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March 18th, 2008

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11:09 pm - Tibet from the Chinese Point of View
NOTE:  Posted this exact same post onto a politics community, saving a copy here on my own lj, so don't mind the weird wording.
Hmm....it looks like the Tibet issue is raising quite a few hairs on both sides of the debate.  I was shown this video by my roommate and thought it would be beneficial to share it here with the community.  I myself am Chinese by ethnicity (born in Beijing) but moved to the USA when I was 6 and later to Canada when I was 9, so most of my growing up was done here in the West.  Therefore, regarding this issue I guess I straddle both sides a bit.  I've been called "Westernly brainwashed" by my Chinese friends (Chinese as in international students that have only arrived here in Canada for a few years for school and therefore spent most of their life in China) and "Chinese Communist brainwashed" by my Canadian friends, so I guess I'm not solidly in either camp.

The person who made this video I'm guessing, from his/her language usage, did so in a fit of anger at the increasingly global focus on Tibet as the Beijing Olympics nears.  A sentiment I can understand considering any and all of the accusations the West has thrown at China can be tossed back just as harshly.  I will be the first to admit that China is not a perfect country and has much it needs to work on, humans rights and media censorship being two of the issues to top that list.  At the same time, the one-sided coverage over Tibet has me stunned though not exactly surprised.  Increasingly I find myself hesitant and even fearful to voice any appraisal or support for China and its government since any opinion in that line gets you labeled as brainwashed and information in that route gets stamped as propaganda by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).

There seems to be this giant gap between China and the West, something that's not surprising considering the historical, language and cultural barriers that bar the two sides.  For the Chinese, there is also a knee-jerk reaction towards nationalist sentiments in retaliation to any foreign attacks verbally, politically or otherwise due to all the conflicts the country had suffered at the hands of various foreign, and particularly what they label as Western countries, throughout the 20th Century.  Whether this paranoia against the West is justified or not, however, is a discussion for another day.

I plead that you watch this video with an open mind in considering that there are 2 sides to the Tibet story, as there are 2 sides to every story.  It seems, however, that in this trial over Tibet the defendant has been dismissed and the plaintiff has the floor.  When around my Canadian friends even a hint that the Tibet issue should require a debate at all is rewarded with an exclamation of disbelief and discreet accusations that I am brainwashed...apparently CCP (Chinese Communist Party)'s propaganda reaches far and deep still resounding in me after 15 years of living on the other side of the planet, going back to visit for a summer only once within those 15 years.  It is unfortunate, particularly when that is the response I received when bringing the issue up in a politics class where I always believed open debate was encouraged.  For the first time I like I had stumbled upon a forbidden viewpoint unaccepted by people I had previously thought were very open-minded and accepting of new ideas and views.

The person who made this video is a Chinese student living and studying abroad, therefore do excuse the various grammatical errors in the captions and I apologize for his/her usage of the f-word in parts of the captions...not very professional nor productive in bringing his/her point across I admit, except perhaps as an expression of his/her anger.  I do not claim that the facts presented in this video are all 100% accurate, whenever the word "fact" is used I believe it should be taken with a healthy dose of doubt, but I present this video to you merely to relay the reality that another opinion exists and is heavily supported by many Chinese.  Amongst the circle of Chinese international students here at my university and amongst the Chinese international students' circles at other universities in Canada this video has gained undisputed support and an outpouring of anger at what they perceive as attacks on China's sovereignty to rule over its land and people.  Even amongst my most pro-West Chinese friends that adore picking at the faults of the CCP when alone with me will fiercely defend that very government when asked for opinions on China by non-Chinese individuals...there's almost like a magical switch in them.  It seems like the unspoken agreement is that it is better to have a Chinese authoritarian government than a Western-dictated democratic on.

Apparently the bridge between China and the West really does have a long way to be built before the two sides meet...between accusations flying, hidden agendas lurking, and the struggles to overcome rooted barriers, what is true, what is fact, what are the true intentions, what is truly being sought after, the questions must be asked before even a chance at an answer will arrive.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 19th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
I think that when a portion of a country has been deemed as under the rule of that country for centuries, much less millenias, any country would have a difficult time just letting it go at the demand of a portion of that population, otherwise there would be mass chaos. Today this state in the USA separates into a new country, tomorrow that province from Canada, heck knows Quebec would absolutely adore that and have proven so with the recent acknowledgment of the Canadian government towards Kosovo's newly gained independence.

I don't know how it is it Germany, but there is a growing heat against China and particularly its hosting of the upcoming Olympics and many of the pro-boycott camp uses Tibet as their calling card. It's not to say that "well the West did this, so it's ok for us to do it too", it's more of retaliation at the hypocrisy the West uses in its policies towards other countries. I believe the mentioning of the boycott of the opening ceremonies at the Olympics this year was brought up just recently by the Foreign Minister of France, again pointing to Tibet as the reason. Looking back at other countries that have hosted the games, which one hasn't infringed upon human rights and conducted unethically in some form of way or shape? The possibility of a boycott is never even thought up if the country was, say, the USA.

The Central government in China has spent millions, as mentioned in the video, on helping Tibet to develop. Due to their geographic location it is intensely difficult to reach Tibet, and because of their altitude tourists and visitors not used to such heights often have trouble breathing when first arriving, so the area is actually quite isolated from the innerland China. The last bit of the video hits the point that the West has a history of creating chaos and fractures within countries, historically take a look over at Africa, South Asia, Israel/Palestine, the former USSR, and recently Kosovo. I don't believe they purposely do so consciously, I mean I don't think Bush and Harper goes to bed at night pondering "hmm...which country can I split up next? Where can I create some chaos tomorrow?", but it does generally result that with these fractures and internal conflicts, the foreign countries stand to gain enormously.

