Tag Archives: China

Rupert Murdoch is not the enlightened leader of free speach and free media.

Rupert Murdoch, not the leader of the free press, like some Italians would like to believe. Photo thanks to World Economic forum

This might seem like an obvious comment to make, but Rupert Murdoch is not an all enlightened leader of liberal journalists bringing the truth to the door steps of billions of people.  I say this, because just recently there has been a wave of people who seem to be getting rather confused about this issue. 

The Times recently ran the lead column of “Google’s decision to pull out of China was the right one” (I will come back to this later).  Equally, I recently had the very bizarre experience of attending a protest outside the European Commission about media monopolies in Italy, when friends of mine starting to suggest that Murdoch’s media empire represented a “truthful form of journalism”.  This can surely only be the case when comparing it to the lowest forms of media monopolies, such as is found in Italy.

Lets make this abundantly clear, Murdoch runs a media empire which has sticky fingers in quite a few pies; to name a few…The sun, The Times (UK), Fox news, BSkyB, The News of the World, Star TV, The Australian, New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.  This would be bad, just by itself, but this does not take into consideration Murdoch’s political nature (that’s right it’s not only Berlusconi who has political interests). Murdoch has a long history of sticking his nose in. 

Throughout the Thatcher years, he aligned himself closely with the Iron Lady and soon after that The Sun accredited itself for ensuring John Major won his election in 1992.  Since then however (until recently) he has thrown his weight behind New Labour.  If Murdoch is one thing, he is pragmatic.  In 2008, he flew Cameron on his private jet for talks predicting a New Labour implosion.  It is not just in the UK, in the US; Fox news is notorious for its Republican bias. Yet, just recently there has been a reported “Truce” between Obama and Murdoch.

Perhaps, to try to live up to his Italian counterpart (who owns AC Milan FC), Murdoch offered 625 million pounds in 1998 in a bid to take over Manchester United FC.  Then, the largest amount ever offered for a football club. 

Murdoch is truly a pragmatist! To illustrate, lets look a little closer at his paper running the Google headline.  Murdoch who, axed BBC world service off its Star satellite service Asia after it mentioned the Tiananmen square massacre, ordered the publishing house Harper Collins to drop Chris Pattern’s memoirs of his time as governor of Hong Kong, encase they offend Beijing and paid 1 million dollars for the rights to publish the life story of Deng Xiaoping to get in with the Chinese government (All this can be found in the 22 Jan – 4 Feb Private Eye) is in no position to comment on Google’s activities.  To call Google “parasites” for their action in China might seem just a little hypocritical.

Murdoch remains at the helm of the world’s second largest media outlets (after Disney), and I personally would not believe a word any of his outlets print!

Increasingly however, alternative media outlets have cropped up.  Grass-root initiatives such as Indymedia provide first hand accounts of news without the necessity to make the millions of dollars that the likes of news corp.  This organisation was born out of a frustration of lack of accurate coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle.  We can take organisations like these with a small pinch of salt.  Yet, I would trust these guys over Murdoch any day.  I challenge anyone to read a couple copies of private eye and not become just a little sceptical.


Filed under Politics

China, executing…well anyone really!

Today, China has executed British citizen Akmal Shaikh.  Akmal is a 53 year old who is described as having “mental problems”.  He was arrested two years ago for smuggling heroin in from Tajikistan.  It is widely reported that he was tricked into this action. I am not questioning whether Akmal was innocent or not, but what I am questioning is, how many of the 2,390 people that China executed (that we know about) in 2008 where innocent? This blog is not about Akmal, it is about the thousands of people that China has executed and is in-line to execute!

I will not hide the fact that I am a strong opponent to the Death Penalty.  I think it is a barbaric and out-dated punishment.  I think it is ineffectual in fighting crime and I think it is irreversible when the judiciary gets it wrong.  What I wish to present here however, is why China’s situation is unique and needs the world’s attention.  I hope to put out an argument to suggest that even the most hardened supporters of the death penalty should be disgusted by what is happening in China.

Firstly, China executed 2,390 people that we know of in 2008.  That’s 72% of executions from around the world.  This is a huge number by anyone’s standards (even taking into consideration the population size of China they execute by far the most per, 1000 citizens). The worrying part of these figures is that we do not actually know how many people China executes annually.  They still refuse to make public the figures arguing that they are “state secrets”.  You have to question why they are considered a “state secret”.  Estimates have been as high 10,000.  This is going beyond executions and bordering on an annual slaughter!

Secondly, the different offenses that are considered to be serious enough to judicially execute someone for in China, is breath taking.  Tax evasion, fraud, robbery, are all considered serious enough to end someone’s life.  Call me old fashioned, but does this not strike you as being a smidgen disproportionate? I shall re-state that of course I oppose the death penalty in all situations, but you can follow the mislead logic to why you might want to execute a murder or a rapist.  Someone who avoids paying taxes though?

The death penalty is used in a more widespread and systematic way than in any other nation state in the world.  They continue to execute both nationals and foreigners (arguing non-discrimination!). It is time that even the most ardent supporters of the death penalty stood up and said that what China is doing is wrong! There is no justification for the mass-murder that is currently taking place in China.  There is complete disregard for human life.  In the lead up to the Olympics China promised to improve its human rights records.  We need to question why they do not consider their use of the death penalty not to be a violation of their human rights commitments!

This is one occasion where I stand side by side with the Daily Mail:



Filed under Human rights