Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Getting Back To Business With China

Is it time for the U.S. to move on from the blame game over who did what on Covid-19, and get back to doing business with the Chinese Communist Party, China’s Government, Chinese universities, business firms, and social organizations?

Perhaps.  But doing business with China requires adherence to its rules. What are those rules in practice?  (See list below.)  If you doubt them, apply for a visa to visit China.  On arrival, exercise your freedom of speech criticizing Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party the same way that are free to criticize Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the United States.  Watch what happens.  If you are lucky, you’ll be deported.  If not so lucky, you’ll be detained, perhaps for an indefinite period of time, or worse.  If you are President of Harvard, you may be allowed to talk about academic freedom to an audience of students and faculty at a leading Chinese university, but you still better not criticize any aspect of Xi Jinping Thought.

Here is a list of no-no’s that constrains doing business with China (and applies to your local Chinese employees):

No freedom of speech.

No freedom to dissent.

No freedom to criticize Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party, and China’s government.

No academic freedom in the humanities and social sciences.

No freedom of the press.

No religious freedom.

No freedom of the people to peacefully assemble.

No freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

No security of persons in their houses and their papers and effects.

No protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

No “rule of law.”

No presumption of innocence.

No right to equal protection under the law.

No trial by an independent jury of one’s peers.

No protection against seizure of private property without just compensation.

No protection from excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment.

No practice of democracy, i.e., free and fair elections.

No freedom of travel by train or airplane without an acceptable government-determined social credit score.

No protection from arbitrary arrest, detention, and exile.

No universal freedom to leave the country.

The individual freedoms that are summarily disregarded by China’s leaders are enshrined in China’s Constitution.  But they are on paper, not in practice.

Chapter II of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (2018 Edition) is titled “The Fundamental Rights And Duties Of Citizens.”  They are stipulated in Articles 33 through 56.”

33.  All citizens of the PRC are equal before the law.

34.  All citizens aged 18 and over have the right to vote and stand for election, unless deprived of political rights according to law.

35.  PRC citizens have freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration.

36.  PRC citizens have freedom of religious belief.  Citizens cannot make use of religion to disrupt public order or interfere with the educational system of the state.

37.  No citizen may be arrested except with the approval of a people’s procuratorate, a people’s court, or public security organ.

38.  Citizens shall be secure from libel, false accusation, or false incrimination.

39.  Citizens shall have freedom from unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a residence.

40.  Citizens shall enjoy freedom and privacy of correspondence, except to meet the needs of state security and criminal investigation.

41.  Citizens have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary and make complaints against those that violate the law or fail to perform their duty.

42.  Citizens have the right and duty to work.

43.  Citizens who work have the right to rest and take vacations.

44.  Citizens who are retired are guaranteed livelihood by the state and society.

45.  Citizens are entitled to material assistance from the state and society if old, ill, or disabled.

46.  Citizens have the right and duty to receive education.

47.  Citizens have the freedom to engage in scientific research, literary and artistic creation, and other cultural pursuits.

48.  Women shall enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life.

49.  Freedom of marriage is protected by the state.  Both husband and wife have the duty to practice family planning.

50.  The PRC shall protect the legitimate rights of Chinese nationals residing abroad, family members of Chinese nationals residing abroad, and lawful rights of returned overseas Chinese.

51.  Citizens, in exercising their rights and freedoms, must not infringe upon the rights of the state, of society, of the collective, or lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.

52.  Citizens have the duty to safeguard the unification of the country and the unity of all its ethnicities.

53.  Citizens must abide by the Constitution and other laws, keep state secrets, protect public property, observe labor discipline, observe public order, and respect social ethics.

54.  Citizens have the duty to safeguard the security, honor, and interests of the motherland and must not commit acts detrimental to the security, honor, and interests of the motherland.

55.  Citizens have the duty to defend the motherland and resist aggression.  Citizens have the duty to perform military service and join the militia in accordance with the law.

56.  Citizens shall have the duty to pay taxes in accordance with the law.

These rights and duties would be reasonable if they were honored in practice.  A major problem is that the Preamble and Chapter I in the Constitution, which specify the foundations of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” provide justification for violating constitutional rights.

Here is a partial list of constraints on the exercise of individual rights stated in the Preamble and Chapter I.  (My comments in italics.)

The People’s Republic of China is a Socialist state.  Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Communist Party.  Any disruption of the socialist system by an organization or individual is prohibited.  (This statement eliminates democracy, dissent, free and fair elections, criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, and disobeying any other CCP dictums.)

The state upholds the Socialist legal system.  (The Socialist legal system does not provide the individual protections embedded in the Common Law and Civil Law.)

The basis of the Socialist economic system is socialist public ownership of the means of production.

All mineral resource, waters, forests, mountains, grasslands, unclaimed land, beaches, and natural resources, and urban land are owned by the state or rural collectives.

Non-public sectors of the economy (individual and private sectors) are protected, but under the oversight and control of the state.  (Individual and private sectors are subject to the whims of the CCP and the state.)

The state protects both public and private property, but may requisition or expropriate private property for public use with compensation.  (The state, not an independent tribunal, determines compensation.)

The state maintains public order and penalizes activities that endanger public security or disrupt the socialist economy.  (This provision means that China can punish any individual or organization that does not comply with official ideology or policy, without any appeal.)

What must be understood in these lists of rights, freedoms, and duties is that the Chinese Communist Party and its subsidiary state organs have the exclusive right and power to interpret and apply the Constitution and laws of China.  There are no appeals to any independent constitutional or statutory authority.

No country is perfect in always applying its stated principles of governance.  There are degrees of variation of adherence to human rights.  By any measure, the United States is high on the list of countries that give credence to human rights and China is far down.

Do you want to understand Chinese rules?  Ask residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Chinese exiles in the West what the “Rule of Law” means in practice in China, and what China’s promises to abide by written agreements means in practice for Hong Kongers.

The United States does business with many countries that violate their constitutional principles and legal guarantees.  But none pose the same economic and political threat to the United States as does China.  Burundi is not China.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Red Flag Over Hong Kong: China's Broken Promise To Hong Kong

Read the following book (free download) for a thorough understanding of China's broken promise to Hong Kong that its residents would enjoy a high degree of autonomy for 50 years to maintain their separate political, economic, and social systems.

The book was an English language bestseller in Hong Kong from its publication in 1996 until June 30, 1997, when China resumed sovereignty from Britain over Hong Kong.  Copies of the book disappeared from the shelves of Hong Kong's English language bookstores immediately thereafter.