What will you be doing for Serf Emancipation Day?

Update: Had to add this photo, via this excellent blog.

A totally spontaneous celebration by ethnic Tibetans unable to restrain their joy over the chance to participate in Serf Emancipation Day and thank their gracious Han saviors.

A totally spontaneous celebration by ethnic Tibetans unable to restrain their joy over the chance to participate in Serf Liberation Day and thank their gracious saviors.

Is this too much?

Saturday, March 28, China will observe a newly created holiday: Serf Emancipation Day, which commemorates the day in 1959 when the Tibetan government was dissolved after the Chinese government crushed a Tibetan uprising and the Dalai Lama went into exile. The holiday was established following last year’s Tibetan protests and riots against Chinese rule and is intended to highlight what Beijing says is the social and economic progress that Tibetans have made over the last 50 years.

In conjunction, China’s state media has unleashed a propaganda blitz surrounding the holiday. Over the last twenty-four hours, headlines on state-run Xinhua news agency have included: “Ending serfdom in Tibet, a giant step in human rights progress that deserves commemoration,” “China calls on overseas Tibet report to be objective” and “Former female serfs recollect tragic past.” (None, however, quite reach the extremes of this report from a few of weeks ago: “A religious ceremony for the Dalai Lama used human blood, skulls and skin“).

I’m reading in Peter Hessler’s River Town about how every time he turned on CCTV, they seemed to be featuring happy minority children performing folk dances, and how most of the time they were Tibetan. Always bouncing with joy and glee. The propaganda never stops, and it never improves. (At least Goebbels and Karl Rove did it with flair and imagination.) Whether or not China’s claims to Tibet are legitimate and whether or not things are better for most Tibetans now than they were pre-Liberation isn’t the point. The point is looking ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the world for the scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners media blitz that everyone’s going to laugh at. Serf Emancipation Day.

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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: 143 Comments

“I’m reading in Peter Hessler’s River Town about how every time he turned on CCTV, they seemed to be featuring happy minority children performing folk dances, and how most of the time they were Tibetan. Always bouncing with joy and glee.”

I paricularly enjoyed the part when he is talking about how the ethnic minorities are often dancing on the Great Wall whilst singing about how they love their China. He then observes that “your China built that wall to keep you people out”

March 27, 2009 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

That whole section on the Wall is wonderful. One of the high points of the book (though there re many of those).

March 27, 2009 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

Is it possible that what we would regard as laughable propaganda is seen by the Chinese authorities as appealing to the Chinese masses? Not to say most Chinese would be taken in, but the CCP might believe they would be.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

Do not assume a look of hypocrisy before you firstly turn history book and wipe out your ignorance of truth.
Tibet was an integral part of China even before Ming Dynasty, as recorded by documents. Do you Dalai Lama’s untold background when you are so easily deceived by his sweet-talk? Tibet was a feudal society where the people were ill-treated as subhuman animals and were subjects to unimaginable cruel abuses. Dalai Lama sits atop of this savage system, then in an instant, he is transformed to a human-rights solider.

Xinhua’s article dose not function as a propaganda tool, but is a justified counterattack to the flood of the biased reportage of Western media. What should we do, are we supposed to timidly accept the malicious remarks, the fabricated lies without a complaint, are we supposed to surrender out territorial rights and applause the western’s blatant interference just what you Western powers forced us to do just a few decades ago? Those days are forever gone. Chinese people’s peaceful nature does not mean our inability to protect our motherland.
The Chinese youngsters, not blind to the drawbacks of our nation, are not the brain-washed hot-blooded people as described by Western media. We are so eagerly to learn from the advanced western countries to contribute to modernize the once-weak country. But that dose not mean we deify every remark issued by westerners, and your unjust treatment really chills our hearts, and increasingly alienate us from you. Illuminated from the rosy dreams about the advance West, we feel no glued to you any more.
Stories could easily be made up, westerners should at least look at the other side of the Tibet issue, and take a balance judgment before your launch attacks to China.
The expensive and high-quality kasaya could not shroud Dalai Lama’s intention to separate China, the gentle smile could mask his strong desire for illegal grab of power and rule.

And do not be fooled by your country’s so-called objective reports, media is always used by politicians to manipulate the public. Ok, if you really believe what ever appears on newspaper, how can you explain the reports in praise of Tibet’s progress, written by foreign respondents, even one article published by New York Times?
I firmly believe the majority of westerners are kind-hearted people, they just do not know the truth. I sincerely hope that you could get more knowledge of the complicated situation in China, and please act constructively instead of criticizing others violently. It hurts innocent people on both sides, we should do our best to remove misunderstandings to enhance mutual respect.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

Dude, I am willing to accept, at least for the sake of argument, that the Dalai Lama is a jackal and that everything you say about the history of Tibet is true. All I am saying is that this publicity blitz in the Chinese media strikes everyone but fanatics like you as batshit crazy. If you know this blog, you will know I acknowledge there are significant misunderstandings in the West about Tibet. And if you could read, you woud never have put up your irrelevant diatribe:

Whether or not China’s claims to Tibet are legitimate and whether or not things are better for most Tibetans now than they were pre-Liberation isn’t the point. The point is looking ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the world for the scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners media blitz that everyone’s going to laugh at. Serf Emancipation Day.

The chief characteristic of the fenqing is to go on automatic pilot the instant the T-word is raised by a Westerner. Ladies and gentlemen, you just saw a fenqing in action, robotized, automated, free of any grey matter or critical faculties, and yes, brainwashed.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Oh, and Conscience, what will you be doing for Serf Emancipation Day?

Raj, that’s the only possibility. But if so, and if they are fully aware Westerners will think they’re being certifiably nuts, why put this stuff in the media intended for foreigners, in English. They always do that. CCTV-9 is full of this stuff, as is China Daily and People’s Daily.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

The propaganda worked, I think. Now some Western media are quoting Melvyn Goldstein too, instead of quoting DL’s friend Robbie Barnett alone. And this is a progress.
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE52Q05U20090327?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

And it has put the DL-loving Western media on defense. Now they have to argue that serfdom under the DL wasn’t all that bad. That is a great victory for the Chinese propaganda.

You know, it’s the equivalent of arguing slavery in America during the 18th century isn’t completely bad. You see, only the black slaves were not happy during those times, whites were largely happy, and some black slaves got away so they were virtually free. Not all the slave owners were bad, some don’t beat their slaves at all, some only rape they victims once a while instead of every day…

Well, you get the point.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

:)
I am amused by being termed as a fengqin, but I do not defend myself so eagerly as you did. Well, leave that aside, let us act constructively as what I appeal both of us to do. I do not wish to waste our time to do meaningless quarrel.

I do appreciate your suggestion of improving the method to report Tibet issue to the whole world. (I really do not like the word propaganda.)

March 27, 2009 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

Conscience, thanks for being a man and responding maturely. Sorry if I pounced, but what you wrote did not correspond to my post. It was the typical canned defense of China’s defense of its Tibet policy. Thanks for your second comment.

AC, you were banned a long time ago back during the time bianxiangbianqiao was “experimenting” and trying to see how upset he could make everybody. (Remember?) Anyway. I’ll let it go in honor of Serf Emancipation Day, which kicks off in 2 hours and 10 minutes. And again, I am the first to admit Western coverage of Tibet is imperfect. Nowhere near the monumental bias we see every day in some Chinese media, but that’s no excuse. The DL has had a lot of influence, and there should be more balance. That said, this new holiday is a goofy idea, and your slavery analogy is pretty awful. I suspect this will be a short-lived reprieve, and I wouldn’t do it any other time than Serf Emancipation Day.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

You are right to point out that Chinese media’s reportage should be bettered to convince the world. That is what we should do, and I think, with your wisdom (I really like your blog, despite your unawareness of that), you could contribute. :)

March 27, 2009 @ 9:55 pm | Comment

The real problem with people such as Conscience isn’t so much their views as their manner of delivery. They have no concept of the way that their appalling use of hyperbole simply undermines their argument and no understanding that their unsupported assertions make them look ridiculous and vapid. When I taught written English in China I had to mark this kind of gibberish on a routine basis. Explaining to this type of student they needed to back their arguments with evidence in a dispassionate manner otherwise they would look foolish and end up shooting themselves in the foot was like wading through concrete. In the end I of course realised they don’t care. It isn’t about persuading anyone. It’s about making yourself feel patriotic. It’s all about them.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

@conscience

i wrote the above before i saw your response. i hope you are willing to engage.

@ac

i am disappointed that the pro-tibetan lobby would fall into the trap. the argument should not be about who did what to whose granny, or ming dynasty territorial claims. it should be about whether or not the tibetans have the basic human right of self expression and determining their own future now, not whether they had it in the past.

