IRISH EXAMINER: Tiger couches hidden Dragon

September 7, 2001

SO, there is more to China than human rights, Falun Gong and Tibet!

That statement came this week from Chinese Premier, Mr Zhu Rongji during his visit to Ireland to see his “old friend” Bertie Ahern.

I honestly haven’t a clue what Falun Gong is, apart from the fact that it is something that the ruling politburo in China considers so subversive that they had to arrest a Trinity College student, Zhao Ming, when he went home to China. He is now being held without trial there for something which is done regularly in Fitzgerald Park in Cork.

That was the message Mr Rongji had to deliver to Irish business leaders, and I cannot remember any of them telling him otherwise. None of them have a huge export business to Tibet, I presume, and the same Mr Rongji was holding out the prospect of bigger and better business to mainland China, a market of 1.3 billion people.

Having spent a few days in the lap of, not just luxury, the ultimate in extravagant splendour of Farmleigh, the Irish people’s “bed and breakfast”, the leader of the Peoples’ Republic of China emerged rested and up to grappling with his old friend Bertie.

I doubt it did Bertie’s image any good to have this particular visitor mentioning at every opportunity that they were old friends.

The Premier strikes me as devious. Well, we know he’s devious because he presides over a regime which denies his own people the right to decide what kind of a government they want, among other fundamental rights.

When himself and Bertie Ahern emerged from their talks in Farmleigh to meet the press, the Chinaman used an interpreter to answer questions.

Yet, at the State dinner in Dublin Castle he delivered an address in flawless English, according to my colleague Katie Hannon, who covered the event. Apparently, he had no problem in lauding Ireland’s contribution to the arts, especially through the work of writers like Shaw, Yeats and Joyce.

Maybe, it’s only when the question of human rights comes up that our erstwhile visitor gets tongue-tied.[….]

China has the highest abortion rate in the world, with an estimated 80 abortions for every 1,000 live births. By comparison, the rate in Western Europe is around 10 per 1,000. As well, the XX rulers actively discriminate against women, minorities and the disabled. It promotes violence against women, as well as coercive family planning practices which sometimes includes forced abortion and forced sterilisation, prostitution, trafficking in women and children and the abuse of children.

[…], we were told that during the four-day visit Bertie Ahern engaged forcefully with his old pal on the human rights issues, and the situation in Tibet. We all know how forceful Bertie can be; all you have to do is look at how he handles the independents when they’re demanding the sun, moon and stars in return for keeping him in power.

Somehow or other, I don’t think Zhu Rongji is a worried man. Fine Gael’s spokesman on foreign affairs probably got it right when he said “a phoney protest took place behind closed doors”.{

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