In the Irish Times, David Adams takes issue with the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers’ “kowtowing last week to a visiting delegation from China”. On Slugger, Patrick focused on some of the propaganda aspects of the visit, and the OFMDFM press releases during the visit should probably be noted at that point. From the Irish Times article
Yet one either believes in the inalienability and universality of fundamental rights, or one does not. It really is that simple. If the former is the case, then it should naturally follow that you are as concerned about the rights of the citizens of Chengdu and Chongqing as those of the people who reside in Cullybackey and Crossmaglen (at least concerned enough not to roll out the red carpet for their overlords).
In truth, even if our leaders had had the courage to speak out, it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to the lot of the ordinary person in China. Liu and her cohorts are unlikely to take heed of the representatives of a tiny place they probably have difficulty finding on a map. Besides which, remonstrations don’t carry much weight when attached to an outstretched begging bowl.
This isn’t to disagree with the sentiment behind Corrigan’s plea, far from it, but to maintain that this delegation should not have been welcomed to Northern Ireland in the first place. Robinson and McGuinness refusing to greet Liu would not have made any difference to the plight of the Chinese people, but it certainly would have made Northern Ireland’s position crystal clear, and saved us from looking like a bunch of bare-faced hypocrites.
You could write the script for the excuses that will be trotted out to try to justify this grovelling to the Chinese. Sure haven’t the Irish and British governments both hosted Chinese delegations? So what?
It has to be pointed out that if others want to prostitute themselves, that’s their prerogative. It’s no excuse for Northern Ireland’s leaders not to stand up for what we’re supposed to believe in.
I would add that, along with China, OFMDFM’s other recent business partners of choice – the United Arab Emirates and, to a lesser extent, India – feature prominently on the OpenNet Initiative‘s ranking of countries’ internet censorship.
But, as ever, read the whole thing.