Why won’t they love and appreciate us?

A NY Times reporter describes his state-run tour of Tibet (and state-run is the only type of tour a foreign journalist is going to get in Tibet):

One warm morning on the campus of Tibet University, a couple of foreign journalists on a government-run tour of Tibet quietly broke away from the group to talk to students standing on a grassy lawn. Security guards dashed in and waved the students away.

….The next day, two tour buses and a police escort shuttled us around. At a village called Gaba, we talked to residents about new homes they had built with subsidies and loans under a government mandate called the “comfortable housing” program, begun in 2006. Gaba was a model village, and clearly not representative. In fact, the visit to Gaba was reminiscent of ones during the Cultural Revolution, when officials brought foreigners to similar model villages to demonstrate the country’s progress.

(The living room décor did not help: In each home, there was the same poster featuring the smiling countenances of Mao, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, the three paramount leaders of China.)

There were occasional reminders of reality. One morning, our minders wrung their hands when cameramen on my bus filmed more than 150 military trucks with ethnic Han soldiers rumbling along a highway to Lhasa.

There’s more. But it’s all business as usual.

What I want to know is who are the two reporters referenced at the very end. I can hazard a guess (but won’t).

______________

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: 41 Comments

It is more than just business as usual. As well as the increasingly insidious censorship and restrictions on journalists, the Party is also now imposing draconian jail sentences on ordinary people who speak to western media. See the 15 year prison sentence recently handed down to a non-dissident professor in Xinjiang who made innocuous comments about the likely cause of the riots to a HK reporter.

Having said that, in this age of blogging and non-mainstream media I wonder why the NYT makes such a big deal of sending an officially accredited journalist on an official tour to Tibet. Of course they are going to get the official media spin doctor line and nothing else. Why do they make such a big deal about not being able to speak to ordinary Tibetans? It would be quite straightforward to send a non-accredited journalist into Tibet as a tourist to speak to ‘real’ people. Of course, it wouldn’t have the same dramatic impact as being able to say “Look, we’re being banned …”

August 2, 2010 @ 6:00 pm | Comment

News flash: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10609407

I say, let them go join their god-king there.

August 2, 2010 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

[B]150 military trucks with ethnic Han soldiers rumbling along a highway to Lhasa[/B]

How did this guy figure out it’s ETHNIC HAN soldiers? I mean, seriously?

August 2, 2010 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

If you’ve ever been to the area and just seen the 气氛 of how Chinese and Tibetans interact, there can be no doubt that Tibet is an occupied area, despite the development that has taken place. It’s not a matter of money, but one of spirit and dignity.

But this is just a lament. What could possibly change? There is NO WAY China would loosen it’s grip on Tibet, by granting more autonomy or self-government or whatever. In the Chinese historical perspective, only weak dynasties do something like that.

August 2, 2010 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

@Hypo
The Dalai lama can’t influence Indian politics – he’s not entitled to vote or run for parliament. However, I see Dharamsala is relatively prosperous…http://wikitravel.org/en/Dharamsala

August 3, 2010 @ 7:54 am | Comment

Everytime I think about America’s “democracy”, I have so many things to say.

I knew a friend who worked in the Shanghai municipal government. When Bill Clinton was in power, he visited China many times. And during one visit, his delegation stopped by Shanghai, and that friend was part of the municipal department of protocol and reception for his visit. He told me that before his press conference with international and Chinese journalists, every single question was approved by his White Team team, and the questions were submitted before hand, and his answers were pre-prepared by his team as well. No spontaneous question was asked during the press conference.

Shortly after 911, Mr. Laden said on his video tape, something roughly like: “The Japanese people on the other side of the globe was also suffering under the oppression of the American military presence”. I saw it on CNNJ (CNN Japan) during a live interpretation of his video playback. That sentence was not translated by the interpreter into Japanese. And later, on CNNJ’s website posted the full Laden speech, and that sentence was cut.

People who lived in America for a long time would know that Americans are very political. And most Chinese immigrants, when having first contacts with Americans, would invariably be asked these questions: 1) Why do Chinese kill babies (drowning them in bathwater) 2) Why do Chinese torture Christians 3) Why do Chinese harvest organs from prisoners. Every single American I initially met asked me these 3 questions, even the wording are so similar, no exception, as if their thoughts are controlled by an invisible hand in society.

