The New York Times has really been pumping out a considerable number of China-related articles recently, many of which deal with the country’s darker underbelly. Today’s edition offers a very interesting look at the relationship between China and the Catholic church, specifically in relation to the 1989 Tiananmen Square tragedy: Church Official Calls for Review of Tiananmen Killings.
I have done little research into the current state of religious freedom in China, though I find it somewhat surprising that there is any relationship between the Vatican and the PRC. Accordingly, the following statement surprised me even more:
“The criticism by Cardinal Joseph Zen is the latest sign that the Vatican may not be willing to compromise on human rights in order to establish diplomatic relations with mainland China.”
Is the Vatican really balancing human rights and diplomatic relations? Somehow I don’t see how considering diplomatic relations, especially to the detriment of human rights issues, is an option at all. Very interesting.
The author makes a very succinct statement about the dynamic that permits such discrepancies as economic prosperity and rampant abuses to coexist:
“The Chinese Communist Party now bases its legitimacy to a considerable extent on the material prosperity it has brought to many of China’s 1.3 billion people.”
How true. Wealth and an advancement in standard of living can prompt almost anyone to let go of the past.
“‘Yes, the economy has improved and some people have earned lots of money, but corruption abounds, the gap in wealth is huge, mines keep swallowing workers and fake milk powder and fake medicines are flooding the market – is this considered an improvement?’ he asked. ‘If they had listened to the kind advice of the students and workers, would today’s country be a better country?’”
I hope to find an answer, or at least a little insight, to the last question during my travels through China in a few weeks. It should be an interesting trip.