Saturday, February 28, 2009

Banned Christie’s Auction House from China and Hong Kong

By China Watcher

It is not enough to impose a tougher supervision on all items that the short-sighted auction house import and export from China.

China, with its thousand years of confirmed history, is one of the most important places where every auctioneer would source for ancient artifacts, but unfortunately Christie’s house can only see the businesses from a narrow perspective. It has boldly and daringly offended the Chinese government and its people by going ahead with the sale of the two sculptured items which was known to have been stolen by the imperialist forces of France and Britain during the 1860 Opium War.

The regret coming from Christie’s does not indicate that they are wrong in being an accessory to the sale of “stolen” items. Christie’s auction house claimed that the legal ownership was confirmed and they are directly and honestly engaged in legal trade. What a bunch of lies and nonsense just to justify its promotion of the looted items. Whoever purchase goods or items that are illegally acquired in the first place (from the original source – which was stolen) do not have ownership from the legal perspective.

China should ban Christie’s sale in China and Hong Kong and exert its political influence on Egypt or other cradles of civilization that are sited in Third World countries to ensure that Christie’s businesses in ancient items would be severely affected in the future.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Western auction house and a Western Court condoned the sale of looted items

By China Watcher

With the Paris Court ruling allowing the sale of the two looted Chinese bronze sculptures, a reputable Western auction house has now potentially become an accessory with the “owner” responsible for the sale of “stolen” assets/items. The two items are expected to fetch between US$20.8 million to US$30 million.

The historical relics were taken from Beijing's Old Summer Palace when it was looted by invading French and British forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War. It formed part of the original set of 12 bronze animal heads kept at Yuanmingyuan. To date, five of the 12 bronze animal heads have been returned to China, while the whereabouts of five others are unknown.

Under UNESCO's Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, any cultural relics looted or lost during wars should be returned without any limitation of the time span. On the basis of international law, it is also important that cultural relics are returned to the originating countries if it can be traced that the right of ownership at the source is not acquired legally. Similarly, if you purchased an item which was found to be stolen in the first place, you would lose the legal ownership and the goods would be confiscated and then eventually return to the first owner.

What really irked me was that the partner of the original collector, Pierre Berge, who told the media that he would return the sculptured items so long as China gives liberty to the Tibet people and invited the Dalai Lama back to Tibet. What does he mean by giving liberty to the Tibetans? The Frenchman thinks that with his wealth he can trade or bargain for concessions with the Chinese government. He is being ridiculous as China is not as weak as it was during the Qing dynasty.

Generally, it is sad to note here that Western people are completely misguided on the concept of human rights in Tibet. The Tibetans have been provoked on many occasions by the exiled religious leader to rise up against Chinese rule and to seek independence (disguised as autonomy to gain Western sympathies). Under such a compelling situation, it would be unwise of any government to allow total human rights to the Tibetans (as practiced in the West) since stability and safety of the Han Chinese and the Hui Muslim minorities in Qinghai and Tibet would be compromised. This is what happened in March last year as the Tibetan ran riot murdering some of the Han Chinese.

The American Chinese Collector's Association and the Eastern Cultural Foundation jointly issued an open letter to the media requesting all Chinese collectors and antique dealers around the world to stop doing business with the auction house.

The insincere French government is silent on the matter.

I supported the call to the Chinese government to suspend all activities with the auction house in Hong Kong and China and to urge all Chinese consumers around the world to boycott Yves Saint Laurent products. At least we will not be perceived as an accomplice in the trading of “stolen” properties.

Why bother so much about US owned Oscar, Chinese based film awards are well received within the Chinese speaking world

By China Watcher

The recently concluded Oscar ceremony has given an obscure film, Slumdog Millionaire, a overnight prominence when it successfully scooped the majority of the prizes in terms of quality and recognition values. The film was unmistakably made in India by a British movie director using lots of unknown Indian talents.