Most American cities have public libraries. Initially I was very envious of this. Once I drove through a small town, and in the 5 min drive I saw a library. I said to myself: “Wow! This country is so great! Such good public education infrastructure!”. Then slowly I began to wonder, why is it that most books about China in all the libraries I went to are the same! All so political! Every single Chinese movie on the DVD shelves of the libraries are “banned in China”, like “Blue Kite”, “To Live”, “beijing Bicyle”, or that movie about the female being raped by a Communist government official. And every movie is about some very dark aspect of Chinese society. You don’t believe me ? I dare you to find me movies on your local libraries’ DVD shelves about China that are not about some dark aspect of Chinese society. You cannot find even a single one. So then I wonder, is there a invisible hand that controls a list of Chinese movies acceptable in the public libaries? Any movie that is positive about China would not make onto that list? Even the Chinese government does not have such strict controls. I was in my local library in Shenzhen China just last month, and I picked up a Chinese version of 1984.

It is totally OK to expose China’s dark aspects, and totally ok to be anti-Communist. But as a democractic country, shouldn’t America allow one hundred flowers bloom, one hundred schools of thoughts to contend? If there are movies exposing China’s dark aspects, there should also be many movies showing China’s positive aspects. American media, on the surface, seems very democratic, there are all kinds of debate shows, where guests shout at each other on the top of their lungs. But you realize, these kind of shows do not inform the public, do not make anyone understand any issue better, but simply make one side hate the other more. Don’t believe me, just watch some nightly “opinion” shows on MSNBC or FOXNEWs. Democracy is similar to shouting?

According to some democracy lovers, the Iraq was a democracy declaring war against a dictatorship. This reminds me of Nazi Germany. We all know that Hitler was elected through elections and his War was heavily supported by his people. If American people can support bombing another city, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian death, completely ruining a country’s infrastructure, reducing a country’s average life span by 10 years, then how is it different from Nazi Germany? If “popular support” equals legitimacy. Then when Copernicus was burned at the stake, it was also a legitimate burning, because most people back then supported burning him. A very demcoratic burning, nothing to criticize.

Is China a dictatorship, of course it is. But at least China’s dicatorship is naked, is for all to see, and China admits it’s a dictatorship. American dictatorship is more suble, more well-packaged, and therefore more powerful. You find movies from all corners of the world, who would’ve thought it would subtly selected to reflect an American world view? YOu find all kinds of intense debate on TV, who would’ve thought it was there to explain and defend government actions and defuse popular anger? You find all kinds of demonstrations on the street, who would’ve thought it was designed to show some non-mainstream views and strenghten the image of America’s “tolerance” without actually threatening the core interests of the elites?

Right before the Iraq War, an White American friend told me “Don’t go participate in anti-War marches, there could be plainclothes FBI agents there. For us Americans it’s not a big deal. But given your immigrant background, you may just find your visa renewal denied the next time. This country looks very democratic on the surface, as long as you don’t truly threaten those in power. If you do, they are ruthless.” This is said to me by a Harvard sociology professor. He was my student, I was teaching Chinese at the time. I wonder where he is now.

Everytime I think about America’s “democracy”, I have so many things to say.

August 3, 2010 @ 8:24 am | Comment

Given that Copernicus died in bed after a stroke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus#Death), one suspects the rest of your post is riddled with inaccuracies too….

August 3, 2010 @ 8:45 am | Comment

Math: : 1) Why do Chinese kill babies (drowning them in bathwater) 2) Why do Chinese torture Christians 3) Why do Chinese harvest organs from prisoners. Every single American I initially met asked me these 3 questions, even the wording are so similar, no exception, as if their thoughts are controlled by an invisible hand in society.

The bullshit-o-meter just went through the stratosphere, bursting into tiny little pieces.

Math’s post is so loaded with historical nonsense it’s giving me a headache. How can there be so much scheisse in one comment?

August 3, 2010 @ 8:51 am | Comment

Well, he did get one thing right

“I have so many things to say”

;-D

August 3, 2010 @ 9:02 am | Comment

@Mike Goldthorpe

“The Dalai lama can’t influence Indian politics”.

Should the peace loving Lama stand up against the atrocities done by India?

“Dharamsala is relatively prosperous”

With the gullible hollywood donors, I suspect it’s better than the rest of india.

August 3, 2010 @ 10:05 am | Comment

“Should the peace loving Lama stand up against the atrocities done by India?”
One assumes, as a refugee, that his hands are tied. He’s no freer in India than he was in Tibet. All he has to do if fuc…errr, make a diplomatic error and off he goes.

