The dragon capitulates

According to Gordon Brown, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is ready to speak with the Dalai Lama.

“I spoke to Premier Wen this morning and I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet,” Brown said.

“The premier told me that, subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said — that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence — that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama.”

Has the pressure of the torrent of net information about China’s repression in Tibet and the need for the Chinese to smooth the way for the Olympics assisted with this concession?

Prince Charles, a long term friend and supporter of the Dalai Lama, has already indicated he will not be attending the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Kowtowing to China

Seized, occupied and colonised by invading Han Chinese in 1950, Tibet is a litmus test for countries who claim to uphold human rights. For years, most nations, including Australia and New Zealand, have paid only lip service to human rights where China is concerned, frightened that an angry dragon will incinerate existing trade agreements and close its doors once more to the west. Nation heads who dare to meet with the ever cheerful Dalai Lama habitually cause the Chinese dictatorship to spout caustic recriminations.

In a sense, Tibet is the Palestine of the Orient, both areas being occupied by colonising aggressors around 60 years ago. Their lands appropriated for the benefit of Han hordes, like the Palestinians dispossessed and ethnically cleansed during their horrific Nakba, indigenous Tibetans driven from their homeland are unable to return or be granted compensation. Like Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, Tibetans supporting self-determination and resisting occupation are imprisoned, persecuted and sometimes killed. As unpopular as it is to voice support of the Palestinian people’s cause, so it is for nations to utter commitment to the cause of the Tibetan people. In both cases, the big bully calls the shots and vents slippery propaganda to justify criminal acts of abuse. In that vein, China has blamed the current riots in Lhasa on activist opportunists seeking to use the coming Olympic games to force the bully’s hand.

Tibetan sources however say the protests, in which 20 people thus far have been killed, began when the Chinese government demanded over 20 monasteries in occupied Tibet raise the Chinese flag. Protests spread spontaneously across Tibet and throughout the world, ignited by the need for freedom after 58 years of brutal occupation, borne by ubiquitous cellphone. With alarm and palpable guilt, China blocked YouTube too late to prevent eyewitnesses broadcasting images via cellphones to the net, along with material obtained by some intrepid tourists present in Lhasa at the commencement of the protests. Too late, mate – the cat is out of the bag and will never be be caught. The whole world is watching, including Chinese people sympathetic to the plight of Tibetans and their cause – so block this, you ridiculous, cruel, power-mad old dinosaurs. A healthy society can withstand and even welcome scrutiny and criticism.

Today, China’s growing economy is irrevocably intermeshed with the rest of the world. Educated youth bourgeoisie hungry for prestige, western goods and internet communication contrast with austere authoritarian rule. Without Mao-style bloody pogroms and a crippled economy, there can be no retreat for China. Particularly with the forthcoming Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, is it realistic to think that expressing solidarity with Tibetan rights (along with pressuring China over its bankrolling of the genocide at Darfur) will create a vast economic reprimand from the ruling Chinese junta? Why are Rudd and Helen Clark proferring customary kneejerk tut tuts rather than roundly condemning both the Chinese occupation of Tibet and its continued oppression of Tibet’s people?

If the west spoke in solidarity to condemn China’s human rights abuses in Tibet, what can China really do without harming itself?

Perhaps sensing this, Condisleezer has called for China to open talks with the Dalai Lama – an unprecedented request to which China has demurred unless the Dalai Lama gives up independence plans. The Dalai Lama however is not seeking independence – he simply wants Tibet to be a REAL autonomous region within China. Why has Kevvie not added his voice in support of Condi’s request? Is China to be our new master now rather than the US?

Next month, our Kevvie is to visit Beijing where it is reported he plans to raise human rights issues. Perhaps he feels that to preempt these talks by supporting Condi’s suggestion may damage his effectiveness.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith expressed the Australian government’s current position:

“The Australian government believes that China’s best interests are served by implementing policies which will foster an environment of greater respect and tolerance,” Mr Smith said.

“We remain concerned about serious inadequacies in the protection of Tibetans’ civil and political rights.”

But he stressed that Australia remained committed to a one-China policy.

Is it desirable or even possible to create an environment of respect and tolerance for oppressive, mass murdering thieves without tainting oneself with the blood of their victims?

Senator Bob Brown rightly criticises Rudd for his lack of support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, emphasising that

the media lockout of the Beijing University protests was a reminder China was being ruled by a nasty dictatorship.

“This is a police state,” he said.

“It’s a repressive dictatorship. It’s the last huge Communist dictatorship on the planet and there’s a great need for Kevin Rudd and other political leaders around the world to call a spade a spade.

“The Tibetans have a right to self-determination.

“Kevin Rudd should be speaking up for it.”