March 27, 2009 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

if they are fully aware Westerners will think they’re being certifiably nuts, why put this stuff in the media intended for foreigners, in English. They always do that. CCTV-9 is full of this stuff, as is China Daily and People’s Daily.

Perhaps it’s laziness. They have to produce news, so it’s easier to more-often-than-not translate what they’re running off for Chinese-speakers. Course sometimes they will present different news headlines for the different language sectors. Or maybe it’s done simply to ensure that no Chinese person can find a regular PRC news source that doesn’t have propaganda in it. I don’t know.

Even if it weren’t possibly anytime soon to read a Chinese newspaper that had European/North American approaches to journalism, etc merely not having to put up with the propaganda would be a start. I’ve never read a newspaper faster than when I was in China.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:01 pm | Comment

Richard,

No, I was not banned, you warned and deleted some of my comments. You can go back and check those threads. Yes, it’s been a while since my last comment though, I have been busy.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

Dear Si,
I would like to correct your false impression that we do not car, another example of easy, groundless generalization. By contrast, I want to thank you for advising me not to act emotionally, but to convince others with logical reasoning. I will correct my way of delivery as you recommended.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

Like what I put in the article, let’s act constructively instead of hurting each other.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

@Si

It is a victory for the propaganda department if it gets on the Western reports at all. 99% of the people in the West know very little if anything at all about the DL’s past.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

@conscience

my meaning was most of the students don’t really care about persuading me to their view point, not that they don’t care about their country or tibet or whatever the topic of the day is. if they cared about persuading me to their view point they would have listened when i explained the weaknesses in their argument and tried to modify their essay writing style accordingly. the fact that they didn’t led me to ultimately believe that they weren’t interested in persuading me, but massaging their own egos. i hope you are not like that.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

Thanks Conscience. You’ve surprised me, and I’m impressed.

AC, you were definitely banned, I just didn’t tell you you were. Be good.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:20 pm | Comment

@ac

i repeat my point above. it should not be about talking points. it should be about whether tibetans have a genuine say in the future of their country. this is why there are so many westerners support the dl – the past is the past, they are only interested in the present and the future.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

I do not mean I care about Tibet issue, what I mean IS I care about your suggestion to Argue Reasonably without engaging in emotional retort. :)

March 27, 2009 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

Dear Si,
I repeat I DO mean I care about improving my delivery manner, and I thank you for your help. :)

March 27, 2009 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Thanks, Richard, I do appreciate your being honest with the history of Tibet and the imperfect reports of Western media. I will mind my manners as you and Si told me.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

@conscience

thank you for your polite response. it is always a pleasure to be able to meet with and discuss things with people who have completely different opinions to myself. sadly, this can often descend into name calling and hot tempered ranting so i am very happy that you don’t appear to be like this. i look forward to reading your comments in the future.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

@Si

Many Westerners support the DL because of the following reasons:
1) Genuine concern of human rights in China.
2) Ignorance of the past and current situation in Tibet and misled by DL’s PR campaign and propaganda.
3) Ideology and national interest.

The Chinese propaganda is trying to tackle the 2nd category which is the majority.

Your assertion is about category 1 and 3.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

Dear Si,
Thank you so much for your comment. I agree with you it is a pleasure to discuss things and may develop friendship with people who hold different views.
As you mentioned above, many people do defend themselves with improper methods, their understandable eagerness to protect their nation is weakened by failure to conduct logical arguments, thus is incapable to convince westerners, and further deepens misunderstanding. We really value people like you and Richard for your honest voices of flaws either about China or the West, I thank you for your contribution to move us closer.
Wish to discus with you again in this blog. :)

March 27, 2009 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

I would agree with Nos. 1 and 2. I would say practically no Americans support the DL because of national interest. It is a purely emotional response. The only ones who might fit into #3 might be people in government, government think tanks and government intelligence. Most people know of the DL only through the often one-sided stories they’ve seen in the media.

And I don’t want anyone to think I am against the DL. But I do know he has charmed the Western media the way Mother Teresa and Princess Diana and other political-religious celebrities have.

March 27, 2009 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

CCTV is a postmodern channel,you guys like to deconstruct it.
There is no conscience in international dispute,cynic is what we see.

March 27, 2009 @ 11:03 pm | Comment

@ac

bit of an over generalisation there, ac. leaving that aside, how do you respond to the point that it should be about whether tibetans have a genuine say in the future of their country, not about historical claims. do you feel tibetans have a genuine say in the future of their country?

March 27, 2009 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

Firstly, thank Richard for providing this platform so that we could have interesting discussions.
Secondly, thank Si and others for your concern about Tibet, for your advice on improvement.
The communication prods us to think more deeply and really benefits everyone. We embrace diversity, clashes of views enrich our thoughts and enable us to get a comprehensive understanding of an issue. We could make efforts to bridge gaps, differences could not obstruct our common pursuit for truth and justice which binds us together.
:)

March 27, 2009 @ 11:54 pm | Comment

I appreciate the blog for just focusing on the PR part and not turning it into another howling contest with the exiled Tibetans crying their eyes out, Westerners breathing fire and the Chinese bloggers throwing back nukes – you see that everywhere when it comes to the T issue. Of course it pales before the explosive online Palestinian-Israeli virtual warfare but it doesn’t help solve the problem either with not a single person calm enough to have a productive dialogue.

My best friend is a PhD candidate in journalism at one of the best, if not the best, schools in the country. and I learned a lot from him about China’s media and how media in general works.

Old-fashioned propaganda models are much less effective in the age of the Internet. The CPC has been rather flexible in their adaptation to social progress. They should give up some of the old ways of “spreading the word.” I don’t expect them to hide away the principle “the press is the megaphone of the government” overnight, but they could start incorporating best practices of the PR industry.

Going back to the T issue, however, I think the old models still work, because their audience are still the Chinese public among whom the old and the middle-aged never care about western media anyway and the young are, well, not flinching one bit even with access to western coverage of the issue (Chinese translation of western reports on Tibet can be found everywhere online, say on Tianya or Mop.)

I don’t think anybody can dispute the fact that the government has been making progress in trying modern, transparent PR approaches in dealing with social issues. SARS really shook them out of their comfortable dream, but I think the T issue will be the last part in the old propaganda machine that breaks down. I personally do not agree with what some foreigners say about how putting more pressure on and paying more attention to China’s issues will shame the government to make compromise. The face culture doesn’t work in that naive fashion.

March 28, 2009 @ 12:01 am | Comment

@conscience

“thank Si and others for your concern about Tibet”. Sorry just let me clarify one thing before i leave for the weekend. I don’t care much about Tibet – I don’t care if tibetans become independent, or remain a part of china. i don’t care if the tibetans all get together and fly to the moon in a rocket – it doesn’t really interest me. the only thing that concerns me is that tibetans have the freedom to express themselves, to live without fear and be able to determine their own future. what that future is should be up to them. i don’t give a XXXX what they choose for their future unless it harms other people.

i care about this because i believe this for all human beings. tibetans are not special in this regard. i think tibetans should have these rights, i think chiense should have these rights, i think undiscovered indigenous people living in the amazon should have these rights. i think i should have these rights. i agree with confucius when he said that we should not do unto others what we would not have done to ourselves. i want these rights, therefore i should not say other people cannot have them. that would be a gross hypocrisy. this is my point.

have a nice weekend!

March 28, 2009 @ 12:23 am | Comment

Oh shit, I missed last year’s Serf Liberation Day, oh, and the one before that, oh, and the last 48 before that as well. Do they even bother to explain why they decided that this day needed to be celebrated all of a sudden? The fact that the vast majority of Chinese people do not really care much about the Tibetans and think of them as dangerous folk just as likely to slash with their sharp knives as say hello and probably won’t give a damn about this celebration doesn’t seem to have occured to the CCP.

I predict this day will last as long as the attempts to introduce western holidays under Jiang Zemin did. As soon as it becomes politically expedient it will be dropped, not least as every year that goes by shows how a significant proportion of the Tibetan population doesn’t see it as anything worth celebrating.

March 28, 2009 @ 1:00 am | Comment

It is true that many Westerners do not have a good understanding of conditions in Tibet now or 50 years ago. It is also true that many Westerners or Chinese have little understanding of DL and Tibeten Govt in Exile. DL does not have any formal powers. TGIE is governed by a democratically elected Parliament.

It does not make any sense to compare DL rule 50 years ago. The conditions in Tibet were similar to conditions in other parts of China and east Asia. In fact the CCP’s rule in the 60s was much worse than that of DL.

