As global leadership in the West continues to single out Vladimir Putin and a select group of his cronies and allies, fingering them as the (apparently) sole perpetrators of heinous acts conducted in their states’ interests, another major world power with strained diplomatic ties to America has conducted a global campaign of its own. China is a nation that has taken on an increasingly adversarial bent – at least economically – since the Trump administration took over. So, why have we yet to witness the global outcry towards startling kidnappings and human rights violations that are clear violations of foreign sovereignty, as we have witnessed in the case of Russia?
Apparently, the moral weight put on a Russian life is greater than that of a person with roots in East Asia. It’s unclear how else to explain relative media and state silence in light of what is clearly systematic, unlawful breaches of national and personal sovereignty by what appears to be representatives of the Communist Chinese government.
Those playing devil’s advocate may draw mild distinctions between kidnappings and the use of nerve agent in attempts to paint alleged Russian attacks on foreign soil as the greater evil. But such defenses would be feeble; representatives of a state government on foreign soil, especially against those holding dual citizenship, is cause for rebuke and serious official reprisal. Yet, what seems to be selective outrage by certain Western governments in accordance with the rash of Putin Mania warrants questioning, particularly when the case of China has gone largely un-criticized for years.
Several stories have detailed the cases in which individuals associated closely with China, most often as citizens or dual citizens, were kidnapped under suspicious circumstances. Without exception, these individuals were known to be considered either enemies of the state or uber-wealthy stakeholders who the Chinese government would benefit from extracting from foreign nations of asylum. On its face, the motive and result of these circumstances is very similar to that being levied against Russia in the past, and more recently in the case of former double agent Sergei Skripal. It is only the means – nerve agent versus kidnapping (and subsequent uncertainty) – that differs.
There’s the case of Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-Canadian billionaire who was removed from Hong Kong – still considered an independent city-state with strained relations with China – by a group of ‘mysterious men’. Naturally, he would end up being taken by ferry back to China.
‘According to anonymous sources who viewed the hotel’s internal video feed and later spoke to the New York Times, Xiao, who may have been sedated, was rolled through the Four Seasons lobby in a wheelchair, a sheet covering his head. He was then reportedly loaded onto a boat and ferried to the Chinese mainland.’ (FP)
Once Xiao was returned to Chinese soil, all allegations of wrongdoing against the government were withdrawn by his family, and his businesses appear to be liquidating, at the order of the state.
‘In what has become a familiar script for such disappearances, an initial police report filed by a family member was quickly withdrawn, and Xiao later issued a statement denying that he had been kidnapped. More than one year later, he remains in mainland China, and though he has not yet been charged with any crime, his businesses, under government direction, are expected to sell almost $24 billion in investments, which will reportedly be used to repay state banks.’
The fact that Xiao is being forced to ‘repay state banks’ leaves open the possibility that his financial means were extracted less than honestly. But, that is what courts are for, and extradition by traditional means is used to help prove such allegations. Bringing somebody suspected of a crime – which, the article states he is not being charged with – by such apparently forceful, suspicious means is part of the reason China is known as severely lagging when it comes to its citizens’ human rights. The issue even extends tangentially to children in China, who are not immune from the phenomenon of humans being treated as chattel.
Xiao is but one example of the Chinese government’s (alleged) use of systematic kidnapping in overriding the laws of foreign nations. The actions speak far more loudly than any official state denials or justifications; we have seen Western leaders show this to be true in the case of Skripal and Russia. So why aren’t China’s actions towards citizens residing in foreign lands being publically lambasted by the likes of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and yes, Donald Trump?
After all, it’s now being reported that the kidnapping program has crossed into American borders.
Instead of murder, in most cases, it seems as if the targets of these kidnappings – and almost certainly their parents – are subjected to intense government pressure and forced to sell most, if not all, of their significant assets to the state. Instead of murder, it’s more akin to state-mandated extortion. And, in a nation where one’s standing with the government impacts virtually all facets of their lives, extortion is a natural mode for the government to pursue in further consolidating its already immense power.
But extortion is not any less serious than the murder of foreign double agents when we boil this issue down to what it’s really about: sovereignty, and nations’ feelings that, if they have deemed one of their own to be in violation of their domestic law or mores, those nations are within their rights to cross other nations’ borders in order to extract that citizen or dole out justice as they see fit.