DECKER: Back to the future in Beijing

As China becomes richer, the people are not becoming freer

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The Chinese government celebrated the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in predictable fashion: by rounding up political dissidents. The occasion marks the days 23 years ago this week when Communist Party leaders in Beijing sent tanks into the main square of the capital and other cities to crush pro-democracy protesters, killing thousands. Propaganda aside, not much has changed on the human-rights front in the Middle Kingdom.

The Chinese Communist Party remains the largest, most brutal regime on the planet. The Chinese masses don’t have the benefit of any of the basic rights most in the West take for granted. There is no freedom of religion, with permits required to worship even when a mere few want to gather to pray together in a private home. Violators are fined, jailed, have their possessions (including their Bibles) confiscated and their houses bulldozed. In the underground Catholic Church, “At least 40 unregistered Chinese bishops are in detention, home confinement or surveillance; are in hiding; or have disappeared under suspicious circumstances,” according to the 2011 annual report produced by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, chaired by Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey.

There is likewise no freedom of speech or association. The Chinese government employs an army of computer whiz kids in its war to bottle up the Internet. Beijing’s techies have been busy deleting entries on message boards and blocking articles, photos, conversations and even search terms related to the Tiananmen anniversary. For example, “China’s censors have blocked Internet access to the terms ‘six four,’ ‘23,’ ‘candle’ and ‘never forget,’ ” Reuters reported. In past years, popular social-media sites such as Twitter and YouTube have been shut down to curtail access to information in the communist state. Belonging to pro-democracy groups or associating with individuals deemed to be troublemakers - such as human-rights lawyers - can get Chinese citizens kicked out of school, fired from their jobs or taken away, never to be seen or heard from again.

There is no right to life, the most fundamental human right of all. To enforce its brutal one-child-per-family policy, the Chinese regime forces mothers to have abortions and undergo sterilization against their will. The judicial system is a tool to control the population and make a profit. The People’s Republic, which executes more prisoners annually than the rest of the world combined many times over, uses capital punishment to supply organs to the global black market for transplants.

There is a myth that Chinese society has opened up since the Tiananmen massacre. The opposite is actually true. The communists were becoming more lenient up until the 1989 showdown, but the mass demonstrations and resulting violence convinced the butchers in Beijing that they needed to maintain stricter control in the future. The middle class has grown as has the number of wealthy industrial titans, but the new richer classes are beholden to the party for their positions and possessions. There are no property rights, so going against the regime means losing everything. The communist grip on power is as strong as ever, which means more than a billion Chinese souls will continue to suffer under the totalitarian yoke.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).

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About the Author
Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker, former Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Times, was an editorial page writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank, Senior Vice President of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, speechwriter to then-House Majority Whip (later Majority Leader) Tom DeLay and reporter and television producer for the legendary Robert ...

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