Bottom line:
- CCP rule in the 60s much worse than DL rule in the 50s.
- CCP rule now much worse than TGIE now.

March 28, 2009 @ 1:07 am | Comment

@Si

Tibetans are unique people and they have a distinct culture which I admire and I think it should be preserved. But Tibet is not a country, not since the Yuan dynasty. But I really don’t want to get into an argument about that, this is not a thread for it.

“Self-Determination” is an ideology, don’t you agree? So I will categorize you as #3. :-)

March 28, 2009 @ 1:35 am | Comment

[Peter Hessler was] talking about how the ethnic minorities are often dancing on the Great Wall whilst singing about how they love their China. He then observes that “your China built that wall to keep you people out”

That is probably the most erroneous yet commonly held narrative about the Great Wall outside of China. The GW was only a significant part of the national defense in two periods of time: one between the Warring States and early Han, and then Ming. That’s total about 600 years in GW’s 2500+ years existence. The walls (multiple discontinuous sessions) were mostly meant to keep northern nomadic tribes from raiding the border towns — if you raise livestocks exclusively, you can keep moving until the Steppe ends; but if you cultivate land, you stay in the same village. As to normal people, for instance Mongolian or Manchu merchants in Ming, could easily enter the gates and even settled in the south if they chose, save the decades when military tension was high.

In the other periods, either the central Chinese empires reached beyond the walls such as Han and Tang, or some Sinified or Sinifying northern tribes established dynasties inside of the walls, such as 南北朝,五代十国. Other than Yuan and Qing many have some vague ideas, in some other periods, many mostly proto-Turk and proto-Mongol tribes such as Xiongnu, Xianbei, Qidan, etc. entered “China” and disappeared into the all-inclusive ethnicity now commonly called Han, through sometimes wars and sometimes peaceful integration.

If we had a time machine, and went back in time to 1500 and conducted a scientific research. Likely the average dispersion of Chinese progenitors’ birthplaces (pick any arbitrary # of generations) is far wider than its European counterpart.

March 28, 2009 @ 4:09 am | Comment

LOL. Can’t wait for the media reports next year: Chinese authorities crack down in anticipation of Serf Emancipation Day. Propaganda FAIL. I think the commenter above who observed that this holiday will disappear one of these days is probably right.

Michael

March 28, 2009 @ 8:55 am | Comment

Why not just introduce a whole raft of nationalistic holidays? October the 18th (burning of the Yuanmingyuan) would be a good day for “National Shame Remembrance Day” – although it might be a bit cold to spend the day protesting outside the French/British embassy. Either December the 9th, February the 18th, or July the 7th could be set aside for a week long event dedicated to Japan (let’s just call it “Hate Week”). A date would have to be chosen for Taiwan – October the 25th (retrocession day)would be too close to National Shame Day, but April the 17th was the day that China handed the island over to Japan, and would be a nice day to spend, say, doing a bit of volunteering in a ballistic missile factory or other such patriotic work. Other days could also be set aside for the South China Sea, ‘South Tibet’, and eventually I’m sure something can be arranged for Mongolia also.

March 28, 2009 @ 9:29 am | Comment

Serf Emancipation Day! Wow! I’m so excited! Will there be a parade?

March 28, 2009 @ 9:42 am | Comment

I read it wrong at first: ‘Self Emancipation Day’. Now that’s a holiday to get behind….

March 28, 2009 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

There are more holes in the official Chinese and the DL’s stories than you’d find in a colander.
China provides loads of quantity – but it lacks quality.
And we hear classic spin doctoring from Northern India.
To stick with reality – the fact that the western treasure trove is part of China, the PRC, why does China’s presentation of “the facts” lack credibility ?
What is missing is a recognition that the Chinese authorities were far from being angels in the way it enforced its will – especially during the heady ’60′s – when there was widespread destruction of religious sites and little regard to the sanctity of religion and culture.
You don’t make many friends and folk can bear grudges for generations if ideological atheists march in and start smashing up the very foundations of your beliefs in life and the afterlife. No matter how imperfect was.
And this is something that billions of dollars in clearly visible infrastructure and economic achievements won’t erase in a hurry.
Sure, cash helps a lot. But it’s a bandaid over a scar that just won’t seem to heal.
Now, if those in charge of propaganda were prepared to also acknowledge and maybe even apologise for (to put it mildly) past mistakes, their presentations would be more credible.
Underscore the positive efforts, admit the failings – move on.
For this is the nub of the whole argument that fans so many flames: credibility.
Without this, stories (in the Chinese and western media)lack the substance that historical scrutiny demands.
Other countries have owned up to violations within their own borders, apologised, and folk have been able to look to the future instead of dwelling on the past.
And, methinks, China with all its strengths and its rising influence in world affairs, could draw a line under so many issues and move on with confidence, if it had the balls to publicly recognise “bad things”.
But I guess that would mean dealing with other “anniversaries” – some of which might be too contemporary for comfort.

March 28, 2009 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

there will be a parade, but it will mostly consist of tibetan children dancing through the badaling section of the great wall.

not liking the word ‘propaganda’ is a tough place to be considering it’s the word the party uses.

March 28, 2009 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

Serf Emancipation Day?

COOL….When do we get liberated?!

UK Scientists Grow A Living Human ‘Brain’

Sky News
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Scientists in Birmingham have grown a living human ‘brain’.

March 28, 2009 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Speaking of Serf Emancipation Day, and other “weird shit”, I saw one of the weirdest movies that I’ve ever seen the other day. It’s the new Kate Winslett movie out called “Read”.

It depicts this German adolescent bloke whose first sexual experience is with a strange woman who operates a cable car in Germany named Hannah, played by Kate Winslett. The German bloke later discovers that Hannah is a former female prison guard who worked at Auschwitz!

I was munch’n on a catsup and mustard drenched weiner during the film when it was revealed that she worked at Auschwitz. FxxxCK’N HELL!

March 28, 2009 @ 1:23 pm | Comment

I support the Serf Liberation Day and I myself will be dancing quite ethnically (and maybe even singing too!)

But why stop there? I bet it wasn’t so hot to live in the corrupt and ineffectual Qing Dynasty of the 19th century, either. All those colonial powers were actually saving China from a terrible government! Let’s start a Treaty of Nanjing Celebration Day to commemorate the coming of civilization to China!

March 28, 2009 @ 2:07 pm | Comment

A Happy Serf Emancipation Day to everybody in China!

From now on, around every subsequent Serf Emancipation Day, to ensure that those in China, including the expats, can enjoy such a special holiday to the fullest, the CCP will block youtube as part of the celebration.

March 28, 2009 @ 2:26 pm | Comment

@Kellen, well, if it’s anything like the Olympics, they can always get Hans to play the liberated Tibetans, just in case it’s a really big parade.

March 28, 2009 @ 3:13 pm | Comment

Wow, I was wrong. This quickly turned into another howling contest. It’s kind of sad the point about PR is mostly ignored.

March 28, 2009 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

woodoo, you really thing this thread is a “howling contest”? Compared to some others here, this is like a Victorian tea party.

March 28, 2009 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

@woodoo

Come on, Serf Liberation Day is kind of funny, nothing wrong with getting a few laughs out of it.

March 28, 2009 @ 4:48 pm | Comment

I’m planning on adding Serf Emancipation Day to my annual holiday calendar. I think it’s particularly apt for post-Bubble America. I’m happy for my tax dollars to go to the Wall Street bailout! Happy, happy, happy! I’m feelin’ the liberation!

March 28, 2009 @ 4:53 pm | Comment

Creating a spurious Serf Liberation Day is a crude smear tactic to demonise the former society that will reinforce the self righteousness of ethnic Chinese about their claims to Tibet. The Chinese propaganada machine however fails miserably to persuade non-Chinese about the justness of their “peaceful liberation” (which, like a People’s Republic means just the opposite of the what is actually was – the violent overthrow of the T*betan government).
The Chinese authorities and Chinese people in general seem to be unaware of the terrible impression their PR efforts regarding T*bet have on the intended audience. They seem genuinely mystified as to why westerners don’t believe their version and prefer that of the trickster monk in Gucci shoes. I think part of the blame has to do with the absolutist black and white approach they take. If they were to adopt the Hu Yaobang approach and concede that some things in Tibet have been seriously wrong and that Tibetans are not happy, then there might be more chance of a sympathetic ear. But to bang on about serfs and progress while telling westerners they don’t know the truth about Tibet is just … not going to work.

