By Peter Baofu, Ph.D.
Recent events like Google’s complaint about censorship in China, a British woman’s being prosecuted for having illicit sex in Dubai, and a British man’s being convicted of drug smuggling in China had received swift criticisms against the host countries from both governments and mass media in the West.
Yet, what many Western governments and mass media do not want to tell the world is something more troubling, that is, the widespread Western neo-colonial discrimination against non-Western laws -- while they strictly expect, as a matter of right, the respect by non-Western nationals and organizations towards Western laws when these non-Western nationals and organizations are in the West.
This widespread Western neo-colonial discrimination has its inhumane consequence for the world. Let me explain this troubling phenomenon below, with the three examples (as cited above) for illustration.
Firstly, in the first example concerning Google’s threat to leave China unless the Chinese government lifts its censorship (like “filtering” search results) and stops its alleged “cyber attacks” -- the mainstream coverage (of this controversy) in Western mass media is more fact-twisting than fact-reporting.
Google is not as innocent as its complaint may sound. Many people do not know that Google has been collaborating for years with “the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and other intelligence agencies” for global spying, as reported by Steve Watson back in March of 2008. As explained by Watson, “Google's partnership with the intelligence network is not new….An ex-CIA agent Robert David Steele…elaborated on previous revelations…that the CIA helped bankroll Google at its very inception. Steele named Google's CIA point man as Dr. Rick Steinheiser, of the Office of Research and Development.”
Steele thus explained: “Google took money from the CIA when it was poor and it was starting up and unfortunately our system right now floods money into spying and other illegal and largely unethical activities, and it doesn't fund what I call the open source world….They've been together for quite a while.”More specifically, for Watson, “Google is supplying the software, hardware and tech support to US intelligence agencies who are in the process of creating a vast closed source database for global spy networks to share information.”
By 2007, according to Watson, “new programs of internet monitoring” were created “by a freshly created department branch of Homeland Security [DHS] called the National Applications Office” -- and these programs “allow…the DHS to regulate and control access to the internet in the name of ‘protecting’ national security….[And] the NSA has increasing control over SSL, now called Transport Layer Security, the cryptographic protocol that provides secure communications on the internet for web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers. In other words the agency is capable of intercepting and reading…emails and instant messages in real time.”
In 2007, as Watson continued, “US National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is drawing up plans for cyberspace spying that would make the current debate on warrantless wiretaps look like a 'walk in the park.' The plan would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search” for global spying.
The Chinese side seems to be well aware of this dubious side of Google and other related companies doing business in China. For instance, on January 27, 2010, He Jiazheng, the President of People's Daily Online, revealed, in an article concerning Google, that “the United States…is shifting its strategic focus from the military to the Internet. It is against this backdrop that Google becomes a tool of the country's Internet hegemony. What makes a multinational company as big as Google intervene in the security and social policies of another sovereign state? Obviously, the case is not as simple as corporate decision-making of a business, but an act driven by other hidden factors.” In other words, not only “Google has filtered a lot of online posts on the ground that they are of…anti-American rhetoric” but also it has worked together with the U.S. intelligence network for years.
Another recent article in People’s Daily (on January 23, 2010) revealed that the U.S. call for “Internet freedom” is part of its clandestine efforts “to infiltrate China,” with the help of Google and other companies (like “Twitter” and “YouTube,” as cited in the article).
In 2002, “a CIA Internet spying plot was disclosed by the British media, saying the CIA sought to collect information by breaking into giant companies, banks and governmental organs and organizations acrossthe world. Under the cover of a high-tech civil company, the CIA took cooperated with a software development company in the Silicon Valley to design software 'bugs' to collect information via the Internet. The spying software binding with normal software would install automatically once a netizen started to use the normal software,” as pointed out in the same article.
In addition, “according to a Hong Kong media agency, the CIA invests tens of millions of US dollars every year to aid 'Chinese net traitors' to infiltrate Chinese net users with US ideology. They haunt major Chinese forums and portals. A website called 'Wazhe Online' (Chinese Pinyin) is a secret mission with the cooperation of US government institutions and overseas 'Tibetan splittist organizations' with the tasks of agitating, deluding, infiltrating and instigating Chinese net users, making up rumors to initiate riots and collecting information via the Internet. A Tibetan youth who once worked with one organization said it is an online spy agency which is supported by the US financially, controlled by the Americans and serves the Americans. A commentary on Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao said those who publish stories sensitive to China's policies on the net have complex backgrounds and are hired by US and Japanese spy agencies,” as pointed out in the same article.
Therefore, reality is not what Google and the mainstream Western mass media would like us to believe.
Secondly, in regard to the second example concerning a British woman’s being prosecuted for having illicit sex in Dubai” -- the mainstream coverage (of this controversy) in Western mass media continues its spinning against non-Western laws.
For instance, the Economist in the U.K. published an article on January 14, 2010 which condemned the arrest of a “23-year-old British woman” (whose name was not released because of privacy) and who “was barred from leaving the country while awaiting trial,” because “on New Year’s Day she told police she had been raped the previous evening by a waiter at a five-star hotel,” and “the police arrested her after she revealed during questioning that she had drunk alcohol and had sex with her fiancé, with whom she was on holiday.”
It is well known that “under sharia law, sex out of wedlock and the drinking of alcohol are illegal” in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the Economist acknowledged but condemned it anyway. In other words, so the hidden excuse goes, it is not right for a Westerner to get punished for drinking alcohol and have sex out of wedlock in an Islamic country like UAE; Western values are to be respected too, so the excuse goes, because these Westerners are not Arab Muslims and should be treated differently.
