Archive for the ‘Tibet’ Category
… as much as the behavior of the Chinese government.
If I only could ask a single question to Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, it would be this: if Tibet really is part of China and not a colony, then why is China treating it as if it were a colony?
Forget the Dalai Lama’s “political” or non-political ambitions; forget also what Tibetans inside and outside Tibet think about independence, and the anti-Chinese propaganda occupying most international media.
Those topics are important but they do not explain, and they will never be able to explain the reason for decades of harsh crackdowns by the Beijing government about the “Tibetan issue”, despite the fact that it is blatantly obvious that only a “softer China” can hope to avoid being categorized as a “colonial empire” (a point recently made by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former UK Minister of Defence, in “A pragmatic solution“, International Herald Tribune, 24/3/2008 )
The Chinese government can write miles and miles of articles against the Dalai Lama; Chinese historians may yell at will in Universities, on television, on the radio describing in all minute details how Tibet and China were united as a single state entity since before the dawn of Humanity; gigabytes of photographs and video clips can be published all over the Internet with happy smiling Tibetans greeting the Olympic torch, all too grateful of Beijing’s efforts to improve their material welfare.
Still, little of that will have any value, because ‘the truth’ is evident not in words, not in laws, not even in studies and in pictures. To understand whether Tibet is a colony, and thus whether it is entitled to Independence (provided that’s the wish of its inhabitants), the only things of value are facts, and attitudes.
And countless facts and attitudes point in a single direction: Tibet indeed is a colony of China.
For a help in the details, look at Howard W French writing in the New York Times in March last year ( “In Tibetan areas, parallel worlds now collide“); at an Economist “leader” article of March 22 ( “Tibet: A Colonial Uprising“) ; at the op-ed by Patrick French, author of “Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land”, published in the New York Times under the title “He’s no politician“; and at the exceptional reportage of the Economist correspondent, “forgotten” in Lhasa exactly during this year’s riot days (“Thrashing the Beijing Road“):
- Fifty years have passed since Mao finally extended Beijing’s jurisdiction to Tibet. Yet, the only means to achieve “harmony” over there still seem to be firearms, and a heavy military presence
- When rioting broke out in Lhasa and other places in March this year, there was no immediate response by the authorities. With the local chief Zhang Qingli at that time in Beijing, this suggests that Zhang has centralized, without much thought for delegation, every possibility of a decision: and that’s precisely how a Viceroy govern his colony
- The Tibetans are treated as second-class citizens. Even if unofficially, the “system” still favours ethnic Chinese Han
- There are no Tibetans in command positions, in the military or in the bureaucracy or in the Party (structures well-known to be closed to strangers, and to colonized peoples)
- Thousands of Han Chinese are being encouraged to move to Tibet (if that is not “colonization” then what is?)
- Tibetans and non-Tibetans live in Tibet in virtually separate worlds
- Even very peaceful protests are virtually impossible
- There’s plenty of prejudice, and little trust among ethnic Han Chinese (the majority of Chinese in the world) and Tibetans, in Tibet. Few develop friendships across ethnic boundaries
- Chinese propaganda is crudely active, inculcating a series of “myths” such as the centuries-long “chineseness” of Tibet
- The “Father of Tibetan homeland,” the Dalai Lama, a symbol for all Tibetans anywhere in the world, is not just “unrevered” by the Chinese State: he is almost routinely the target for denigrations and insults. Described one day as “irrelevant”, and the following day as “capable of stirring up anti-Chinese sentiments” (and therefore not at all “irrelevant”)
- Do I need to mention the child Panchen Lama, “disappeared” by the Chinese government many years ago?
- And finally, there is the fact that the main thoroughfare in Lhasa has been renamed “Beijing Road”
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then … it’s a duck.
Similarly, if China behaves in Tibet as an occupying / colonizing power, then of course Tibet is a colony, and not “part of China”…
It’s not just that: the behavior of the Government in Beijing recalls in many ways the worst years of Stalin and Mao, as pointed out by Vaclav Havel, Frederik Willem de Klerk, and other eminent personalities in an open letter published on the New York Review of Books on 1 May 2008: “Tibet: The Peace of the Graveyard“.
Someone should tell Hu Jintao: what’s happening is no sign of strength and maturity, but rather of weakness and the inability to resolve a decade-long conflict. Behaving like a colonial power, China certainly cannot bring about any lasting solution of the “Tibetan issue”, let alone a generalized “state of harmony”.
The most it can do, is push Tibet towards full independence.
The Sichuan quake has partially removed Tibet from the news, in a quantitatively quite relevant way.