A few scheming reporters asked a famous Hong Kong actress, Michelle Yeoh at the ceremony when will China ever going to have a winner at the Oscar. Her reply as quoted "I believe very strongly in the Hong Kong and Chinese cinemas. I think ...... our day (to win the Oscar) will come very, very soon".

First, why is it so important for a Chinese film to win an Oscar? There were already an assortment of quality Chinese-made films in Mandarin (not in English) that have been successful at Venice and the Bears Film Festivals. Hollywood’s Oscars and Golden Globe are awards for the English-speaking community and is supported by the 300 million residents in the US.

The Oscar Awards is widely accepted as the international standards of recognition on filmmaking in the world because the US was the centre of movie production since the 1930s and its media and the distribution agencies were responsible to provide the maximum exposure possible in every parts of the world. And the US being an economic and political power has also helped to a certain extent to influence the purchasing requirements of the international society.

Second, most of the quality movies made in Hong Kong and China are scripted in Mandarin or Cantonese (a Chinese dialect) that would not appeal much to the English speaking American public. Hong Kong movie rights have been sold to US entrepreneurs who will produce movies that are tailored to the US audience. One such movie was “The Departed”, a remake of a Hong Kong crime thriller, the Infernal Affairs. Normally when re-make movies are produced and adapted to an exclusive audience who do not understand the original language and its cultural background, the end-movie tends to lose its originality and the cultural “flavor” relevant towards the storyline. It is not surprising such movies failed miserably at the box-office or win any awards.

Third, there was a Hollywood movie directed by an Italian which has won the Best Picture – The Last Emperor, although it was not made by a Chinese director. There was also a Chinese director – Ang Lee, who has won the Best Director for a gay movie not too long ago.

The Chinese do not need to demonstrate to Hollywood that it has quality movies mirroring the “Slumdog Millionaire” as its directors have already proven in other film international conventions in which English is not regarded as an important component in the recognition of films in the "Best Picture" or in other field of production and performance of its actors. Further this year winner at the Oscar is not even directed by an Asian.

Michelle Yeoh should just tell the reporters that the Chinese already had winners, why bother with Hollywood. Perhaps, the day will come when the US will look up to the Chinese awards for recognition.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

If Western large institutional shareholders do not like the Chinalco deal, stop complaining just get out

By China Watcher

Rio Tinto US$19.5 billion deal with Chinese state-owned aluminum group Chinalco was reported to have infuriated two large institutional shareholders, London based fund manager, Legal & General Investment Management Ltd (LGIML) and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP).

LGIML currently holds 5 percent of Rio Tinto’s total shares whereas SWIP owns 1.3 percent. Both funds expressed disappointment with the deal.

The agreement would ultimately result in Chinalco owning 19 percent of Rio Tinto Plc and 14.9 percent of Rio Tinto if the Chinese company converts all the subordinated convertible bonds.

British media has its hand full by reporting that these institutions are concerns about business deals with Chinese state-owned companies. Perhaps, if the same deal is made with other non Chinese companies, I bet the agreement would be readily acceptable. The largest mine based company needs the funds to partially offset its total debt of US$39 billion.

These Western based fund managers expressed their apprehension over the dilution of shares which, I am not wrong, would arise anyway if the raising of capital is from issuance of new shares or convertible bonds. So, what is really the true agenda of the objections?

On a simple note, these shareholders can keep its current shareholdings intact, if there are willing to inject additional capital to keep the company’s financial healthy with a manageable gearing position. Are they willing?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Western initiated actions against China human rights records failed miserably

By China Watcher

On 9 February 2009, the Group of Western nations and some Latin American countries called on China to bring an end to the death penalty and to adopt a listing of human rights reforms which include the enactment of laws to allow independent labor unions at the United Nations Human Rights Council three hour session.

The debate came in the 2-1/2-year-old Council's Universal Periodic Review procedure that all U.N. members are expected to undergo every four years.

China boldly and clearly told these countries that China actions have always been according to the rule of law and vehemently denied there are such rampant rights related issues like child labor and “secret prisons” for tortures of dissidents.