And if gullible donors wish to part with cash, all power to them. If the Dalai Lama can get the funds for improving the region (and not just himself) then it’s a win-win situation :-)

Besides, as I read things, Tibetans are not encouraged to go to India. Nepal is clamping down on them at teh bequest of teh CCP and you’ll recall this video…http://hub.witness.org/en/node/601
So you may say let them join their “god-king” but Beijing says no…

August 3, 2010 @ 10:25 am | Comment

“Tibetans are not encouraged to go to India. ”

That’s right, coz the Beijing government doesnt want them to have to live like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFn_oYgfDsc

“So you may say let them join their “god-king” but Beijing says no”

Yeah, I think Beijing should let them live like other homosapiens in India, you know.

August 3, 2010 @ 10:54 am | Comment

Well, Hypo, you have your propaganda and I have mine. What say we ask the Tibetans…?

August 3, 2010 @ 10:59 am | Comment

Yeah Mike,

We sure should have asked the Germans and Japanese what they wanted in 1942. And we sure should have asked the Southerners what they wanted before the civil war.

And ask the Maoris what they wanted.. and so on.

Some people just know better, no?

August 3, 2010 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

“No spontaneous question was asked during the press conference.”

This MIGHT be true, but it was CHINESE policy to vet the questions.

August 4, 2010 @ 5:49 am | Comment

@Hypo #14
I believe we did ask the Germans what they wanted. “Peace in our time” was meant to have been the result.

As for other indigenous peoples – we didn’t ask, no. Now we have to accept the consequences….and this goes a bit beyond merely saying sorry. At least they can still be asked without some minder behind them giving them the answers. Whether their demands are met is, I will admit, a moot point.

So then – how is following past imperialist western practises good? Mentioning current CCP practises using past western practises as justification, all the while condemning those same practises by western imperialists, does seem to be a bit….ironic?

August 4, 2010 @ 6:10 am | Comment

how is following past imperialist western practises good? Mentioning current CCP practises using past western practises as justification, all the while condemning those same practises by western imperialists, does seem to be a bit….ironic?

Isn’t this your standard fenqing MO?

August 4, 2010 @ 6:27 am | Comment

:-)
Hypo ======> Merp jnr, you think?

August 4, 2010 @ 6:55 am | Comment

They are definitely kissing cousins.

August 4, 2010 @ 7:05 am | Comment

“how is following past imperialist western practises good? ”

You mean selling Tibetan slaves to Americans for cotton farming? Or you mean moving local tibetans to “reservations” and let them run casinos?

Oh, you mean the Tibetans have to sit on the back of the bus and whoever looks remotely like Indians have to show their IDs or else will be put into internment?

Last time when I checked, China had a long way to go to reach that level.

August 4, 2010 @ 9:51 am | Comment

@Richard
Probably married…

August 4, 2010 @ 9:54 am | Comment

Aaah, yes, slavery and segregation in the States is (note tense) a massive problem. I think the president (http://transition2008.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/obamabarack.jpg) should look into that!

And what’s that thing I heard about…hukou, I believe. What was that about again?

Nice to see you back, Merp!

August 4, 2010 @ 10:12 am | Comment

Who the heck is Merp? And did he or she kick your pussy cat?

August 4, 2010 @ 10:23 am | Comment

“Aaah, yes, slavery and segregation in the States is (note tense) a massive problem”.

Depends on who you ask, Rev Sharpton and Jackson may agree with you. We should ask for their opinions as their wives’ ancestors were slaves from the south.

August 4, 2010 @ 10:29 am | Comment

Hmm, Edward Wong, probably a “banana”.

August 4, 2010 @ 10:45 am | Comment

HypoMerp
Are Sharpton and Jackson slaves today?

August 4, 2010 @ 11:14 am | Comment

I imagine Mr. Wong is as Chinese as Merp is…which is to say neither of them are.

Mike, you shouldn’t ask such difficult questions, cuz it might make hypo/merp face the MO to which you and Richard previously alluded, and that can’t be too comfortable for them.

Richard, what happened to the Mongolia thread?

August 4, 2010 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

Goldthorpe,

Uh… Dunno, did tibetans work in tobacco farms in North Carolina?
did tibetans have to sit on the back of the bus since Mao liberated them from the Serfdom?

August 4, 2010 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

Why do Chinese trolls and Wumaodangists ALL sound the same? Is there one central script they crib from?

