Thursday, August 23, 2007

The cost of free trade with China

Last month, I asked how much is free trade with China worth, with a series of questions aimed at illustrating the price we are already paying in pursuit of economic gain. Now I have another question: is it worth allowing Chinese thugs to beat peaceful protestors on our streets? Because that is what happened today in Wellington:

On Tuesday 21 August at 10.30am Falun Gong practitioner Lena Zhang was attacked while protesting opposite the Chinese Embassy in Wellington.

Approximately seven Chinese (aged around 20 years old) emerged from the Embassy and began harassing and insulting Lena. One of the attackers tore down all the protest banners Lena had displayed on the wall and began trampling on them. They then surrounded her while a male began pushing her around. She endured over 15mins of irrate behaviour from the attackers. Afraid, and unwanting the attack to escalate, Lena began to call the police and the attackers left quickly while kicking stones at her.

This is simply unacceptable. This is a free and democratic country where people have a right to protest, and the Chinese government should accept that. They may be able to get away with this sort of abuse (and worse) in China, but they should not be allowed to export their oppression here.

Unfortunately, I don't expect the government to do much about this. The price of that free trade deal is silence on Chinese abuses, even if they happen here. And that is simply too high a price to pay.