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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: 37 Comments

It’s very hard to tell lies in the information age:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32yzWWIZGr8

April 30, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Umm, don’t know what to say. I guess ‘first post’ would be slightly fatuous. (And by the time my browser has actually got around to sending it, probably false.)

April 30, 2008 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

@CCT in particular, and everybody else who are interested in Tibet:

There has been some discussion about the status of the Tibetan language in TAR, I would like to direct your attention to the following academic article by Nicolas Tournadre, “The Dynamics of Tibetan-Chinese Bilingualism: The Current Situation and Future Prospects”.

I have not read the whole article, but it seems to confirm my assertion that the Tibetan language is being pushed out of TAR, to the disadvantage of native Tibetan speakers. Apparently, this is a recent development, which started in the 90s.

His conclusion:

It seems that the education experts in China have not weighed up the heavy sociolinguistic consequences of a linguistic policy that targets only the development of Chinese and neglects Tibetan. In less than fifty years, Tibetan, which is currently part of the cultural heritage of China, has become an endangered language, condemned to an irreversible decline, if not to outright extinction within two generations, if the present linguistic policy is maintained. The responsibility of the regional and central governments in this is obvious. Spoken Tibetan, associated as it is with a major literary language and which benefits from the growing interest of the West, will not of course disappear body and soul, but considerable damage may well be inflicted on it. Moreover, the development of ra-ma-lug skad (Tibetan-Chinese mixed speech) in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Prefectures is detrimental to the learning of Tibetan and Chinese alike.

In order to enable proper integration as well as sustainable economic and cultural development in Tibet, it is vital to put in place a truly bilingual Tibetan-Chinese education system which would foster real harmony between the two cultures. In Europe, the cohabitation of different languages within the one state (French, German, Italian in Switzerland or Spanish and Catalan in Spain) could perfectly well serve as a model.

For more, please read:
http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/document231.html

April 30, 2008 @ 11:21 pm | Comment

Remember the now famous karate kick photos?

http://img4.tianya.cn/photo/2008/4/30/7765432_9869694.jpg

The picture you will never see in the Western press.

April 30, 2008 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

Is the guy in the foreground trying to steal his bike? He should have learned by now to accept this as a matter of routine in China.

May 1, 2008 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Amban, it’s called diglossia where two languages co-exist side by side with one occupying a high socio-economic creche while the other the low.

I’ve read the article you linked to in full and have drawn the opposite conclusions that the author has. On the contrary linguistic separation as is the case everywhere will increase tensions and will lead to social and eventually political separation. Just look at the case of Belgium and you will see that such a policy is doomed to failure. Switzerland which the author cites is the singular exception that proves the rule.

On the other hand with increasing Chinese fluency on the part of Tibetans will increase their own economic opportunities as well as drawing them into the Chinese mainstream. A shared language allows for communication and dissemination of not just information but of thought patterns as well. In other words, to know Chinese is to think like Chinese. Assimilation and acculturation is good. A creation of a Chinese Tibetan creole and widespread adoption of Chinese in urban Tibet (and the accompanying diminishment of Tibetan) will serve to sever the link with the exile community as represented by the Dalai clique, rendering them primarily irrelevant as speakers of Hindi and English as opposed to the Tibetan elite which will be primarily speakers of Chinese.

May 1, 2008 @ 12:45 am | Comment

@Amban,

I’m well aware of that academic argument, and those who argue that the Tibetan language may well disappear (as thousands of other human languages have disappeared). I frankly would like to see it preserved, but again, tens (if not hundreds) of spoken languages and written scripts have disappeared within China itself over the past century. Globalization is an international trend, and China is no different.

If you want to talk about cultural genocide, every single day China is making an active effort to wipe out regional dialects. Beijing has banned the use of regional dialects on TV programming, for example. And this ties in to the earlier blog post from the Tibetan you provided, the Tibetan who called for a common Tibetan language (based on the Lhasa dialect)… although this also implies the death of other Tibetan dialects. Are you troubled by these losses as well?

When I have a lot of spare time on my hand, I do feel a sense of regret, and I support reasonable efforts to keep Tibetan a viable language in Tibet.

I really don’t want to get into a rhetorical who said what debate club battle with you. I’ll just end this on a constructive point.

