Tibet News Blackout

My site is still blocked (I am using an industrial-strength proxy if any on you need one, way stronger than Anonymous and much faster than Tor), and I was called about it yesterday by a “real media.” You can find my quote buried in this article.

I’ve had CNN playing in the background the past few nights, and it’s downright comical how often the screen just goes dark shortly after mention of the T word. Once again I ask my friends over at the ministry of propaganda if they sincerely believe with all their heart that this kind of ham-fisted tactic makes China look better, and if they sincerely believe it achieves their goal of keeping CNN viewers ignorant of what’s happening in Tibet. If something ugly happens at the Olympic Games in August, are they just going to blackout the media broadcasts? And do they think they will be admired for it?

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 81 Comments

@Rohan:

I think you mean that the other way around, “insistent they were on making foreigners start saying Beijing instead of Peking”.

March 19, 2008 @ 4:47 am | Comment

Last time I saw, Beida still sells t-shirts emblazoned “Peking University”. You seem well informed about Tibet Rohan, but you’re very poorly informed about China as a whole.

By the way, MSNBC reporter (I’m assuming a Chinese national) writes from Lhasa:
http://tinyurl.com/2ksdgx

March 19, 2008 @ 5:10 am | Comment

CCT, read Chris Patten’s “East and West” for a discussion of the Peking vs. Beijing argument. IThere is a push to enforce “Beijing,” which he compares to the Rome vs. Roma debate and other “European” names.

March 19, 2008 @ 5:22 am | Comment

So, perhaps it is you that is poorly informed…sorry.

March 19, 2008 @ 5:23 am | Comment

Richard,
I’m thinking about your question up at the top, and I’m thinking about discourse analysis (cos I’m in the middle of writing an essay).

On the macro (international) level, we seem to have a pure example of disputational discourse – neither side seems to be trying to understand where the other is coming from, and worse, both sides are presuming they share common knowledge when, in fact, they don’t.

On the more personal level here, I see many examples of disputational discourse, but I can also see definite evidence of exploratory discourse. Some of your commentators are actually trying to understand where the other side is coming from. I’m not sure how much progress has been made on this front, or once some level of mutual understanding is achieved whether it’ll be possible to find any way forward, but it is encouraging to see some tentative steps being made in this direction. You should feel proud of (some of) your regulars.

On the micro-personal level – my own home – I have experienced how difficult it can be for both sides to understand where the other is coming from, and exactly why they’re coming from that place. For example, when my husband* was surfing on Tianya right after Bjork’s concert his first reaction was not anger, hurt pride, or even acceptance – it was complete confusion. He wanted to know how this could even be an issue, and where Bjork had got these strange ideas from. Over the past week we’ve had a few more conversations on the topic, and each time it has become more and more apparent that even when both sides are trying to understand the other they don’t share any of the same context for this discourse, let alone any common knowledge.

So, what’ll happen in August? Even if both sides started listening to each other, I can’t see how they could possibly progress to understanding each other, or even sharing a common framework for the discussion.

The dispute will continue.

How bad it will get will depend on many factors, not least of which being how heavily the CCP invests in decent PR professionals.

They’ve promised us that the firewall will be down for the games. A naive promise? Definitely.

Then again, the IOC claim that they granted Beijing the games in order to promote progress on various human rights issues. The most ludicrously naive belief you’ve ever heard? Indubitably.

(Course, a cynic might suggest that the IOC were more interested in economic rather than human rights factors, but we don’t want to be cynical, do we?)

* Yes, I married him. I’ll send you an email with the details.

March 19, 2008 @ 5:34 am | Comment

Ecodelta mentioned in another thread that China has an image problem w.r.t. Tibet just like Darfur. Well, Darfur or the overall role of China in Africa is an ENTIRELY different matter. For that one, it’s not the world against China; it’s more NYT and a few other news outfits, and their ardent and uncritical readers, against the world — the world largely side with China on that one if you talk to laypeople in places such as Sao Paulo or Johannesburg.

