China makes a statement
By ANDRE BAGOO Sunday, July 22 2012
ACCORDING to Amnesty International, “thousands of people were executed in China in 2011, more than the rest of the world put together.”
“Figures on the death penalty are a state secret. Amnesty International has stopped publishing figures it collects from public sources in China, as these are likely to grossly underestimate the true number,” the human rights organisation said. In China there is no right to a fair trial. When you are arrested you disappear. Nobody knows the offence. Nobody sees the trial and nobody knows when you are administered the death penalty. Some would say this system allows State murder.
Last week, Chinese Ambassador Yang Youming and Michael Lee Kim, president of the Sun Wai Association, condemned the murder of a Chinese couple after a robbery at their family’s business place on July 12. The embassy, in an unprecedented statement issued two days later, said it contacted the TT Government and “strongly requested that the criminals be caught and brought to justice promptly.”
“The Embassy also appeals to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals and their properties in Trinidad and Tobago,” it said.
“The Embassy hereby advises all Chinese citizens in Trinidad and Tobago to heighten their awareness of security to ensure the safety of themselves and their properties.”
Lee Kim, in a press release issued on Tuesday, said, “The Chinese community have been traumatised” by the murder of the elderly couple, Yang Jiang Hua and Wu Xia Hua”. Lee Kim, who has hosted the Ambassador, continued, “Crime is a pandemic that is fast taking over the world, but the level of murders that is currently happening in our country recently is unacceptable.”
When Trinidad and Tobago experienced its highest levels of murders on record in 2008 and in 2009, the Chinese Embassy and the current Ambassador, who was also then in the post, did not issue a statement. On the contrary, China has been known for taking a hands-off approach to commenting on the affairs of sovereign nations.
Similarly, this country has been silent on abuses which take place in China. Instead, we have courted Chinese business. And there has been a price, not only for local industry, but for Chinese themselves.
Under the last administration, hundreds of Chinese workers were brought into the country by Chinese contractors under conditions which clearly showed signs of human trafficking. Things got so bad that in both August and October 2009, Chinese workers protested outside of their own embassy at St Clair and along the nation’s roads over the fact that after being shipped to this country, they were not getting their promised pay.
Several Chinese workers also died at construction sites, including Xia Deyun, who died at the Udecott site of the Ministry of Legal Affairs Tower on January 29, 2008. OSHA later said safety training could have prevented the death. Chinese construction worker Zhi Shen also died at the site of the construction of the Tranquility Government Primary School in September, 2009. Ironically, both involved Chinese firms.
Throughout all of this, the Chinese Embassy maintained a studied silence. Does the sudden willingness to comment on these issues indicate that China is now warming to a more democratic freedom of expression? Email:firstname.lastname@example.org