I believe government has a role to play, but I believe the role must be limited. I don’t believe the government can or should dictate the language to be used in private business. I do believe the government needs to consider its education system carefully, but the primary objective of education can’t simply be reinforcing the use of Tibetan; the primary objective of education still has to be the imparting of knowledge, and preparing graduates for the market economy.

Going back to the Tibetan blog poster, there are several ideas that I personally would support. For example, I think requiring Tibetan proficiency from all government officials in Tibet makes 100% sense. I think providing Tibetan classes for Tibetan students learning in interior China also makes sense. I also am in favor of teaching minority languages/cultures to the Han majority throughout China.

However, I don’t support the idea that *only* Tibetan can be used in government or education. I don’t support the idea of teaching a common Tibetan dialect; do you really want Tibetans in Kham to learn another dialect of Tibetan, along with Mandarin and English?

These are all useful debates, and they’re debates that are happening within China every day of the week. What is *not* useful is repetition of a demonized view of the intent and effect of Chinese government policy.

May 1, 2008 @ 12:46 am | Comment

@east_west

Nice try! :-P

(last post in previous thread)

May 1, 2008 @ 12:52 am | Comment

@east_west
“But no mistake, this so-called ��spiritual leader�� cloak is critical for him, for his clique, and of course, for the western world. So now, let��s move on to the second element- the West.”

spiritual leader cloak —> Criminial cloak
for his clique –> for CCP clique
western world —> fenqing world
the second element- the West —> .. – CH

May 1, 2008 @ 12:57 am | Comment

“…will serve to sever the link with the exile community as represented by the Dalai clique…”

Any reference to the ‘DC’ – other than for comedic effect – seriously undermines the credibility of an argument.

May 1, 2008 @ 1:08 am | Comment

How so? The self-proclaimed Tibet government in exile is run by relatives, acquaintances, dogrobbers what have you, of the Dalai Lama. Is this description inaccurate? The wording is a little clumsy in English but it serves well enough as a descriptor.

May 1, 2008 @ 1:57 am | Comment

ok, let me try it here, something from a chinese expatriate’s perspective. Again, calm down and face the reality:)

1.One of the important things we need to do when an emotional wave has been generated is to explore what has exactly happened. In other words, what are the fundamental elements of this whole incidence?

Of course, the first one has to be awarded to that fake monk-Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. From a pure religious perspective, it is very difficult for me to understand how he could still be called a follower of Buddhism, not to say an enlightened one. He has been, and even more so right now, so heavily burdened with an earthly, pragmatic and convoluted political agenda that even if the Gautama Buddha indeed achieved his consummate nirvana at the first place, he would have been dragged back to this material world by such a politician-style disciple.

But no mistake, this so-called ¡°spiritual leader¡± cloak is critical for him, for his clique, and of course, for the western world. So now, let¡¯s move on to the second element- the West.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:35 am | Comment

2.It is necessary to divide that concept ¡°the West¡± into two parts- the general public and the political machinery.

For average westerners, how they have thrown themselves into the recent incidence is almost a pure psychological movement. We have to come to realize that our lives can never be perfect, both internally and externally. From the external perspective, we as individuals are almost constantly facing all sorts of stress, whether that means you are right now struggling with your due assignment, your green card application, your health, and for sure, your dire financial situation in this recession time. And internally, we as human beings unavoidably tend to make mistakes. I can confidently assume that almost all of us have regrets or the feeling of guilty for many things that we ¡°should not have committed¡±. But yes, anyway we did, which means that you may have betrayed your partner, cheated in an examination, or hurt your parents.

Psychologically, we need to repair that ¡°imperfectness¡±, or try to give ourselves a chance to ¡°get over¡± them. That is called transformation.

