Care to talk about anything not related to Tibet?

Here’s an open thread to do so.

I just noticed Blogspot is open again, after being open for a couple weeks and then slamming shut again a few days ago. The Cybernanny is being unusually bipolar lately.


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: 134 Comments

I can’t say that I’ve heard an Indian leader say much of anything about anything recently, as I don’t often read Indian papers and Indian politics are rarely discussed in anything I do often read (I’m an ignorant American, I know). But doing a little search… Seems like the BJP has been the most critical of the Tibet thing. Here are a few articles;

I’ll see if I can find any comments from the Congress Party.

If you think about it, the Americas are to the east of China too. Perhaps Cali is really the mysterious orient.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:05 am | Comment


That why I capitalized on CURRENT Indian leadership. You can afford to be irresponsible when you are not the party in power.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:11 am | Comment

The people cited are not members of the ruling Congress Party, but they are currently members of the government representing the interests of their constiuents. If anything, an opposition party’s criticisms of a foreign government should be more reflective of the public’s opinion, as they don’t have to mince words in the interests of the real-politik of international relations.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:25 am | Comment

Still @ Cao
Arguably why McCain, Hilary, and Obama have all come out an urged a boycott ultimatum, while Bush is being as evasive as Brown and is still saying he’s planning on attending the opening ceremonies.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:28 am | Comment


You got a good point. I will concede to you on that point. Tibet issue, after all, lies very close to the fault line between Sino-Indian relationship since 1950s. We fought a war over the exact boundary of Tibet in 1962.

What about Argentina, Tanzania, Malaysia, Thailand and Oman then? Why protests are decided muted in these countries? Argentina is arguably a democracy and share similar cultural values as developed “North”.

April 23, 2008 @ 7:45 am | Comment

Well, I thinking about it, and doing some quick research, I think I’ve got two basic reasons why the protests were so much more dramatic in Paris, London, and Frisco.
The first is that protesting is a bit of a pass time in first world countries. Our governments tend to be stable enough, and our legal systems lenient enough that a little civil disobedience is not that big a deal. You might spend a night in jail, or pay a fine of some kind, but unless it turns into a real riot, odds are that the consequences will be slight. That’s why you see protests all the time over lots of goofy things. You don’t really need to know anything about the issue, just a piece of cardboard with a catchy slogan (‘No Blood for Oil!’), a case of beer, a van, some friends, and you’ve got a pretty good weekend happening.
I admit that my knowledge of Tanzania, Malaysia, Oman, Thailand, and Argentina is slight, but it’s my understanding that these conditions are not so developed there. Protests are somewhat bigger deals in dictatorships (I think only Oman qualifies now), or countries that were recently under dictatorships. The other thing is that the people may be poorer and have less time and resources to fight for causes that are irrelevant to their daily lives.

Second reason is a concession to you that the negative reaction towards the PRC over Tibet in the western (white, northern, developed, free, Japan + Australia + New Zealand + Britain + Iceland + Western Europe + America + Canada + Japan + maybe Ireland, Some of Eastern Europe, and the ROC, whatever you want to call it) world may be a phenomenon partly specific to our culture, thanks to the post-colonial lens that we now view history through.
I think if you approached the average Englishman at the turn of the twentieth century and explained your ‘Tibet is part of China because we want it to be, and we don’t need to justify it to anyone’ argument to him, he probably would have seen this as reasonable.
In this era though, the end of the European, British, and Japanese Empires, along with the causes and effects of World War II have reshaped our ideas about nationhood, and the relationships between cultures and societies. My personal feeling is that we have become somewhat cynical about the idea of ‘nation’, and have come to carry something that might be seen as national guilt. We can’t help but see Tibet as another Ireland, Algeria, or India, and the PRC Chinese as a past and more primitive version of ourselves (we are all teleologists deep down aren’t we?).
This ideal is stronger in the left than the right, and I think you can see this partly in the fact that it is left leaning politicians (the mayor of Paris, Kevin Rudd, Nancy Pelosi) that are the most critical of the PRC, while the relatively right ones (Bush, Brown, and Harper) tend to take a more fence sitting position (admittedly, the non-English westerners, Sarkozy and Fukuda contradict this, admittedly, and perhaps this analysis doesn’t work as well for their countries). But the fact that it’s the left that consistently dominates the civil services of at least the Anglo world, these post-colonial ideas are guaranteed to be embedded within our Social Studies educations.
I’m not sure where you’re from, but if you are a product of the Mainland Chinese school system your command of English is amazingly good. If you did spend some of your high school education in an English world school system, I think you might be able to look back and see what I mean. I went through the Alberta school system ( part of one of the most right wing governments in North America) and can testify that this post-colonial view of the world dominated. If we want to be really cheesy, you might even argue I was ‘indoctrinated’.
Those are my theories on the matter. I don’t know how post-colonial colonised view the world. You would think that they would sympathise with Tibet somewhat, but perhaps some of them identify with the PRC as a new nation trying to rebuild itself? I don’t know. It would be nice if more non-Chinese, non-ex-imperialists would weigh in here.

