The most urgent & pressing thing in China is to give its people the right to say NO

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TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

It is an astonishing fact that Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter have kowtowed to China’s “shut-your-mouth” machine.

On Thursday, a group of 14 human-rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and PEN International, have written an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai demanding that he reverse plans to launch a censored search engine in China.

The letter reads:

“Like many of Google’s own employees, we are extremely concerned by reports that Google is developing a new censored search engine app for the Chinese market. The project, code-named ‘Dragonfly’, would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights. The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities’ repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China.”

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration, Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China has this hypocrite claim.

Besides preaching one thing but doing another, China has been notorious in nationwide censorship, blocking the internet with the Firewall, and ruling the nation with vicious police.

“I have my freedom of speech,” are the last words a retired university professor is heard saying before the line goes dead with the Voice of America.

August the 2nd, Sun Wenguang, 84, was in the middle of an interview with VOA when police broke into his home in Jinan and forced him off air.

Patrick Poon, an East Asia researcher from Amnesty International echoed these remarks: “It’s a disgrace to see how a Chinese public intellectual who was [doing] a media interview was suddenly cut off by police officers.” According to BBC.

“It vividly shows how the Chinese authorities clamp down on free speech,” he told the BBC. “Police can harass [dissidents] any time and anywhere they like.”

China’s constitution affords its citizens freedom of speech and press, but the opacity of Chinese media regulations allows authorities to crack down on news stories by claiming that they expose state secrets and endanger the country.

According to US Congressional Executive Commission on China, freedom of expression in China is a privilege instead of a right, and there is no freedom of political expression for ordinary citizens.

The only people in China who can publish criticisms of, or opinions contrary to those of, the Communist Party, are senior members of the Communist Party.

Academics and editors of China’s state-controlled publications are afforded somewhat less leeway than Party officials, but still more than the average person.

In January 2013, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of Southern Weekly after Guangdong’s propaganda chief Tuo Zhen allegedly rewrote the newspaper’s New Year’s editorial entitled “China’s Dream/ The Dream of Constitution.” This was the largest and most open protest for free speech in China in decades.

Since then, the whole country’s media has been silenced and no one has dared to say NO to the government in public.

For years, the governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France have been reluctant to criticize China’s human rights violations for economic benefits.

Only Australia and Japan seem to join the US to accuse China of abuses.

This year Australia tries to strike a balance between benefiting from and being threatened by its relationship with Beijing, a key piece of solving this puzzle has largely dropped out of the debate: pressing for better respect for human rights inside China, according to Sophie Richardson from the Human Rights Watch.

Yesterday Japan lodged a protest with China about freedom of speech after Beijing blocked a Japanese reporter from covering Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“The Japanese government believes that respect for basic human rights including freedom of expression is a universal value in the international community, and ensuring those rights is important in any country,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said in Tokyo when asked about the incident.

China’s ruling Communist Party is pursuing an aggressive, covert infiltration of US educational and social institutions to quell dissenting voices and strengthen its soft power overseas, according to a report written for an influential US congressional body.

The Chinese Communist Party is seeking “to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China”, said the report, published last Friday by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Chinese with conscience have never stopped fighting for their inherent right to speak out. Critics of blocking whistle-blowers by Twitter and Facebook have raised the concerns of many.

Social media has been urged to follow this code of practice: “The protection of whistle-blowers who disclose information that is clearly in the public interest is grounded in the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.”

A Chinese old saying goes like this, “It will cause more harm to stop the free flow of people’s thoughts than to stop that of the rivers.”

Domestic censorship by the Chinese government has not only caused disasters to the Chinese citizens, it has disrupted the normal operations of foreign invested businesses.

President Donald Trump called China’s censorship against foreign corporations “Orwellian nonsense,” but the international community has offered very little in the way of sanctions or measurable actions against the authoritarian Chinese state’s interference against foreign companies.

Instead of waging a military war or focusing on the trade war against China, a more urgent and pressing way to protect the whole world may be joint efforts and more concrete measures to bring down the Fire Wall and let the Chinese have the right to say NO to the CCP.

Followcn Staff Writer

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