The next media wave – Tibet

I can hear the hum of China’s media puppeteers gearing up for a controlled tidal wave of publicity designed to erase any doubts about the wisdom of China’s liberation of Tibet and to arm the public with easily digestible and regurgitatable memes they can use to ward off the claims of ignorant imperialists who look at Tibet and ask, “China liberated them from whom? Liberated them from what?”

As with my earlier post today, let me make clear that I am not stoking up the old argument about which point of view of Tibet is right or wrong. Most of us understand this topic pretty well by now, and know that there is no fast and easy feel-good answer. All I am saying is the Party is mounting a pro-active campaign to nip any such discussion in the bud by ensuring there is a monolithic and inarguable POV instilled in the minds of all its citizens, And let me add this: I see this campaign as unnecessary, and can only guess they are implementing it as a form of insurance, “just in case.” They have already been brilliantly successful in nurturing the Tibet meme, and anyone with close friends (and spouses) who are Chinese knows exactly what I mean.

So, the media campaign…. Instead of bloviating, let me simply share some headlines, links and excerpts from articles that started to appear within the past 48 hours, all uncannily similar in tone and message.

White paper published to mark 50th anniversary of Tibet reform

When you want to drive a point home in China, there is no better way to do it than a document you call a “white paper.” Now, I’m not sure how many people here actually know what a white paper is, but the educated classes do know that documents so named have a patina of certainty and authority, as if they were scientific and tested. Then, the media quotes from the “white paper’ as though it were an unquestionable source of factual knowledge. Case in point:

China’s government Monday published a white paper on the situation in Tibet before and since 1959 to mark the 50th anniversary of the region’s Democratic Reform. The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, reviewed the profound changes that have taken place in the past 50 years.

It also shed light on the laws governing the social development of Tibet, and attempts to rebut lies and rumors it alleges were spread by the 14th Dalai Lama and his hard-core supporters.

“It is conducive to telling right from wrong in history and helps the world better understand the real Tibet,” the paper said. Tibet had been a society of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule before 1959, with the 14th Dalai Lama as the chief representative of the upper ruling strata of serf owners, the paper said.

The long centuries of theocratic rule and feudal serfdom stifled the vitality of Tibetan society, and led to its decline and decay, the paper said.

The phrase “the paper said” is repeated several more times. It’s not the government saying this, nor is it any person. it’s The Paper. And the paper knows all.

Of course, these white papers tend to pop up when the government feels it needs to buttress public opinion in the wake of a potential threat. Hmmm, what could that threat be? 1959. 2009. 50-year anniversary. I think we may be onto something.

FOCUS ON TIBET: Origin of the title of “Dalai Lama” and its related backgrounder

A handy “backgrounder,” appearing in perfect synch with the white paper, this document, tortured syntax aside, offers an unbiased history of the Dalai Lama and his tireless campaign to enslave and brutalize the Tibetans, when he’s not busy tearing the wings off of flies and torturing small mammals.

[A]lmost all the Dalai Lamas of later generations, except for the 14th Dalai Lama, were patriotic, loyal to the central government, and devoted to safeguarding the national unity. What people could not understand is that now that every Dalai Lama was the reincarnation of the late Living Buddha, why the patriotic quality wasn’t passed to the 14th?

…[W]hat the 14th Dalai Lama loves is his personal reputation, personal status and old Tibetan local regime practicing a feudal serfdom under the theocracy. Since he fled to India in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama has been depending on the western countries for survival and those politicians with ulterior motives who can support his living, to win his so-called honor, status and obtain more funds from them. How despicable it is that Dalai, a previously esteemed religious leader in Tibet, has been reduced into a card of others chosen to play in the game.

If that doesn’t read like an impartial, balanced “backgrounder,” what does? (And allow me to state for the record that I reject similar documents but out by extremists on the other end that portray the DL as the embodiment of love and peace and joy and light.)

Finally, as if this weren’t enough, yet another authoritative piece appeared today in People’s Daily – three reports on Tibet in 24 hours:

Erroneous understanding of Tibet goes against development trend

You gotta love the opening sentence:

The year 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of rebellion and democratic reform in Tibet.

I’m going to assume that was a typo, and that what they meant to say was 2009 marks the end of rebellion and the start of democratic reform. Freudian slip? Moving on:

Since becoming free from a feudal serf system Tibetan people have become masters of a new socialist Tibet and now fully enjoy all kinds of rights that the country’s Constitution and Law endow them, creating a brilliant page in human history.

