2016 is the year China's President Xi Jinping extended
his China dream outside of China in implementing his Document No. 9
directives against constitutionality, universal values, press
freedom, civil society and analysis of historical errors.
It began with parades on television of the five Hong
Kong booksellers who were kidnapped in 2015, "admitting" that they
had gone to China "willingly" to "confess" their "crimes" against
Even before the subsequent appearance of one of the
kidnapped booksellers Lam Wingkee in Hong Kong, who recounted his
ordeal indicating that he was given a script to memorize on
television, few believed such theater of the absurd.
The attempt to stop the publishing of the book "Xi
Jinping and His Lovers" and other banned books backfired, garnering
more than a million Google search results.
President Xi Jinping should release Gui Minhai, the
last detained kidnapped booksellers, asap before the coming fall's
19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party so this
debacle will not hang over his head.
Of course, the use of forced confession did not limit
to the Hong Kong booksellers. Wang Yu, a human rights lawyer,
appeared on television in August renouncing her legal work after her
son was picked up in Myanmar. One of her last cases involved sexual
assault of six underage girls and their school principal who took
them to a hotel and offered them to government officials.
President Xi Jinping's campaign against corruption to
catch 'tigers' and 'flies' should include those 'mosquitoes' that
Wang Yu exposed. These 'mosquitoes' not only committed crimes
against the Chinese people but contribute to the moral corruption of
While in Ottawa in June this year, China's foreign
minister Wang Yi was asked about human rights issues in China, in
particular, the case of the kidnapped booksellers. He angrily
avoided the question by pointing out that China had lifted millions
out of poverty.
However, Wang Yi's comment will bring up the question
as to who caused these people their misery in the first place. The
Chinese Communist Party's policies of various historic anti
movements, Great Leap Forward, the Great Famine of 1958-1962, the
Cultural Revolution, etc. caused the death of 70 million people and
brought China to the brink of economic collapse even as Hong Kong,
despite having to deal with the constant influx of refugees from
China, became a world financial center and with Taiwan, Singapore,
South Korea as the four Asian economic tigers of the second half of
the 20th century.
In the same press conference, Wang Yi told the
reporter, "... it is the Chinese people who are in the best
situation, in the best position to have a say about China’s human
rights situation.” What if the reporter followed up with this
question, "May I ask the Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo about that
issue?" What was Wang Yi going to say? "Sorry, Liu Xiaobo is
unavailable. He has been sentenced to eleven years in prison for
writing about China's human rights situation."
Lancôme, the French cosmetic company, canceled a Hong
Kong event with singer Denis Ho after China's state owned newspaper
Global Times complained about her support for democracy. As a
result, Lancôme and its parent company L’Oréa
had to face the company's worst public relations nightmare
especially when a French citizen started a Change.org petition to
boycott the company garnering more than 86,000 signatures world
Listerin, another brand, on the other hand, ignored
Lesson to global businesses: weigh your options
carefully, one will never recover from a tainted reputation.
Furthermore, those who comment on the internet in China's state
owned media, are often members of the 50 Cent Party, paid
commentators or public employees who are expected to write comments
as part of their official duties. A research has shown that China
generated 450 million fake comments each year.
The Academy of Motion Picture, in awarding an honorary
Oscar to kung fu star Jackie Chan who famously declared that Chinese
need to be controlled, has in effect become China's partner in
Continuing with Xi's campaign against civil society, a
new law has come in effect in China in 2017 that mandates an
approved Chinese sponsor for any foreign NGOs in China with the sole
purpose of having the Chinese Communist Party oversee the NGO's
activities regardless of the NGO's purpose. The law gives the
police power to investigate the NGOs and its intentional vague
language allows the court to interpret the law any way it pleases.
With 2017 barely starting, Apple Inc. already succumbed
to China's demand and removed the New York Times from its App
Store. What Apple does not recognize is that as Apple slowly but
surely loose its distinction from Huawei whose founder was a member
of the Peoples' Liberation Army, China's consumers may abandon
What will 2017 hold for the future of China? With
thugs increasingly used by the government to carry out China's
extrajudicial punishments, the government will see its own mandate
to govern slowly eroding to the point where government officials are
beholden to the growing power of the thugs.
Until the Chinese Communist Party begins to recognize
the importance of a civil society, China will see more and more of
their best and brightest leaving their motherland for a more secure
future for themselves and for their children.
Chair, Visual Artists Guild