May 072011

Delivered with my New York Times on May 6, what is labeled the “Seattle Inaugural Issue” of China Daily, self-described as “the national English-language newspaper of the People’s Republic of China.” The paper runs 20 pages and is relatively unremarkable, with a couple of exceptions.

First, there are almost no ads. Where you would normally find ads, instead you see reproductions of letters from various Washington politicians and business people figuratively rolling out the red carpet. Among signers of these “keys to the city” letters:

  • Sam Reed, Washington secretary of state
  • Brad Owen, Washington lieutenant governor
  • Rob McKenna, Washington attorney general and likely candidate for governor in 2012
  • Qi Lu, president, Online Services Division, Microsoft
  • Marilyn Strickland, mayor of Tacoma
  • Curtis King, state senator, Washington’s 14th legislative district
  • Anthony R. Hemstad, president and CEO, World Trade Center, Tacoma
  • Bill Stafford, president of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle

Second, there is absolutely nothing in the 20 pages about China’s decrepit human-rights record, which continues to this day. Here’s an excerpt from a May 6 press release by Human Rights Watch urging the U.S. to prioritize human rights in bi-lateral talks scheduled for next week:

Since the uprisings began in the Middle East in late 2010, and Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the US in January 2011, the Chinese government has cracked down on dissent in an effort to crush any domestic move towards a “Jasmine Revolution.” Since early February, Human Rights Watch has documented the enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention of dozens of lawyers, bloggers, and activists.

One more thing. The paper includes an op-ed by the director of UNESCO’s Beijing office urging China to “invest in girls” to help reduce poverty. But there is no mention anywhere in the paper of China’s one-child policy which has contributed, given the preference of Chinese parents for boys, to what the Economist calls “gendercide” — the systematic elimination (via abortion, murder or neglect) of millions upon millions of Chinese girls.

Here are a few sentences from the Economist “leader” (editorial essay) on this subject¬† (March 6, 2010):

In China and northern India more than 120 boys are being born for every 100 girls. Nature dictates that slightly more males are born than females to offset boys’ greater susceptibility to infant disease. But nothing on this scale. . . It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions–aborted, killed, neglected to death. . . Most people know China and northern India have unnaturally large numbers of boys. But few appreciate how bad the problem is, or that it is rising. In China the imbalance between the sexes was 108 boys to 100 girls for the generation born in the late 1980s; for the generation of the early 2000s, it was 124 to 100. In some Chinese provinces the ratio is an unprecedented 130 to 100. The destruction is worst in China but has spread far beyond.

The unforgettable cover of that issue featured a tiny pair of pink slippers under the headline:


What happened to

100 million

baby girls?

Powerful stuff. Should we really be rolling out the red carpet so uncritically for the Chinese comrades? Ought we not be pushing them at every turn on the issues of human rights? Ought we not be asking them the most pointed questions about “gendercide”?

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