China’s ruling Communist Party boasts an increasingly intrepid army and navy, an expanding web of international energy pipelines and other trade links, and a suite of generously funded media companies with bureaus around the world. But unlike past empires, Beijing’s true strength does not derive from its ability to project force and soft-power influence overseas. Instead, particularly when dealing with developed nations and their citizens, the party has imposed its will by squatting at the gates of the massive Chinese economy and issuing demands as the price of admission.
It has been less than four months since heavily manipulated elections gave Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party complete control over the executive and a supermajority in Parliament, and already the international community is signaling that it is ready to move on. Admittedly, other countries in Africa pose more urgent threats in terms of war, terrorism, and mass atrocities, but Mugabe’s return to unfettered power in Zimbabwe could erase the democratic and economic gains the country has achieved over the past five years.
Speaking at a Freedom House conference held in advance of the Eastern Partnership Summit that opens Nov. 28, civil society activists and human rights defenders urged the European Union to keep democracy, rule of law and human rights as fundamental principles in its relations with Eastern European states.
If implemented, China’s announced plans to abolish its labor camp system and expand the number of Chinese citizens who can have two children would be a step in the right direction. The changes would bring relief from horrific abuse to some innocent Chinese and expand the ability of young couples to choose the size of their family.
Freedom House strongly urges the Kenyan government to adhere to internationally recognized norms and its own stated democratic ideals and allow a broad coalition of civil society organizations to hold a planned peaceful demonstration in Nairobi on November 19.