Tibet is another matter. It’s definitely the world against China, save a few places with their own similar ethnic/nationstate overlapping problems. Look at its figurehead Dalai Lama, for goodness sake, he said he was praying for CCP! Let me quote him, “I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” Geez, had Palestine had Dalai Lama, the US would have probably had to divert all aids from Israel to PLO.

The ground reality is, getting indignant on China is easy, but in the end you are asking China to give up something meaningful — may not be day 1 but it’s on its way whatever solution you may have. How about carving a piece of land in your home country and move all ethnic Tibetans who want to go there to your country? I am sure China is willing to pony up the moving expense. How about half of Colorado, or half of the Canadian Rockies? Does it sound like a good bumper sticker: “Colorado for Free Tibetans”? Come on, you stole that piece of land anyway… You know, it’d better there for a human zoo, oh my bad, I meant preserving a culture that needs to be preserved.

Major powers did manage to carve a piece of land for Israel after the WW2, only not in their own countries but rather in somebody else’s backyard.

China’s policies may seem to be stupid to you. But it really isn’t. China is patiently waiting for HHDL’s reincarnation. Once that 72 year old Buddist monk with a killer smile is in the process of earthly body recycling, the largely shadowy Tibetan government-in-exile will have to face the spotlight. Now we’re more on equal footing. What China will face is a messy real-world real-politicking organization instead of a living god with a seemingly impeccable semblance.

March 19, 2008 @ 5:40 am | Comment

@jxie
“For that one, it’s not the world against China; it’s more NYT and a few other news outfits, and their ardent and uncritical readers, against the world”
That is what I call wishful thinking

“How about carving a piece of land in your home country and move all ethnic Tibetans who want to go there to your country? ”
So you recognize they are a different people. Why dont you carve a piece of your own land for your own people, the han ethnic and leave them with their own land in peace?

“China’s policies may seem to be stupid to you. But it really isn’t. China is patiently waiting for HHDL’s reincarnation. ”
Yes that is the stragegy, and if possible accuse him that he is behind the disturbs too.

“Once that 72 year old Buddist monk with a killer smile is in the process of earthly body recycling, the largely shadowy Tibetan government-in-exile will have to face the spotlight”
I think you are going to miss him in the end.

It is going to be an interesting summer in Beijing in end

March 19, 2008 @ 6:16 am | Comment

@JXie
You touched on what I believe is an important point. Is it the people of Tibet or the physical territory itself that the issue here? Like you said, if another country offered a new Tibetan homeland, and all the Tibetans were prepared to bugger off, would you be okay with that? Or rather, would China be okay with that? How about Taiwan?

March 19, 2008 @ 6:26 am | Comment

That is what I call wishful thinking

40+ yo and still can’t accept the possibility that you are wrong. I _may_ be wrong, but at least I actually tried pretty hard to find out. Now, how to do you tell what other people like Africans think, let your favorite newspapers spoon-feed you?

So you recognize they are a different people. Why dont you carve a piece of your own land for your own people, the han ethnic and leave them with their own land in peace?

* I believe in principle people should be able to choose wherever they want to live, i.e. freedom of movement. I treasure freedom of movement a lot more than freedom of speech. Human evolution bears that too — it’s homo sapiens moving out of African kicked started the upward changes of human conditions. Sadly on that I think the current world is very much fucked.

* I admit I am fucking selfish. My point is that you are too. Let’s work out a solution based on that understanding.

* We’re all different and we’re all the same.

I think you are going to miss him in the end.

Personally yes. But as to China, why?

It is going to be an interesting summer in Beijing in end

Looks like that way. It will be a biggest and baddest celebration of sports in human history. Now can you all shut up so I can watch the ESPN highlights?

March 19, 2008 @ 6:38 am | Comment

The AP reinforces what I said earlier about Dalai Lama’s offer to resign:

http://tinyurl.com/2ongkq

I’d like to see that there’s an opportunity here. It’s interesting to see that Wen Jiabao and the Dalai Lama both made reasonably polite comments at each other, clearly leaving the door for negotiation open.

