Kmal Shaikh dies so that Wen Jinbao can save face – the fruits of engagement

How many need to die to save the face of Wen Jinbao
How many need to die to save the face of Wen Jinbao?

The British media is reporting that China has gone ahead with the execution of Kmal Shaikh, a 53 year old father-of-three from London who was convicted of drug smuggling in China. His family have claimed that he was mentally ill and requested a medical examination. The examination was refused by the Chinese and Mr. Shaikh was executed by lethal injection.

The British government had made representation to the Chinese but I suspect that there was some fall out from the recent Copenhagen summit where the authoritarian Chinese leadership “lost face”. The Chinese regime has a reputation for throwing tantrums whenever anyone tries to interfere in it’s “internal affairs” and this time was no exception. As far as the Chinese were concerned Mr. Shaikh had to die for China to save face.

So, the British government is now angry, but one has to ask why? Why did anyone believe that a regime that maintains it’s grip on power at the point of a gun would worry about killing one man? Why does the West kowtow to China?

The answer we are given, by our supposedly informed elite, is that we need to “engage” with China and this will bring reform. Engagement usually boils down to allowing western companies to employ Chinese workers in order to  lower costs.

This engagement is taken as an article of faith but I wonder if anyone can site an example where it has worked. I know of no instance where an authoritarian regime has liberalised because outside influences have traded with it and thereby increased that regime’s power. In fact, if assisting a regime to grow richer and more powerful is a recipe for improved human rights, liberalisation and greater democracy then surely this tactic should be tried with Iran.

Our elite are of course TALKING BOLLOCKS! Supporting authoritarian regimes makes them stronger and entrenches their totalitarian instincts. The key to this is that our elites are not interested in greater democracy, they are interested in greater profits.

Our leaders frequently use the terms democracy and capitalism interchangeably but they are not the same. Since the second world war western countries have, in general, been both capitalist and democratic but prior to the war democracy was not so prevalent.

In the UK, prior to 1832 only male landowners could vote. This gradually changed until it included most males by 1918 but women did not get complete voting rights until 1928. So the UK’s claims to be an ancient democracy is complete poppy cock! The UK was, and remains, a capitalist country while democracy is a recent add-on brought about by two world wars and the rise of an alternative to capitalism in the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, with the threat (and implied alternative), of the Soviet Union, western countries became more liberal. Pensions, health care and workers rights blossomed. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the inferred failure of socialism, these hard won gains are being eroded. In the UK, one hears constantly of companies closing pension schemes along with exhortations that we must “compete” with China. By “compete” our elite mean that we must accept lower standards in the work place and lower wages.

Our leaders claim that “engagement” with an authoritarian regime will raise their standard of democracy and human rights but the truth is that the Chinese regime has no interest or need to improve human rights and rather than their standards rising we are being forced to lower ours.

We are told that we must compete or we will lose out, but hold on, the implication of this is that if China did not exist we would suffer some terrible fate as we would not be able to take advantage of their cheap labour. This is bollocks! The west went from strength to strength when the Soviet Union and China were both outside the World Trade Organisation. We may choose to trade with China but we do not “need” China.

It is true that the west has benefitted from all sorts of cheap goods from China. One only has to go onto ebay to wonder that it’s possible to buy a USB flash memory radio transmitter for £ 4.61 (yes , I did this!!). This is amazing value but do I need it? No. Would I sacrifice democracy, human rights and our children’s future for the ability to treat all goods as throw away items? NO! Do I want a world where goods are cheap but freedom is limited to an elite? NO!

The truth is that elites are always greedy – socialist or capitalist. Our leaders want engagement to increase profits but at the cost of democracy, civil rights and human rights. The protection from powerful elites is democracy. China is not a democracy and has shown no interest in democratizing.

We should be extremely cautious about becoming reliant on China for any key product or service. We should also be more robust when dealing with the Chinese. As a start there should be major repercussions from the Chinese leaders reckless behaviour at Copenhagen and execution of  Kmal Shaikh.

Which do we value more, democracy and human rights or a Chinese USB stick?

Related posts:
china loses face by sabotaging climate change talks
china in who’s hands?

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