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Two of the year's biggest stories
December 27, 2010 - Mike Maneval
A couple of weeks ago the Associated Press conducted balloting for the top 10 news stories of the year. I'd like to note two of the stories I included on my personal ballot.
China's economy continued to grow, surpassing Japan to become the World's second-largest. China's economy had a projected worth on a Monday in early August of $1.33 trillion. The New York Times, in chronicling the shift, cited China's "growing dominance of trade," built in part on agreements and dealings in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
I can't recall if I voted for this development as the fifth-, or sixth- or seventh-biggest story of the year. What I can assure readers is that it remained one spot below another news story to come out of China this year. Human rights activist Liu Xiaobo won a Nobel Peace Prize. Liu, a leader of the Tiananmen Square protests, is jailed by the despotic Chinese government for advocating democracy and individual rights. Further, the Chinese government has threatened repurcussions for those responsible for advancing the truth that Liu deserves honoring.
The website for the PEN American Center details how Liu's phone calls and e-mails were monitored in response to his calls for an end to practices to silence freedom of speech, and how in 2009 he was placed under house arrest following a show trial in which he was not permitted to argue a defense. China's economic boom, which led them to surpass Japan, can be easily understood by what I argue is the more important, more relevant story. China allows certain institutions - some native to China, some foreign - to denigrate and belittle the value of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of men and women. Another example of this denigration came a year earlier, when Chinese police, in the wake of tragic collapses of children's schools, beat grieving parents protesting in demand of answers as to whether the losses could've been prevented. While China encourages this assault partially to better control the people itself, another reality is that the costs associated with paying men and women on Chinese assembly lines and farms and mines to produce consumer goods can be curtailed by collaboration with a social and political order that assigns both the work and the worker themselves as little value as possible.
And so, China moves into second place, an economy bolstered by low labor costs, labor costs kept low because their society is dedicated to denying men and women their God-given liberties and dignity, as perhaps best exemplified by the heroism of Liu.
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