March 19, 2008 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Lime, I can only speak for myself. If they want to move, I can contribute to the air tickets. That’s a win-win: some people are supposed to be happier in their new home, and the current incarnation of China is happy with its “territorial integrity of motherland”.

Heck, I don’t mind doing another trade if I represent China. If someone can talk Russia into returning the land they took from China back, and China can let go of Tibet. Why the heck to make you feel better, China must be smaller? There are some 1 billion Chinese to begin with!

March 19, 2008 @ 6:46 am | Comment

@ Jing,

The interesting thing, though, is that China was right alongside the “granola munchers” in the West in championing the cause of the freedom of “primitive cultures” from European domination back in the ’60s. They dismissed European claims to be bringing “civilisation” and development to Africa as cover for their colonial ambitions (which their claims arguably were). China’s anti-imperialist credentials are being tarnished by this whole affair, especially now that the Chinese are pointing to the lynchings of Han Chinese as somehow justifying the Chinese presence there.

Occasional murders of European civilians in Africa by China’s allies, including ZANU and ZAPU in Southern Rhodesia were brushed aside by China at the time on the basis that the victims were colonialists and settlers after all, and not entitled to be treated as civilians.

Now that Chinese are being treated in a similar way, it appears that the Chinese response is very different.

March 19, 2008 @ 6:53 am | Comment

Different strokes for different folks, and times. One of the problems of Marxism Leninism has always been ideological rigidity, the CCP is wise to abandon it!

In any case you are mischaracterizing the purpose of China’s plans then, particularly during the politically charged era of the gpcr. Destroying European colonialism through revolutionary violence was the first step towards communism. The whites were not destroyed because they were white, but because they were class enemies, representing counter-revolutionary bourgeois elements to be eradicated. Rest assured, the Chinese then had little appreciation for indigenous customs, for they had scant enough for their own. They were simply evangelizing a different set rules as to what constituted civilization, that is perpetual revolution, class warfare, and the dictatorship of the prolitariet. After the Europeans were gone, the next on the hit list would be pillars of traditional society.

You also completely miss the chasm that separates the granola munchers from cadres that were being trained by China. When push comes to shove, the hippies run to Starbucks with ipods and laptops in hand to agitate on facebook and blogger and otherwise make useless nuisances of themselves whenever they can. Agitprop light for those too lazy and feckless to do anything else. Chinese trained cadres were planting bombings, planning assassinations, and starting labor riots. The former is a dilettant, the latter is a professional revolutionary and a trained killer.

March 19, 2008 @ 7:26 am | Comment

@Jing:

In theory, perhaps. But in practice, there was some overlap between the granola-muchers and the hardcore anti-revolutionaries, to the extent that they supported the destruction of imperialism. What came after was another matter – and of course, in practice, post-colonial Africa reverted to its’ tribal past rather than any communist future, and whether or not that was an improvement depends on your personal POV.

March 19, 2008 @ 7:31 am | Comment

Jing, no personal attacks/name-calling – period.

———-

CCT

clearly leaving the door for negotiation open

The door for negotiation has been open for years, but I’m not so sure China has been honest in the way it has approached it. Previously I (and others) believe that it used it as a delaying tactic hoping that he would die and then, magically, all Tibetans would be happy. Clearly this is a delusion, but we all know the CCP believes its own propaganda so that’s not a surprise.

The question is if the Chinese government will start to realise that the Dalai Lama is the only person who can negotiate a peaceful settlement to the Tibetan problem. Already he has been denounced by younger Tibetans who believe tougher action needs to be taken. He will lose the ability to keep the Tibetan youth in check the longer China delays. Will China accept this truth, or will it continue to indulge in its childish trait of demonising individuals so that it can pin all its problems on outsiders?

March 19, 2008 @ 8:57 am | Comment

The Times publishes more tourist interviews:

http://tinyurl.com/2wykf9

March 19, 2008 @ 10:41 am | Comment

Weak sauce.