China has however accepted more constructive suggestions to reinforce censorship of the Internet that relates to “defamation of religion” and the rights of action against any “self styled human rights defenders’ especially from US and Europe. Chinese officials have on many occasions blamed human right activists particularly those from Europe which has a hidden agenda to bring instability to the country with the hope to slow China’s amazing economic growth rate and to preserve a world order which is heavily Western dominated.

China should take note that certain Latin American nations have jumped onto the bandwagon steered by most Western states to hit at China’s death penalty record. Three countries reported in the media are Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. I urge the Chinese government to condemn these countries human rights activities when it is their turn to face the Council..

Trusted and all weathered nations like Pakistan, Cuba and Sri Lanka supported China’s progress on its own version of human rights were also noted. Egypt supported China’s stance that under the "current environment" capital punishment cannot be abolished. Even certain states in the US (like Texas) had not done away with the death penalty.

I applauded China’s outright rejection of recommendations on rights reform and greater rights for ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uighurs as these are political ploy used by the West to break up China into many small entities which would not pose a threat to the largely Western dominated world order in the near future. Tibetans and Uighurs had received equal treatment from the Chinese government as what the other 53 smaller minorities in China enjoyed and why should they be given better rights than others?

In the debate over China’s overall human right record, many Third World Countries praised China as beacon of progress and an alternative for them to follow, and many of them fiercely criticized Western delegations for "politicizing" the discussion.

Western countries that have continuously raised human rights issues against China in the UN are Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland. China must find an innovative approach to deal with such coordinated efforts from these same Group of Western countries which had been actively using human rights as a tool to garner electoral support from its citizens in their own country.

Since January 2007 when China’s Supreme Court took back the sole authority in reviewing the death penalty, I have noticed a substantial decrease in issuing death sentences, especially those cases for immediate execution. Last year, 860 were given death sentences and at least 470 were executed, a remarkable reduction from 2006’s 1010, or 2005’s 1770. If we viewed the deaths from a percentage of its population of 1.3 billion, 470 is small.

I strongly support the Chinese government efforts to continuously review its judicial procedures rather than the outright condemnation of its records in order to gain the trust of the Chinese people (not the nosy Western people) so that innocent people are not wrongfully convicted.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Person who threw a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

By China Watcher

The man responsible for disrupting peace (a public offence) at Cambridge is reported to be a German student by the name of Martin Jahnke who threw a shoe at the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, during his tour of Britain.

He is reported to be a researcher at the University. The Chinese Premier at his website mentioned that the British Court should not be too strict on the student. The offender should be given another chance as education is the best remedy for such outrageous behavior. I disagree with his opinion.

Showing no remorse, the accuser pleaded not guilty and the hearing has been fixed on 10 March 2009. He was given an unconditional bail.

If the British officials are serious about tackling this type of despicable behavior, they should terminate his student status and deport him back to Germany so that he could create no further trouble in Britain. Then again, these few Western nations embrace freedom of expression to the hilt (even to the extent of breaking the law) and I guess the incident will be let off with a small fine. It is of no surprise that moral decadence has already seeped into their societies.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

France overtures to repair ties with China is definitely not sincere

By China Watcher

On Thursday, the current French Prime Minister told his parliament that France hopes to strengthen ties with China, a relationship which has hit rock bottom since the 1960s after the obnoxious French President met with the Dalai Lama in Poland last year.

He said that France needs China and the world needs China to get out of the recession and also, insisted that the French President has every right to meet the religious leader. Then he continued to say that Tibet is an integral part of China and respect its sovereignty over the territory.

You do not need to be a smart person to see through this conniving veil of “faked diplomacy” to sense that the statement or the words that come out from this politician is insincere.

I do agree that every political person has the right to meet any known citizen of China but when Sarkozy who is holding the highest post in the country and also, representing the European Union (EU) as the rotating President, the meeting incident carried more substance and significance. If I am not mistaken, he was the first European leader to do so while holding the rotating EU presidency. Furthermore, by providing first class treatment to a person branded as a “dissident” and a “separatist” in China who has been trying to push his Greater Tibet dreams, which I believe is totally unacceptable by the majority of Han Chinese in the country, there is without doubt where his support will be. Don’t bother to ask the nearly 40% or more of the Han Chinese who lives in Tibet and the surrounding areas, the answer would be the same “no” to the meeting.

