Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Treatment of Detainees 

A young lady from Holland saw me studying my Chinese lesson today and asked me how old I was. I told her that I was 54, which is still true for a few days. She told me she had read that you can continue to absorb new languages until you are 60. She said that with math, it falls off at 28, but with language, you have much longer. Interesting, but if I were 65 or 70 and I wanted to learn a new language, I wouldn't let anything stop me. Don't think it will happen, though. I think Mandarin will probably take me the rest of my life, at the rate I'm going.

The front page of the China Daily outlines the new human rights action plan relative to treatment of detainees. This is certainly welcome. But more questions need to be asked about how those detainees got there, and whether they should be there at all. The plan does include some provisions for criminal procedure. The problem is that you would have to be accused of a crime to benefit from them. As far as I know, extrajudicial arrests and detainment are not affected by the human rights action plan. So criminals who are accused have a right to a fair trial, but little old ladies who wish to protest expropriation of property by corrupt officials, or some other such injustice, can still be sentenced to re-education through labor.

Americans look at China and measure all reform by how much it increases the right of people to choose their leaders. I have said this before, but I do not believe that democracy should be the objective. Democracy is just a form of government. The objective is personal liberty. An increase in democracy does not necessarily equate to an increase in personal liberty. If the government of China can give people personal freedom (including freedom from confiscation of their homes), it does not owe any explanations to Americans or others who insist that China must copy western style democratic governments. Freedom is ever the watchword when we evaluate political reform.

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