March 28, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Comment

“There’s no doubt that Tibet’s traditional society was hierarchical and backwards, replete with aristocratic estates and a bound peasantry. And there’s no doubt that Tibetans, whether in exile or in Tibet voice no desire to restore such a society. Many Tibetans will readily admit that the social structure was highly inegalitarian. But it was hardly the cartoonish, cruel “Hell-on-Earth” that Chinese propaganda has portrayed it to be. Lost in most discussions is an understanding that Tibet’s demographic circumstances (a small population in a relatively large land area) served to mitigate the extent of exploitation. The situation was quite the reverse of China’s in the early 20th century, where far too little land for the large population allowed for severe exploitation by landowners. China’s categorization of Tibetan society as feudal (technically, a problematic characterization) obscures the fact that this socially backwards society, lacking the population pressures found elsewhere, simply didn’t break down as it ought to have and continued functioning smoothly into the 20th century. Inegalitarian? Yes. Sometimes harsh? Yes. But Hell-on-Earth for the vast majority of Tibetans? No. Traditional Tibetan society was not without its cruelties (the punishments visited on some political victims were indeed brutal), but seen proportionally, they paled in comparison to what transpired in China in the same period. In modern times mass flight from Tibet actually only happened after Tibet’s annexation to the People’s Republic of China.”

Courtesy From CDT

March 28, 2009 @ 5:03 pm | Comment

When there will be a real “serf liberation day” in China?

So many CCP serfs….

March 28, 2009 @ 5:05 pm | Comment

Oh! Look like all you white arses are having red-eye problem whenever you confront Chinese issues. What is so funny with China putting its views across, never mind that you guys what to hear is entirely besides the point? No coverts? Doesn’t really matter but we are just satisfied that we have afterall tried. Just like your RFA & VOA which constantly bombard us with anti China propaganda. Have they achieved any converts in the mainland or even among Chinese diaspora? Minimal, to say the least! Do they stop? No! they persevere nonetheless. You skepticism is understandable, just like you try preaching Christianity to Osama Bin Laden. Any loss of face for Chinese? Not a wee bit. Besides, we have had tons of cash to throw around! Any objection to this? Red-eyed buddies?

March 28, 2009 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

Happy Serf Emancipation Day, Overseas Chinese! I extend a fraternal hand in greeting!

March 28, 2009 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

White folks don’t buy our propaganda? Does it really matter? What is the proportion of Caucasian population relative to the rest of humanity? 10%, 12% or maximum 16%? It is the rest of humanity that we target this propaganda, stupid!

March 28, 2009 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

Hey, you got me, Overseas Chinese! I’m celebrating Serf Emancipation Day!

Now, where’s my T-shirt?

March 28, 2009 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

What are you giving up this Serf Liberation Day? Thinking logically seems to be a popular one . . .

March 28, 2009 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

Damn, I didn’t realize it was going to be one of those self-abnegation kind of deals. But you’re right. We should all be looking for ways to cast off our feudal shackles…

I mean, heck. Property? Who needs it?

March 28, 2009 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

Overseas Chinese, your message seems to be – ‘our PR campaign is failing, but who cares? The audience is all anti-Chinese, American, Christian, white asses … and red eyed (envious?) – and there’s more of us’. A bit defeatist. What would Zhou Enlai do?

March 28, 2009 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

Overseas Chinese: What makes you think that the black folks or the brown folks or all the other yellow folks are gonna buy the propaganda that you couldn’t put over the white folks? Maybe your non-existent rascism is buggering up your thinking?

March 28, 2009 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

“Thinking”?

March 28, 2009 @ 9:52 pm | Comment

It is the rest of humanity that we target this propaganda, stupid!

So you’re saying that the non-Caucasian part of humanity will buy Chinese propaganda? I’m sure they’d be thrilled to believe you think so little of them….

March 28, 2009 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

I observed the “Serf Emancipation Day” by watch the celebration gala on CCTV. It was the same old usual stuff as what I have seen in the past, lots of singing and dancing, of course.

(You can watch it here if you are interested, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytj55U4928k&feature=channel_page)

However, I did learn something new though. There is a segment where some high-achieving Tibetans were introduced, there were academicians, doctors, athletes, artists and fighter jet pilots etc. among them, they were asked to tell their dreams and aspirations. It’s kind of like the “solute the heroes” part of the State of the Unions event in the US if you will. But that is not new, what’s new is that this time a Tibetan multimillionaire entrepreneur was included in the lineup. I think they got something there. You know, in the Western press, the message is always that although China is getting richer, Tibetans are left behind and the Hans are the only beneficiaries of the economic growth. Honestly, even as a Chinese myself, I was surprised, I didn’t know some Tibetans are THAT rich. I think the CCP should focus on this kind of message more and cut the singing and dancing crap (not saying they are not beautiful). That would be more effective.

March 29, 2009 @ 12:13 am | Comment

AC, I think you have a good point. I’m not the PR expert here, but I would think from a PR standpoint that this approach would be a lot more effective.

March 29, 2009 @ 2:04 am | Comment

“What would Zhou Enlai do?

Hell yeah! Let’s all wear WWZELD wristbands for Serf Liberation Day!

March 29, 2009 @ 2:26 am | Comment

It sounds like most expatriate from the west think serf holiday is a stupid idea. But if history is any guide, most likely they will be proved to be wrong, again.

Do you still remember that anti-cessation law? The same group of people think it is a stupid idea. The later events has proved that the law works beautifully. It draws a red line and let everyone realize what is the at stake. Then everyone comes out against stepping on that red line.

Regarding Tibet issue, what CCP needs now is a moral high ground. You may not like the propaganda. But the bottom line is that the system in Tibet before 1959 was indeed inhuman and horrible. Dalai Lama is the embodiment of that system.

The next thing CCP needs to let the world know is that, China, just like US, is the melting pot for different ethnic groups. Kicking Han people out of Tibet, as DL has advocated, is essentially a racist act. Instead, the focus should be whether Tibetan can have equal opportunities to develop themselves to full potential.

March 29, 2009 @ 3:23 am | Comment

@overseas chinese
“White folks don’t buy our propaganda?”

And… there is not racism in China. How was that again? ;-)

March 29, 2009 @ 4:54 am | Comment

@steve
“But the bottom line is that the system in Tibet before 1959 was indeed inhuman and horrible.”

Far more human than the Chinese system from 1949 to 1989 and in some cases beyond
No great leap forward, no hunger crisis due to collectivization, no cultural revolution, no T-Square, no huge human induced pollution, no poisoning of rivers, not denying help to earthquake victims for political reasons (Tangshan ), etc, etc etc..

And… not invading other nations, persecuting religious and political readers, transplanting population to put locals in minority, co opting religious and cultural system, blocking internet and media access, etc, etc, etc.

If Japan had not been expelled from China, with the help of western foreign powers, China would have know a similar experience more in depth.

March 29, 2009 @ 5:03 am | Comment

@AC

My friend watched the CCTV Gala and had the same reaction as you. He was quite surprised to see a lot of successful Tibetians that one never hears about in the news. The CCP should definitely change their rhetoric and policies away from attacking the Dalai Lama and focus on addressing issues. There’s a tremendous amount of good that can be achieved if policies were oriented this way.

March 29, 2009 @ 5:09 am | Comment

@Steve
It is a common dynamic of all so called revolutionary systems to construct a mythological system where the times before the big event where always terrible, and only the revolution brought…. liberation of the population.

They protect that myth through dogma, censorship and/or manipulation of the past. Most effectively through the educational system.

Teach not to illuminate but to indoctrinate.

Usually the case is rather the opposite. Social, political and economic situation almost always get worst, much worst than before.

What is a revolution after all? One year of fire and 100 years of smoke. According to that China has still 40 more smoky years to go.

Has you ever considered an alternative history?

If.. Russia has been able to held on one more year in WWI the Russian revolution would not have taken place at all. With the prestige of victory the Zar would not have been overthrown. It could be even possible to make it easier to transit to a short of constitutional monarchy. Maybe even Nazi Germany would not have existed. Maybe not even WWII

About China…
If Kuomintang had won the civil war, China would have occupied since the end of the 40 a place with the other big powers. Founding member of th UN and permanent seat in the Security council. The last 30 years of Chinese development would have happened maybe 40 years ago! Where would china be today? And a lot, A LOT, of human suffering, lives and cultural destruction would have been averted.

But history is what it is in the end, and have to live with the consequences of what happened in the past. Trying to repair the damages that was done. But for many the repairs came too late.

March 29, 2009 @ 5:33 am | Comment

The proper name of the evant is Million Serfs Emancipation Day. Do you guys intentionally leave out that important word? It changes the perspective doen’t it?

March 29, 2009 @ 5:35 am | Comment

What Smoochy said.