August 4, 2010 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

I wasn’t happy with the Mongolia post. I put it up quickly, and there was no insight that I offered so I took it down. Only after I took it down did I realize it had been linked to at Huffington Post, so I lost a ton of traffic. But I don’t want to put up posts that aren’t higher quality than that.

August 4, 2010 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

@slimy

Yeah, cannot defeat the message, attack the messenger.

August 4, 2010 @ 10:34 pm | Comment

Hypo, I am glad to tell you you’ve made the official Troll List; I was wondering when you’d get there, You can still comment, but your comments won’t post until they’re approved by a moderator. This applies to your twin brother Merp; only about half of his comments ever make it to the site, and he knows why.

August 4, 2010 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

“Why do Chinese trolls and Wumaodangists ALL sound the same?” refers to the (hackneyed, ill-informed) MESSAGE you guys are tying to spread. The talking points are all the same and they all stretch or bend the truth in suspiciously similar ways. If you had something sensible and original to say, the 280,000 paid Chinese (and countless volunteer) Internet trolls wouldn’t be the butt of jokes around the world. In fact, anyone old enough to remember reading Pravda in the 1970s and early 1980s already knows your basic rhetorical playbook quite well.

August 5, 2010 @ 1:15 am | Comment

There is life after after being excommunicated from good blogs: pug_ster is spreading his eye-catching brand of half-truths and misinformation far and wide over at Fool’s Mountain, oblivious and impervious to commenters who foolishly try to add facts to his mix.

August 5, 2010 @ 4:33 am | Comment

“There is life after being excommunicated from good blogs”

There is no such thing as being excommunicated from blogs. Maybe for you internet challenged.

August 5, 2010 @ 5:24 am | Comment

I don’t excommunicate anyone. Getting banned or having your comments held for review is something you need to actively strive for. Be nice and comment civilly and it’ll never happen. Also hyyp, no sock puppeting.

August 5, 2010 @ 5:48 am | Comment

“Why do Chinese trolls and Wumaodangists ALL sound the same? ”

That’s not “comment civilly” IMHO. But what do I know.

Richard, I didn’t meant to use a proxy. But I think discriminating against IPs is not a good enough idea. Just saying. (there is no way you can regulate the flows of information, of coz unless you ARE the CPC)

August 5, 2010 @ 6:04 am | Comment

Saying all fifty-centers sound the same is not at all uncivil. Calling someone stupid is, with some rare exceptions (like with our troll pugster). You’ve shown troll tendencies with your first comment but being magnanimous I’m letting you prove me wrong. So far you haven’t.

August 5, 2010 @ 6:11 am | Comment

@Hyp-
“Uh… Dunno, did tibetans work in tobacco farms in North Carolina?”
Long way of saying no. Thanks, though. Using slavery against the US is pointless in arguments – it was abolished in 1865 (13th Ammmendment, etc, etc. Incidentaly, slavery was abolished in China in 1910 or thereabouts…).

“did tibetans have to sit on the back of the bus since Mao liberated them from the Serfdom?”
Why do you never capitalise Tibetans? Freudian slip?
Were there buses in Tibet when they were “liberated”? Do they love being constantly reminded of their “liberation”

One way to rile an Englishman is for an American to say “If it weren’t for us, you’d be speaking German” and similar. At times I feel Tibetans (note capitalisation) would probably feel the same. Must also be irksome to the liberators to have them riot and kill Han – bloody ingrates, eh?

August 5, 2010 @ 7:49 am | Comment

I just want to respond to one point (out of many) that Math made. He says that there is a lot of negative coverage of China in the west, and that there should also be coverage made to balance it out.
First of all, it is not anyone’s job to do the CCP’s image work for free. There is no reason why any media company in the west would want to make positive propaganda pieces. Second, there are definitely articles out there that point out positive developments in China, but those of course are not often taken into account by the CNN crowd.
And finally, China is now starting to do that work for itself. Xinhua has launched its English channel (and also rented prime office space in Times Square). Channels like BON and ICN are setting up in the states, and many cable and digital providers in the states are now carrying CCTV International and a host of other programming from China. None of these channels are jammed or censored in the US. As long as they abide by the same communications laws as everyone else, the government can’t do anything to stop them (and couldn’t be bothered to anyway).

August 6, 2010 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

I meant “not taken into account by the Anti-CNN crowd”.
Note to self: re-read posts before posting.

August 6, 2010 @ 12:05 pm | Comment

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