Has the Chinese government suddenly become a proponent of gay rights? Or is something else going on?
An unstated, yet obvious goal of American policy toward China is to make the People’s Republic more like us. The Chinese are, for a host of reasons, resistant to that idea.
They want our money and they crave our expertise, but apart from these, there are few things made in America, especially our values, that they care to make their own.
But there is one exception. Unfortunately.
Lu Liping is one of the most popular and respected Chinese actresses. She won the 2010 Best Actress award at the Golden Horse Festival, the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars. Despite her popularity and critical acclaim, she is a persona non grata at the 2011 awards to be held in Taiwan.
That’s because on her blog, Lu, an evangelical Christian, linked to comments made by a Chinese pastor in Rochester, New York, on the subjects of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. In it, the pastor said that “even if some day, the law makes it illegal for me to speak against homosexuality, I will continue to preach: Homosexuality is a sin. God loves sinners, but he hates sin! Believe in Jesus, gain victory over your sin, and move from Death to Life.”
Lu’s link and her own approving comments set off a firestorm in the press on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. A newsreader on Shanghai television denounced Lu and said that “Gay people, like us, have the right to exist and develop themselves in society, and this right should not be overtaken by any other concept.”
The China Daily has had a great time chronicling the controversy and quoting Lu’s critics. It told readers that “on the bright side, top Chinese celebrities from both sides of the straits have also been coming out against homophobia.”
All of this has the Economist magazine wondering if China will develop as rapidly in the area of gay rights as it has in other areas.
Overlooked in all of these good feelings is the fact that both the newsreader and the writers at the China Daily are government employees. “Government,” as in the Chinese Communist Party.
That’s the same Chinese Communist Party that has killed countless Tibetans and persecuted Christians and other religious minorities. The same government that has compiled one of the worst human rights records in the world.
Whatever reasons the Party might have for allowing its media outlets to pile on Lu over her beliefs, only a fool would think that it has anything to do with human rights, gay or otherwise.
Why the Chinese government would insist that gay rights should not be “overtaken by any other concept” especially not religious freedom, shouldn’t be hard to understand. It sees religious freedom as a threat to it power, whereas letting people beat up on Lu creates the illusion of a respect for freedom.
That’s why the Chinese are okay with this Western import. Allowing celebrities their bit of politically correct posturing helps divert attention from the regime’s crimes.
This is lost on those Westerners for whom gay rights is the measure of freedom. People who have remained silent as China made life miserable for religious and ethnic minorities are thrilled over the rhetorical support for their favorite minority.