You’re are so anal Raj, I doubt Richard would have gotten his panties in a twist about me calling someone a hippy. Particularly since I qualified the comment with a follow up mentioning why this was so.

To follow up on your comment to CCT, if the Dalai Lama is as he claims not responsible for the organized protests nor can he end them, why should the Party negotiate with him in the first place. He obviously does not have as much influence as people think he does and will all parties abide with him as their representative to any agreed upon settlement? Why should they even trust him to negotiate in good faith in the first place?

Secondly it seems to be that the Free Tibet crowd is suffering from some gross delusions of their own. Their idea, and yours, of a “peaceful settlement” starts and ends at a complete Chinese capitulation. You seem to forget that arresting all the monks and agitators and closing all the monasteries coupled with a demographic shift until even the TAR is majority Han will eventually settle the Tibetan problem by making them irrelevant. It may not be the settlement you want, but it’s a settlement nonetheless. You forget that peace is a desired end, not the means with which a goal is achieved.

March 19, 2008 @ 10:42 am | Comment

More from these tourist:

http://tinyurl.com/yqox3p

Mr Kenwood also saw boxes of stones being supplied to Tibetan throwers.

“To me it was like it was planned,” he said. Both men said a rumour spread that a group of monks arrested on Monday had been killed by the Chinese, and that this inflamed emotions.

March 19, 2008 @ 10:45 am | Comment

DIsh – is that who I think it is? If so, congratulations!

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately. Nice to “see” you!

March 19, 2008 @ 11:36 am | Comment

One world! One Dream! One China!!!

March 19, 2008 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

“…until even the TAR is majority Han will eventually settle the Tibetan problem by making them irrelevant.”

The CCP’s very own ‘final solution’.

March 19, 2008 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

All those Tibetan demonizing links provided by CCT are evidence that he is under the spell of ‘dalai clique thought’

As for His Holiness being the mastermind behind the unrest, one can only laugh. This from Xinhua:

“The Dalai clique maintained real-time contacts, sources say, through varied channels with the rioters in Lhasa, and dictated instructions to his hard core devotees and synchronised their moves”

Not in a million years did this man orchestrate or endorse the violence of the last week. And by accusing the DL of such actions, Beijing effectively closes the door on dialogue, whatever they may say to the contrary.

March 19, 2008 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

Richard Spencer is having some difficulty explaining Chinese law with regard to press freedom to police:

http://tinyurl.com/2gze8l

Never mind, Mr Spencer. You and the rest of the hacks are free to discuss the evil nature of the Dalai clique back at the hotel bar.

March 19, 2008 @ 12:53 pm | Comment

“If someone can talk Russia into returning the land they took from China back,”

Except that Russia didn’t take any land from China.

March 19, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

“More than a few Chinese were hoping for a post-9/11 style memorial, preferably with Wen Jiabao reading the names of each of the dead while their loved ones sobbed for the camera. ” – all 14 of them? it’ll be a short memorial…

of course any violence is deplorable. the han and hui are paying the price in much the same way that the british occasionally paid the price during colonialism – murdered by an angry native. that’s what happens when you colonise a country – people get pissed off.

@rohan

thanks for letting us know about the demonstration it was interesting and sounds like a good evening. i wish the tibetans luck – but i just see a bloodbath.

March 19, 2008 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

Just because the Dalai Lama didn’t cause the attacks doesn’t mean he has no influence. He is still respected and things would be much worse if he wasn’t around. As it is he keeps most Tibetans calm, even if a minority took to the streets recently.

But if he is losing/has lost influence it is because Beijing refuses to talk to him openly and make change happen. If the Dalai Lama’s path of peace leads to no change, people will eventually go for something else – especially after he dies. If, however, his approach produces results then of course people will listen to him.

