Saturday, October 09, 2010

THE CHINA PROBLEM

The writer and activist Liu Xiaobo has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and it's likely that he won't know about it because he is in jail in China. The award is certainly a political statement by the Nobel Committee intended, in part, to highlight the human rights abuses by the Chinese government. China, as I've written here previously, is a complex place that is on the one hand making great advances for it's people while also continuing to be in many ways a totalitarian and oppressive place. Mr. Liu has been jailed, again, for his activities promoting democracy and personal freedoms.

We have some friends in China; people we met during our travels there a couple of years ago. I hesitate to email them and congratulate them for one of their citizens being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; they might not know about it because the Chinese government has blacked out the news, and I don't want to risk getting them in trouble because the government monitors email traffic.

China is a problem for Americans for a variety of reasons. Many American jobs have been shipped to China, where labor and materials are low cost, and labor and environmental regulations are not very protective. China "owns" the USA economically, and we're basically trapped into a strange relationship with it.

I was thinking the other day about the Americans who think President Obama is a socialist, and government programs like Medicare and Social Security are socialism. What I'd like to say to those folks is: "go home and look at everything you own; more than 90% of it is probably made in China, a Communist country. The American government isn't socialist, but the international corporations who have shipped all our jobs to China are supporting communism! And the Commies own the US economy!"

The US government is in a tough situation in relation to China. On the one hand, we don't like their human rights record and numerous other policies and relationships they have with "bad" governments around the world. But on the other hand, we can't piss them off because most of our stuff is manufactured there (including the MacBook I'm using right now) and they control a huge portion of our economy (some info in a previous post). China is, after all, an awakening tiger while the USA is becoming an old, doddering and tattered eagle.

photo from: www.guardian.co.uk

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