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AOL logo appears on US-bashing "human rights" Web site set up by partner Legend

July 27, 2001

Legend, AOL’s partner in China, runs its own Chinese-language “human rights page” on FM365 at http://news.fm365.com/guoji/zhuanti/humanright/, under the title, “Be concerned about human rights” (guanzhu renquan). At the top in an eyecatching advertisement, the logos of AOL and Legend flash alternately, while the newly minted joint-venture between the two is announced through a pun: Lianxiang yu AOL “lian yin” (Legend “connected by marriage” to AOL). Straight under that is a news item dated March 20, 2001, on the European Union’s decision not to co-sponsor the “anti-China resolution” proposed by the United States at the annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Then there is a story citing the Amnesty International report on torture, which said that the majority of torture instruments is produced in the United States. “On the one hand, America promotes human rights, on the other hand it provides some countries that resort to torture with torture devices,” the story says.

Next to the articles is an interesting little survey, where people can have their say with a mouse click. Question 1: “Should human rights be superior to national sovereignty?” 35 percent say yes, 57 percent no, the rest do not know. Total participants 230. Question 2: “Does external pressure help to improve the human rights situation of a country?” 50.26 percent say yes, 43.08 percent no, and the rest are don’t knows. Total participants 195. The human rights page has no mention of China’s ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2001, but it looks as if it has not been updated since March 2001.

At the bottom of the human rights page there is a link to a “summary of the human rights record of the USA in 2000” on Renminwang (the Web site run by the People’s Daily) and an article from the electronic version of the Shenyang Daily in which Zhu Muzhi, president of the official China Human Rights Study Society, says that the annual report on human rights produced by the US Department of State is “a bucket of stinking black water.”

In response to queries from human rights groups, AOL officials implied that they do not plan to press Legend to change the site or add links to more objective sources such as the United Nations Web site.

JAN VAN DER MADE
 

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