US-China ties are no stranger to conflict, but few can remember a descent in the relationship more rapid than that which occurred in the last weeks of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. In November, during President Obama’s first official trip to China, an administration source lauded relations with Beijing as “the best ever,” and on December 15, Secretary of State Clinton defended the soft approach the administration had taken on human rights violations in China, arguing that disagreements with the country were best ironed out “behind closed doors.” That speech was given on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Copenhagen to try to reach a deal to curb carbon emissions and slow global warming.
On December 29, 2009, Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen, was executed in Urumqi, in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, for the crime of drug trafficking. Shaikh, who had been caught entering China with four kilograms of heroin, was reported to suffer from severe mental health problems and was allegedly duped into bringing the drugs into China by men who had promised him that they would make him a music star. According to news accounts, his trial judges even laughed at some parts of his court testimony but did not order a psychological evaluation.
For several years, Dui Hua has been closely tracking the increase in China’s use of the set of crimes that fall under the category of “endangering state security” (ESS). Under Chinese law, these crimes include “subversion” and “splittism” (including incitement thereof), as well as espionage and “illegally providing state secrets to overseas entities.” Basically replacing the category of “counterrevolution” after revision of the Criminal Law in 1997, ESS provisions are primarily aimed at suppressing political dissent in the name of protecting the “security and interests of the [Chinese] state.”
Fall, winter advocacy trips cover stops in Europe, Asia & US East Coast; Kamm delivers keynote speech at Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs seminar; follow Dui Hua’s work on Twitter.