Eva Cheng

As of 2004, foreign capital controlled 76.6% of Chinese industry, a study produced by academics from Beijing’s Communication University has found. The findings of the report, which was released in March, are consistent with a November 2006 report by the Development Research Centre of the State Council, China’s cabinet.

On April 29, eight solidarity groups from across Europe adopted a Public Appeal of International Lawyers issued in December that calls on the US government to honour its responsibility towards the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. Used during the Vietnam War, this dioxin-rich defoliant is still seriously contaminating pockets of Vietnam’s environment and food chain, with devastating human consequences.

Greedy property developers and corrupt government officials have forcibly driven tens of thousands of people across China from their homes. Most of these homeowners weren’t in a position to resist the developers’ strong-arm tactics.

With 80 million inhabitants, West Bengal is the fourth most populous state in India. It has been ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front (LF) coalition for three decades. This government, however, has regularly used police repression against workers and peasants to defend big-business interests.

On March 23, hundreds of thousands of people from all over India converged in Delhi to express their anger at the killing of peasant protesters on March 14 by police and thugs aligned with the West Bengal Left Front (LF) government. Those killed were resisting eviction from their land in Nandigram. Similar killings also happened on January 7. The mass rally was preceded by two days of cultural protests.

To no-one’s surprise, the Beijing-anointed incumbent Donald Tsang was returned in Hong Kong’s March 25 “election” for the territory’s chief executive — the third such election since the territory’s reversion to Chinese rule in 1997. What was surprising was that the rival candidate, lawyer Alan Leong — billed as representing the politically moderate middle-class democratic camp and the first ever challenger in this highly managed ballot — secured a respectable 123 votes compared to Tsang’s 649.

In an effort to attract investment, the Left Front (LF) government in the state of West Bengal has tried to drive thousands of petty landowners, poor cultivators and wage labourers out of their homes and off their fields, despite this depriving many of them of any means of livelihood. When they resisted, it sent in gun-toting police, killing more than 20 people on January 7 and March 14.

Beijing’s drive since the early 1990s to pursue the restoration of capitalism in China received a boost on March 16, with the introduction of the controversial Property Law. Ironically, the law will take effect on October 1 — exactly 58 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The law will safeguard the property of China’s burgeoning capitalist class, giving private property the same protection as state-owned assets. This includes the large number of formerly state-owned assets converted to private property in sleazy and underhand deals.

In 1989, 39 pharmaceutical giants sued the government of AIDS-stricken South Africa, seeking to stop it from implementing a law to improve the poor’s access to life-saving AIDS drugs. That aggression sparked a public outcry within South Africa and elsewhere, leading to an international campaign that only ended in 2001 when the 39 companies dropped their case.

The Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics NV, one of nearly 40 chemical majors sued by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange for supplying the defoliant to the US military, is now also being sued by its insurers. The US made extensive use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

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