China's Under Martial Law

A Chinese democracy activist told Congress last week that China is under martial law as part of security preparations for the August Olympic Games.
Yang Jianli, a Tiananmen democracy advocate in 1989, fled the country and was arrested and charged with espionage in 2002 before being release in 2007.

Now at Harvard and president of the Initiatives for China, Yang told the hearing that “the Chinese government is clearly intimidating the Chinese people not to do anything during the Olympics.”
“Beijing is under martial law now. Beijing has become a forbidden city itself,” he said.

Yang said he does not oppose the U.S. engagement policy toward China, but that it must be realistic. “A very important component of the policy is missing, that [is] engagement with the democratic forces in China.” He said the Bush administration’s “under-the-table deal with China” not to support democratic groups will fail.
“President Bush should send a message to the Chinese people, should engage with the Chinese people,” Yang said, noting that there are “two Chinas in China” — one of people seeking democracy and freedom and the other silenced by the government.
Yang said China supports anti-American and anti-democratic forces around the world and is an ally of Iran. “It is in the interest of the Chinese government to ally with all the dictatorships in the world,” he said.
The solution to China’s problems is democracy and the United States needs to “help China democratize,” he said.
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Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect (usually after a formal declaration) when a military authority takes control of the normal administration of justice.
In order to understand what China’s under martial law is all about, it is important to know that China has lived with two governments Since December 1949, the Communists and the ruling Nationalists. The victorious Communists under Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China on the mainland, with their capitol in Beijing. On the other hand, General Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese (Kuomintang) fled to the island of Taiwan, where they established a provisional capitol in the city of Taipei.
From 1949 until 1991, the Taipei regime claimed to be the sole and legitimate government of all China, including the mainland. While the structure of the Taiwan government has remained essentially unchanged, Taiwan authorities have abandoned the claim of governing mainland China and no longer dispute the fact that the People’s Republic of China controls mainland China.
Operating under a constitution first adopted on January 1, 1947, the Nationalist Government of the Kuomintang functioned as a single-party authoritarian state. From 1948 to 1987, Taiwan lived under martial law imposed by an emergency decree that gave the president virtually unlimited powers for use against the Communists. Until martial law was ended in 1987, individuals and groups expressing dissenting views were treated harshly. In the wake of a liberalizing trend that began in the late 1980s, Taiwan has worked to create a democratic political system. It greatly reduced restrictions on the press, relaxed restrictions on personal freedoms, and lifted the prohibition against organizing new political parties. Following its first direct presidential elections in 1996, Taiwan has become an open, vigorous multi-party democracy with 3 major parties and more than 70 registered parties.
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