Just two days after Beijing’s surprise announcement that it would shortly meet with aides to the Dalai Lama, the Chinese Communist party’s official mouthpiece hurled fresh invective at the exiled Tibetan leader. The April 27 People’s Daily commentary stated: “The Dalai clique have always been masters at games with words and the ideas that they have tossed about truly make the head spin… Those who split the nation are criminals to history.” The Dalai Lama’s nephew, Khedroob Thondup, a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, dismissed the overture as a “ruse” designed “to deflect pressure and give false assurance to Western leaders.” (The Guardian, April 28) A story on the front page of the New York Times business section April 26, “At Trade Show, China’s Police Shop for the West’s Latest,” sported a picture of an armored vehicle on display and contained such gems as:
At the recent China International Exhibition on Police Equipment here, sponsored by the Ministry of Public Security, DuPont had a large exhibit promoting Kevlar bulletproof fabric for riot police use. Motorola was selling police radio systems as well as wireless systems for transmitting vast quantities of video surveillance data.
And with the slogan “dress to kill” on their black T-shirts, top executives from Magnum of Britain showed off their latest police boots. “Chinese police deserve the best — Magnum protects the protectors,” said Paul Brooks, the company’s president, in a speech to police officials.
So much for hypocritical Western hand-wringing about Tibet. The US, at least, does seem to have restrictions in place on export of this kind of stuff to China—but with plenty of loopholes or lax enforcement, or both:
The trade show coincided with increasing controversy in the United States over American exports of crime-control equipment to China. After the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, Congress passed a law that remains in effect today: it bans “the export to the People’s Republic of China of any crime control or detection instruments or equipment.”
The Commerce Department drafted regulations in the early 1990s to put that ban into effect. But those initial regulations — which officials have said clearly apply to products aimed exclusively at law enforcement agencies, like fingerprint kits — paid little attention to the rising computer industry and have not been updated.
The department did an internal review last winter of the rules. It is now seeking public comment on how and whether it should update its regulations on exports of crime control and detection equipment to any country subject to restrictions.
Asked about the abundant American gear shown at the police equipment trade show, Mario Mancuso, the under secretary of commerce for industry and security, replied with a one-sentence written statement: “Enforcing U.S. regulations on crime control equipment, including the Tiananmen Square Sanctions, is a top priority, and we continually review our regulations to ensure that they effectively support our national security and foreign policy.”
Another Commerce Department official said that questions from The New York Times about American equipment exhibited at the trade show had prompted the department to begin a review of whether American laws might have been broken. The official insisted on anonymity, in keeping with a department policy of not commenting on work that might lead to law enforcement actions.
Meanwhile, crowds of Chinese students waving red flags clashed with pro-Tibet protesters and Japanese nationalists at the Olympic torch relay in Nagano, Japan, April 26. (Reuters, April 26) More than 7,000 people, including many Tibetan exiles, demonstrated in the Swiss capital Bern to demand the government receive the Dalai Lama when he visits the city later this year. (SwissInfo, April 26)
See our last post on China and Tibet.