France, China, and some inconveniently “unfair, outdated and discriminatory” documents
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin crowned the first day of his tour of China, with a huge $1.8 billion deal, when Three Chinese airlines order 30 Airbus aircraft, including 5 A380s.
Of course Raffarin’s been having to do some serious brown-nosing by urging the EU to end its ban on weapons sales to China:
Mr Raffarin said he saw no reason for the EU to delay lifting the arms embargo imposed against China after Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy rallies in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
He described the ban as “unfair, outdated and discriminatory”.
You can be certain that Mr. Raffarin as a child in elementary school had to study and probably memorize the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was approved by the National Assembly of France on August 26, 1789 (the Constitution of the USA was drafted on 17 September 1787, and became effective on 4 March 1789, in case you wonder), and whose first article reads, “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” Articles 10 and 11 of the Declaration read
10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
Either Mr. Raffarin loosely interprets the meaning of the Declaration — with relativism coming into play for “shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law”, perhaps — or believes such notions have become “unfair, outdated and discriminatory”. After all, none other than the BBC (hardly a branch of the vast right-wing conspiracy) states that in China there’s No room for dissent
. . . any dissenting voices are dealt with most swiftly and more harshly than ever before.
A BBC report on How China is ruled starts with: “The Communist Party has ruled China since 1949, tolerating no opposition and often dealing brutally with dissent”.
State-owned France2‘s evening broadcast (23 minutes into the broadcast) showed Raffarin in glowing terms, with the Chinese literally rolling out the red carpet at his feet, and making a speech about the historic importance of “this day, today, April 21, 2005”. They forgot to mention this (emphasis mine):
He also said France had no objection to China’s anti-secession law, authorising the use of force against Taiwan should it move to declare independence.
Mr. Raffarin might do well to review the Declaration. The very same evening newscast showed that 58% of likely voters will vote “Non” against the EU Constitution in the upcoming referendum. The EU Constitution would effectively negate article 3 of the Declaration: “The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation”.
Maybe some voters are remembering their Declaration.