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
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
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.