March 29, 2009 @ 6:11 am | Comment

Only a Million? Damn! Does that mean I can’t celebrate the holiday?

March 29, 2009 @ 6:13 am | Comment

@Steve – Errmmmm . . . you do know that the anti-secession is still seen as a massive block to the normalisation of relations, and that sensible heads inside the CCP wish it had never been passed, don’t you? Show me one example of where it has ‘worked beautifully’?

Ma Yinjiu does not approve, neither do most members of the KMT, or most Taiwanese. The law itself is incredibly vague – it doesn’t even bother to define whether the ‘one China’ is the PRC or something different, it does not draw a ‘red line’ but gives free room for the CCP to either allow secession or declare secession is taking place when it is not – as it is for the politburo to decide whether the ‘red line’ is being tripped.

This day will become a huge embarrassment to China if the authorities insist on celebrating it – because every year the people who are supposed to feel grateful for ‘liberation’ show themselves not to be. I predict it will be quietly dropped at some point in the not too distant future, the same way Lei Feng month is no longer widely observed.

March 29, 2009 @ 6:19 am | Comment

@ecodelta

What have you been smoking? :-)

“persecuting religious and political readers,”
Lamaism is the only religion allowed in old Tibet. In fact, the DL is still persecuting the Dorje Shugden today.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5sOm-uQH9Y

“blocking internet and media access, etc, etc, etc.”
Gee, that’s convenient. There weren’t even any modern schools in Tibet, let alone media and internet.

“No great leap forward, no hunger crisis due to collectivization, no cultural revolution, no T-Square, no huge human induced pollution, no poisoning of rivers, not denying help to earthquake victims for political reasons (Tangshan ), etc, etc etc..”
You forgot to include no freedom for 95% of the population, no schools, no paved roads, no hospitals, no tap water, no electricity, etc, etc etc.. When you have no industries to speak of, of course you don’t have any pollutions.

March 29, 2009 @ 6:22 am | Comment

If Tibet were to revert back to its “traditional rule”. It simply will be worse than the Taliban.

Children as young as 12 will be forced into slaves. A Lama will have hundreds of house slaves bound to him for life. People’s bodies will be tossed into the field to be eaten by eagles as a “traditional sky burial”. Anyone who does not obey the law of the religious elders, will be tortured using very brutal instruments. These things are not made up by the CCP, you can look up evidence from Western scholars and travelers.

Tell me, is this just a matter of “respecting Tibetan traditional culture”? But I thought you Westerners are great defenders of “universal human rights”, but suddenly you want to “respect” the tradition of slavery and torture and theocracy of Tibetan Lama ruling class?

Of course, the Western media does not spend even a single second talking about the real pre-1950 Tibet, about the day to day life of a regular Tibetan under the rule of the Lamas. To a Westerner, Tibet is simply a paradise, best society on earth, until the CPP ruined it. This is the image of Tibet as portrayed by today’s Tibetan independence movement with the help of the Western media. Do you deny this?

Does CCP have faults with regard to its Tibet policy. It has too many faults. Its biggest policy faults is its leniency. America genocided 80% of Indian native population, British simply worked 80% of African population to deaths in its colonies. CCP, sigh, compared to them, is too gentle, too humane, too soft, too feminine.

March 29, 2009 @ 6:53 am | Comment

“Does CCP have faults with regard to its Tibet policy. It has too many faults. Its biggest policy faults is its leniency. America genocided 80% of Indian native population, British simply worked 80% of African population to deaths in its colonies. CCP, sigh, compared to them, is too gentle, too humane, too soft, too feminine.”

Tu Quoque again HX?

About that 80% telltale, you just… overshoot it a little a think.

The biggest fault of CCP? Just being there if you ask me.

“Of course, the Western media”
Ah yes. The wester media… Bad… bad… western Media.

March 29, 2009 @ 7:23 am | Comment

“sensible heads inside the CCP wish it had never been passed, don’t you? Show me one example of where it has ‘worked beautifully’? ”

The huge improvement of strait relationship is the proof. You could argue it is because of Ma. But without that law, many people will still have illusion and try to test the line. With that law, it gives Kumintang an effective cover to take soft line.

“I predict it will be quietly dropped at some point in the not too distant future, the same way Lei Feng month is no longer widely observed.”

The significance of this holiday is to remind people that Dalai Lama used to be THE embodiment of a horrible and inhuman system.

The system in Tibet before 1949 is similar to that in medieval Europe. You can accuse CCP of exaggeration. But CCP’s description is far closer to reality that western’s shagarila fantacy.

March 29, 2009 @ 7:30 am | Comment

“If Kuomintang had won the civil war, China would have occupied since the end of the 40 a place with the other big powers. Founding member of th UN and permanent seat in the Security council. The last 30 years of Chinese development would have happened maybe 40 years ago! Where would china be today?”

The statement like that shows your lack of some basic knowledge. When Kumingtang was in power, British warship sailed freely in Yangze river. If not for rampant corruption and hyperinflation, Kumingtang would not collapse so fast. Citing Kumingtang as good governance is like citing prostitute for her virtue.

March 29, 2009 @ 7:40 am | Comment

@ecodelta

Didn’t you read my first comment? It’s simply stupid to defend slavery, there is no way that can make you look good. The best way is just to pretend it never happened like the Western media have been doing. But this time the CCP is making so much noise, there is no way to hide and it’s hard to ignore. That’s why I think it’s a good PR move on the CCP part. And they have the moral high ground on this one.

March 29, 2009 @ 7:47 am | Comment

God: The proper name of the evant is Million Serfs Emancipation Day. Do you guys intentionally leave out that important word? It changes the perspective doen’t it?

Not really. Whether it’s a half-million, 1 million, 5 million – what’s the difference? The fake joy is still embarrassing.

HX:

Does CCP have faults with regard to its Tibet policy. It has too many faults. Its biggest policy faults is its leniency. America genocided 80% of Indian native population, British simply worked 80% of African population to deaths in its colonies. CCP, sigh, compared to them, is too gentle, too humane, too soft, too feminine.

It’s good to know some things in life are completely consistent. You can always count on HX for this kind of thinking – other countries have done evil things centuries ago, and China has to work extra-hard to catch up and reach its own quota for death, torture and barbarity. To not butcher your conquered minorities is kinda girly. Thanks for sharing.

March 29, 2009 @ 8:00 am | Comment

With the New Brilliant Buying of the Toxic Asssets by the US Treasury,
wow I really really feel emancipatied!!!
Just call Toxic as Legacy, will do it.

In one brilliant stroke, all US Taxpayers and the poor are willingly or unknowingly
participating in the greatest Ponzi Scheme ever invented by the greedy daylight robbers.
How can anyone not feel more free in the company of all of us, poor us, the New ignorant Slaves??
Happy Emancipation Day!!!

March 29, 2009 @ 8:03 am | Comment

AC You know, in the Western press, the message is always that although China is getting richer, Tibetans are left behind and the Hans are the only beneficiaries of the economic growth. Honestly, even as a Chinese myself, I was surprised, I didn’t know some Tibetans are THAT rich. I think the CCP should focus on this kind of message more and cut the singing and dancing crap (not saying they are not beautiful). That would be more effective.

Agreed. As their PR advisor, I would recommend case studies of these people and how they got rich, offer media interviews with them, take them on a world tour to visit leading media as well as political leaders, have them give periodic podcasts on how to improve your situation in Tibet, etc. And don’t let them grin ear to ear while praising the CCP and doing folk dances.

March 29, 2009 @ 8:04 am | Comment

ThirdEye, no one in America is dancing over the toxic asset sale, and there have been a flood of articles about how it won’t work. There was no holiday set up, and no rejoicing except on Wall Street last week, which made total sense since the bankers were promised rich rewards for their failures and little risk.

So let’s see, why might you be relating this non-existing fantasy event to the actual, documented Serf Emancipation Day, which we all celebrated yesterday? I’m going to offer the speculation that you (rather awkwardly) are trying to say, Look, America sucks, too! As it stands, you comment adds nothing to the discussion about the Tibet holiday, and singles you out as a probable troll. Welcome.

March 29, 2009 @ 8:36 am | Comment

And a lot, A LOT, of human suffering, lives and cultural destruction would have been averted.

‘Fraid not. Political killings, persecution, and exile went on here in Taiwan too. And the economic miracle of the 1970s and 1980s, brought to you by US intervention, has made people forget how badly-managed the economy was in the 1950s and early 1960s. There might not have been a great leap forward, but an equivalent vast purge of communists would have occurred in victory, and of course, Tibet would still be under Chinese occupation with all that entails.

March 29, 2009 @ 9:20 am | Comment

Well, personally, I went to the party dressed as “Papa Serf” and YJ was “Serfette.”

