A despeito de todas as tentativas de mostrar uma face humana e competente para o mundo, o novo Comunismo chinês, que deu uma guinada capitalista na economia, continua com sua face feia no plano político. A questão do Tibet é a maior prova disso — mas está longe de ser a única. Um dissidente acaba de ser punido com pena de três anos e meio na prisão porque escreveu ensaios que foram considerados subversivos.
Liberdade econômica não consegue sobreviver por muito tempo sem liberdade política. Em algum momento, ou aparece a liberdade política, ou a liberdade econômica acaba desaparecendo.
Vamos ver o que acontece com a China.
A despeito disso, Raúl Castro parece acreditar que o caminho para o Comunismo cubano é imitar a China. Está permitindo que os cubanos usem o que resta ao final do mês de seu pobre salário (menos de 20 dólares por mês — isto é, cerca de 60 centavos de dólar por dia — por quanto é que se alardeia que os miseráveis da África vivem? Um dólar por dia!!!) por panelas elétricas, telefones celulares, etc…
Os três artigos abaixo, todos eles retirados do site do International Herald Tribune, todos eles comentam esses tópicos. Recomendo a leitura. E recomendo o site.
Em Hanoi, 5 de Abril de 2008
International Herald Tribune, 3 April 2008
LETTER FROM CHINA
China again cues up its propaganda machine
Letter from China
Published: April 3, 2008
SHANGHAI: Mao Zedong announced the tune himself, in 1927, when he wrote: "A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay or painting a picture or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."
For the next half-century, China was one of the most violent places on earth, and not just because of the vicious foreign invasion and civil war that swept the country, or the ceaseless purges of supposed traitors and class enemies. There was also the matter of language, which in China has been both an underrated means of violence and a vehicle for it.
Mao’s state created a propaganda system built on a crude triage: a world of heroes who were unalterably and impossibly good, and an even larger one of villains who were irredeemably, cartoonishly bad. Over-the-top became the routine in official rhetoric. Enemies were called "monsters" and "cow ghosts," "snake spirits" and "running dogs." And in one campaign after another the public was called upon to "resolutely crush" or "relentlessly denounce" them.
This was a universe of variable geometry, where people were not to reason things out on their own, but to fall in line. Today’s hero could be tomorrow’s villain, with no clear evidence or explanation. The sole moral compass point was the immoral leader himself, Mao, who to this day remains a sacred cow whose likeness peers out from every bank note.
In recent years, it had seemed as if this movie had been retired, but last month the production was cued up once again. The bad guy this time has been the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, and the fact that outside China this villain is one of the world’s most admired people has only caused the propagandists to ramp up the volume.
For the purpose of the cause he has been turned into a canine and called a "wolf in monk’s robes," "a wolf with a human face and heart of a beast" and the "scum of Buddhism." In case anyone missed the message, the government has also called the struggle against the Dalai Lama "a life-and-death battle."
The Chinese public should by now recognize all the signs of an old-fashioned political campaign and, given the state’s history of manipulation, immediately mark a long, skeptical pause.
It’s not clear, though, if that’s how it worked this time. The propaganda means of the Chinese state remain overwhelming, as is its inclination not just to shape opinion, but to corral it, playing on what the documentary filmmaker Tang Danhong called the "great Han chauvinism," referring to the dominant ethnic group, a chauvinism that has been evident throughout the Tibetan crisis.
After watching the first week of heavily propagandized television coverage here over dinner recently – reporting that focused almost exclusively on images of lawless Tibetan rioters smashing shops in Lhasa, along with the images of ethnic Han victims of the violence, typically recovering in the hospital – a senior Chinese newspaper editor eagerly questioned me about what was "really happening in Tibet."
The question was scarcely out of his mouth when he added: "When people see the kind of one-sided propaganda that’s been in the media here, nobody trusts it anymore."
This might be reassuring, were it true, but the next few days provided many causes for doubt. A young Chinese acquaintance who is a journalist sounded a troubled note in an e-mail message to me: "I read some news reports recently and am confused why the Western media reports on Tibet are inconsistent with the facts? Like they only report on the Chinese police but not the thugs attack the innocent people and the police? And even worse, why are they reporting lot of false and prejudiced news?"
The irony here, of course, is that Western coverage, whatever its faults, generally detailed the street violence in Lhasa, despite being barred access to Tibet by a country that made a big to-do last year over having supposedly lifted restrictions on the movements of international journalists in China.
