A fascinating piece in the NYT. Here’s Communist China’s legal definition of “torture”:

The authorities ban only the sort of torture, called kuxing in Chinese, that meets a narrow definition of violent punishment leaving a lasting impact, like scars or disability, Mr. Nowak said. Officials have not done enough to outlaw physical or psychological abuse that does not produce a visible injury, Mr. Nowak said.

Notice that this is more expansive than that proffered by the Bush administration’s John Yoo, who now works at AEI, and who legally defined torture only as something that would lead to imminent death or major organ failure. Of course, China’s torture policies extend to Chinese ‘citizens’ as well as ‘enemy combatants,’ and that’s an important distinction. But what the administration actually allows to be done to other human beings in its custody is now no better, and legally, even worse than Communist China. Here’s the most general kind of torture used by the Chinese government:

He said his investigation showed that such techniques include hooding and blindfolding, beating by fellow prisoners, use of handcuffs and ankle fetters for long periods, exposure to extreme heat or cold, being forced to maintain awkward postures for long periods and the denial of medical treatment. Sleep deprivation, he said, is perhaps the most common violation of what he called international standards of prisoner treatment.

In other words: no different than America’s standards under George W. Bush for military detainees. Just remember that when the Wall Street Journal next editorializes about repression in China, they have already conceded that China doesn’t endorse “anything close” to “torture.”


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