In my humble opinion, that is one of the most important reasons why that fake monk can sell himself so well. Xizang Province is largely an isolated and remote land for most of us, especially before the introductions of information technology and the railway system. That provides Mr. Gyatso a golden opportunity to falsely portrait it as a ¡°shangari la¡± in this often painful world. It is quite understandable or maybe even healthy for many average westerners, after years of being disappointed with and unhappy about their own lives, to buy a sell of ¡°the Eden on Earth¡±. That brings them a bit of hope. And that serves as Prozac for their broken lives.
As I have explained earlier, the needs for transforming our lives also come from the internal side, which explains why many of them have happily involved themselves in those spectacular so-called ¡°human rights¡± protests. Why not, and why do they need to know what is the real story there. The only thing that matters is the glorious concept of ¡°human rights¡±, or ¡°freedom¡± or whatever that sounds good. The whole process here functions similar to a vaccine shot. You are exposed to a minimal, if not at all, chance of risk while gaining all the benefits. You may have spent 99 cents on a shoddy black marker and invested two minutes on writing something like ¡°shame on china, free Tibet¡±. But those are trivial once compared to what you will reap-a self-given feeling of redemption. Oh yes, I have promoted something good, and that purifies me from all my sins, and that saves me from all my guilt-similarly, the Prozac for our broken hearts.

A very bad and sad thing for Mr. Gyatso is that with the help of technology and communications, Xizang Province will soon lose its privilege of being remote and mysterious. The western public will learn that it wasn¡¯t, isn¡¯t and will never be a land of perfection. The lives and people there are as humanly and limited as anywhere else. By then he has to manage to overhaul his marketing strategy, if he ever be able to.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:36 am | Comment

3.However, even if in the coming years Mr. Gyatso is going to lament the loss of loyalty of the general public, he could still comfortably rely on another more accountable customer-the western governments.

Before we take a trip to see which role the western governments have played in this incidence, I probably need to explain briefly what a government is actually about.

Human beings are social animals. By that we mean that individuals always have the tendency to connect with each other and eventually form a social network. Consequently, the single most critical question for any society will be: how would we balance the interests of the whole society and each specific individual.

Two basic approaches have been proposed. The collectivists argue that since individuals have voluntarily given up their rights of being absolutely free, or more frankly their rights of moving around as wild animals, the interest of the whole group should prevail over that of the individuals. By contrast, the individualists have felt so much dismayed by the social hierarchy that they would like to regain their status as the epicenters of their own lives, even though it means that they have to sacrifice much of the quality.

A common misunderstanding says that the East always embraces the collectivism while the West will go for the individualism. At least from a historical background this is not true. Both civilizations had actually adopted collectivism for a long period of time until the individualism was introduced into the western society merely as a concept during the Renaissance. And the West has to wait for another few centuries until any individualistic practices indeed gain a solid foothold in reality.

It should be noted that as a practice, the individualism is always self-limiting. A full-blown one will completely dissolve the whole society and result in anarchy, which ironically only happened once not in the West, but in the East (The Cultural Revolution). For that reason, any western government, no matter how much they have bragged about their individualistic standpoints, is no more than an extremely mild version of it. I was quite amused by a scene when the presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were asked whether their so-called ¡°universal healthcare plan¡± included those illegal immigrants in US, both paused for awhile before murmuring a ¡°no¡± answer.

In fact, the practices of individualism, such as the promotion of freedom, equality and tolerance, are so expensive that only very mature and economically secured societies could afford them without seeing a full-scale collapse. And even those societies can hardly be able to make an extension of these practices beyond their borders, just as the United States can not fund the healthcare system for the whole globe.

And they do not have that intention anyway. What we have witnessed today is a double-faced West, with a somewhat individualistic face for its own people and a blatant collectivistic one for the rest of the world. This dichotomy makes their accusations of so-called human rights violations in the East empty, hypocritical and fundamentally weak.

In my opinion, the collectivism remains the predominant force in the foreign policy of the West even until today. What has changed in the past several decades, indeed, is the geopolitical map, which has seen a clear gravity shift towards the East. And this dramatic change has disqualified the West the privilege to interfere in the internal affairs of the East in a too brazen way, such as direct invasion or occupation. Instead, nowadays it could only afford to rent a much cheaper and weaker bashing tool, and yes, in this case Mr. Gyatso.

Before closing this section, I have to emphasize that the underlying hypocrisy of the foreign policy of the West can easily backfire. In the case of Xizang Province, a truly manipulative central government could easily pick up those fancy terms touted by the West to severely damage or even eradicate the aboriginal Tibetan culture. For example, in the name of ¡°Freedom to Move¡±, the central government could encourage massive immigration of Han ethnics into the Xizang Province. In the name of ¡°Freedom of Speech¡±, the government could literally convert Lhasa into a ¡°special cultural zone¡± which shelters casinos, brothels and marijuana, much like what we have seen in Las Vegas. And in the name of ¡°Freedom of Religion¡±, the entire Xizang Province will be opened to the Christian missions or even Islamic movements.

