I was appalled to see news articles about South African Government welcoming, and meeting with the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, this week. Not only is South Africa meeting with him, and strengthening ties, we're accepting his donations. Are we so simple minded to not think that there could be consequences to this? Dire ones.
China, while undoubtedly a world leader in many respects, is no world leader in liberty. Yes, it certainly would be good economically to make ties with this giant, but we cannot afford to consider economics at the expense of doing what is right.
Now while you might think I'm going to shoot off on a tangent about under-age and under-paid kids producing western label gadgets and clothing, I'm about to shoot of on another tangent entirely.
OK, let's step back and look at this. What do they want? According to a Bloomberg news article they want to invest in our mining. We have an abundance of precious metals and minerals which they would love to tap into for continuing development of their technologies. OK, fine. We get that.
What do we want? Well, it seems, handout: Gifts, Money, Business. Thats good for us, right? I mean, as long as it's not ivory or rhino horns - because that would create a stir these days.
So we're all set to go. But wait a minute. Isn't this the same China that persecutes hundreds, if not thousands of Christians yearly? Yes it is. Even today, even this month, there have been reports of people being arrested, molested and yes, even killed. You haven't heard about this? That doesn't mean it isn't happening.
We westerners are very skeptical of the US and British governments, I've heard endless opinions criticising Bush and Blair; and yet, when President Hu lands on our soil, we welcome him with open arms?
If we support China's development, we support their government, and we condone their actions, philosophy and methodology. The countries which had economic sanctions against South Africa in the Apartheid era made this statement by their actions: "We do not support or condone your Apartheid philosophy and legislature, and so we will not support your development." The countries that had a business as usual attitude with South Africa back then, weren't necessarily supporting apartheid, but they were not prepared to lose their benefits for the sake of what is right. Right now, South Africa boldly stands in the position of the latter, which is ironic taking her past into account.
This year alone, in China:
3 Jan 2007: Christmas Celebration Raided in Inner Mongolia
China ranked 8th worst country of persecution in the world
9 Jan 2007: New Year Bible Study in Communist Party School Raided in Hebei
14 Jan 2007: Released two of nine underground priests arrested in Hebei
16 Jan 2007: Christian service raided in Henan Province
25 Jan 2007: Christians under attack in China
28 Jan 2007: House Church worship service raided in Anhui Province
28 Jan 2007: 9 Arrested House Church Leaders in Henan released after 15 days detention
29 Jan 2007: Beijing House Church Activist Hua Huiqi and his mother attacked and detained by police
30 Jan 2007: Executed for distributing bibles
6 Feb 2007: China's shifting policies still hindering religion
Information taken from Persecution.org, a watchdog of Christian religious freedom worldwide.
Release International, describes China:
Religious Freedom Rating: 6 (7 is worst)
Population: 1287 million (2003 est.)
Widespread persecution of church leaders and members, especially those in unregistered (underground) churches, which may represent as many as 100 million believers.
A last note: before reading this, your ignorance to what is happening in China protected you from responsibility of doing something. Now you are informed - and your choice is simple:
1) denial, which is willful ignorance. It will appease your conscience for a while, but you will be guilty of knowing the facts and deciding to pretend they aren't there or are lies.
2) acknowledgement, where you realise what is going on, and admit to it, even if doing nothing.
3) action, where you protest either actively or passively. Actively would constitute writing letters or speaking to people, praying for the Christians in China, getting involved with organisations that support those who are persecuted there - passively would be deciding in your own capacity not to support China's trade by buying their products.
It is important that you understand that I am not speaking out against the Chinese people, or people of Chinese heritage. I am aiming my words straight at the South African and Chinese governments, their policies, decisions and statutes.