I ♥ China (sometimes)

ChinaHeartYou’ve got to love China, don’t you? I mean, not for everything they do, obviously. Not for their oppressive approach to dissent, or their frankly worrying domination of global Table Tennis. Not that. But you do have to love their different priorities sometimes.

Like in last week’s news of how the head of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, Chen Tonghai, had been found guilty of taking bribes and generally behaving like an economic cad (actions peculiar to China and something we’d naturally not be familiar with here, in the West, where Freedom and Democracy underlie society’s moral fabric like a carpet underlay of warm, woolly justice). Only, China did not give Mr Chen a rhetorical slap on the wrist, a massive pension and taxpayer money to carry on his business. They didn’t even give him a short stay in prison. Oh no. That is not how China rolls. China gave him a death sentence.

This is nothing too new in China. Earlier this year, two executives who tried to boost their profits at a Chinese formula-milk plant by tainting the milk with melamine (thereby killing six children and making 300,000 dangerously ill) were also sentenced to death.

'Execution' by Yu Min Jun, the most expensive Chinese painting ever sold (£2.9million)

'Execution' by Yu Min Jun, the most expensive Chinese painting ever sold (£2.9million)

Now let me be clear: I oppose capital punishment. I think that Christians who say they are pro-death-penalty had better not go outside the Church calling themselves ‘pro-life’, because, quite frankly, it confuses people. And, thankfully, Chen’s sentence was suspended, conditional on two years of good behaviour (no pressure, there, Chen). But I like the principle that financial mismanagement that potentially affects the lives of millions is seen as something so serious that it will receive the full force of the law’s displeasure.

In my opinion, the Chinese government bears some of the blame (for going all capitalist and then acting surprised when people act recklessly in accordance with the love of money at the heart of that philosophy). Execution would be wrong. But wouldn’t it be nice if corporate crimes motivated by ever greater profits and resulting in incalculable suffering were taken so seriously here that victims were compensated, other firms were warned off similar mistakes and repeatedly criminal companies were liquidated? Would the world not be a better (if, possibly, a less rich) place?

As it is, this is obviously not the case.

from greenpeace.org

from greenpeace.org

Last week’s news featured a distressed mother pleading that her autistic son not be sent to the US to face trial (an ordeal one MP said would be ‘brutal’ to the boy). The US was insisting on his extradition. Why? Because he hacked into military computer networks, looking for evidence of UFOs.

At the same time, Warren Anderson, a fugitive in America for years, has not been extradited to India, where there is an arrest warrant out for him. The charge against him? Not hacking for little green men, but culpability in the deaths of thousands of people.

The gas factory he ran in Bhopal, India, released tonnes of poison gas in 1984, ultimately killing almost 20,000 people and leaving half a million with respiratory problems, blindness, etc. When an arrest warrant was issued for him, he fled by private jet to America.

I suggest that Britain ignore the American request for extradition until America honours a similar request, made several years ago, by our Commonwealth friends, India, for Mr Anderson (if he’s still alive). It’s not like he’d be headed for China, after all.

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Here’s a superb bit of activism/comedy by the Yes Men, guys who impersonate spokespeople from companies like Dow and Union Carbide and make false statements on their behalf that highlight the real companies’ lack of any genuine corporate social responsibility. This interview was actually broadcast on the BBC. Also check out this link to find out more about these good, amusing people.

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One Response

  1. Have you lived in China? I am Australian and I love this country –
    people send us emails with ‘hate China’ propaganda on a daily basis…. It is a propaganda campaign … Do your Homework

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