Being free to criticise the government is a nice feeling

I am an enthusiast for Chinese culture.

I admire the many subtleties of thought in Chinese medicine and philosophy and I am doing my best to learn that most inspirational of Chinese martial arts, White Crane Kung Fu.

I am also learning Mandarin Chinese in an attempt to further my understanding and two years ago I even went to Foujou Province, in Southern China where I studied Kung Fu Dog Boxing with a revered Chinese master.

I had a lot of fun there too and discovered that if you take the trouble to learn how to make just the smallest of gestures to those often grim faced people on the street, they will reward you with some of the most charming smiles seen anywhere in the World.

Don’t get me wrong but I can confess to finding the Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama mildly irritating even if the Chinese government’s policy in Tibet is not exactly benign.

Shockingly and against all my expectations I actually enjoyed the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics.

Does this make me a brain-washed Chinaphile? I hope not.

On this sunny day in my hometown of Lewes in Southern England, it is all very well to admire the many qualities that emanate from The People’s Republic of China. I can sit around and discuss our government’s policies on the economy and ask if the opposition party’s ideas are any better. Here on-line on this website, I could even support the Opposition, the Conservative Party, even though a lot of its ideas are ill-thought through and superficial. If I want to put all my energy into telling my fellow countrymen that Mr. David Cameron, the Conservative leader is great, profound and inspirational , the worst I will have to suffer is the ridicule such a remark would deserve. Similarly, we can all say whatever we want about the much maligned and increasingly attacked Mr. Gordon Brown, our current Prime Minister, who may well not be everyone’s idea of a barrel of laughs.

Whatever the truth, I can be as rude as I like here. Let’s do it then: David Cameron is a prat and Gordon Brown is a bore, the British Government is all over the place and the Opposition is even worse. So thank God for us, the great free British people who can carry on just as we like, voting for things we don’t understand, putting up with tedious regulations and being sneery about all those foreigners who always get things wrong.

My stupid views are out here on the international web and readers all over the World can sigh and think poor old Wolfie, he has lost the plot.

Now, fortunately there are cleverer people than me out there typing away on the web and others who would be if they weren’t in prison for doing just that.

Today is World Human Rights Day and this week saw the first anniversary of the imprisonment without charge of a certain Mr. Liu Xioabobo, a Chinaman, a writer and political activist who has more than irritated the Chinese Government.

Mr. Liu wants reform in the Chinese system. He is calling for greater human rights and an end to the one party state. In other words, he is seen as “inciting subversion.” He is no stranger to punishment however as he was previously imprisoned for supporting the student protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He spent 20 months in prison and then had to undergo three years of “labour re-education.”

This time, he has spent six months in solitary confinement before being transferred to a normal cell and, if he ever stands trial, he may well be senstenced to 15 years imprisonment.

He is seen as a dangerous subversive because of his activities on the internet where he has been a consistent critic of Chinese government policy and where he published a charter online which gathered 300 signatures from other Chinese activists and more than 10,000 further signatures around the World.

This was just too much for the Government so Liu Xiaobobo is destined for a long time behind bars.

If only China could see the damage that it is doing to its reputation World-wide when even people like me who really wants to love them finds their actions abhorrant.

Good luck Mr. Liu, your country needs you.

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