Articles on Tibet in the New York Times archives:
From 1/Jan/8 to 14/Jun/8: 295 articles (1.79/day)
1/Jan-10/Mar (the day before the Tibetan riots): 31 (0.45/day)
11/Mar-11/May (the day before the Sichuan quake): 212 (3.48/day)
12/May-14/Jun: 52 (1.58/day, that is 55% fewer)
More numbers for those thinking the above is just what happens with “old news”:
11/Mar-11/Apr: 126 (4.06/day)
12/Apr-11/May: 87 (3/day)
So it is true: the quake has halved the news reporting from Tibet, from one day to the next.
World attention on Tibet is in the meanwhile decreasing. During June, there has been just 1.49 articles/day on Tibet.
If it is true that solidarity to the Chinese Government regarding the Sichuan earthquake cannot be used as an excuse to forget the repression in Tibet, it is also true that many “pro-Tibet” demonstrations are nothing to be proud of, as they disregard the recent, enormous disaster in the Sichuan region.
I hope nobody believes that natural disasters have no political consequences.
Simply, in the absence of the slightest effort to understand what is happening in China, the risk is to become broken records, absolute strangers to the reality on the ground. Is it really that difficult to add to “pro-Tibet” events something like a candle in memory of all those deaths?
And no, I am not suggesting to organize funeral vigills. I only wish that when people talk about Tibet and China, a corner of the event would be dedicated to the “earthquake dead”. Missing that, there is little chance (and, may I dare say, little right) to lecture the Chinese Govenment on Tibetan or other matters.
I have put the questions above to various people but received very few answers so far. I have the uncomfortable feeling that at the end of the day, few or none really care about “real Tibet”, as few or none are interested in understanding the political and social consequences of the 2008 earthquake in China.
They who can turn their eyes away from 70,000 dead, 370,000 injured and 17,000 missing people, they can turn their eyes away from anything.
Instead of flying Tibetan standards, perhaps it would be more honest if “pro-Tibet” demonstrators burned Chinese flags.
In “Chinese students shed restraint in America” (IHT, Apr 30, published as “Chinese students in U.S. fight image of their home” on the NYT on Apr 29) Chou Wu, a Chinese doctorate student in the USA, is quoted by Shaila Dewan (in co-operation with Michael Anti) as saying that “Western media is even more biased than Chinese media“.
Ironically, in order to find evidence for his claim, Mr Wu should look no further than Ms Dewan’s article!
In fact, after reporting that Chinese students in America believe to be “still neglected or misunderstood (by Western news media) as either brainwashed or manipulated by the (Chinese) government“, Ms Dewan dutifully proceeds to portray those same students as…brainwashed and/or manipulated.
They are described as authoritarian, zealot nationalist prone to threats against Tibetans, also because “demonstrators could…intend to return home (too)”.
Ms Dewan even leaves the last word to Lionel Jensen, of the University of Notre Dame, IN, stating that Chinese students “dont’ ask” if Tibetans wanted the “aggressive modernization” brought by China to Tibet.
That doesn’t bode well for the impartiality of the article: a feeling that is confirmed when we are told that Chinese students’ “handouts on Tibet and China…contained a jumble of abbreviated history, slogans and maps with little context“.
Is “jumble” the appropriate word for a reporting piece? Methinks there is too much contempt for the report’s subject showing there.
We have to take Ms Dewan’s word for her judgements, as the only detail provided concerns “a chart showing infant mortality in Tibet had plummeted since 1951” (a positive thing if there ever was any). Alas, we are told, the students “did not provide any means for comparison with mortality rates in China or other countries“.
Too bad one is left none the wiser, as Ms Dewan herself provides no such a comparison either.
Once upon a time newspapers clearly separated news from news analysis. And journalists tried to report impartially. I know, that may be the stuff of Utopia nowadays, but is nobody trying anymore?
…it doesn’t mean nobody is “out to get them”…
Serge Schmemann’s otherwise insightful comments on the parallels between Moscow 1980 and Beijing 2008 (“Olympic flames, then and now“, IHT, Apr 28) lacks balance about the inspiration of so many anti-China protests around the world.
This being the Age of the NGOs, there definitely is no shortage of people determined to use a major media event like the Olympics to support this or that issue. Furthermore, there are many that see economic powerhouse China as the enemy, a threat to their jobs and livelihoods.
And so even if the Chinese leadership is clearly showing signs of obtuse paranoia about the Dalai Lama, Hu Jia and pretty much everything else, they may very well still be right in denouncing the protests as maneuvered by a coalition of “anti-China forces behind the curtain”, hitting the right buttons in order to “stir up genuine anger” in “people in free societies”.
Schnemann casts also doubts on the effectiveness of “quiet diplomacy”. Perhaps he is right. One thing is certain, though: you don’t deal with a paranoid…by going out to get him.
Does the company of dogs inspire one to bark? That’s what looks like happening at anti-China, (allegedly) anti-censorship blog “Under the Jacaranda Tree“.