Yet, when Muslims from the Middle East travel to Western countries, they are expected to obey Western laws and cannot excuse themselves by being non-Westerners, or by borrowing the same excuse that non-Western values are to be respected too, because these non-Westerners are not Westerners in the West and should be treated differently. On the contrary, unfortunately, non-Western nationals often suffer widespread discrimination in Western societies. For instance, in France, it is not legal for Muslim women (regardless of whether they are originally from France or from Muslim countries) to wear their scarfs, especially in public places like schools, hospitals, and public transports.
But why should the West not respect the non-Western values of those non-Westerners in the West -- while Western nationals expect non-Westerners in the Non-West to respect their Western values when the former (these Westerners) are in these non-Western countries?
And thirdly, in regard to the third (and the last) example concerning a British man, Akmal Shaikh, who was convicted of drug smuggling in China and received the death penalty under the Chinese law -- the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown immediately condemned it, as he thus said: “I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms, and am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted.” And the family of Akmal Shaikh offered the excuse that he was suffering from mental illness and should be given clemency.
But what the mainstream Western mass media did not report much is the other side of the story, in three important aspects which are vital to the case.
The first important aspect is that there was no documentation to even prove that Mr. Shaikh was mentally ill. For instance, the Supreme People’s Court could not receive any documentation from the British side to prove that Mr. Shaikh was mentally ill, as briefly acknowledged in a news update by BBC on December 29, 2009.
The second important aspect is that Mr. Shaikh “was carrying eighty times the minimum amount of heroin which carries the death penalty,…enough heroin to kill over 26,000 people,” as Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey pointed out in his article (on Dec. 29, 2009).
And the third important aspect is that the Chinese legal system had already given Mr. Shaikh the longest due process for an exhaustive examination of the case possible under the law (which had lasted for more than 2 years). For instance, as Bancroft-Hinchey thus explained, “the People's Republic of China has its laws, and due legal process was followed from his detention on September 12, 2007, through the two appeals processes and right up to the review of the case in the People's Supreme Court in December 2009. The rights of Mr. Shaikh were followed to the letter, throughout. And that is the prerogative of the PR China and nobody else, just as it is the prerogative of the State of Texas to execute prisoners, whether the rest of the world likes it or not.”
Yet, when Chinese nationals travel to Western countries, can they expect or demand “clemency” when they are in legal trouble with Western legal systems? Can China condemn Western countries whenever Chinese nationals are arrested under Western laws in the West and are not given any clemency? Bluntly speaking, the West would not give a damn to any clemency towards any Chinese nationals (and would strongly regard any demand like this as a blatant interference with its legal systems).
For instance, Haisong Jiang, a Chinese doctoral student in a joint molecular biosciences program at Rutgers University, was arrested in the U.S. on January 8, 2010, after he unwittingly “breached security” by bypassing a Newark Airport terminal without security screening in order “to bid his girlfriend goodbye” inside the terminal and now “faces a trespassing charge and a fine,” as reported by David Porter for the Associated Press on January 9, 2010.
Yet, can China ask for “clemency” with the U.S. legal system for his release? No, of course not, the law should be obeyed in the U.S., regardless of nationality. Even worse, there are people in higher authority in the U.S. who asked for harsher punishment against Jiang, with no mercy at all. For instance, “New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who was briefed on the arrest,…expressed anger” and strongly asked that the charges and punishment against Jiang “should be much harsher,” as reported by Porter.
These three cases as described here, namely, the ones concerning Google, the British woman, and Mr. Shaikh, are by no mean exhaustive (as there can be many other cases like this) but suffice to illustrate the important point of how much non-Western laws are often treated with condescension and discrimination by Westerners while being in the Non-West, in a way that they do not reciprocate the same treatment to non-Westerners who are in the West and are in trouble with Western laws.
There is a pervasive (often publicly unspoken) racist and ethnocentric discrimination against non-Western laws by Western nationals, as a long historical legacy of Western colonialism in the Non-West during much of the modern era. This colonial legacy of Western superiority complex has not disappeared but transforms itself into a neo-colonial character in our time, often hidden behind the slogans of “human rights,” “freedom,” “clemency,” and the like.
One major consequence is that Westerners can go to any place in the Non-West and, when in legal trouble with local laws, often expect the preferential treatment of not being prosecuted and of being released, with such excuses as “clemency,” “human rights,” “freedom,” and the like, in a way that they do not reciprocate the same preferential treatment to non-Westerners who are in legal trouble in the West. In fact, these non-Westerners are, more often than not, suffer from pervasive discrimination in Western societies, to the extent that not only they are not given any “clemency” but also they often receive harsher punishment than otherwise.
Thus are the Western neo-colonial discrimination against non-Western laws -- and its inhumane consequence in our time.
About the Author: Dr. Peter Baofu is the author of 30 books in numerous different fields, in which he proposed 40 new theories in different disciplines for a unified theory of everything. His latest books on world affairs include “The Future of Post-Human War and Peace” (2010, forthcoming), “The Future of Post-Human Law” (2010, forthcoming), “Beyond the World of Titans, and the Remaking of World Order” (2007), “The Rise of Authoritarian Liberal Democracy” (2007), the 2 volumes of “Beyond Democracy to Post-Democracy” (2005), “Beyond Capitalism to Post-Capitalism” (2004), “The Future of Capitalism and Democracy” (2002), and the 2 volumes of “The Future of Human Civilization” (2000).