Those of you who are Pasadena locals know that we’ve been having quite a time with the upcoming Rose Parade—specifically, the China-sponsored float (courtesy of Avery-Dennison) touting the 2008 Olympic Games. Members of Falun Gong have encouraged city officials and the Tournament of Roses to nix the float. They’ve spoken eloquently of torture, abuse, murder and cover-ups perpetrated by Chinese officials.
China promised to clean up its human rights act in exchange for the honor of hosting the Olympics, but there is little evidence that any significant improvements have been made. We visited China for ten days on business a few years ago, and Mr. Lee (not his real name) was our translator. He emphasized (quietly, but persistently) that he would like to be able to travel outside China, to visit the US, but his country does not give him that freedom. Considering that even non-dissidents are not allowed to travel outside of the country without government permission—well, I think it’s pretty clear that communism is alive and well in China.
The report of the City of Pasadena’s Human Rights Commission is here. The length of the document reflects the complexity of the issue.
My opinion: There are people in my community who have had personal experience with China’s supression and torture. Regardless of how I feel about the Olympics or the “this-parade-has-been-brought-to-you-by” parade of corporate floats, just the simple testimony of these people is enough for me to say: Dump the float.
Because one thing is for sure: leaving the float in the parade isn’t going to change a damn thing. Rejecting the float lets China know that *we* know that they haven’t cleaned up their act. It’s a big act too; human rights, religious freedom, health and safety rights for workers, and environmental degredation (not that we’re stellar in that area either). I’d say they’ve pretty much got a full court press going in the wrong direction. But we like them ’cause we get lots of cheap stuff from them. Oh yeah, and cheap workers too. Cheap workers who make cheap stuff (inexpensive, that is, I think they’re getting quality under control).
Earlier this year, I blathered about China, Chinese workers, and New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebration after seeing a wonderful documentary entitled Mardi Gras: Made in China.
Special message for the three Pasadena City Council members who pressed for a stronger statement directed toward China (courtesy of Rick in Casablanca): “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Finally, a refresher:
A Tribute to Communism