When a country is at peace and merrily developing, what use have they for the West? When that country falls into chaos it's hard to avoid that some of the different groups will turn to foreign countries that are sympathetic for aid and support, unfortunately in cases that those groups do eventually gain political dominance, they tend to favour the supporting, foreign countries in their economic and political development resulting in neglect of their own people. We have seen countless examples of that historically.

Tibet itself is already a special area in China much like Hong Kong and XinJiang, particularly like Xin Jiang where the majority of the people are an ethnic minority and they receive special privileges, along the power to have their own "government" of sorts under the Central government in Beijing. Your sentiments of confusion at why this whole independence is even debated and brought up by Tibet is precisely the sentiments my Chinese friends feel, it literally came out of nowhere and blind sided all of them.
[User Picture]
Date:March 19th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
First: I think different about the situation in China/Tibet than about the video, and my former comment was mostly related to the video.

Well... Germans and their opinion on China... every few days we have news about riots in Tibet. That's all. And then there was that problem between german and chinese gouvernment, because our Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was visited by the Dalai Lama.
But all I heared in the direction of critizism of the situation in China was critizism towards the gouvernment. But the reason for that might be that -because of our own history- Germans tend to seperate between the gouvernment and the people of a country.
Oh, and most of the China-related news here seem to be about air pollution.
I never heared about the boycott thing either. (That doesn't mean that I want to deny it, just that it's not really a current topic in german news).

I have to partially second what you say about the western politics to help countries to become indipendet from others.
And in general, America is very very good in trying to spread "justice" all over the world, no matter if someone asked for it or not. And very especially it should be the american kind and interpretation of justice.

I guess there have to be strong reasons for parts of the Tibetian people to want to become indipendent from China, else there wouldn't be the riots.
There is a party in the German federal state Bavaria (you remember young Elisabeth? That's the part of Germany she came from) which tries to promote Bavaria as an indipendent country.
But the reaction is that most Germans just laugh about them.
On the other hand, when it comes to the living standard of the people, we of course live much better here, at least referring to the average.

Now that you brought up the topic, I did some research on it, and found out that the german gouvernment actually consider Tibet as a legal part of China, but second religious and cultural freedom for Tibet. Now it's hard for me to judge that, because my image of China is of course formed by what I learn about China here, but... from all I know I can't say that China is a state that proclaims freedom of religion and culture.

What would interest me now is, whether -indipendent from all the western critizism- there are critical voices concerning the situation as well, and if yes, what they think about the situation. Because they should know the situation much better than western politicans do.
[User Picture]
Date:March 20th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
The opinion of boycotting the Olympics hasn't gained too much stamina, at least here in Canada though it has been raised be various individuals. I think the governments tend to pay some lip service in that direction but don't really want to take such a radical step in offending the Chinese government due to trade and international relations and all that stuff. The highest political figure whom I have heard actually consider boycotting the games was from the French Foreign Minister who suggested just a few days ago to the European Union Parliament that if the issue with Tibet is not resolved then the consideration by the Union of boycotting the Opening Ceremonies of the games. That was reported on BBC I believe...probably still somewhere on their website if you really want to check since it was so recent.

Officially Tibet is still a part of China. If you google up any map of China Tibet is a part of it, and under the United Nations Tibet does not have a seat in the general assembly as an independent state. I have also been informed by some that Tibet, or I guess the Dalai Lama doesn't want complete separation from China, just that they are allowed autonomy to a certain extent...like...they get to govern themselves but are still under the responsibility of the Central Government in Beijing I guess. That confused me even more since I've been also told that that already happens with Tibet since the majority of the population in Tibet are Tibetans in ethnicity (obviously) the Central Government has allowed them to have a...local government of sort run by their own ethnic group with the ability to make certain state-level decisions. Off to the side but that also occurs with another Chinese "province" XinJiang, which, like Tibet has a population made up of mostly one particular ethnic minority group, so the Central Government lets them run things mostly how they want just that they are still considered a part of China so within Chinese laws.

The Chinese Communist Party, like the theory of Communism, is officially atheist religion-wise, that's no secret. Generally though, most Chinese believe to some extent in Buddhism, with our little temples and such, and there's a fair number of Christians and Muslims as well depending on the region you're in. Tibet has had a history of being heavily religious, and what I don't understand is why all of a sudden, whatever settlement there was between the Central Government and Tibet is now not working between the two anymore. Some have brought up the possibility that conflict began when the Central Government claimed that they will be in charge of selecting the next head of the religion in Tibet back in September of 2007 (head of the religion as in to fill the position of the Dalai Lama once he passes away) when apparently in their religion it's suppose to be chosen by incarnation (like...I think when the Dalai Lama is on his deathbed he somehow knows who he's going to get re-incarnated into and he will point in a direction, and his followers will go in that direction to look for his successor that embody his new re-incarnated spirit...something like that, I don't know the exact details of how it all works). That made sense to me, until just yesterday when the Dalai Lama claimed that if the violence in Tibet doesn't quell he will step down from his position...so now I'm left with even more question marks because if it's suppose to all work through re-incarnation...how exactly does he "resign" from that position??

I think regardless of which source you use to try and analyze this situation none of it is going to be objective. It's either going to slant to the East or towards the West. Even if a supposedly "objective" media existed, that media will have to be basing it's findings on information from one side or the other, so it just simply wouldn't be objective. If you look at Chinese media, that's also heavily censored by the Chinese government, if you look at reports from human rights organizations or other NGO's (non-governmental organizations) most of them are western-based anyway. It's tough, it's really tough, fact and fiction really get blurred and right and wrong are really interchangeable depending on which side you go at it from.

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