Unlike the heavily controlled domestic press, the Western media also reported on the largely peaceful sympathy protests that unfolded over a broad stretch of the Tibetan plateau. They generally sought to give at least two sides to the story and questioned Beijing’s assertions about Tibetan protesters and about their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in the textbook way an independent press should.
Beyond the headlines, though, this crisis tells us a lot about China, and although the government may still have the means to control opinion, the more strenuously it has pressed its case, the less the picture of the country concurs with the image that China so eagerly wishes to promote of itself to the world.
China has invested hugely in its hosting of the Olympic Games in August with the idea of introducing itself as an overwhelming success story: increasingly prosperous, harmonious and forward-looking. The first statement is certainly true, but one needn’t be an enemy of Chin
a, as the propagandists would have it, to question the other two.
This may yet turn out to be China’s century, but it seems clearer than ever there’s a lot of work to do, reforming an awfully rickety system, rethinking policies built on bald fictions, such as the "autonomous regions" in China’s west, and learning to deal with criticism without turning it into a matter of ethnic pride or betrayal.
The official slogan of the Games may be "one world, one dream," but that’s not the feeling one gets listening to the state’s organs. It is an ugly, wound-nursing nationalism one hears. "So strong," said the filmmaker Tang, "that there’s almost no introspection, not even among Han intellectuals."
International Herald Tribune
Chinese dissident gets 3½ years for essays
Published: April 3, 2008
BEIJING: A Chinese court Thursday sentenced an outspoken human rights advocate to three and a half years in prison after ruling that his critical essays and comments about Communist Party rule amounted to inciting subversion, his lawyer said.
The conviction of Hu Jia, 34, quickly brought outside criticism of China at a time when the government is already facing international concern over its handling of the Tibetan crisis. Hu’s case has been followed closely, especially in Europe, and critics say his conviction is part of a government crackdown to silence dissidents before Beijing plays host to the Olympics in August.
Diane Sovereign, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, described the U.S. government’s reaction to the verdict as "dismayed."
"Mr. Hu has consistently worked within China’s legal system to protect the rights of his fellow citizens," Sovereign said. "These types of activities support China’s efforts to institute the rule of law and should be applauded, not suppressed or punished."
Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, herself a well-known blogger and rights advocate, was distraught in a telephone interview Thursday.
"I feel hopeless and helpless," said Zeng, who is under house arrest with the couple’s infant daughter in their suburban Beijing apartment, though she was allowed to visit her husband Thursday.
Asked why Hu was arrested and convicted, Zeng said: "The fundamental reason is to silence him. He had been speaking up and all he said was plain truth. It makes them unhappy. But they can do this to him because they’re unhappy?"
Li Fangping, the defense lawyer, said the court had showed leniency by sentencing him to less than the maximum five-year term. Li said the sentence also forbade Hu from making any public political statements for one year following his release from prison.
"Three and a half years is still unacceptable to us," Li said outside the courthouse. "There is a major disagreement between prosecutors and the defense over punishing someone for making peaceful speech. We still believe the charge does not stand."
Prosecutors in China rarely discuss cases after a verdict. But Xinhua, the government press agency, reported that Hu had confessed to the charges.
"Hu spread malicious rumors and committed libel in an attempt to subvert the state’s political power and socialist system," the court verdict stated, according to Xinhua.
Hu is one of the most prominent human rights advocates in China and has volunteered to help AIDS patients and plant trees to fight desertification. In recent years, he has maintained regular contacts with dissidents and other advocates on issues including environmental protection and legal reform.
He was detained Dec. 27 and later charged with "incitement to subvert state power," a charge based on six essays and interviews in which he criticized the Communist Party. Hu wrote a long, blistering essay detailing how the police had tortured two people who had protested about having their homes illegally seized in Beijing.
Last year, Hu also co-wrote an article that criticized the Communist Party for failing to fulfill its promises to improve human rights before the Beijing Games, though that article apparently was not included as evidence.
Li said that Hu continued to maintain his innocence, though he has acknowledged outside the courtroom that some of his comments were "excessive" in the context of existing law. All of the articles used as evidence have been censored on China’s Internet.
Hu has 10 days to decide whether to appeal the verdict. His health is also an issue; he has Hepatitis B and also takes medication for a deteriorating liver condition. Li said Hu has the option of applying for medical parole if he chooses not to appeal.
