By: Kristi Cuschieri

Japan & China

Making big news recently was President Clinton's visit to China. One

important item on his agenda was the human rights issue. Violation of human

rights became more of a problem after the Tiananmen Square massacre. It

happened in 1989, where pro democracy students in Beijing were shot down.

Even though this happened about nine years ago, the rapid police reactions to

modern protests show how sensitive the bloody incident still is. Human

rights have been defined by the United Nations and condensed into a document

called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. China is violating these

rights in many different ways. While many Chinese want the communist

government overthrown, others are resisting change, mainly because they are

well off, while the rest of the civilians are not happy with the present


Proclaimed after World War II, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (or

UDHR) sets out to define the human rights, which are fundamental to the

self-respect and development of every human being. These range from economic

rights, such as the right to work and to an adequate standard of living, to

political rights, such as freedom of opinion and expression. They also

include civil rights, such as equality before the law, and social or cultural

rights. The UDHR proclaims that all these rights belong to all people.

Consisting of 30 articles the UDHR has a number of rules and regulations, for

example: Article 3 "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of

person," Article 4 "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and

the slave trade shall be prohibited in all

their forms." As you can tell, especially from the fourth article the UDHR

is not always followed. Not all the nations take the UDHR seriously. China

for one has often been accused of not upholding these human rights.

In China citizens do not enjoy basic freedoms. The government restricts free

speech, free assembly and freedom of worship. Amnesty International

estimates that 2,000 people are in Chinese jails because of political crimes.

About 230,000 people are in labor camps and police, and police can still

sentence people to work in labor camps without a trial first.

A book was recently published called "The Law Against Extorting a Confession

by Torture," which documents that many people are tortured and injured while

they are in police custody. In 1993 alone, 126 people were killed by police

during interrogation, 115 people in 1994, and 64 others were seriously

injured or killed during these two years. Sometimes people would admit to

crimes that they did not commit in order to stop themselves from being


The criminal system in China is full of injustices. Besides tortures and

beatings, illegal arrests and illegal entries by police into private homes

and offices take place all the time. People live in fear. These are all

violations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

There have been attempts by the Chinese people to demolish communism and

start a democracy. Police detained nine people in the city Hangzhou for

trying to register the Chinese Democratic Party, on June 25th. The Chinese

Democratic Party would challenge the Communist Party's monopoly on power. It

was formed and publicly announced by a group of activists on the first day of

President Clinton's 9-day tour of China. Nevertheless a week after Clinton

went home, China rounded up the activists who had been actively fighting for

democracy and human rights before, and during his trip. Before Clinton's

visit China's President Jiang Zemin made sure that the media was censored and

the supervision was increased, he wanted "to check for the spread of

'decadent ideas.' " Dissident groups, which are those who disagree with the

government but don't take any action, who were exiled said that the rounding

up of all pro-democracy activists shows that President Clinton's strategy to

persuade China to improve human rights was a failure. Head of the

Washington-based Free China Movement Lian Shengde said, "The Chinese

government will not work with the free world to improve human rights because

they are a brutal communist dictatorship."

China currently has a communist government, which may affect the country's

economy in the future. Economically China is rising now, but that rise might

stop because the people are tired of the Communist government gaining all the

capital from, and having all the control of the trade. When people work,

under a communist government they do not have any incentive to try to do

better, because their status and pay will remain the

same. Even though China is not having huge economic problems now, absence

of human rights may lead to them in the future.

China is changing but there are still powerful forces that are resisting

change. The party leaders don't want to change the way that things are now

because they are doing well. If a democracy takes over then they might lose

some of their power and money.

While the civilians want to change the government because they are the people

who are doing all the work and do not even have basic human rights. A

democracy for the civilians means more opportunities to make their lives

better, and the ability to have a say in what goes on in their government.

A chance to bring more freedoms into their lives, such as being able to voice

their own opinions, read, write, and watch whatever they want to, without it

being censored.

The Chinese culture is an ancient one that dates back thousands of years.

