Sunday, May 29, 2005

China's Constitution & Why It is Broken

"Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."
Constitution of the People's Republic of China

The Chinese constitution was adopted on December 4th, 1982 and it is chock full of lofty, benevolent ideas like freedom of assembly and equality of all peoples. Sadly, the soldiers driving tanks through Tianamen Square in 1989 must not have been aware of Article 35, as they crushed a student protest in a bloody massacre that the Chinese Government remains silent about to this day.

One thing the Chinese people can count on is that they won't be Patriot-acted like their American cousins.

"Article 39. The home of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. Unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a citizen's home is prohibited."

Article 35 may be abused from time to time but Article 40 is most certainly torn to shreds on a daily basis.

"Article 40. The freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens of the People's Republic of China are protected by law. No organization or individual may, on any ground, infringe upon the freedom and privacy of citizens' correspondence except in cases where, to meet the needs of state security or of investigation into criminal offences, public security or procuratorial organs are permitted to censor correspondence in accordance with procedures prescribed by law."

If Chinese authorities respect privacy, why are all blogs blocked from Chinese interet users? My friends in China can't read my blog--apparently, China employs a gargantuan firewall that filters requests from sites with "packet sniffing technology" seeking certain prohibited keywords--and this is fundamentally an example of censorship, the kind that curdles my milk.

It could be argued that no nation-state really follows its constitution to the letter, or whatever system of law it holds dear. Countries don't have a conscience and will generally do what allows them to thrive, whether their citizens suffer or not.

Even in our utopic northern liberal paradise, we Canadians have been jerked around by the government countless times. In the Gaspe Coast where I'm from, when the government made Bonaventure Island into a nature preserve, they evicted several families with little or no compensation, uprooting them from the land they had lived on for generations. Same with Mirabel International Airport, the White Elephant they built on the remains of family farms forcibly traded at pitiful prices.

Still, I wish that we could design some form of government that actually believes the words and guarantees that it makes, one that would be willing to declare peace on the peoples of the world. We've all heard of declarations of war, so why not peace?

Since China is the most populous nation on earth, they deserve attention and criticism when their people are being short-changed by a repressive government. In the past two years, I've taken aim on America's shortcomings and mistakes many times but in doing so, I've neglected to admit that nations like China have a long way to go in the march towards freedom. Even with idiotic laws like the ones contained in the Patriot Act, America is still more free than many nations.

If Xinhuanet, the official state-approved news service is any indication, the Chinese people are aware of what is going on in the world around them, and they will take their freedom back one day. (if they've ever been free? Has anyone in the world ever truly been free?) We need a worldwide movement that encourages revolution (peacefully, of course) and that thwarts the oppression and domination of humanity. Who will lead us? Are any of you willing to step forward and risk life and limb for everyone else? Personally, I nominate Dennis Kucinich.

Who would make a good leader for a global freedom movement? Discuss. (Ghandi and other dead folks are excluded from the list!)