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Bring ’em on

Actually I’m not sure if China is preparing for a sports event, i.e. running around in circles, jumping over obstacles, throwing things, generally fooling around and having a good time, or about to go to war. Reading websites such as the China Daily [CD] and the Shanghai Daily [SD] you might be excused for believing the latter and that China is under threat of imminent attack.

“Missile launchers have been assigned to the Bird’s Nest National Stadium. Any perceived threats to Games venues from the air will be shot down.” in this bulletin.

“The Navy will ensure security at sea as the coastal city of Qingdao hosts sailing events.
Special task forces have also been trained to deal with nuclear or biochemical attacks.”

Nothing is being left to chance; land sea, air, nuclear, biological or chemical attacks have all been planned for and will be dealt with summarily. There is obviously a very powerful enemy afoot.

Sniffer dog patrols are out on duty as far way as Anhui province. Road security is stepped up, as shown in this bulletin, and in the Shanghai Daily report referenced above –

“From the beginning of next week every vehicle coming to Beijing will undergo a security check.

Hundreds of check points will be set up at the road entrances to Beijing, ring roads and downtown to ensure a safe Olympic Games.

Each vehicle entering the capital during the Games will be checked electronically and by sniffer dogs.

Bus passengers traveling to Beijing will have their ID cards and belongings checked from July 20.

If just one passenger fails to show a valid ID card, the bus and all its passengers will be refused entry to the city.”

The government has taken its fight against terror overseas and set up a cooperating body, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation [SCO] with neighbouring countries – Russia, Kazahkstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The first thing to notice about them is that they are all pretty dodgy regimes and all have little or no regard for basic human rights; not exactly the sort of freedom-loving partners most western governments would want to line up with.

If all this were just for show then why fuss over it, but the PRC government seems to be taking its own propaganda very seriously indeed – one might almost be lead to think it actually believes it – and these measures could cause a lot of hassle for any visitors to Beijing. Just take the last statement in the SD report regarding the possibility of a passengers being refused entry because one ID card/passport doesn’t look quite right. A whole busload of people brassed off in one fell swoop. That’s efficiency for you. There is more than ample scope for rubbing people up the wrong way and knowing the government’s enthusiasm and skill in these areas it is more than likely there will be a few toes trodden on in the coming weeks. But the most exciting little gem is the promise of a reward for anyone who provides information “about a planned terrorist attack, possible sabotage by an illegal organization, such as the Falun Gong, murder of Olympic-related personnel or foreigners, or some other major crimes“ [notice how the scope widens with each phrase] see CD again. The bulletin says “The tip-off must include accurate and detailed information“, but offering money on this scale [a minimum of 10,000 yuan and a maximum of 500,000 yuan] may be just a little too tempting. Here is an ideal opportunity to settle old scores with anyone you dislike and line your pocket at the same time. Let’s see how many ‘denouncements’ are made this summer and how many victims of this scheme end up behind bars as terrorists.

This question has been asked before but it needs to asked again, and again, and again until we have a real answer, otherwise how can we take China’s War on Terror seriously. What evidence, beyond the political rhetoric, is available to show that “’the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism” [Mr Chen’s words] really do exist in China? None, so far. Maybe one day the government will surprise us by showing police records, photographs and paraphernalia relating to these incidents, but until then we must reserve judgment. Just one more little question; according to the governments own reports, most of these alleged gangs are armed, principally, with knives, so are anti-aircraft missiles, naval deployments and one of the biggest land army mobilisations that has been seen for years [there are as many personnel tied up with this operation as the USA deployed in Iraq] really justified?

Welcome to Beijing 2008.

Related posts  A question of security


"Murder In Samarkand"

This is not exactly a ‘hot off the blogosphere’ posting as the book I have just completed reading was published several years ago. However, the lessons to be learned are as horrifying and as relevant now as they were in 2006. Just as Mr Murray states in his book many of us believed that being British came with certain values, fairness, justice, protecting the vulnerable and standing up to the bullies for instance. In the past we haven’t always managed to live up to these ideals but we tried. Now it seems that these things no longer matter, at least to our government, as it supports despots, accepts torture as an acceptable method of obtaining ‘intelligence’ [it made an attempt to get this idea on to the statute book only a few years ago, the only thing which stopped it was a group of Law Lords], repeatedly suppresses the truth and uses fabricated evidence to justify actions or achieve other ends. Does this sound like something good that you would want to tell your international friends about? If you want some insight into the way our government [and I cannot stress ‘OUR’ enough] is going and why, then reading this book ‘Murder in Samarkand’ is a must.

While not everyone would approve of Craig Murray’s personal behaviour it is hard to see how anyone who believes in the truth can ignore story as it demonstrates how spin, convenience, expediency and the lack of truth have permeated our government.

In the early days of his posting his first concerns were to raise the profile of the British Embassy in Uzbekistan and make it better known amongst the British businesses which were attempting to operate there and achieved considerable success in this area. However, it was not long before he began to come across signs of corruption within the country and his attention was absorbed by other matters. This was bad enough but the most disturbing facet of this episode was the cold silence of the Foreign Office to his reports. In time the silence became more active and attempted to shut him up. The British government were following that of USA who were propping up the dictatorship in Uzbekistan as a partner in their War on Terror; it was therefore up to the Ambassador to keep relations sweet and avoid anything less pleasant. Truth simply didn’t matter. This conspiracy to silence existed all the way to the very highest levels of the Foreign Office, allegedly including the Secretary of State himself. During Mr Murray’s time in Uzbekistan the American government was running its Extraordinary Renditions programme, shipping arrested people to secret places around the world, one of which was Uzbekistan and, it is alleged, our government had an active part of this process. This is a story of cynicism, cruelty, terror, torture and murder and involves the author in several close and unnerving encounters of his own. If this were a thriller it would certainly sell well, but this is not fiction. If you want to see just how much politicians are prepared to debase themselves and the values of their country, read this.

Craig Murray is now the Rector of Dundee University.