April 23, 2008 @ 9:31 am | Comment


As ignorant as I am about the shady complexities of international arms dealing, I somehow doubt this sort of transaction would go through without at least tacit acceptance from Beijing. The tone of the foreign ministry’s response to the issue hardly says “this has nothing to do with us”, but rather “this is normal trade between countries (not companies)”.

I know China is hardly totalitarian these days and cross-border trade is complex, but you’d be hard up to convince me that there is no “political” green light given to any arms shipment emanating from the PRC. We aren’t talking about plastic dolls going to Wal-Mart here. I don’t think Beijing would leave itself open to egg on its face by letting its arms manufacturers deal with whomever they pleased at a purely commercial level.

The unfortunate situation in Zimbabwe doesn’t need any more encouragement, particularly of the weaponry variety.
Thankfully, the ship might return to China because of “difficulty docking”. I guess the best solution- Chinese gov’t face is saved, and the shipment doesn’t get involved in Mugabe’s ‘recount’.

April 23, 2008 @ 10:13 am | Comment


I appreciate your well articulated and thoughtful response. I will come clean about my background. I am indeed a product of American high school and university education.

My High School history teacher was a full blooded Native American and one of the textbook we used is “Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America” by Gary Nash. I was very impressed by the way how Americans come to grip with their past, including admitting past mistakes. I came to admire the left intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky.

When I first came to America, I dismissed all American media as racist, capitalist propaganda, full of lies about China, biased against indigenous people of Palestine and South Africa.

My view begin to change, but I was having difficulty in bridging the gap between what I learned in Chinese elemetary school and what’s being reported in the West. In fact, I’ve asked my history teacher. He told me that I must seek out the truth myself. I frankly didn’t know how that could be when two source of information paints diametrically opposing views.

Then I discovered American Sinologists such as Fairbank. I beginning to believe that most of the perception gap results from misunderstanding.

Throughout high school, I delivered newspapers esp. New York Times. It was my primary window to understand the world. I noticed that China coverage is a usually a little off, not exactly the life in China as I had known. I chalked it off as Westerners don’t really get China. I gobbled up everything else including reporting on Bosnia and first Chechen war.

I came out of high school thoroughly identified with the liberal cause with a left leaning. There are increasingly more coverage of China in the papers, and I read more books on China written by Western Sinologists. I come to appreciate that Western scholarships and reporting on China allow me to look at China in fresh perspectives.

My hope was for China to develop along the same liberal vein as the West and become a happy utopia of a diverse multi-ethnic democracy.

My first personal experience with the perception gap was a meeting with a white South African editor of school’s yearbook during my freshmen year. Somehow, he starts talking about how China is an aggressive power. At the time, I had always thought China is a mostly a peaceful passive country with no aggressive past.

He brought up Tibet. I countered that Tibet has always been part of China. He postulate that since China did not hesistate in using force against its own people in Tiananmen, it can’t not be trusted to be a member of international community and must be prone to use oversea military ventures to divert domestic tension. I challenge him when was the last time China invaded another country. It didn’t help my cause when my Vietnamese friend present promptly informed me 1979.

I thought it is totally ridiculous how could a person who never been to China, whose entire knowledge of China came from news media claim to know more about nature of China than me, a native speaker who grew up there and understand its cultural history.

