Based on this column from China’s state mouthpiece, the Global Times, Beijing seems oblivious to how heroes are made. Why is it that Chen Guangcheng, who began as a local activist battling forced abortion and sterilization, has become a worldwide concern? Whether Beijing is willfully ignoring the obvious, or just seeking to discredit a brave man standing up for his principles, this article by columnist Shan Renping suggests that Western media is making much ado about nothing.
For China’s state-run Global Times, Shan Renping writes in part:
Chen’s case stems from a grassroots disputes in Linyi, Shandong Province. But due to interference from Western media and even diplomats, the case evolved into a far more complex situation. The issue has boosted Chen’s stature as a human rights advocate in the West and among some online activists. The political role he has now taken on is far from what it was when he began. The West and its supporters in China always need a tool to work against China’s political system. Those who become such tools [are pawns] with few choices of their own.
Using Chen’s case to criticize China on human rights is futile. China’s progress on human rights over recent years has been noticeable and will not be beleaguered by attacks like this. The stability of the nation lies in its grassroots. Although many problems have emerged at this level, development is moving in the right direction. Due to China’s immense scale, confrontations may occasionally take place, but they have not and will not dominate society – and will be diminished by the optimism of the wider population.
It is to be hoped that the U.S. Embassy in China is able to distance itself from activities that don’t match its functions. It should try and win a favorable impression from the Chinese public rather than offering an escape route for additional extreme elements. For if it does take on such a role, it will be too much for it to bear. It should adopt a pragmatic attitude toward its capabilities and functions as well as their roles within the Sino-US relationship.
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