Conflict & Justice

China and human rights

Hu Jia started out as an AIDS activist a few years ago. There's still a lot of stigma towards AIDS in China. But after that Hu started to realize there were other hug problems in China, like free expression, so he started speaking out about that. He was then put under house arrest. While under house arrest, he still spoke out over the internet and over the phone. He was then arrested and put in prison. He and his wife made film of the guards standing around while watching him and put that on YouTube. The Chinese government was not amused. (How well is Hu Jia known by the general public in China?) Not well because the media is mostly state controlled in China. But in certain circles�activists, well educated people, people in civil society�he's known. (Hu's wife and daughter are also being held under house arrest. Will she face punishment for commenting on Hu's being given this award?) She is a very brave woman, she continues to speak out and she's driven by social justice and she's also a practicing Buddhist. (This award for Hu comes before this big summit in China. Will the urgency for cooperation on global economics trump this apparent slap on China's wrist for human rights abuses?) I think it does. The Chinese government is pragmatic and they'll continue to do what's in China's best interest economically, and that's cooperation with Europe. So the Chinese grit their teeth and bear it.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the audio to hear it.)

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