However, some westerners use the Tibet issue as a tool to damage China’s interests, and western media is overwhelmingly biased in their coverage of anything related to Tibet…

Like what they did in Africa and south Asia, some westerners believed they had the authority to interpret Tibet’s history and the right to explore the region. Their mentality to be colonial ruler of Tibet shows they intended to separate the region from China. Some western countries do not understand China’s stance on Tibet. However, in consideration to strategic interests, they used it as a tool to damage China’s sovereignty and put pressure on China.

There’s certainly some elements of truth to this argument, but I’m afraid the lady doth protest too much. This is ham-fisted overkill, flooding the media waves with time-worn slogans of the West’s conspiracy to destroy China, as though the West could ever do a better job in pursuing that goal than Mao Zedong did. Small wonder they are so eager to focus public attention on the West’s looting and plundering of sacred Chinese relics. That sets the stage for labeling any Western protests regarding Tibet as a continuation of the same imperialism.

Anyway, expect a lot more of this as the CCP annual congress approaches (groan – is it that time of year again?) along with the anniversaries they fear so much. It’s pointless, it serves no purpose, it fools no one, and yet they have to do it. Don’t ask me why. They just do. I stopped asking why a long time ago.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

“The year 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of rebellion and democratic reform in Tibet.”

That is what I call adding insult to injury.

Chinese complain a lot about “hurt feelings” when them considered to be wronged in some real, imagined or faked way.

What about TB feelings?

If you what I give more than a dime for your feelings then….

March 4, 2009 @ 6:43 am | Comment

want I give…

March 4, 2009 @ 6:43 am | Comment

“That sets the stage for labeling any Western protests regarding Tibet as a continuation of the same imperialism.”

Side effect… they are equating themselves with that very imperialism they complain about.

Funny, the justification of the “ownership” of Tibet and its people come from… imperial times in CH.

March 4, 2009 @ 6:55 am | Comment

It seems to me that all the arguments China uses to support its claim to Tibet apply even more so to Vietnam. Certainly the Vietnamese emperor acknowledged that he derived his mandate from the Chinese emperor, bowed to his authority, paid tribute and requested assistance from him from time to time. In theory, China ought to claim sovereignty over Vietnam.

Of course Vietnam is a bit harder to hold on to than Tibet, as at least 3 Imperial powers know to their cost….

March 4, 2009 @ 8:21 am | Comment

“Small wonder they are so eager to focus public attention on the West’s looting and plundering of sacred Chinese relics. ”

You got two images: a self-righteous person champion Tibet cause; the same person try to sell looted goods without shame. You just can not find better irony even if you design it.

“It’s pointless, it serves no purpose, it fools no one, and yet they have to do it. Don’t ask me why. They just do. ”

The key is that it makes sense to a lot of other people. The argument that “the west use Tibet issue to damage chinese interest” makes a lot of sense to me. I whole-hearted agree with it. If you bother to do a survey, you will find many chinese share the same feeling. The strong demonstration in the western country last year is the best proof.

Richard, you have lived in China for a while now. Have you actually tried to understand China and Chinese?

March 4, 2009 @ 11:44 am | Comment

Every single aspect of Tibetan society, its history, its culture, its language, its people, everything is being distorted, inversed, reinvented and used as a propaganda tool.
Tibetans have been systematically denigrated, from every conceivable angle, at every conceivable opportunity by their Han Chinese occupiers.
Hitler used it successfully in the 30s, with the Jews the hapless victims in this abominable scheme, and the CCP has turned it into a grotesque art form.

Indeed, the Han Chinese Communist occupiers would want to have it both ways.
On the one hand they claim that they “owned” Tibet all along, controlled it, and was “part” of “china”, and on the other they claim it was “feudal, barbaric and backward”.

Some elucidation to this.

Why was this “barbarism” allowed to go on if they “owned, governed and controlled” it? In fact Tibet was nothing like this, a pure fabrication, aided and abetted by such infamous hacks as AL Strong, I Epstein, S& R Gelder, AT Grunfeld and more recently Parenti, Nebe etc., all of which have and had Machiavellian ulterior motives for their mendacious distortion of the historical facts.
Plus a whole bevy of western sycophants, who, in order to protect their jobs, careers and access to China and the worlds biggest ‘market’ have cowered into selling academic rigor, honesty and truth for duplicitous expediency, and instead crawl the ccp line for fear of offending this cabal and jeopardising their chummy ties with this regime.
The reality is that Tibet was no worse at the time than its neighbours and particularly china, which has an appalling record of human rights. And today, in the 21st century no less is practicing policies of institutionalised torture, discrimination and disenfranchisement of the Tibetan people on a scale unimaginable.
In fact the whole Tibetan nation has been enslaved under the Han Chinese tyranny.

