Global Politics

China rejects human rights criticism

Many young, middle-class Chinese are proud of their country and many of them are fed up hearing their country talked about as if it doesn't value human rights. And now many are annoyed that President Bush has chosen to speak out about human rights on the eve of the opening day of the Olympic ceremonies, and think that Bush is trying to lower China's image. Actually, Bush says he wasn't trying to speak against China but in support of the Chinese people. One Chinese citizen who'd like a little more equality and justice is this woman who's been fighting for fair compensation for the destruction of her home. She's been beaten and told to keep quiet about the issue. Millions of Chinese around the country have been similarly affected by development, and many have protested about these and other grievances and some have ended up in jail. When it comes to perceptions of human rights in China, there seem to be two Chinas: one where people feel discarded and cheated, and another where people can't understand what the West is fussing about. After I ask one Chinese man, who says he doesn't see what the fuss is about, he's stopped by a policeman who asks about what he's been discussing with me. Eventually he's allowed to walk away, perhaps rethinking his earlier statements. That's a good symbol for how China's human rights issues are for many people here: not a problem, until it is.

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