Two years ago, the then Japanese Prime Minister being the person of the highest authority in the country continued to visit a sensitive War Shrine enraging a broad section of the people in East Asia (China and the two Koreas) and he was made “persona non-grata” by the Chinese. Now he is an ordinary citizen, he can visit the Shrine every day if he wishes and the Chinese people could not care less.

From the Chinese government perspective, the meeting incident is very serious as it is an act of giving encouragement to the Dalai Lama to further his hidden agenda. If the French Administration continues to demonstrate its pretenses in understanding this very simple matter, how could you expect the Chinese government to reciprocate in the correct manner? If the issue is not resolved how can the French government desire to take the relationship to a strategic partnership? I wonder?

Again using the same approach the French did earlier, the government will be sending former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to visit China next week with the hope to improve relations.

This is not the first incident. When the Olympic touch run went passed Paris, there were lots of unfriendly comments and the police was seen to be “friendly” to the protesters in disrupting the ceremony.

The Chinese people are starting to question why the French consistently and constantly antagonize China with a series of negative acts. They are also asking why the French and the Western nations need to consistently challenge China's sovereignty and territorial rights.

China should not accept these hypocritical so called "European values" as an excuse to justify the French President meeting with the Dalai Lama. By meeting with the Dalai Lama, it clearly shows that the French would want the Dalai Lama as its “strategic partner” rather than with the Chinese people. You cannot have the cake and eat it as well. If the French government really treasures the stable relationship with the Chinese government and its people it should discontinue hurting the sovereignty interest of the Chinese people,

As an overseas Chinese and if I am entrusted as an advisor to the Chinese government, I would tell the Chinese government to ignore the French Prime Minister to mend ties. There is no assurance from him that such an incident would not be repeated in the future because of the French Leader so called principled “European values” which cannot be set aside for the development of a stronger relationship for the mutual benefits of both people across the continent. The French people must also remember that the Chinese also have certain “values” and rights which are imbedded in its rich culture for over 3000 years. The Chinese has a saying in order to gain trust in a relationship you need to do all the fine positive things and if you want respect, you must earn it.

China can do without France but can France do without China?

This insincere approach is obviously not the way.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shoe throwing incident at Premier Wen’s visit to Cambridge reflects the low point in Western behavior and manners

By China Watcher

There were more pro-Chinese supporters (there are not protestors) than pro-Tibet (western instigated) protestors on the streets but the Western media choose to provide wide coverage of the protests from these anti-groups with pro-tibet comments that were clearly one sided. The report mentioned that 5 violent Tibetans were arrested but there were rarely charged.

On the shoe throwing incident. the Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor summed it appropriately by stating that the university is a place for considered argument and debate and not for shoe throwing. The shouting and the cursing by the Caucasian man reflects a low point in western so called civilized behavior and should be condemned to the fullest. This is not a human right. This is a disturbance of peace in a progressive society and it is only slightly better than during Europe’s medieval times when the diners shouted at each other across the table.

Mr.Wen biggest problem is to ensure that the unemployment situation in China is stabilized and that there would not result in a chaotic situation, which would not be good for the 1.3 billion residents. The financial crisis has affected every nation in the world, regardless of its size and the degree of openness in the economy.

Sino-Britain discussion in London focused more on implementing coordinated efforts and actions which might help to avert a global economic disaster and also, to weather the fallout of the crisis from each other country. This is more important than the Tibet or human right issue in China.

In Baghdad, the person throwing the shoe is an Iraqi (a resident) who has undoubtedly possesses an interest in the running of the country but. in Cambridge the trouble maker is a white Caucasian who does not even has a stake in the country. He is merely a Western human right proponent who narrowly looks at the issue and is out to create trouble or to garner fame for notoriety. What a shame!