Chicago mayhem, through Chinese eyes | Bleader

Chicago mayhem, through Chinese eyes


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Picture of scuffling Occupy Seattle protesters chosen to illustrate Chinese report on American human rights deficiencies
  • Picture of scuffling Occupy Seattle protesters chosen to illustrate Chinese report on American human rights deficiencies
I know you are but what am I?

It's too much to expect the less civilized countries of the world to be grateful to the United States for pointing out their imperfections. Last month our State Department issued its 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The State Department came down hard on its Chinese friends, describing their country as an "authoritarian state [where] deterioration in key aspects of the country’s human rights situation continued." China then gave it right back to us.

Last week China's State Council Information Office released the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011. "As in previous years," this document began, the State Department reports "are full of over-critical remarks on the human rights situation in nearly 200 countries and regions as well as distortions and accusations concerning the human rights cause in China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and kept silent about it. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the United States to people across the world and urge the United States to face up to its own doings."

The Chinese account of these doings is laced with references to our city. I've culled them.

Between January and October 2011, a total of 123,924 serious crime cases took place in Chicago (

In Chicago, more than 10 overnight shooting incidents took place just between the evening of Jun 3 and the morning of Jun 4 (Chicago Tribune, Jun 4, 2011). Another five overnight shootings occurred between Aug 12 evening and Aug 13 morning in Chicago. These incidents have caused a number of deaths and injuries (Chicago Tribune, Aug 13, 2011).

Chicago police arrested around 300 members of the Occupy Chicago protest in two weeks (The Herald Sun, Oct 24, 2011).

Misjudged and wrongly-handled cases continued to occur.... Eric Caine, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment after being tortured by police into confessing to two murders, spent nearly 25 years behind bars (Chicago Tribune, Jun 13, 2011).

According to a Chicago Tribune report on July 20, 2011, since 2000, at least 175 youths have attempted to kill themselves inside Department of Juvenile Justice lockup facilities in Chicago and seven youths committed suicide.

Advocates estimated that Chicago had up to 3,000 homeless youths in need of shelter on any given night (

A 13-year-old boy named Christian Choate was allegedly beaten to death in 2009 by his father. The report said prosecutors had alleged that the boy endured beating daily and was kept locked in a 3-foot-high dog cage, where he had little to eat and often soiled himself (Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2011).

The Chinese critique is a cut-and-paste effort, and some of the data is of dubious provenance. For instance, the Chinese report that "For Iraqis, the death toll in the US-initiated Iraq war stands at 655,000 (Tribune Business News, Dec 15, 2011)." I'm not sure what they mean by Tribune Business News, but the 655,000 figure was controversial when it was propounded, and it was propounded in 2006.

Not that anything is necessarily wrong with cutting and pasting. "While advocating press freedom," says China about the U.S., "the United States in fact imposes fairly strict censoring and control over the press and 'press freedom' is just a political tool used to beautify itself and attack other nations." Yet thanks to the Tribune and other American media, China found what it was looking for.


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