the British Government.