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China

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

China is the most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion people and is the fourth largest in land area, occupying most of East Asia. It has the world's fastest growing economy, is the largest coal user, and after the U.S., the second largest oil user. China is spending billions of dollars getting foreign energy and is making efforts to invest in hydro-electric power, for example, spending $25 billion on the Three Gorges Dam. [1] [2]

China's public diplomacy

Entering the race to win hearts and minds, China has begun an image campaign to bolster its global economic and political ambitions. "Beijing has already opened 27 branches of the Confucius Institute around the world in less than a year, and it has a budget of $200-million (U.S.) annually to teach Chinese to foreigners," Canada's Globe and Mail reports. As part of China's "charm offensive" led by President Hu Jintao, the effort includes plans for 70 more culture and language centers in the next five years. "China is starting to develop a public diplomacy strategy, and it includes not just diplomatic finesse but also public relations and the export of Chinese culture and values," Yuen Pau Woo, president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, told the paper. "It's what you would expect of a rising power. It's the soft architecture of being a global player."[3]

Censorship

In March 2008, IDG News Service reported that Human Rights Watch and major Internet service providers were working on "a code of conduct addressing how major Internet service providers and portal operators should deal with Internet censorship in China. The code is due in the next couple of months and comes in the run up to the Beijing Olympic Games that begin in August." Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth remarked, "One of our concerns is the degree to which the major international Internet companies have become complicit in this censorship of the Internet." [4]

In November 2007, the U.S.-based company Yahoo! "settled a lawsuit by two Chinese journalists who were jailed after the Internet giant provided Beijing authorities with information about their online activities. ... The case was brought earlier this year on behalf of the two prisoners, Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao, who sued the company under U.S. human rights laws in federal court in Oakland. Seeking unspecified damages, they, along with their families, accused Yahoo of illegally giving information about their online activities to Chinese law enforcement."

"Wang, an editor of several journals espousing political reform, was arrested at home in 2002 during a raid by police, and later sentenced to 10 years in a Beijing prison on charges of trying to subvert the government. The lawsuit alleged that Yahoo provided authorities with his e-mail records, which included pro-democracy writings he had sent anonymously to others, including some overseas."

"Shi, a journalist, was arrested in 2004 and convicted based on similar evidence of sending word of a media crackdown to the New York Web site Democracy Forum. He is also serving a 10-year sentence." [5]

Lobbying firms retained by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the U.S.

An agreement entered into by Patton Boggs with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China states that the firm will be paid $22,000 per month to represent the embassy for unspecified purposes. The letter of engagement identifies Timothy Chorba, Larry Harris and Mark D. Cowan as the principal Patton Boggs staff working on the account.[6]

Another concurrent agreement with Jones Day and signed by Donald B. Ayer specifies that the firm will be paid $15,000 per month for services including "monitoring and reporting on Congressional developments and activities which may be of interest to the foreign principal." A November 2006 letter from Herbert J. Hansell attached to the agreement stated that "in accordance with our relationship during the past 20 years, the services will continue to be provided primarily by Robert M. Brown and I will continue to have general supervisory responsibility for this relationship."[7]

Tobacco industry activity

Tobacco industry activity in Hong Kong provides a good example of an attempt by a tobacco company to create a market, and reveals the faultiness of the industry's oft-used argument that brand-switching is the only intended function of tobacco advertising. In 1984, Philip Morris launched the Virginia Slims brand in the Hong Kong market. The ads were clearly targeted at young women, and showed images of beauty, slimness and the promotion of Western cultural images, and with clear messages of emancipation. Television advertisements first showed an old-style black and white movie of a young woman controlled by her father then switched images of a young, chic woman of today. "But things are different now" was the theme of this advertisement. According to government statistics at the time, only about 1% of women under the age of 40 years smoked in Hong Kong, so the number who could be targeted by this expensive advertising blitz simply for brand-switching alone was negligible. Instead, the advertising effort seemed to be a clear attempt to create a market.[8]

Tobacco industry documents

Government websites

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. China, National Geographic, accessed November 2007.
  2. Country profile: China BBC, accessed November 2007.
  3. Geoffrey York, "Beijing uses Confucius to lead charm offensive: New Vancouver institute part of network promoting China's culture and language", Globe and Mail, September 9, 2005.(Only the lead paragraph is available for free).
  4. Martyn Williams, "Chinese Internet censorship code of conduct in the works: Human rights group prepares a code of conduct for how ISPs should deal with Internet censorship in China in the run up to the Beijing Olympic Games," IDG News Service, March 18, 2008.
  5. Verne Kopytoff, "Yahoo settles with jailed Chinese journalists," San Francisco Chronicle, November 14, 2007.
  6. Mark D. Cowan, Letter to Zhang Ping, Patton Boggs, June 1, 2007.(Pdf)
  7. Herbert J. Hansell, Letter to Zhang Ping, Jones Day, November 30, 2006.(Pdf)
  8. International Organization of Consumers Untions, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital Tobacco Control in the Third World: A Resource Atlas 1990. 254 pages. Bates No. 2060476817/7069

External resources

External articles