I couldn’t follow his leap of logic but that lead me to internet forums to read about debates on democracy, Tibet and human rights in China. Most of the time, the internet forums are just bunch of people talking right past each other.

I came away convinced as ever of China’s historic claim to Tibet. But being brought up in China under an anti-colonial and pro-self determination discourse, I wondered how I could justify my support of Palestinian cause but deny Tibetans the same rights and whether Tibetan resistance can be compared to Chinese resistance of the Japanese.

What surprised me was comments from some Westerners who live in China who I would have thought know better to echo the same views that I read in New York time editorial.

Then Kosovo war came along and started my total disillussionment with Western Media, particularly New York Times.

In the begining, I totally supported the NATO intervention in Kosovo as I didn’t want a repeat of Bosnia.

What changed my view was how Western media cavalierly handled the Belgrade Chinese Embassy Bombing.

Up to the bombing, I felt Chinese government were wrong in support Serbian dictator Milosevic.

I also believed at the time that the bombing must’ve been an accident. But I was shocked at the fact Clinton didn’t make an immediate and public apology for this grave error in which lives were taken.

When students took to the streets in Beijing. I sympathized with them. Most Western media including CNN and New York Times seemed to imply that these student protest were orchestrated by Beijing Government. That, I felt was at once disingenuous and robbed those young people of their voice by implying that they were simple government stooges. By the way the most recent New York Times article is implying the same about the current situation.

I was forced to confront the quality of media reporting. I had always relied on Main Stream Media up to this point to know my world. I had always known their China coverage is a little off, but I had always chalked it off to Chinese exceptionalism that foreigners don’t really understand China. But how do I know that these journalists really get Serbia, Russia or Sudan?

I started to do research on the internet. I learned about the Serbian side of the story, what two historic Battles of Kosovo against Ottomans had mean to Serbian nationalism. Also some of the tactics employed by KLA(Kosovo Liberation Army) in the insurgency against Serbia. The ethnic cleansing and counter-ethnic cleansing.

I became less certain of the wisdom of NATO intervention in Kosovo. It seemed that it was more of a reaction of Western moral outrage and quilt about Bosnia and Rwanda than Kosovo itself

I think the biggest disillusionment was the realization that people worked in media and government are equally if not more clueless than I am.

I feared that demonization of China will pave the way for Sino-American confrontation over Taiwan and by extension Tibet/Xinjiang.

I rambled on quite a bit. Do I have a point. Maybe. The biggest problem that I have with many of the activists is that few bothered to really do their homework when a quick google search would have brought a wealth of information. People like Mia Farrow go to length to organize and protest, but does she really understand what is going in Darfur? My guess is no.

I am not religious but I believe it’s a moral duty to seek truth and wisdom.

thanks for reading my rambling.


April 23, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Comment


The CCP are laying low and jotting down names right now. I don’t know what they’ll do when they make their retaliatory moves, but my bet is that they’ll do so for the greater benefits of China.

I suspect they’re not gonna let this humiliation go quietly. They’ll have to let the West know that we’re not Japan, we don’t roll over and play dead.

April 23, 2008 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

Good post, old chap. I’ll think on it for awhile. I appreciate the intellectual honesty.

@Middle Finger
You are aware that Japan fought one of the bloodiest, if not the bloodiest wars in the history of mankind against the ‘west’, and did not surrender until two of its cities were nuked, even after millions of their own people were dead and defeat was all but inevitable? Or do you consider anything less than perpetual hostility against anybody with any differences from you ‘rolling over and playing dead’?

April 23, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | Comment

@Middle Finger Kingdom

We don’t need to let the West know that we’re not Japan. Your average Western political elite today is pretty stupid, a far cry from Latin-educated philosophers that made up America’s founding fathers or cold-blooded but intelligient and brutally efficient British Imperialist of the yore. Yet they are not so retarded to confuse China with Japan.

One reason that they piling on us now, from human rights to Darfur to Burma to Tibet to environment to Zimbabwe, is because deep down they fear us. They fear what we would become.

The West is no longer the self-confident block that treated the world as their own exclusive oyster. They can feel the change in the wind, and they are afraid, afraid of a future where a non-Western superpower looms over the horizon.

They look upon China and see where they once were, full of dynamism and optimistic about the future.

At this point, We are literally younger than them. I will still be around long after many of the posters here are gone.