I think Lisa has the right take on this, is there any part of this whole Serf Liberation Day that can be taken even a little bit seriously? I mean, the whole concept sounds like a piece from The Onion and when I clicked on the link for the “Gala,” I thought it was a video parody for the first few minutes before I realized that, no, they were TRYING to be serious…which only made it about 1000 times funnier.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:23 am | Comment

ThirdEye also commented on my blog (I linked here and to a William Greider piece), and I THINK he/she got my irony. Right, ThirdEye? Because, yeah, I think the US is fast becoming a nation of serfs. So heck, might as well celebrate the holiday.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:34 am | Comment

(which, just to be clear, does not make this actual “holiday” any less absurd)

March 29, 2009 @ 10:42 am | Comment

@Richard, OtherLisa and InterestedOthers

OtherLisa, you hit the nail right on the head, on my intended opinion!
The linkage with this discussion is, we in America should clean our own house up first!
4th of July should NOW be celebrated with sarcasm.
FREE AMERICA First before the HooHaa of “FREE TIBET”.
USA should have its priority set right.
Wake up Richard Gere and company.
America ( meaning we the people) does not suck,
it is the immoral and corrupted on both sides of the border
that does.
There are very much more serious problems
facing the USA and the consequently the world from all these financial
roberry and SnakeOil sold, far worst than all these propagandas.
At least the CCP let you know, we want to brainwash you.
ThirdEye { a HE :-) }

March 29, 2009 @ 11:56 am | Comment

Whether or not America’s house is “cleaned up” (and it’s not easy to define what that actually means), Serf Emancipation Day the way the party is handling it is totally hilarious. As Jeremiah aptly put it, this is straight out of the Onion. Seriously.

America is fucked up. No question. And I say so all the time. But that doesn’t make this warm-and-fuzzy Tibet campaign any less inane.

March 29, 2009 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

I am still undecided on which ethnic group: the Koreans, Japanese, or Han is the most superior at being racists.

March 29, 2009 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

Yes let us see some more of these high achieving Tibetans certified “OK” by the Han people and the CCP talk freely without a script to anyone they like about their dreams.

March 29, 2009 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

A Tibetan American has more of a chance of being elected US President than a Tibetan has of becoming Chairman or premier in the PRC.

Yet is definite that an ethnic Han member of CCP will continue to maintain total authority over the Tibetan Autonomous Region indefinitely.

March 29, 2009 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

What is the population of the TAR? 5 million?

there should be more than 1 tibetan millionaire in Tibet. with the size of the population and the size of the economy in the TAR there should be tens, maybe even hundreds. How many Han have become millionaires in the TAR?

I bet there are more Han millionaires who made their millions in and from Tibet than there are Tibetan millionaires in all of the PRC.

only one fighter pilot? you would think 50 years after being “emancipated” that the Tibetan serfs should have produced enough fighter pilots to staff a whole fighter wing for serving their Han “masters”

how many Han military personnel are there in the TAR? how many Han police officers and Han PAP forces are there in the TAR? How many Tibetan military are there in all of the PRC?

I bet there are more Han military personnel in the TAR than there are Tibetan military personnel in all of the PLA.

If the Tibetans have truly been “emancipated” by their Han brothers then there should be a significant force of Tibetans in the PLA loyal to the PRC.

March 29, 2009 @ 1:44 pm | Comment

This is going back a fair bit in the discussion:

AC wrote, “99% of the people in the West know very little if anything at all about the DL’s past.”

This is one of the stupidest (and that’s saying something) aspects of the CCP’s anti-Dalai Lama campaign. He was a very young man when he was forced to flee his homeland. There really wasn’t much of a past in which he could have subjugated or mistreated anyone. Besides, Communist China had been effectively harrassing Tibet for a decade before the glorious emancipation. Before that His Holiness was in diapers.

And Si was right on the money when saying that “it should be about whether or not the tibetans have the basic human right of self expression and determining their own future now, not whether they had it in the past.”

And, of course, they do not possess those rights or anything like them. Further, showing ecstatic monks gathered around a picture of the holy trinity is visual satire of the highest order. Gotta love those comedians at Zhongnanhai.

March 29, 2009 @ 2:31 pm | Comment

ThirdEye, where I disagree with you is that I don’t have a problem calling out hypocrisy and absurdity wherever I find it. Because this holiday is so absurd, celebrating the “liberation” of “serfs” who may or may not feel “liberated” – and it really is a case of trying wayyyy too hard on the part of the CCP, because regardless of Tibet’s historical situation, how it has or has not progressed, etc., there are obviously some real tensions there and resentments on the part of the “ethnic Tibetans” – it feels defensive, to say the least.

So, yeah, I think we could “celebrate” it in the States because we are well on the way to “serfdom” of a different sort, and if we don’t vigorously clean up our own house, as you put it, then our “liberation” is going to be just as big a joke, and we might as well join in the holiday fun. That’s why I linked to the Greider article.

And you’re right – it’s easier to see the propaganda put out by the CCP at times than it is to recognize our own. I prefer to make fun of both, whenever appropriate.

March 29, 2009 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

Richard wrote: “America is fucked up. No question.”

[Jerry Lunderguard in the movie "Fargo"]: “What the heck do ya mean?!”

http://www.georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2009/03/experts-on-third-world-banana-republics.html

March 29, 2009 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

@AC
“Didn’t you read my first comment? ”
Sorry didnt read it, just missed it.

“It’s simply stupid to defend slavery,· there is no way that can make you look good.”
We are together in this, but you are missing my point completely. Self interested’

“The best way is just to pretend it never happened like the Western media have been doing.”
Bad bad western media again. You should really change your chip here.

“But this time the CCP is making so much noise,”
So much noise that is making an embarassement of themselves. Come on guys, proclaiming that everything is wonderfulf in Tibel and at the same time blocking Youtube becuase of leaked videos with the special treatment they get there?

” there is no way to hide and it’s hard to ignore.”
Agreed, there is no way.

” That’s why I think it’s a good PR move on the CCP part.”
If they are paying a PR company, they are not getting much for their money

” And they have the moral high ground on this one.”
cough!… cough!… cough! Sorry… bad throat :-P

March 29, 2009 @ 3:23 pm | Comment

@Michael Tourton
“‘Fraid not. Political killings, persecution, and exile went on here in Taiwan too. And the economic miracle of the 1970s and 1980s, brought to you by US intervention, has made people forget how badly-managed the economy was in the 1950s and early 1960s”

I am not saying that the Kuomintang regime was perfect, but comparing both system I really doubt that they would have surpassed what Mao regimes did in Mainland China if they had stayed in power too.

It is just a case of choosing between two evils, as usual.

About the American intervention, you could also considerer that CH success would not have been possible without American intervention. With foreign investment, outsourcing of production and access to the foreign market, American for the most part, I really doubt that CH economic miracle would have taken place.

They would still be trapped in the population/resources mismatch

March 29, 2009 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

@”The statement like that shows your lack of some basic knowledge”
Thanks for remind me of my ignorance. I recognize it I try to do my best to improve.
Are you also ready to recognize yours?

“When Kumingtang was in power, British warship sailed freely in Yangze river”
And? I really mucht doubt that the colonialism that china suffered before the war would have continued after 1945
Hey” They could have even recovered HK sooner :-P

“If not for rampant corruption”
Sounds familiar today…. Milk anyone? Did you ordered a school construction lately?

” and hyperinflation, ”
Thankfully mot yet. But that pile of dollars CH have…. It seems hyperdeflation is more dangerous know. Yes, extremes are always dangerous

“Kumingtang would not collapse so fast. ·”
Kuomingang took the brunt of the Japaneses invasion. Just number of casualties and lost of crack units. Both Mao and Chiang Kai-shek knew that the great CH showdown would come after WWII. Mao played his cards better, in that respect he was in an easier position. Just doing enough against Japan forces for propaganda aims, while letting his opponent get the brunt of the attack… and casualties.
But I do not deny the prestige, specially after the almost single handed victory of Russian against Germany, of the Socialist-soviet model.
People really believed that it was the future. A scientific method of government and economy that would bring a new era to human kind.
The faith, passion… and fanatism of that great hope tilted the scales in favor of the communist ideal.

What came afterwards… everyone knows.

During the celebration when comunist forces enered Beijing a young son asked his father why thy were so happy. When you grow up you will know” He answered full of hope.
Yes, with time, the son knew….