For that we have to come back to an old adage-¡°Be careful what you wish for¡±.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:39 am | Comment

4.So far we have introduced two elements in this arena: the football, a role which Mr. Gyatso happily takes; and one football team-the West. Naturally now we need to change our focus on the other team-the East. I still see the necessity to divide it into two parts-the general public and the Eastern government.

I agree with the common wisdom that the East is heavily reliant on the concept of collectivism for its internal policies, a fact that is underscored by the recent revival of Confuscism in China. However, when it comes to foreign policy making, China has shown great restraint in flexing its muscles around and instead largely confined its international activities within the economical realm. This different dichotomy, with an internal collectivism-leaning gesture and an external individualism-leaning face, makes the East approximately a quite defined mirror image of the West.

Now I will present a potentially contentious topic. Simply put, which one is better, Collectivism or Individualism?

It is a question that has baffled me for long time and in the process of forming my own answer to it, I find it is interesting to note how easily we, as human beings, could be blinded by our own perceptions.

As I have mentioned earlier, the western civilization was almost thoroughly showered with the ideas of collectivism before the Renaissance, allowing the Catholic Church to enjoy a millennium of absolute authority. Then the laymen would naturally look up to the Church for truth and salvation, with little doubt of the possibility of the fallibility of the Pope and his institution.

At least in my opinion, that kind of zeal and frenzy has been reproduced now towards a different target-the Individualism. Average people, even including many friends in this forum, have taken those individualistic concepts such as freedom, equality and tolerance for granted, much as what their ancestors have done in the Middle Age to the Church.

Individualism is not perfect, and can never be so. It works simply as a balancing force to the Collectivism in our world history and itself carries a deep, deep and deep price that it can never avoid, which says as: It actually represents The Death.

We as rational beings need to realize that individualism is always a very expensive game and inevitably induces low efficiency, chaos and violence. In its deepest root it actually calls for a reversal of human civilization development and tries to push human beings back to the level of a pure animal species.

In my philosophy, I take both forces as conditional, relative and imperfect. It is their constant interaction that drives our world history towards a ultimate balanced stage, and yes, that is called ¡°via media¡±.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:40 am | Comment

5.And finally let me check out the responses from average Chinese, which include myself.

Interesting enough, the average people in the East also serves as the mirror image to their counterparts in the West in this football game, a phenomenon reminiscent of what we have just covered at the governmental level.

Earlier in this essay, I have mentioned that the world is changing so quickly and deeply. This causes great uneasy and distress for the ordinary westerners and prompts them to take advantage of this event to try to reconstruct or essentially transcend their own identities.

Ironically, for the same reason, the Chinese people are undergoing a crisis of loss of identity as well. We have been anxious about the stereotyped and outdated impressions of China that dominate the western media and strongly anticipated to use this coming Olympic Game as one possible platform to represent our new images. It is the goodwill from us, showing that we are ready to open up an effective and dignified channel to interact with the western world.

However, with what has happened, we strongly feel misunderstood and betrayed, and have built up the indignation for the arrogance of the West when it refuses to provide us a fair playground for communication. I have been trying hard to integrate the knowledge of the East and the West and do feel a bit frustrated by this fact.

Personally I am deeply moved by the strength, devotion and love of our brothers and sisters in this incidence. They have shown the world a new generation of China: confident, strenuous and aspiring, which reminds me of our old saying: The Zhou Dynasty has shouldered a rich history, while still being able to represent itself with a fresh and vigorous face (ÖÜËä¾É°î£¬ÆäÃüάÐÂ).

Together we will tell the West:¡°Hello World, Here We Come Back!¡±

2008.4

May 1, 2008 @ 2:42 am | Comment

US Jewish leaders call for boycott of Beijing Olympics

This is something I cannot believe. The AP just quoted this from a statement by American Jewish leaders:

”Having endured the bitter experience of abandonment by our presumed allies during the Holocaust, we feel a particular obligation to speak out against injustice and persecution today.”