We are the future and they know it.

April 23, 2008 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

“So, what’s going on here? What did Beijing do wrong?”

Yeah, right, CCT, the government had absolutely nothing to do with it. In China, arms sales are a perfectly private business. Come on, don’t play dumb, you can do better than that.
What’s wrong with selling weapons to a murderer? Nothing at all, but waving banners or having tea with the DL, that’s a serious crime.

April 23, 2008 @ 2:07 pm | Comment


Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

April 23, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

@Cao Meng De
But here’s the trick; what separates ‘you’ from ‘us’? What makes you so different? The rather dopey comment by Mr. Finger brings up a rather good comparison. With the ‘west’ and ‘Japan’ we were convinced that we were diametrically opposed societies, but once we got done killing each other, it gradually became apparent that what the Japanese wanted and what the ‘west’ wanted were not actually that different, and the kind of worlds we wanted to live weren’t so different either.
I think that if the PRC continues along the path its going down now, especially if we can avoid the whole slaughtering each other part, the Chinese will eventually discover that they too have become nothing less than westerners.

April 23, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

Still @Cao
By the way, I haven’t written any nightmare prophecies about how China is likely to collapse, and be humiliated again, even though I do think it’s far from a total impossibility, mostly because it’s just unprovable speculation and will only annoy you and others. So in the interest of keeping the discussion friendly and constructive, could I ask that you pay me the same courtesy and stop announcing predictions of *my* civilisation’s collapse?

April 23, 2008 @ 2:39 pm | Comment


My experience living in both China and United States inform me that there is indeed very little that separates ‘you’ from ‘us’?

Unfortunately most people don’t understand that, and they won’t.

Equally relevant is that modern nation-states are animals with incredible staying power. As long as people are banding together in different groups, there will be jostling for power.

I am not talking about cultural conflicts or clash of civilization. In fact I think Samuel Huntington is rather daft. My Mom thinks I am totally “Westernized” whatever that means.

The existence of Thermo-nuclear weapons will probably means there won’t be any whole sale slaughtering.

Many Chinese have great admiration for United States. What is usually unspoken is that they want their country to be become, indeed to replace United States as the pre-eminent power.

What do I want? Twofish in his blog mentioned that 10,000 people exerts a vast amount of influence over the rest of 6 billion. I aspire to be among the 10,000.

But at the end of the day, I am probably just as happy to surf everyday, dance every night, travel the world and hang out with my girl.

April 23, 2008 @ 2:55 pm | Comment


“So in the interest of keeping the discussion friendly and constructive, could I ask that you pay me the same courtesy and stop announcing predictions of *my* civilisation’s collapse?”

I don’t really think in terms of civilization but rather relative power of nation-states.

If you must know, I am still bullish on United States and most Western countries over long term. Warren Buffett is right that in the long run, people of the United State (North America, if you like) will live better and richer than they are now.

Just the relative power of North America, as measure against the rest of the world will decline as the other parts of the world catch up in technology and standards of living.

Just as British today live better and richer lives today even though they lost their empire.

Okay I will stop now.

Deal, I will try to control my cultural hegemonist urges.

April 23, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Comment


don’t get soft on me now, this is a once in a liftime opportunity for China to get back on its feet and reclaim what is rightfully ours.

You’ve still been influenced by American liberal democratic theology, in a few years, you’ll wise up and see my points.

April 23, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

Middle Finger Kingdom,

Hahaha, don’t worry what’s ours will still be ours, there is no running away from it.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

hahaha, yup. I think what’s not really mentioned is that most non-western nations by and large have stood by China. I think they understand their ultimate interests lie with China.

Such bias attacks from the West can easily fall upon any Asian and middle eastern nations. And in that sense, you’re right, the West is panicking.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:33 pm | Comment

> I think they understand their ultimate interests lie with China.

Yeah, just ask anyone from Zim, hey?

April 24, 2008 @ 6:29 am | Comment

@Cao Meng De

“My Mom thinks I am totally “Westernized” whatever that means.”

It means: you are living in the good old US of A, enjoying all the privileges, freedoms and civil rights that you think for some reason are not for the average Chinese people. You actually don’t give a sh+t about the people of China, because you never shared their hardships.