“Citing Kumingtang as good governance ”
I am not talking good governance, Kuomintang was also far from it. I was talking to choose between to evils. A question of proportion.
Body count or lifes count put it simple

“is like citing prostitute for her virtue.”
You may be surprised of the virtues of some prostitutes. Specially those that had no chance to use their bodies to make ends meet… or to buy health treatment to dying relatives… or more banally as only way have access for a fleeting moment of life to some simple luxuries they see ons sat TV.
Dont be too hard on them, not even you knows what would you do if you were in their situation.

March 29, 2009 @ 3:51 pm | Comment

Damn! I dont like to write such long posts. Sorry for that.

March 29, 2009 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

“This is one of the stupidest (and that’s saying something) aspects of the CCP’s anti-Dalai Lama campaign. He was a very young man when he was forced to flee his homeland. There really wasn’t much of a past in which he could have subjugated or mistreated anyone. ”

On the contrary, your comment shows your bias and lack of logical thought. Dalai Lama is THE embodiment of a horrible and inhuman system. 1959 event did lead to the emancipation of serfs, who are the majority of the population. You may not like the ideology behind CCP’s action. But that action does hold moral high ground.

Western media has portrayed old Tibet as peaceful and happy kingdom. That is just a big lie, repeated thousands times. This serf holiday effectively forces people to look at the facts and re-examine the history, and help people to recognize the true nature of Tibet system before 1949.

“And Si was right on the money when saying that “it should be about whether or not the tibetans have the basic human right of self expression and determining their own future now, not whether they had it in the past.”

No. Si was wrong. Not every minority will have its right to determining their own future. If that happens, the world will be chaos. Even though US people recognize the pain on native indian, US will never uproot current residents and return the land to Indian. With the same logic, it is not fair to uproot all Han people in Tibet and kick them out of Tibet.

Instead, the point should be about whether Tibetans have the equal opportunity to develop each individual to their full potential. Anyone with any real knowledge about China will know that the preferential treatment to minority is so good that it causes the resentment of other Han people. I would advise you doing some research before making judgement quickly.

March 29, 2009 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

Steve, we could argue all night about Tibet/China and national minorities and Han and who is better off and so on. But the real point of this post is that proclaiming a national holiday called “Serf Emancipation Day” and celebrating it with a bunch of singing and dancing Tibetans while simultaneously censoring things like YouTube for spreading dissenting opinions on the subject is about the worst possible way for the PRC to make its case vis Tibet. Like Jeremiah said, it comes across like The Onion, only no way the Onion could do it funnier.

March 29, 2009 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

I bet that Steve

1. has never been to Tibet.
2. has never spoken to a Tibetan.
3. is posting from the evil US of A.

March 29, 2009 @ 5:46 pm | Comment

“The system in Tibet before 1949 is similar to that in medieval Europe. ”

However, the system in place across most of rural China is also pretty similar. Local officials abuse their powers with impunity, peasant farmers toil on narrow strips of land which they do not own and must contribute part of their produce in rent – how is this so different from feudalism?

March 29, 2009 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

Yes indeedy, Steve is posting from the USA.

FOARP. sounds like feudalism to me.

Steve, we’ve talked about these things before. I’m not going into the hornet’s nest you’re trying to stir up. Suffice it to say you’re wrong about everything.

March 29, 2009 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

@Lindel

Where did you get the idea that there is only one millionaire and one fighter jet pilot in Tibet?

This guy is the first Tibetan to reach 100 million net worth, that’s why he was picked. He is worth more than the TGIE for God’s sake! The Dalai Lama is definitely not the only Tibetan who can afford Gucci shoes and flight first class these days.

http://www.gmw.cn/CONTENT/2009-02/26/content_891556.htm

He was born in 1947 to a serf family, which means he is automatically a serf. He family owed the nobles 700kg of barley at a 33% annual interest rate, there was no way the family can pay it off in their life time.

In 1959, at age 13, he witnessed celebration and excitement of the burning of those serf and loan contracts. His family received 26 mu of land, 3 cows and some carpets from the government.

In 1960, a CCP cadre ask him if he wanted to go to school, he said yes. A PLA truck took him to Xining from Lahsa, he then rode the train for the first time to Xianyang.

He studied for 3 years at an ethnic minority university in Xianyang. He then volunteered to go back to Tibet to teach. From 1965 to 1969, he taught at a county primary school.

Because of his good command of putonghua, he was then transferred to the military and promoted as a cadre. After 14 years of service, in 1983, he was transferred to a local industrial bureau.

At the end of 1983, he quit his “iron rice bowl” job and started Shigatse’s first ever handicraft trading company. He is now the CEO of a company that has a 30-million annual revenue. Because of the opening of the Qinghai-Tibetan rail way, the company is now able to sell their products in other provinces in China and even overseas. He is also a member of the Tibetan People’s Congress. He voted YES for the “Serf Emancipation Day”.

March 29, 2009 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

“…fly first class… “, sorry.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

“However, the system in place across most of rural China is also pretty similar. Local officials abuse their powers with impunity, peasant farmers toil on narrow strips of land which they do not own and must contribute part of their produce in rent – how is this so different from feudalism?

No, you are completely wrong. The situation in Tibet was much worse. In the system embodied by Dalai Lama, peasants were unfree, much like the serfdom developed during Europen middle age. Also, in Tibet, the administration was essentially theological government. Reglious and secular power was shared by one system before. Well, even today, more or less.

The bottom line is that, 1959 event did lead to the emancipation of serfs. That was indeed a right step for human development and did hold high moral ground.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

“Steve, we’ve talked about these things before. I’m not going into the hornet’s nest you’re trying to stir up. Suffice it to say you’re wrong about everything.”

Well, I have no intention to make you angry. But you do realize claiming that I am wrong about everything is quite a broad statement. If you are comfortable making that statement without presenting evidence, that is fine with me.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

Steve, a.) you didn’t make me angry and I didn’t say you did; b.) I’m kind of joking, trying to make the point we’ve rehashed these things many time before, and you’re wrong, at least to my satisfaction. I know if we try to engage item per item on your point about Tibet, which are all over the map – American Indians included, of course – the thread will get even more hopelessly out of control, and besides we all know where the other stands.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

“FOARP. sounds like feudalism to me.”

Richard, please refer to my post to FOARP to understand the key difference is that Daila Lama’s system involves unfree labor.

The bottom line is that before 1949, peasant in Tibet was unfree. After CCP took power in 1959, those peasants became free. Is there anything wrong calling it emancipation? Is it the right step in human development?

March 29, 2009 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

If they’re so delighted at their freedom, let them vote. If they’re truly emancipated, let them choose. If it’s all love and joy, let the media in.

Look, I know China did invest a ton of money in Tibet and sought to modernize and improve it, at least in their eyes. I know there were injustices and serfdom. I know the Western media’s biases and the complexities of this issue, historically ad politically. I hate black and white simplifications. And I won’t partake in it. The DL has a cult following and I’m always wary of celebrity humanitarians. You are taking part in it, on the other side, that all was merry and jolly after liberation. Unfortunately, the notion that it was a liberation, shared by virtually all the Chinese people I know, is not shared by those who were liberated, many of whom were treated with appalling brutality at the time of their sweet emancipation.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

“But the real point of this post is that proclaiming a national holiday called “Serf Emancipation Day” and celebrating it with a bunch of singing and dancing Tibetans while simultaneously censoring things like YouTube for spreading dissenting opinions on the subject is about the worst possible way for the PRC to make its case vis Tibet. Like Jeremiah said, it comes across like The Onion, only no way the Onion could do it funnier.”

Well, I do not intend to defend any political sensoring. You can make fun of how stupid is in CCP’s handling of western media.

The key question is, “Does the discussion on serf emancipation day in Tibet makes you learn more about Tibet?” If it does, then that day served its purpose.

Just like Richard and TOARP, they learned that Tibet’s peasant was unfree in old Tibet, just like medieval system in middle age in Europe. We will all benefit if the discussion is not based on ignorance.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:30 pm | Comment

“That was indeed a right step for human development and did hold high moral ground.”

Yes Steve; the murder, beating, disappearing, incarceration, and torture of countless Tibetans since ‘emancipation’ has been especially compassionate.

“Western media has portrayed old Tibet as peaceful and happy kingdom. That is just a big lie”

You’ve nearly got it, Steve. Replace ‘western’ with ‘Chinese’ and ‘old’ with ‘new’ and I think you’ll have a light bulb moment.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

Steve, again, I never said what you are attributing to me. I read what Foarp wrote above and simply responded, “Sounds like feudalism to me.” You read so much into things, and you only read into things that which confirms your stereotypes about Westerners and about me and the commenters here, and most of these are false. I said before, rather flippantly, you’re “wrong about everything.” Now I’ll say it literally and more seriously.