March 20, 2008 @ 1:44 am | Comment

Garden Books Soft-opening(Beijing)
Cafe + Books = Good Times
Open: 8am-9pm
GREAT PLACE, AMAZING FOOD AND VERY GOOD SERVICE!
This cafe and bookstore is a fantastic addition to Beijing�s foreign community. And you could always had the best food. This two-story bookstore provides an extensive selection of English-laungage titles for all ages. And the cafe�s highlights include gelato (Italian ice cream), Illy coffee, and a quiet seating area to work or chat in if you need it.
44 Guang Hua Road,by 2nd Ring(E),Chaoyang District,Beijing,100020

March 21, 2008 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

Raj,

For China to negotiate with the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama needs to do more to convince the Chinese that he is not a separatist. Lip-service that he is not going to separate Tibet from China is not enough. He needs to dissociate himself ABSOLUTELY with the free-Tibet crowd, he has stop associate himself with Chen Shui-bian’s corrupt regime in Taiwan, and he has to avow that he is a Chinese, as well as a Tibetan. Only then, will the Chinese respond in kind. Otherwise, riot on. Like I said, the more Tibetan nationalists riot and kill people, the more Han Chinese are going to be alienated from Tibetans. That is not a good thing, considering that the majority is now the minority.

Lens of Reason

March 22, 2008 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

He needs to dissociate himself ABSOLUTELY with the free-Tibet crowd

And cut off his main source of international support? What guarantee would there be that China would then change its mind and leave him with nothing? None.

he has stop associate himself with Chen Shui-bian’s corrupt regime in Taiwan

You mean democratic regime. I know China sees democracy as corruption, but that’s its problem not the Dalai Lama or Taiwan’s.

and he has to avow that he is a Chinese, as well as a Tibetanthe more Han Chinese are going to be alienated from Tibetans

Chinese don’t care about Tibetans anyway. They have always looked down at them and treated them like children. If Chinese had shown real compassion for Tibetans maybe the latter would care about the former. But that is not the case. Tibetans will only try to please Chinese when they are given guarantees that will get them what they want.

March 22, 2008 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

Raj,

The Dalai Lama has squandered his chance for negotiation by allying himself with the “free-Tibet” crowd and international forces intent on demonizing and splitting up China. Association with Chen Shui-bian’s unpopular government has only made the Dalai Lama even less trustworthy in the eyes of the PRC and the great majority of the Chinese people.

But what’s the point? The Dalai Lama is now impotent, as he himself cannot control the rioting by his people. And like I said before, China is in a position of strength and therefore frankly, the leadership is in no hurry to negotiate. I think the Dalai Lama should take pragmatic steps to alleviate the distrust between the PRC and himself. Depending upon “international forces” or overseas Tibetans as a way of support is quite useless, except if you want some cash.

Lens of Reason

PS. I will be off from responding to this blog. I can see our discussion can go on and on and on…

March 23, 2008 @ 2:32 am | Comment

allying himself with the “free-Tibet” crowd and international forces intent on demonizing and splitting up China

The usual China victimization clap-trap! China causes international disgust by its own actions. If it just looked in the mirror once and realised that it is its own worst enemy it might be able to improve its image. As it is it prefers denial because it doesn’t want to lose face.

Chen Shui-bian’s unpopular government

Is another example of China’s demonising. Just because he wouldn’t follow China’s unreasonable demands he was demonised at every turn. As I said, it’s easier to demonise the other side rather than look at yourself.

The Dalai Lama is now impotent, as he himself cannot control the rioting by his people.

You obviously have not paid attention to anything I’ve been saying. He cannot control the rioting because:

a) he is not in Tibet
b) his peaceful mantra has not gained results

If China negotiated with him openly it would show that peace could lead to results. If peace achieves nothing then the only option is violence.

Even the chronically moronic CCP should be able to understand that.

I will be off from responding to this blog. I can see our discussion can go on and on and on…

Yes, it’s called free speech. If you have a problem with that feel free to post on a Chinese forum where you won’t have to deal with conflicting views due to the usual censorship.

March 23, 2008 @ 2:57 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.