“China seeks to silence dissent overseas”

From the Washington Post, one more example of China violating the sacred “don’t interfere in the internal affairs of other countries” mantra:

Four years ago, shortly after Indonesian followers of China’s banned Falun Gong movement set up a radio station here, Beijing’s embassy in Jakarta sent a stern letter to Indonesia’s government.

Denouncing what it called an “evil cult” and a “tool for overseas anti-China forces,” the embassy urged Indonesia to pay “close attention to the matter” and “take measures” to halt the radio broadcasts so as to avoid upsetting relations with Beijing.

Gatot Machali, the director of the station, got a leaked copy of the letter and laughed off China’s demand. “It was ridiculous,” he recalled.

Today, the 51-year-old Falun Gong devotee is on trial for illegal broadcasting, the climax of a long campaign by Indonesian authorities to shut down Erabaru Radio, an unlicensed station that mixes pop music, news and fervent hostility to China’s ruling Communist Party.

The tiny station — still on the air despite a police raid on its studios, years of legal battles and the confiscation of transmitting equipment — stands at the center of some very big questions: How will a rising, authoritarian China use its clout, and how will other nations, particularly democracies including Indonesia, respond?

Beijing often puts pressure on foreign governments and organizations to curb activities it doesn’t like, a trend that has accelerated in tandem with an increase in China’s economic and diplomatic muscle. Targets for Chinese ire have ranged from a film festival in Australia showing a movie that annoyed Beijing; the Frankfurt book fair, which invited — and then disinvited — authors Beijing objected to; and the Nobel Peace Prize committee, which in December honored jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Unlike oppression inside China, this stuff will only happen if foreign governments and citizenries allow it. Governments might feel tempted by Chinese money… but the people themselves should take a good long look at China and see if they want to live with similar restrictions on expression, religion, and assembly.

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