But this is what’s known as trolling. It’s where you take a thread off it’s topic and then make it all about your own ranting. I can see that you’re sitting on the site waiting for the next comment to swoop on, because now the thread’s about you. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we should all know what you’re doing…

March 29, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

“Unfortunately, the notion that it was a liberation, shared by virtually all the Chinese people I know, is not shared by those who were liberated, many of whom were treated with appalling brutality at the time of their sweet emancipation.”

Your statement touches a philosophic issue, i.e., whether brutality and violence was justified to rid of old brutal system? Just like people arguing whether French revoluation was worthwhile given all the killings and brutality.

Despite all the killing happened after French revolution, French revolution is still the right step in human development. Well, at least that is my view.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

Just speculating, maybe the inspiration for “Serf Emancipation Day” came from the US “National Freedom Day”

National Freedom Day is a U.S. holiday celebrating the end of slavery and commemorating freedom. It is observed on February 1st, the day in 1865 that President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery.

http://www.questia.com/aboutQuestia/eventsm.html

March 29, 2009 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

Steve, that is criminally asinine. To compare the invasion of Tibet with the French Revolution takes chutzpah, which you have in droves, though you’ve got little else.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

“But this is what’s known as trolling. It’s where you take a thread off it’s topic and then make it all about your own ranting. I can see that you’re sitting on the site waiting for the next comment to swoop on, because now the thread’s about you. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we should all know what you’re doing…”

I have never digressed from your topic. The question is whether “serf emancipation day” is such a useless stupid idea?

My point is that, “no, it is actually a good idea. It will educate lots of ignorant people.”

March 29, 2009 @ 10:53 pm | Comment

I just saw Hooya, and think it’s time to close this thread.

In case no one told you, the US NEVER set up former slaves with shit-eating grins who danced and cheered the glories of their emancipation a la Serf Emancipation Day. Your logic is wiped out by your own example, fortunately: None of us have ever heard of this “holiday.” It is uncelebrated and unknown. It is not an actual holiday, just a commemorative date, just as there are commemorative dates referring to winning various battles in wars. The US never made a friqqin’ media circus about it and shoved it down the throat of the world. Idiot. No comparison, no correlation, just another pathetic fenqing attempt to say, “Look, America does the same thing.” Morons.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

@Steve – “in the system embodied by Dalai Lama, peasants were unfree, much like the serfdom developed during Europen middle age.”

The only difference is the level of severity. Chinese peasants are ‘not free’, they are still officially subject to the Hukou system. Essentially the only real difference is the freedom to seek work away from the safety net offered by the Hukou system in the industrial cities – something which anyway has only been available since the start of ‘reform and opening’.

Otherwise, whilst punishment like blinding and the lopping off of limbs has not been exercised in China proper since 1949, the death penalty has an incredibly broad application, and extra-judicial punishment has also been widely used. The use of hired toughs to keep peasants in line has also been widespread.

China’s peasants are still as much ‘农奴’ as, say, the Russian peasantry of 1917, the French peasants of 1780, or the British peasants of the pre-enclosure age. In fact more so, as in each of these cases a class of landed farmer existed which was smashed in China after 1949 and has only recently been revived in a limited form. It is only when they are given ownership of their land, and are allowed to take a proper part in the cash economy that feudalism will be truly left behind in China. The recent land reform act went only a short step towards this.

Considering all this, ‘Serf Liberation Day’ has still not actually dawned in China, and this festival is a nationalistic sham.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Thanks FOARP, but don’t expect to get anywhere. Unlike Conscience way up at the top of this thread, Steve isn’t here to listen or learn, just to lash out.

March 29, 2009 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

Well, just the gall to name this thing “emancipation” is enough to make me, an African-American vomit.You guys just had a post about racism, or is it just plain ignorance on the part of Chinese people, or as one person wrote indifference on the part of Chinese people, on how others view them. Hailing from Illinois, the “Land of Lincoln” I have a particularly concise understanding of the word emancipation, and what it means/meant to to those who actually were “emancipated” by that very proclamation. For them to use this particular term to cover for that sham they are running is an affront, and tells you pretty much all you need to know about “One world, one dream, China”, somebody please get me a bucket…kuai dian!!!

March 30, 2009 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

@Ra

Well said Ra!

March 30, 2009 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

Smell gunpowder here.

Met you, Richard, on Mar. 18th in paddy field with Lonnie Hodge. You’re a good man, good luck with the new job.

To Concience
You r a good guy,really. Can’t find anyone more sincere than you for years in my life. I really want to me someone like you.

March 30, 2009 @ 4:27 pm | Comment

Thanks, Mr. Guangzhou. I appreciated Conscience’s comments as well. Wish all my commenters were that smart.

March 30, 2009 @ 7:04 pm | Comment

To In Guangzhou
Thank you for your comment, I am really flattered. Those words just flowed from the bottom of my heart. I do acknowledge disadvantages of China in certain aspects, but“儿不嫌家贫”, if I , together with my generation do not shoulder the responsibility to build our country, to commit our efforts to modernization drive, who will? “天下兴亡, 匹夫有责”,the Chinese cultural heritage is instilled into our soul.

I am not everyone, but I am someone; I can not do everything, but I can do something; what I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.

I also would like meet you one day and exchange views.

March 30, 2009 @ 9:55 pm | Comment

To Richard
Thank you for your praise. It is you for whom all of us should be thankful. You provide us this opportunity to voice opinions, and to enrich our thoughts by sharing and learning. Your wisdom guides us to think deeply about a problem and attain a mature view by abandoning black and white simplicity.

I am not everyone, but I am someone; I can not do everything, but I can do something; what I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.

Those words are also for you, Richard, your personal cultivation on this plot of land produces a garden of brilliant colors, appealing wonders and drifting fragrance. (Victorian tea party? More than that)

Your words may affect numbers of people’s views, so do honor this mission and make contributions to beautify our life. (wow, am I going too far?) Anyway, please do make positive efforts to bridge differences between East and West, also for those who are blessed with benefits of two civilizations.

March 30, 2009 @ 9:55 pm | Comment

“天下兴亡, 匹夫有责” was authored by a renowned scholar in ancient China,

“I am not everyone, but I am someone; I can not do everything, but I can do something; what I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.” was written by a Westerner.

Different times, different civilizations, different people, yet common noble spirit and pursuits.

March 30, 2009 @ 10:06 pm | Comment

If Serf Emancipation Day is an CCP’s PR stunt, maybe we should not celebrate July 4th as a holiday because it would offend the Brits.

April 1, 2009 @ 1:44 am | Comment

Pug, Americans WANT to celebrate the 4th of July. No one forces us to. Awful analogy.

April 1, 2009 @ 7:47 am | Comment

@Richard – Peter Hessler also mentioned coming home to the United States and seeing pictures of Native Americans dancing on television and finding them practically identical to those he about national minorities which he saw on Chinese television. Of course, the US government did not turn the anniversary of the end of the Sioux war, declare it “Tribes Liberation Day” and force the surviving Sioux to go through the motions of celebrating their ‘liberation’ whilst at the same time cracking down on any and all dissent.

April 2, 2009 @ 12:17 am | Comment

” . . did not take“. Damn, I appear to be having an English malfunction, writing dozens of job apps at the same time as doing you dissertation will do that to you . . .

April 2, 2009 @ 12:21 am | Comment

I was thinking it might be best to move Serf Emancipation Day to today, April 1st, because it is one of the funniest ideas I’ve read about today…

April 2, 2009 @ 3:13 am | Comment

“天下兴亡, 匹夫有责”

I think JFK’s words fit the idea better

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

April 2, 2009 @ 4:19 am | Comment

“@Lindel

Where did you get the idea that there is only one millionaire and one fighter jet pilot in Tibet?”

i got this idea from you and your discussion of the wonderful tv gala. and that i have never seen mention of either before you brought it up.

so how many tibetan fighter pilots and millionaires are there?

why did take so long for single examples of each to appear in the media?

April 2, 2009 @ 4:27 am | Comment

“i got this idea from you and your discussion of the wonderful tv gala. and that i have never seen mention of either before you brought it up.”

Lindel, that is very good logic. This is wonderful way to turn ignorance into your advantage.

April 2, 2009 @ 4:56 am | Comment

Conscience, thanks for the kind (overly kind) words.

April 2, 2009 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

Richard, 别客气,you deserve those words.
Keep on going, we will support you, be with you when you need help. :)

April 4, 2009 @ 10:51 am | Comment

[...] Potala Palace was closed for visitors on the Serfs Emancipation Day, but I was lucky enough to have played with them for a while. [...]

April 2, 2010 @ 9:14 am | Pingback

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