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Ideological bias clouds Western views

2011-04-19

By Mo Nong (China Daily)

Ideological confrontation is the default mode for some Westerners and Western media when it comes to issues of human rights. For these people, it has become an intuitive reaction to point their fingers at China when anyone they consider a dissident is detained or arrested on legal grounds.

The detention of artist Ai Weiwei is no exception.

They were so eager to criticize China that they were too impatient to wait for the completion of the necessary judicial procedure and reacted before the relevant Chinese public security department announced why Ai was detained.

Instead, they started their customary verbal condemnation of China without any hesitation, asserting that the detention of Ai was for political reasons.

These Western media, and even some government representatives, continue to maintain that the Chinese government is persecuting Ai because of his political views even after the relevant Chinese judicial department announced that Ai was detained because of economic offences.

Ai's case is still under investigation and it is quite natural and compatible with the rules for the public security department to remain cautious until it has completed its investigation.

However, our Western counterparts seem to know all the details of this case already and have judged it to be a political incident.

Whether Ai has violated the laws of the country is of no importance to these Westerners, who delight in voicing their opinions about China's treatment of those they choose to consider political dissidents.

No matter what crime these people commit, they expect the Chinese government to exempt them from any penalties because of their Western-bestowed identity as political dissidents. It's a pity that in their enthusiasm to condemn the Chinese government they don't even stop for a moment to think that they may be branding economic offenders and petty lawbreakers as political dissidents.

The message behind such logic is clear. Despite the increasingly close economic cooperation between China and Western countries, some Westerners still harbor a Cold War mentality and consider China an enemy, at least, ideologically.

With such a mentality, they consider anyone who criticizes the political system of China and the Chinese authorities as they do, heroes or heroines, regardless of what these people have done, or how they behave, or what effect their activities will have on the future of this country and its people.

These Westerners always set themselves up on the moral high ground and therefore believe they are entitled to point their fingers at China, whether or not they have any facts to support their assertions.

The Westerners who stubbornly stick to their Cold War mentality need to escape their time warp, stop mouthing the outmoded ideological views of the past and study the realities of China today. They need to lend their ears to different voices in this country, not just those that mimic them.

On the question of Ai Weiwei, they need to be patient. They need to be sober-minded enough to understand that Ai's political discrepancy with the Chinese government is one thing; his alleged involvement in illegal economic activities is another.

China has established its socialist legal system after decades of progress. Everybody, including Ai, is equal in the eye of the Chinese law. It is up to the Chinese judiciary to decide whether Ai is guilty, and should be duly punished or exonerated.

Giving up ideological blinkers and descending from the moral high ground is a prerequisite for normal political discourse. Ideological confrontation will benefit neither China nor the West in any way.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

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