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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.

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[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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