Months, years perhaps of fighting against the censorship perpetrated by what is after all still a dictatorship, have taught “Jacaranda”‘s authors “Ned Kelly” and “Catherine A Young” that the way to deal with criticism is by censoring the offending text, and by banning its author.
With friends like these, the Tibetan and journalist Hu Jia‘s plights are unlikely to get any better for the foreseeable future.
What has happened then? While researching my “Tibet and the Olympics: Remember Jin Jing” blog on Apr 22, I have stumbled upon Jacaranda’s “Bart Simpson and Jin Jing’s spin-doctors” where Mr Kelly strongly suggests that the whole Jin Jing Olympic torch relay incident has been staged, and promises “further analysis of more evidence surrounding the incident”.
I then added to their blog this comment (visible at “Under the Jacaranda Tree: Bart Simpson and Jin Jing’s spin-doctors“) about such “further analysis”:
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter any longer. The pictures are out there. There are two assaults, not just one. Ms. Jin’s facial expression is that of a person in distress, or an unexpectedly great actress.
So obscure photographic analysis and talks about the behaviour of foreigners marching towards a demo in Paris, won’t do the trick. You may as well try to stop a tsunami with a teaspoon.
Evidently I am unable to read my own words, because they look like a straight and mild statement of personal opinion to me…yet either Mr Kelly or Ms Young took very and grave offence at them. And so despite claims of technical issues with their website, they posted a new blog on Apr 23: “Why we have banned a recent commenter“.
Don’t waste time in looking for that blog now, as it has been deleted: not early enough to disappear from my WordPress dashboard though, with the text
[…] MEANWHILE, we received a comment from this OBVIOUSLY MAINLAND CHINESE W*NK*R! […]
(without the *’s) linking to my “Maurizio’s Testimonials” page. In the meanwhile, my comment did not pass their web site moderation. Still it has not been published on “Jacaranda”, despite a second attempt to submit it.
Based on the above, this can be said about Ned Kelly and/or Catherine A Young, the authors of the blog “Under the Jacaranda Tree”:
(1) They are so full of anti-Chinese anger, they write blogs of hate with little or zero critical thinking (I mean…leaving aside accusations of autoeroticism 8-), who can even think that I am “obviously mainland Chinese” when my pictures are all over the place?)
(2) They are so full of themselves and of their redeeming crusade to save the world against evil Beijing, they cannot tolerate the mildest form of dissent, launching themselves in verbally violent, frankly unjustified fits against the dissenter, whose words are censored and whose very name is banned from their site (sadly, this is exactly the behaviour of the Chinese government)
(3) At some point, they must have realized the absolute idiocy of their “W*NK*R” blog, removing it in the hope no-one would notice (thus demonstrating little familiarity with the ways of blogging, backtracking and WordPress)
Mr Kelly and Ms Young know that I know, because I added some reference in my second commenting attempt (remember, they have censored that one too). They also know how to contact me (all it takes is a comment to my website).
A word of apology, and removal of the censorship, will make a huge difference: I am a regular guy expressing his sometimes flawed, other times not-so-flawed thoughts. The “sin”, rather than Onan’s, seems to be my desire for independent thought (independent, that is, from Mr Kelly’s and Ms Young’s…)
Yet it is worrying that either or both of them could so quickly think of me as “obviously mainland Chinese”. In the absence of any reply, one will have to agree with those that believe that behind the pro-Tibet campaign, there lies the spectre of anti-Chinese “post-racist” sentiments.
The author of EastWestSouthNorth asks: whose PR have been a disaster in these times of Olympic torch protests?
Well, the answer is easy: not the Chinese Government’s, steadily growing in self-confidence and basking in the reflected glory of Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound smiling Chinese Paralympic girl athlete and cancer survivor, holding on to the torch “for dear life” against not just one, but two physical assaults in Paris.
Whatever the “cause” behind, I have felt uneasy from the beginning, seeing the Olympic torch relays become occasions for violent confrontations, even if in the form of “peacefully” crossing the path of the bearers. These pictures have convinced me further:
Protests may and will continue: but after the Jin Jing’s incident, they have become worse than pointless. For all intents and purposes, all future linkage of the Tibet problem with the Beijing Olympics will more likely than not simply further the cause of Chinese nationalism against the rest of the world, Tibetans included.
NOTE: There are people out there claiming to possess evidence demonstrating that the incidents have been staged. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter any longer. The pictures are out there. There are two assaults, not just one. Ms. Jin’s facial expression is that of a person in distress, or an unexpectedly great actress.
So obscure photographic analysis and talks about the behaviour of foreigners marching towards a demo in Paris, won’t do the trick. Anybody not believing in Ms. Jin’s ordeal, may as well try to stop a tsunami with a teaspoon.