by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 12/7/13
BEIJING, December 6 — A US diplomat who wished to remain unidentified followed up on Vice President Biden’s December 5 complaint that China is censoring journalists and the Vice President’s remark that “Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences.”
In addition to making life difficult for journalists, the anonymous diplomat said, the Chinese political system is insufficiently representative, allowing wealthy insiders to exercise inordinate influence, even to the point of using their personal fortunes to influence legislation and running their own campaigns to gain public offices.
Furthermore, he said, while in office corrupt officials take jobs as lobbyists and steer lucrative contracts toward their own family members and friends, and after leaving office become lobbyists for influential firms.
He also touched on relations between demographic groups in China. “The Chinese do not give full educational and economic opportunities to minority groups, make it harder for certain groups to participate in political life, and allow women have less influence and pay than men. How can anyone in the world respect such a government?” he asked rhetorically.
“Such unfairness makes the Chinese Dream of leading a secure and dignified existence within a self-supporting family unit unattainable for many,” the diplomat added, “And this undemocratic truth is a threat to the very fabric of Chinese life and society.”
His far-ranging remarks also attacked China for exerting military power to attain its foreign policy objectives and further its economic interests. “They even fly aircraft into disputed air space and have a growing commercial and military presence in Asia and Africa. This is truly shocking to those of us who respect our neighbors and would never dream of invading and occupying other countries.”
“No wonder they don’t want journalists poking around in their business,” he concluded.
No Associated Press reporters contacted for this article would answer questions by email or phone, even anonymously, citing past government collection of AP reporters’ messages. One reporter, met in a parking garage, said “James Clapper is watching, but don’t quote me.” New York Times journalist James Risen and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger also declined to comment, citing the US and British government threats of prosecution and jail time against them.
Reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Edward Snowden revelations, said he said only that he prefers to stay in Brazil for fear of arrest if he returns to the US. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past two years, said: “I’d welcome a chance to visit Brazil, or Russia, or China.”