People still practice Tai Chi and Acupuncture, which started millenia ago.

Change in China comes slowly, this also will include human rights.

What are human rights? What are the qualities that make us human? Human

rights are the protection of individuals against oppression; the preservation

of basic rights and freedoms for individuals. In China, the rights of the

people are not being respected. The Chinese people do not have the basic

freedoms that we in the US take for granted.. These freedoms include being

able to voice our own opinions, write or read what we want

to, and freedom of assembly. Most of the powerful party leaders are

completely resisting change because they are happy with their lives and

financial status. While the people are tired of the Communist government and

are ready for a change.


In the late 1890s Japan was sometimes known as a world economic

superpower. Other people often looked at Japanese methods of management as a

model to follow. Today unfortunately Japan seems to be in an economic slump.

This drop in economy is not only Japan's problem, but it is threatening the

stability of Asia. This problem was caused by the fact that Japan still

operates like it did in the 1950s and 1960s. Also a double economy of strong

exporters and weak domestic regions have evolved, creating enormous

distortions. The value of the Japanese yen is also falling because of this

economic problem. When the yen fell it put many Japanese banks in debt.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Japan was a poor, newly industrialized country.

During these times the Japanese came up with a strategy for catching up with

the West, to use industrial policy and selected use of import restrictions.

That strategy worked for then, but now the Japanese leaders need to change

the strategy. Back in the '50s and '60s they were promoting merchandise such

as electronics that had high market value, but now they are promoting things

like cement and glass that are not big selling merchandise. It is felt that

Japan's political leaders are slow to recognize how bad this economic problem

really is. They are slow to react to the pleas to take action from the

Japanese people, from neighboring countries, and the rest of the world.

The Japanese yen is dropping and as a result its exports have become cheaper

so Japanese exports are piling up in markets overseas. However, the real

problem is that while the yen is putting pressure on the rest of Asia, it is

making Japan's high-quality exports more competitive. On the other hand

Japan's cheaper exports are piling up in markets overseas, especially the

United States. The rise of Japanese merchandise in the United States has

also created an over production problem for the US. The production is

slowing because of the cheap imports that are flooding in. This means that

the American companies need to lay off employees because there is not enough

work to do. A new forecast expects the US growth average to only be two

percent for the rest of 1998, this is less than half of the annual growth

the US used to have. Even with this problem the American consumers need for

goods is keeping the American economy from falling also.

The yen fell from 140 yen to a dollar to 141.7 yen to a dollar. That is not

a tremendous difference, but recently the yen reached a new low of 146 to the

American dollar. A credit rating agency announced that it was giving Japan a

negative credit outlook. Japanese banks have been burdened by the huge

amounts of bad debts ever since the collapse of the "bubble economy" of the

1980s. As the bad debts grew, Japanese banks have had to face enormous

pressure from the international banking institutions to increase capital to

cope with the debts. In order to do this, banks have called loans from Japan

and throughout Asia. That caused a immense credit crunch, which led to a

sharp drop in the Japanese yen, it also helped push Japan into the economic


In the beginning of July, the Japanese government approved an ambitious plan

to try to solve the country's banking crisis. It was a move designed to

convince investors that Japan is serious about changing the banking system,

in order to get rid of this huge debt problem. Some banks are facing as much

as one trillion dollars in debt. Politicians want to secretly use money from

the public funds to pay off this debt, but that is the same as making the

Japanese citizens pay off the governments debts, which is not a honest thing

to do.

Currently Japan is in a major economic slump, caused mainly by lack of

reform. The value of the yen falling was the basic problem that got a lot of

the world involved. The continuing fall of the yen has brought new pressure

on to the economies in Asia. The huge debt that the Japanese banks stumbled

into added to the already existing problems. Japan's leaders did not seem as

if they even recognized how unfavorable this economic problem really is. It

is also a conflict that has had a chance to spread worldwide, and as already

slowed down the production in the US. This problem really shows how an

economic problem can become so big so fast.

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