Howard W. French contributed reporting from Shanghai. Zhang Jing contributed research from Beijing.
Torch relay disrupted
The police detained at least six Uighur Muslims on Thursday at an anti-China protest during the Olympic torch relay near one of Turkey’s most famous tourist sites, The Associated Press reported from Istanbul.
The demonstrators were detained after they broke away from a larger group of protesters and shouted slogans just feet away from Tugba Karademir, a Turkish figure skater who had just started to run with the torch.
About 200 Uighur Muslims had converged ahead of the ceremony near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia church. Some members of the Uighur expatriate community in Turkey have called for independence for Xinjiang in China, or what they refer to as East Turkestan.
International Herald Tribune, 3 April 2008
Raúl Castro employing a bit of capitalism to freshen up Cuban Communism
The Associated Press
Published: April 3, 2008
HAVANA: It’s not the stuff of Marx or Lenin, or even of Fidel Castro, but it’s hardly free-market capitalism, either. In fact, a series of new steps to encourage a Cuban spending spree may help the Communist system and its new president survive.
In rapid-fire decrees over the past week, President Raúl Castro’s government has done away with some long-despised restrictions, lifting bans on electric appliances, microwaves and computers, inviting average citizens to enter long-forbidden resorts and declarin
g they can even legally have their own cellphones.
More changes could be on the way. Rumors are widespread that the government could ease travel restrictions and tolerate free enterprise, letting more people start their own small businesses. And hopes that it also might tweak the dual-currency system – which puts foreign products out of reach for most Cubans – have sparked a run on the peso.
"We’re going to get out and buy more and more," said Roberto Avila, a retiree. "That’s the future in Cuba, and it is a strong future."
Cuba is still far from a shopper’s paradise. Nearly everyone holds government jobs, earning an average of $19.50 a month, although many get U.S. dollars from tourism jobs or relatives abroad. It would take the average Cuban five months to earn enough to buy a low-end DVD player that an American could buy with about two days’ work at the federal minimum wage.
By doing away with rules that ordinary Cubans hate, Raúl Castro may defuse a clamor for deeper economic and political change in the single-party Communist system.
On the other hand, even these small changes could just whet Cubans’ appetites for more.
"These measures to allow Cubans to buy DVDs and everything else are just to entertain the people," said Maite Moll, a 45-year-old state engineer. "It’s not really important because it resolves nothing."
Some Cubans worry that even the small measures already taken will create class tensions and increase resentment between those earning state salaries and those with access to dollars, given the new opportunities for conspicuous consumption. Raúl Castro is clearly hoping that greater buying power will distract from any friction.
Certainly, the 76-year-old president has bolstered his popularity, addressing for now the doubts that Cuba’s government can survive without his charismatic brother, Fidel, who stepped aside and appointed Raúl in February.
"If low-income groups have access to essential goods like food, clothing and construction materials, and can sell and buy homes and use them as collateral, it doesn’t matter if you have a significant income gap. People are better," said Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a Cuba economics expert at the University of Pittsburgh. "That’s what happened in China and Vietnam."
Raúl Castro is said to be an admirer of free-market reforms that allowed those countries to revolutionize their economies while maintaining Communist Party control, although top officials have said Cuba is not about to follow a Chinese or Vietnamese path.
The food part of the equation could be profoundly affected by another initiative promoted this week. The government is lending uncultivated, state-controlled land to private farmers and cooperatives to plant cash crops like coffee and tobacco. It also will pay producers more for basics including milk, meat and potatoes.
Over time, this could reduce chronic food shortages and change the face of Cuban farming.
It is not new for the government to let private farmers take a crack at putting state land to good use. But this time the government is letting farmers more easily buy equipment and supplies at government stores, removing a key impediment to their success.
The changes, implemented barely a month into Raúl Castro’s presidency, are measures that Fidel had opposed for decades, declaring that even small initiatives to increase economic and social freedoms could create a "new rich" and destroy the island’s hard-fought social and economic equality.
And while people are excited to walk around stores and hotel lobbies, they will soon become frustrated that they cannot afford to do more than look, said Juan Antonio Blanco, a Cuban scholar based in Canada.
"This government is totally myopic and shortsighted if it doesn’t understand that it’s sitting on dynamite," he said. "They have to do more than the things that will play in the international media."