Is Tibet another Holocaust?

May 1, 2008 @ 2:49 am | Comment

I recall reading that George Lucas was modeling Yoda on the Dalai Lama

May 1, 2008 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Perhaps if you became familiar with the many books he has written collaborated with others to write.

It would be a useful exercise for you to go through all of these books and analyze the content for statements regarding politics and/or China.

What is most curious is how very little he writes about or talks about mentions China, the TAR, Tibet Independence or politics in general.

May 1, 2008 @ 3:27 am | Comment

This is how you look at the same incident from a “different perspective”. Mind you, this piece is written based on the same Xinhua report. Now the story has become “China Acknowledged Tibetan Death”. ( From the gold standard of Western journalism, the NYT)

Hint! Hint! The TGIE said more than 200 Tibetan was killed. It must be true! Because the Chinese finally admitted it.

May 1, 2008 @ 3:45 am | Comment

I have constanly reminded my fellows that the Tibet incident, or a monk, is merely serving as a football role in this game. It could be replaced by anything dramatic.

What lies underneath is much more fundamental-the clashes of these two civilizations during a time of change. Whenever there is a great change of the power partition map of our world, you and I should expect to see many incidents similar to this, through protests or conflicts or wars.

The last dramatic change occured during 18-19th century, when the West had come out to the world stage.

I have been living in both cultures for quite a long period of time and can understand both mentalities a little bit. And after all I am christian in faith:)

So for that sake, let’s all admit that all human beings, and all institutions of human beings are fallible and limited and conditional and sinful. For sure we can try to make our world better, no matter it is in iraq or china, no matter it is for tibetans or for the black people in new york city. But before you do that, never, never, and please never assume that you have gained an upperhand of moral authority or ultimate justice. We are all sinful beings. Be humble for the sake of Our Lord’s Mercy and Grace.:)

May 1, 2008 @ 3:47 am | Comment

If Yoda represents the Dalai Lama and the Jedi are the Dalai Lama clique

then who is Jaba the Hut symbolizing?

May 1, 2008 @ 4:54 am | Comment

The West(US especially) would like to remain supreme in terms of influence over the world, that’s obvious, but don’t worry, US is slipping. As long as the CCP start treating their people better, respect human rights, and the Chinese don’t threaten, suppress other Chinese for differences of opinions, China will naturally come ahead of the US. Chinese have a hard time allowing other Chinese to disagree, that’s why we see stupid threads, I don’t think Chinese are good in debates, they see it as confrontation and opposition, no matter the agenda.

May 1, 2008 @ 6:06 am | Comment

By all means, as a chinese, for sure I will be happy to see a rising China, even though it carries a heavy load of all kinds of problems.

But at the same time, to be honest, as a christian, I am really not that excited to see who will win out in this competition.

To me, different nations and peoples are taking different approaches to fulfill their dreams. It may be more or less efficient, successful or competitive. But at the end of the day, we are all human beings. The vastly different cultures, regimes or communities in this world, to me, will serve as different facets of human experience, which in combination could help us appreciate the Real Justice, Real Authority and Real Beauty of God.

May 1, 2008 @ 6:57 am | Comment

@serve the people
“Is Tibet another Holocaust?”

The point is abandonment in a difficult situation.

That is something the Jewish people have experienced many time in their long history since they were expelled from Judea.

May 1, 2008 @ 7:00 am | Comment

Chinese dissident honored for writings:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90078089&ft=1&f=1004

May 1, 2008 @ 7:26 am | Comment

I think this video might have been lost from one of the earlier threads:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VnDzyA6j2I

May 1, 2008 @ 8:31 am | Comment

I had a whole speech I was gonna post about media and responsibility and bias, and who knows, I might still do that, but for now, I’ll just say that there is some balanced reporting on China in the western media. Here’s a piece from today’s LA Times exposing faked photos purporting to show that Chinese forces staged the Tibet riots. The article also talks about another faked image that claims to show a Chinese man eating a “Tibetan fetus.” This one turned out to be lifted from the work of a Chinese performance artist.

I think the LA Times does a pretty good job with its China reporting overall.