April 24, 2008 @ 8:45 am | Comment


Exactly, if you’ve shared the hardships with the average Chinese, and even vicariously from your parents, then you know what’s happening in China is nothing short of a miracle. And that’s why what is the West is doing is perceived by the Chinese as the West is deliberately fucking with them. So, fuck off

April 24, 2008 @ 10:33 am | Comment

enjoying all the privileges, freedoms and civil rights

Which Chinese person here has said China doesn’t deserve the wealth and standard of living that America has? Who said they don’t deserve civil rights? They just oppose slimeballs like you trying to leverage these things for their own benefit.

April 24, 2008 @ 10:53 am | Comment

@ Ferin:

And if you think many Chinese people are disgusted at Westerners “trying to leverage these things for their own benefit” imagine how many of us feel when we see princeling brats in the West “demonstrating” against CNN when we all know they would never have the cojones to protest against any genuinely menevolant Government that would actually respond in any serious way.

Personally, I don’t do demonstrations: I find them unseemly. But for God’s sake, even I can spot a group of phonies when I see them. Paris ’68. Soweto ’76. Tehran ’78. Beijing ’89. No matter what you thought of each movement, they were students fighting the Establishment, facing up to the government despite the possibility of suffering real consequences.

They werent a group of Princeling brats bussed in and given lunch money by their Embassy, and taking photos they can proudly show to their apparatchik Mummies and Daddies.

April 24, 2008 @ 11:14 am | Comment


China has had an extremely loose monetary policy for a number of years, and as a consequence, a very rapid rise in consumption. At some point, say 2007+, that translates into inflation. Throw in a supply shock (pork, rice) and there are more than enough domestic factors to account for the increase in prices.

Consumer goods imports are not significant enough to have a meaningful impact of total inflation. In Hong Kong or Singapore, where imports are vastly larger than domestic production, imported inflation/deflation is quite common. Not in China, though.

April 24, 2008 @ 11:38 am | Comment

princeling brats in the West “demonstrating” against CNN

They’re free to criticize CNN in China too 😉

A lot of the protesters aren’t even Chinese. Many of them are from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

April 24, 2008 @ 11:52 am | Comment

>They’re free to criticize CNN in China too 😉

Reminds me of a Soviet joke. An American is in the USSR chatting to his minder outside his hotel in Moscow. The American says to the Russian, “You know why America is a better country than the Soviet Union?” “Back in America, I’m free to stand up in public and shout ‘President Reagan is a fascist dictator!’ and I won’t be sent to jail by the police. Can you say the same thing for the Soviet Union?”

The Russian looks at the American, and says, “But Mr. ___, here in Soviet Union, we also can criticise Mr. Reagan without any trouble from the police, so you see we also have same freedom!”

April 24, 2008 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

lol I was thinking of that

April 24, 2008 @ 12:17 pm | Comment

Peanut butter,

so what u saying, America is better than China? no way.

April 24, 2008 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

@Stinky Finger

“Exactly, if you’ve shared the hardships with the average Chinese, and even vicariously from your parents, then you know what’s happening in China is nothing short of a miracle. And that’s why what is the West is doing is perceived by the Chinese as the West is deliberately fucking with them. So, fuck off”

We will, and we’ll take all our money and technology with us. And then we’ll see what kind of miracle China is able to create without foreign aid.
Where are you posting from? Let me guess! USA, Canada, Australia?

April 24, 2008 @ 8:55 pm | Comment

We will, and we’ll take all our money and technology with us.

Sure, fuck off. 60-75% of the money and tech comes from Asia anyway.

April 25, 2008 @ 6:13 am | Comment

and we’ll see what kind of recovery Americans will pull with the dollar at 1:10 to the Euro and petrodollars switched to petroeuros.

enjoy your $1,000 tank of gas.

April 25, 2008 @ 6:14 am | Comment

“Sure, fuck off. 60-75% of the money and tech comes from Asia anyway.”

That’s a good one. You really are a joker.

“and we’ll see what kind of recovery Americans will pull with the dollar at 1:10 to the Euro and petrodollars switched to petroeuros.

enjoy your $1,000 tank of gas.”

That’s your problem, because you are American. I’m from Europe.

April 25, 2008 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

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