Discrimination on every level, but then having the temerity to send out Propaganda Lies soldiers with concocted stories of “privileges” for the Tibetan people – problem is that if you try and verify all these propaganda lies on the spot in Tibet you’re met with menacing intimidation, instant expulsion, or jail, being charged with spying and infringements of state secrets!
State secrets indeed; for the official line bears no semblance to the stark reality Tibetan people face every day under Han Chinese occupation.

March 4, 2009 @ 12:33 pm | Comment

I don’t think westerners realise how much the Tibetan riots last year were a huge loss of face and prestige for the Han. After years of proclaiming how much Tibetans were part of the great happy Chinese family, in their Olympic year they were confronted with images of Lhasa and other major centres looking like Baghdad and Fallujah. And yet they still haven’t learnt the lesson and are still trying to bend the Tibetans to their way. Most of the Tibetans I’ve spoken to inside and outside of China are not anti-Chinese, but they are fed up with being treated as goofy ‘minority people’ by the Han and expected to live up to Han cultural expectations.
Without the willingness to compromise and respect Tibetan customs, this one is going to run and run …

March 4, 2009 @ 9:11 pm | Comment

Everyone is tired of going through the same arguments again about why the chinese people are wrong about tibet.

The CCP’s anti-Tibet PR campaign works only in China and amongst Chinese.

The CCP should study Rush Limbaugh and use him a model to develop a CCP certified Han Chinese version to help manipulate their pliable nation of dittoheads.

The Tibetan issue make me question if Chinese people really have any values, sense of justice, or understanding of right and wrong.

That french guy should keep his Qing Dynasty bronze heads and use them to decorate his bidet.

March 5, 2009 @ 2:01 am | Comment

The Han Chinese has as much right to claim Tibet as Jewish to Israel, through military might. Tibetan is the Native America Indian of China, an obstacle to the expansionist policy of Han Chinese. After all, China is too damn small for 1.3 billion Han Chinese. There is no right or wrong in this issue, the only thing matters is human’s self centered interest. The West did it in the 19th century, the Han Chinese in the 21st century. It will continue on until human find out a way to manufacture land.

March 5, 2009 @ 3:12 am | Comment

imagine being in beijing. listening to hip hop, eating american fast food. wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans, and t-shirts. it is only a matter of time before american consumer culture destroys the ancient chinese civilization.

March 5, 2009 @ 4:17 am | Comment

@ Fobtacular

The Han originated in the Yellow River valley, not the Tibetan plateau. Tibet’s language and culture derives from India (and so does Chinese Buddhism). It’s not that China is too small, it has wasted its resources and all that is inhabitable is a 1000 mile wide strip along the coast and SE. And the Han have been doing this for thousands of years.


March 5, 2009 @ 1:16 pm | Comment


“The Han originated in the Yellow River valley, not the Tibetan plateau”

Maybe the original Han came from there, but do you think the 1.1 billion “Han” of today are of the same line of that tribe? The miracle of china is that through cultural assimilation, practically everyone in china who were not Han eventually became Han. Even the the Mongol invaders. So your argument is BS. Also, the Dalai Lama title itself is a creation of the chinese state by a mongol emperor.

China is trying to make another miraculous great leap from third world to first world. Inevitably, there will be friction. Most chinese understand this, and are willing to make the sacrifice now for gains later. In any such ambitious endeavors, there will be dissenters and they will need to be put into their place. Alas, the treatment of the tibetans is heavenly when compared to what other such dissenters went through for nation’s modernization. Just ask the any Indian, be they live in America or Asia. How about being force fed meat as a sacrilige as you were tied to a canon to be executed so that you could not go to heaven (for those of you who don’t know, the British did this to the asian Indians).

No picture is either black or while. Everything is relative and need to be taken against other issues. This modernization of China will cause harm to many, but it will bring ever greater benefits to the chinese, be they han or tibetan or whatever minority. Bloomberg just had an article about how 660 million Indians still “defecate openly”. China’s number is 37 million. For all the “human rights” activists: go take a dump in the bushes!

March 6, 2009 @ 12:29 am | Comment

It would be very useful if someone could explain the conflict between Tibet, the Chinese government and the West for me. Because all I know about Tibet is that it is mountainous and is a province of China.

March 7, 2009 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

If you want to understand more about Tibet and how Chinese view it, I strongly suggest you start here.

March 7, 2009 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

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