Frank Zappa, who often said things best, can have the last word in this post (from “How the Pigs’ Music Works” off the Civilisation Phase 111 album):

Spider: I think I can explain about about how the pigs’ music works
Monica: Well, this should be interesting
Spider: Remember that they make music with a very dense light
John: Yeah
Monica: O.K.
Spider: And remember about the smoke standing still and how they they really get uptight when you try to move the smoke, right?
Monica: Right
John: Yeah?
Spider: I think the music in that dense light is probably what makes the smoke stand still. As soon as the pony’s mane starts to get good in the back any sort of motion, especially of smoke or gas, begins to make the ends split
Monica: Well don’t the splitting ends change the density of the ponies’ music so it affects the density of the pigs’ music, which makes the smoke move which upsets the pigs?
Spider: No, it isn’t like that
John: Well, how does it work?
Spider: Well, what it does is when it strikes any sort of energy field or solid object or even something as ephemeral as smoke, the first thing it does is begins to inactivate the molecular motion so that it slows down and finally stops. That’s why the smoke stops. And also have you ever noticed how the the smoke clouds shrink up? That’s because the molecules come closer together. The cold light makes it get so small, this is really brittle smoke
John: And that’s why the pigs don’t want you to touch it
Spider: See, when the smoke gets that brittle what happens when you try to move it is it disintegrates
John: And the pigs get uptight ’cause you know they, they worship that smoke. They salute it every day
Monica: You know we’ve got something here
John: And, and, and, and that’s the basis of all their nationalism. Like if they can’t salute the smoke every morning when they get up…
Spider: Yeah, it’s a vicious circle. You got it.

Sneaking over the Great Firewall

Amazingly, the vigilant Chinese authorities have not blocked Beyond The Fringe, according to the three location test at Website Pulse. Not so at the Great Firewall of China test, where every site I tried on several servers besides this one was blocked. [NB Now clear on this test]. You can also use this test.

Beyond The Fringe is also listed on Google China – four pages of references isn’t too bad considering the site hasn’t been up for too long in its present form and location.

It must be time to write something pointedly critical about human rights abuses and censorship in China, besides one’s usual diatribes about Chinese purchases at bargain basement prices of Asstralian resources.

Outside noisy, inside empty – old Chinese proverb

A-manda-rinDespite the extraordinarily generous largesse of the Whorestralian taxpayer subsidising her mature age Mandarin language lessons to the estimated tune of $70,000 (that’s RMB430,000), it appears our investment in Amandarin Vanstone has not borne fruit. The $70,000 could include

… a $3,600 airfare to China for the Senator’s teacher.

New Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews is reported to be deeply concerned by the spending and has demanded an audit into the spending.

Mandarin lessons are cheaper in Shanghai

…where university courses cost around RMB8,000 to RMB12,000 per semester, or hourly lesson rates cost anywhere between RMB40 to RMB200. Even removed from a normal Chinese-speaking environment, you would think that spending that large amount of money allow you to obtain a reasonable degree of knowledge for the language, wouldn’t you? Not so.

Amanda’s viva exposition of her newly acquired skills ‘failed to impress a seasoned Mandarin-speaking businessman when delivering a speech in Mandarin in Canberra last year, with the man describing it as “excruciating”‘.

Kevvie Rudd speaks Mandarin fluently – was Amandarin jealously keen to catch up?

Or did she want to taunt immigrants or detainees in Australia’s immigration detention centres in their own language?

Further reading reveals that recently the overspending Senator may have been angling for a plum job representing Australia in China.

Perhaps we should direct our hard earned tax dollars into intelligence and skills aptitude testing for pollies before allowing them to pursue their wilful follies at our expense.

Of SubPrimes and Pigs in Shit

Howard Wallowing

With the passing of the Ides of March, we have strong suspicions that the second market correction may be over – will there be a third? It is possible the subdued buying of resources – first copper, then zinc – by the Chinese in the past little while was deliberately orchestrated to engineer prices down to coincide with the beginning of the Year of the Gold Pig. Of relevance here may be the decision by the Asstralian government last December to remove capital gains taxes for foreign investors and the more recent Chinese government decision not to impose capital gains tax on their investors. Metals prices rose strongly last night. Will the bull market resume or will the crazy crazy selloff of our precious resources continue unabated?

A Porky MonarchyWho wouldn’t like to have been a cashed up Chinese investor this year, rolling in US dollars, eager to drop them into cheap physical resources as the United Stupids economy sags under the weight of precarious hedge and subprime mortage funds and a tenuous bond market?

And where better to invest than in relatively insulated CGT free rich Australian resources at bargain basement prices – particularly uranium (Citic has been buying up more SAU this week), gold and zinc.

Kiss goodbye to your birthright treasures, fellow Asstralians – and don’t expect to reap any of the proceeds of the fire sale in additional community services in this election year – Howard’s mudslingers need every cent to artificially deflate the trade deficit, to buy more crappy US jet fighters and electioneering pork. And as for you pathetic, whinging Asstralian mortgagees, get ready to wear another interest rate rise you have to have, trust me, it’s for your own good,.