Fake baby milk formulas and soy sauce made from human hair. Safety recalls of children's toys, tires and other products, including 900,000 tubes of toothpaste containing a poison used in antifreeze. Pet food poisoned by a chemical (made from coal) secretly added to animal feed, making an estimated 14,000 U.S. pets ill and killing at least 16.
These recent stories put in concrete form the reality of what a primitive country China still is. Let us hope it leads many to ponder the much worse reality of China today. We have to use our imaginations because we don't have many pictures of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the executions and torture that still go on, although last year a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee saw photographs of a mass execution — the gunsmoke enveloping the backs of the heads of a long column of bound prisoners, shot at point-blank range. We don't have pictures of the imprisonment and torture of Christians, including at least 20 Catholic bishops and 100 Protestant pastors, and of Falun Gong members, or of the obliteration of once independent Tibet.
Nor do we have visuals of the organ "harvesting," that is, to quote a March 2007 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture: "Vital organs including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas were systematically harvested [sic.] from Falun Gong practitioners beginning in 2001. The practitioners were given injections to induce heart failure, and therefore were killed in the course of the organ harvesting operations." These organs were used "for transplants for both domestic and foreign patients.
To understand the brutality of a country that within decades will be challenging us for world power, there are other pictures the American people should and can see. Many may be aware that dogs and cats are eaten in certain regions of China; others are skinned alive for their fur, which is used for cheap garments sold in the West. The estimated 10 million killed each year for food (based on humane group figures) are tortured to death in the belief they "taste" better the more they suffer. Dogs are slowly bludgeoned to death, butchered or bled to death while fully conscious, or hanged; cats are boiled alive. Dog-eating has grown rapidly only in recent decades, in certain regions, and is now becoming industrialized. Dogs are bred in extremely crowded and filthy conditions that would be a felony in our country. St. Bernards, the beloved rescue dogs, are being imported because, cross-bred with local breeds, they make a good "food dog." (The evidence can be viewed at the Web site of the Asian Animals Protection Network.)
Other East Asian countries, like Taiwan, have outlawed dog- and cat-eating. But in South Korea an estimated 2 million dogs and cats each year (according to the Korea Animal Protection Society) suffer the same fate as in China. Dogs are strangled from trees for up to an hour, and simultaneously bludgeoned to death with pipes and hammers; they have been observed being strangled to death from bridges. Cats are thrown into sacks and beaten into the ground or boiled alive. (See the Web sites of Seoul Searching and the Korea Society.) Most South Koreans do not approve such horrors. And pet ownership is growing in China as its middle class grows. Sadly, dog- and cat-eating also is growing there for the same reason. Also, tens of thousands of pet dogs have been killed indiscriminately following small rabies outbreaks.
The Chinese regime promotes itself with pictures of panda bears (not the thousands of other bears confined to small cages every second of their lives, where they suffer with human-inflicted wounds and a catheter that drains their bile for human medicinal use). It likes to be seen as the world's "workshop" for cheap consumer products, some of which are made by child labor and slave labor. (Walmart's or Nike's perhaps? Tiger Woods is a pitchman for Nike.) Its leaders, touring world capitals, are the object of sycophantic toasts of foreign businessmen hungering for a dollar, as we saw at dinners for the Chinese president hosted last year by Bill Gates in Seattle and then by Washington's elite. (Did the hosts challenge him on his support for the Sudan regime and its genocide in Darfur?) A year from now, when China's PR campaign (partly directed by Steven Spielberg) reaches high gear with the Beijing Olympics, viewers should black out the selfish athletes and try to imagine the cries of all the millions — humans and animals suffering in that hellish place.
Spencer Warren was a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff in the Reagan administration.