May 1, 2008 @ 11:05 am | Comment

@CCT

Thanks for putting up that link (I mean it). It is a well-needed corrective against flames on both sides of the fence.

May 1, 2008 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

“I think the LA Times does a pretty good job with its China reporting overall.”

I think it’s about time some critical attention was paid to the diatribe emanating daily from Chinese media outlets.

It would be difficult to find CCTV on a shortlist of journalistic integrity.

May 1, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

I agree with otherlisa that the LA Times is more balanced than the papers on the East cost. Maybe it’s because of the large Chinese American population there, so the paper is more aware of the Chinese viewpoints.

Or maybe it is because of that guy who threw a water bottle during the USC lecture given by the Tibetan monk. Sometimes to get your message out, you got to do what you got to do.

People have known the truth about this photo for a while now. The LA Times would have done a better job, had it reported the story right after the Dalai Lama accused the PLA soldiers dressing as Tibetan monks to incite the riots.

May 1, 2008 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

Or maybe it is because of that guy who threw a water bottle during the USC lecture given by the Tibetan monk. Sometimes to get your message out, you got to do what you got to do

Um, that’s reaching just a bit, STP. The LA Times has been doing a good job on its China coverage for a number of years. I remember a story I read about the Tibetan Wild Yak Brigade back in 2000 (you can read it here), and I would say they’ve been doing quality reporting longer than that.

One of the things I was going to rant about was, in fact, the bottle-throwing student at USC. Not just him, but this phenomena of Chinese students/demonstrators outside of China who take advantage of our laws and traditions that protect free speech and free assembly, and then object when others exercise these same rights.

Throwing a bottle in a university lecture hall is pretty rank, IMO.

The rest of my rant had to do with the media.

Is there bias in the Western media’s coverage of China? Yes. Is some of this deliberate, to advance a particular agenda? Undoubtedly. I only have to look at the NY Times coverage of Iraq and WMDs in the run-up to the invasion for proof that there is deliberate manipulation of coverage to achieve a particular political end.

Some of this bias, however, is due to a certain degree of ignorance of Chinese conditions. Some is due because Western reporters’ access to events and people in China is frequently limited by the Chinese government. Leading me to the next portion of my rant: the Chinese government bears a large portion of responsibility for biased/inaccurate coverage of China. The government limits access and it does a fairly bad job presenting its own case. What’s worse is that the Chinese government has restricted and censored and punished the Chinese press. Logically Chinese people should be in the best position to understand and accurately report on Chinese circumstances, but when they are restrained and threatened at every turn by the government, how is this press supposed to develop and do its job?

Finally, because a news outlet reports information that some Chinese people find uncomfortable or threatening does not make the information untrue.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

Oh, and as a p.s., STP, I wish stories like the fake photo would have been reported upon earlier as well. But with most newspapers in the US in crisis, having their reporting staffs and overseas bureaus cut to the bone, it’s a wonder that good reporting still goes on at all.

I believe that a free, watchdog press is essential to the functioning of a democracy and not just democracies, to any kind of competent government that wants to genuinely “serve the people.”

Seeing the decline of the media in this country frightens me a great deal. Seeing others reject the role that the press has to play out of hand by regarding unpleasant opinions and facts as mere propaganda is equally frightening.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:31 pm | Comment

@otherlisa,

Finally, because a news outlet reports information that some Chinese people find uncomfortable or threatening does not make the information untrue.

Christ, could you get any more patronizing?

I’m not going to speak for 1.3 billion people, but I’ll certainly speak for myself: I have no problem with “uncomfortable” accounting. Recent coverage of child laborers in Shenzhen for example; I have no problems with that. I’ve also expressed in the past my lack of *interest* in Hu Jia, but I have never described Western coverage of his case as being especially biased or inaccurate.

However, there is a huge amount of Western coverage that is sloppy, or simply unfair in effect, if not actually provably false. I came across this rather representative sample just yesterday:

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=4732447&page=1

When Wang Qian told us he loves to read the works of Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald, we were surprised. English literature is not widely available in China, where the government still censors what people read.

We were even more surprised when, during our interview, Wang quoted the fall of Babel, a Bible story. One of his former teachers at Dalian University of Foreign Languages had loaned him the Bible, which is commonly suppressed in
officially atheist China.

