- - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

At a corporate gathering a few months ago in China, the chairman of a major company made this sentimental remark:

“[My company] has a workforce of over 1 million worldwide, and as human beings are also animals, to manage 1 million animals gives me a headache.”

The corporate chairman went on to add that he planned to go to a zoo to learn how to manage animals.

The chairman is Terry Gou, and his company is Hon Hai, parent company of Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics supplier,which is a primary maker of Apple’s blockbuster products such as iPhones and iPads.

What Mr. Gou said reflects a gruesome reality behind China’s economic miracle: Human beings are often treated like animals, and the treatment of animals in China is among the world’s worst.

Take Mr. Gou’s Foxconn Inc. for example. Workers are treated so poorly at his factories in China that it has the world’s highest suicide rate for workers. Since 2007, scores of Foxconn workers have killed themselves, often by jumping out of windows from the company’s high-rise corporate buildings.

In May 2010 alone, at least 13 Foxconn workers in Shenzhen, China, separately jumped to their demise, though the number is certainly higher since then because the Chinese government diligently blocks news of this sort.

* * *

A fierce debate is under way in Beijing in recent days after more than 30 “people’s delegates” submitted a bill to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference to protect the widespread practice of “extracting bile from live bears.”

Bear bile is thought in China to have medicinal effects for a variety of illnesses. The best bile is from a living bear extracted by cruel methods. Large bear farms have mushroomed across the nation for this purpose to meet the huge demand for bear bile.

A week ago, the prominent writer Feng Jicai, the artist Han Meilin, and TV host Jing Yidan jointly proposed a ban on such animal cruelty, causing a huge backlash from China’s political establishment with a vested interest in the bear-bile industry.

Animal cruelties are even more pronounced on China’s dinner tables. Each year, thousands of sharks worldwide die cruel deaths to satisfy Chinese demand for shark-fin soup.

In 2004, an official survey by the Chinese government indicated that China’s cobra population had dropped by 90 percent from previous decades because of culinary demands.

Popular on Chinese menu and in traditional Chinese medicine pharmacies are wild animals like poisonous snakes, owls, bear parts, rats, pangolins, elephant trunks, monitor lizards, tiger parts, crocodiles, monkeys, swans, peacocks, pheasants, civet cats, foxes, emus, leopard cats, mice, centipedes, bats, salamanders, worms, scorpions, beetles and cocoons. In some locations, domesticated cats and dogs are popular.

Known as ziheche or taipan, human placentas occupy a particular place in this genre, as they are a major source of income for thousands of Chinese hospitals because they can be sold as a coveted item to make soup for its alleged medicinal qualities. There is no legal protection of woman’s rights in this regard.

On March 6, China’s deputy health minister, Huang Jiefu, admitted to the public that executed prisoners were the main source of transplanted organs in China. He also noted that China’s demand for organ transplants was huge and that there was a dire need for more human organs.

China has been the world’s leading executioner. Each year, China executes more prisoners than the rest of the world combined, according to all major human rights organizations, including the Amnesty International.

The “socialist market economy” is China’s legally defined economic model. With market incentives and socialist arrogations of legal rights and modern values, China has become a paradise for state capitalism without decent human and animal rights.

CULTURAL ENVOY A LIFELONG SPY

Many Chinese were shocked to discover recently that Ying Ruocheng, China’s most famous stage actor and most “Westernized” artist, who - as China’s vice minister of culture in the 1980s, brought American playwright Arthur Miller and Italian film director Bernardo Bertolucci to the Chinese audience - was a lifelong spy for China’s counterintelligence services.

Mr. Ying died in December 2003, but his biography, “Voices Carry” [Rowman & Littlefield, 2009], was just translated into Chinese, with substantial deletions on all parts related to a peculiar aspect of his life: his devoted spying since the 1950s on his Western partners and friends for the Chinese spy agencies.

Curious minds discovered these deletions and translated the missing parts into Chinese, which appeared on the Chinese Internet, causing a minor sensation.

The book reveals, that, among other things, Mr. Ying was responsible for the arrest in 1951 of his friends, the American couple Allyn and Adele Rickett, who were visiting scholars at Peking University at the time. The Ricketts spent four years in Chinese prison for supposedly being American spies.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.

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