Tuesday, April 29, 2008
CHINESE MOBS SPARK ANTI-CHINA SENTIMENTS IN KOREA; VIETNAM, HONG KONG ON DECK
he violence by Chinese patriots in Seoul last Sunday has sparked a growing anti-China sentiment among Koreans. Security services had been concerned about misbehaviour, but apparently from the wrong side.
Before the event, the police's main concern was that rallies by human rights activists to protest China's crackdown in Tibet might disrupt the relay. However, tens of thousands of nationalistic Chinese supporters flocked to streets in Seoul, resulting in an outbreak of violence against anti-Beijing Olympic protestors.They celebrated nicely, until meeting the human rights supporters. Then the tone changed.
Some, including one Korean journalist, sustained light injuries from the clash in which Chinese expatriates and students hurled rocks, sidewalk blocks and rubbish. Police say they will apprehend those who resorted to violence.
The Chinese supporters pushed through police lines, with some of them hurling rocks, bottled water and plastic and steel pipes at the protesters.On major South Korean web portals users are criticizing the nationalistic mob, sharing photos and videos of the violence. Some call for deportation of those who attacked citizens in their own country.
It soon turned into a violent clash that left citizens, riot police officers and anti-China protestors injured. A news photographer was hit over the head and another Korean activist was hurt after being hit by a pipe wrench in the chest.
The pro-Chinese later surrounded, kicked and punched Tibetans and South Korean supporters who waved pro-Tibet banners and called for the protection of human rights of North Korean defectors. They also clashed with riot police, witnesses said.
"First of all, we will wait for a police report and a court ruling before discussing whether to deport those involved in violence as their human rights must be protected," a Justice Ministry official said Monday.The government expressed its "strong regret" about their guests' behaviour.
South Korean newspapers and radio programs are running angry editorials denouncing the Chinese students after video clips circulated which showed them beating up human rights protesters and police officers.
The clips show some 100 Chinese crowding in on several Koreans protesting against China’s repression in Tibet in the lobby of the Seoul Plaza Hotel in the heart of the capital, beating them with flagpoles and fists, and kicking them. Riot police were sandwiched in the middle, and some of them were also beaten.The Foreign Ministry has lodged a complaint with the Chinese ambassador over the embassy-sponsored groups which engaged in the violent attacks.
The Chinese students kept shouting, "Beat him to death!" and "Apologize!" Those who were beaten up by the Chinese mob were later revealed to have been three members of civil rights groups who had protested against China’s handling of the Tibet issue in front of the Deoksu Palace on Sunday afternoon. They escaped into the hotel after being chased by over 400 China supporters. One riot police officer had to have six stitches in the head after being beaten by the mob.
There was also footage of a reporter bleeding from the head after being hit by a piece of wood thrown by the Chinese, and a leading member of a civil rights group hurt by a metal cutter hurled by the Chinese demonstrator. One clip shows four American high school students wearing "Free Tibet" T-shirts surrounded by 300 Chinese people. They were later rescued by the police.
"Legal and diplomatic measures are necessary as the incident hurt national pride considerably," Yonhap news agency quoted Han as telling a cabinet meeting...On Tuesday the government announced that it will be deporting Chinese citizens who assaulted demonstrators on Sunday.
"It is very regrettable that foreigners staged illegal violent protests at a time when self-restraint against violent protests is taking root under a new government," Justice Minister Kim Kyung-Han root told the cabinet.
"The justice ministry will sternly deal with those responsible, regardless of their nationality."
Justice Minister Kim Kyung-han told a Cabinet meeting his ministry will focus on arresting those who masterminded the protests by analyzing video and photographs provided by police and ordinary citizens, according to the ministry.Police in Vietnam have arrested more than a dozen students, teachers, artists and farmers, according to a pro-democracy group, though activists and bloggers say scores more have been taken into custody, including a group of fishermen. A pro-democracy blogger was arrested last week, and the country expelled a Vietnamese-American caught with forbidden t-shirts. University students have also been detained for printing very dangerous t-shirts. The Vietnamese government has assured its ally that it would not permit demonstrations. Her torchiness arrived from North Korea late Monday.
In Hong Kong, where flaming harmony strikes next after Vietnam, an idealistic university student is following fearlessly in Wang Qianyuan's footsteps (the Duke University student). She plans to bring her self-made Snow Lion flag to the Hong Kong relay run. After she announced her intention on Facebook, she too has been threatened. She has even been questioned by the Hong Kong police. Chen Qiaowen is not afraid.
"You can't surrender to evil forces. There's hardly difference between supporters of the CCP and terrorists. They threaten you to force you to do what they want, and I think that is highly unacceptable. We will not be afraid for we do not want to live in fear."Friday's Hong Kong procession will be a test of the "Special Autonomous Region's" freedoms, and its level of actual autonomy. The government has already denied entry to three Danish citizens, putting them on a flight back to London after detaining them for six hours. A Tibetan Buddhist monk was also stopped and forced to fly to a different destination.
Lee Cheuk-yan, a union leader, member of the Hong Kong Legislature and vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China said of the expulsions, "It really hurts the image of Hong Kong as an international city when we start restricting freedom of access." With Hong Kong business leaders organising red flag distribution, and Chinese media exhorting citizens to "defend the torch", Lee is concerned. "We are worried that we may be confronted by these nationalists," he said.
Neither have Chinese exchange students in the United States heeded their government's call, via state-controlled media, to tone down their aggressive nationalism. At a recent lecture and discussion held at the University of Southern California, Chinese students showed up early to hand out leaflets linking Dalai Lama with Hitler, and "a jumble of abbreviated history, slogans and maps with little context." When a Tibetan monk took his turn to answer questions, he was peppered with the same jumbled history and accusations, as well as flying objects.
As the monk tried to rebut the students, they grew more hostile. They brandished photographs and statistics to support their claims. “Stop lying! Stop lying!” one young man said. A plastic bottle of water hit the wall behind the monk, and campus police officers hustled the person who threw it out of the room.Just get a load of some of the justifications quoted in that article. If these are China's "best and brightest," China has something to worry about.
BBC reports on a factory in Guangdong which had been filling international orders for Tibetan Snow Lion flags. Workers had just thought they were nice colourful banners, and had no idea. Thousands of the flags were already packed and ready for shipping when the faux-pas was discovered, and police believe some may have already been shipped out. Inspections of cars heading to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Hong Kong have been stepped up in an effort to head off the contraband's escape.
China issued another directive to Dalai Lama today, urging him to cherish the opportunity to talk to them (through a representative) in the coming days. Denying that the CCP government of China's about-face had resulted from international pressure, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman added that, "[T]he Chinese government and its people will never yield to any external pressure."
Meanwhile in Tibet, a Chinese court has sentenced the first 17 Tibetans to prison for their alleged roles in the March 14 Lhasa riot. The sentences range from three years to life in prison. The authorities also announced the re-opening of Sera Monastery in Lhasa. There was no immediate word as to how many monks are left there.
[UPDATE: Final count for the court's first sentencing today was 30, including six monks. Life sentences were handed to three people, including one monk. Three other monks got 15 years, two got 20.]