So, again, there’s not a single statement above that’s actually factually *false*. The Chinese government does indeed censor what’s available to be read, although the list of books actually banned in this day and age is tiny indeed (and most definitely doesn’t include “English literature). The Chinese government is also officially atheist, and does indeed frown heavily upon foreign missionaries that bring in their own translations of the bible (especially in large quantity).

But the end effect remains ridiculous and unrecognizable to the Chinese actually familiar with China. The Bible, for one, is available for sale in any Christian church. And Mark Twain’s books (as well as any works of English literature that I personally am aware of) is available in just about any decent bookstore.

This is just one example. I’m too tired tonight to dig into the false impression spread in the aftermath of the 3.14 riots. I’ve talked about it on other blogs previously.

May 1, 2008 @ 2:48 pm | Comment

Heck, I could get a lot more patronizing if I tried.

Notice I said “some Chinese people.” I am certainly not including everyone or you in this category.

But honestly. You cherry-picked the most critical thing out of my comment, the bulk of which was saying that there is bias and inaccurate reporting in the Western media about China, that the bias is due to a number of factors: deliberate distortions to advance a particular agenda, ignorance, and restrictions put on Western journalists – hell, ALL journalists – by the Chinese government.

What do you want me to say? That everything reported in the Western press is “wrong”? That I don’t think that SOME responses by SOME Chinese people in these threads and elsewhere are a trifle, I dunno, defensive? Over the top? When somebody in the comment previous to mine tells me that the LA Times reporting on this has been “better” because of Chinese students throwing bottles in USC lecture halls? Come on.

I await the cries of “Americans do it too!” which are sure to follow…

And p.s. – I know that.

May 1, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

Who owns the land in Tibet?

Are native Tibetans allowed to own land in Tibet?

Was all the land taken away from them by the CCP?

Do Han immigrants own land in Tibet?

May 2, 2008 @ 12:28 am | Comment

I was a Fengqing once, yeah, many years ago. I risked my life on the streets of Beijing that summer, 1989, among many others.

2 months later, when my German teacher was about to leave China for good, he came to my place to say goodbye. We were very close. I showed him the pictures I took on June 4th and 5th, when I walked some 50 km on foot on Beijing’s streets (because the public transportation was down and my bike had been stolen a few days earlier when I slept on the ground of Tiananmen Square one night); there were between 120 and 150 photos. He spent about an hour to go through the pictures, without saying a word. Then he said to me, if I wished, he could take the photos to the embassy and he could guarantee to get me out the country immediately.

But that was not what I planned, I responded. It really sounded stupid and naive, to risk one’s life to take such pictures (two times they actually opened fire) but I really didn’t take those pictures for anyone else except for myself to remember this summer, maybe for my own child in the future, to tell him/her my version of the story. I knew it could help me to get a foreign passport (many of my classmates did, and I don’t blame them for that). I just never planned to leave China.

That would make me like Wang Dan or Wuer Kaixi, I told my teacher, which I didn’t like from the very beginning, and I never thought they could represent us. They were opportunists to me from the first moment I saw them, and in the years to come, they didn’t prove me wrong.

After a few years, when I think of that turbulent summer, I’m so glad that we didn’t succeed in putting the likes of Wang Dan and Wuer Kaxi into power. It would be a true disaster for our nation. (BTW, anyone heard of these clowns recently? Are they still pursuing their “dreams” of a democratic China? Or just wasting US taxpayers’ money?)

While I still don’t like the CCP in many ways, I have to admit China is still far from breeding another political force mature enough to replace it, keeping the economic going and preventing chaos at the same time.

If China would adopt the Western democracy, considering the historical/cultural background, it’s highly possible that a nationalist/opportunist gets elected as the new leader of China. Those Fengqing can make themselves heard, more than any other groups in our society.

So a question for those foreign “friends” who are appealing for the freedom of expression in China…Are these Fengqings expressing their opinions freely (even if it’s only tolerated because it was not against the CCP?) Do you like their expressing? Apparently not.

If there were a free election tomorrow in China…I don’t have any idea who’s gonna win the leadership…But one thing would be 100% certain: There would be no more talks with DL.

May 2, 2008 @ 1:08 am | Comment

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