I opened my post on Monday stating that I am not anti-China. Yet my post seems to have generated some harsh criticism. Apparently, the world divides into those who see only the good in China and those who see only the bad. Is there no room for both? I would gladly write a few posts about the great things happening in China, in fact I have written one.
However, human rights and freedom are a fundamental value for me. Perhaps it has to do with a 5,000 year DNA of persecution for being a Jew, but it is one of the first things I judge a country by (companies also).
About six months ago, I wrote a post highlighting Shi Tao, a journalist in China who discovered that his country is far from an Arab Spring. In 2004, he sent details of government plans to restrict the activities commemorating the 15th anniversary of the pro-democracy rally in Tienanmen Square. Apparently he sent the information through his Yahoo email account, and Yahoo gave the information to the Chinese security forces. Shi Tao is now in prison for 10 years.
Here is his story in 30 seconds.
In 2007 Shi Tao received the Golden Pen of Freedom award by the World Association of Newspapers. If China and its supporters want to prove that they have a credible alternative to democracy let them pitch their case. But if the only way to rebut criticism is to throw people in jail, then maybe they do not feel quite as comfortable with their political system as they want us to believe.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).