Friday, February 01, 2013

Holy See holds out its hand to China

2013 mission China. 

The Year of Faith has just begun in the Celestial Empire as Benedict XVI gets tweeting in Chinese. 

From a geopolitical and religious point of view Beijing is for Benedict XVI what Moscow was for his predecessor Karol Wojtyla. 

In recent days, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization posted the logo and calendar for the Year of Faith in Chinese to spread the word to communities and Churches across the great Asian country, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation told L’Osservatore Romano

Meanwhile, China’s great wall no longer seems as impenetrable as it once did, despite the fact that the country’s systematic repression of all dissent and voices that oppose the regime.
 
In recent days, for example, Zhu Chengzhi, an activist from Hunan who is investigating the death of a Tiananmen dissident, was put in a secret residence that placed was under surveillance for six months. Neither friends, parents nor lawyers are allowed to visit him.
 
 “Yet, from January 1st, Beijing has implemented the reform of the Penal Code, which states that the police must inform the family of the suspect within 48 hours to allow the lawyer to meet his client,” missionary news agency AsiaNews remarked. 

“In the world of dissidence there is also scepticism towards the reform of the labour camps. In recent days, Meng Jianzhu, Secretary of the legal and political system of the Chinese Communist Party, said that by the end of 2013 China will have "stopped" the laojiao, "re-education through labour", a method of detention and labour forced that lasts from the time of Mao Zedong.” According to China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), the so-called “reform” is merely cosmetic as it is just a change of name from laojiao to “Illegal Behaviour Correction."
 
Similarly, even the "stations of custody," where those who present petitions are held prisoners since 2003 have been called "custody and repatriation stations", the notorious "black jails" where people disappear for months and which have multiplied dramatically in recent years. According to AsiaNews sources, in Beijing alone, the "black jails" can contain up to 70-80 thousand prisoners. 
 
During the Southern Weekend, another of the big Chinese newspapers decided to fight against the Communist regime’s imposed censorship. On the very day the Guangdong weekly was on the verge of reaching an agreement with the provincial government, the Beijing News editor and his team refused to print an editorial published by the Global Times (the Party’s official newspaper) which attacked Guangzhou’s “rebel” newspaper. 

Beijing News’ editors and staff say they are furious at the intervention of the vice director of the capital’s propaganda office, Yan Liqiang, who had asked the newspaper to print the article which had been approved by the Party. The editor of Beijing News, Dai Zigeng, preferred to resign rather than satisfy this request and his staff fully supported him.
 
In the meantime, the China train is slowing down. Its growth rate is still on the rise but is much lower than that of previous years: GDP growth in 2011 was at 9, 35 %, touching on 10, 4% in 2010. According to data from Beijing’s Central Statistical Office and published by AsiaNews, there was a 7, 9% growth in the fourth quarter, indicating a slight recovery after a slow year.
 
These figures exceed the expectations of the Beijing government which in its latest estimations had spoken of a growth rate of 7, 5 %. In absolute terms, China’s GDP totalled 8280 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. 

Rajiv Biswas, an analyst at Ihs Global, explained that “the days of China’s relentless growth seem to be over because its status is changing from that of a country with low salaries to one with medium salaries.
 
These went up by an average of 10% a year for 30 years but are now in a transitional phase. 

It is also important to remember that the population is getting older and the marginal productivity of capital is dropping. These long-term indicators exclude the possibility of a continuous growth compared to that of recent decades, in the future. 

The one-child law, corruption and the uneven distribution of wealth in society are the main factors that are holding China back.
 
AsiaNews said that as a result of these phenomena which are directly linked to the Communist regime’s single-party dictatorship, there are thousands of social protests every year. 

The advent of the Internet and an increased social awareness has amplified single cases and the wealth gap seems to be the main contentious issue for citizens. Many analysts and dissidents stress that without an improved redistribution of domestic wealth and an average salary increase, the country is doomed to become divided and collapse.

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