March 18th, 2008
|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.
>I'm sure, it's so much harder to implement true democracy in a country with a population of over 1.3billion and growing,
In regards to their "many nationalities" argument, it's hardly a reason to hold onto an area against the peoples' will. At one point me and a friend of mine (he wrote a dissertation about AIDS in China) musing about what would happen to China if liberal rights were granted to the whole country tomorrow- certainly many of these nationalities will begin saying that they aren't too keen on staying part of China. If you look at Australia's history, Western Australia wanted to separate from the federation, and they were allowed to have a referendum on the matter (which didn't pass). If it had passed the federation certainly wouldn't have sent ni the troops, arguing that they can't leave because Queensland is happy with the federal system as it stands.
>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
Quite clearly their level of autonomy is insufficient. People don't riot because they want to *pretend* they have less autonomy than they really do.
>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??
That is, resign from his position as the exiled head of government. He will remain as a spiritual leader.
There is also the continuing argument in the video regarding 'legitimacy' etc etc. Essentially legitimacy is far more complex than the video makes it out to be. The international system as we know of it today began in 1645 and spread from Europe slowly but surely from then on. It really wasn't fully consolidated until the 1970s, when decolonisation began to take hold.
However, in the interim period there were bouts of state creation, consolidation, etc etc. In the 'official' story, China only joined the international 'story', so to speak, after the opium wars. China's borders weren't recognised though.
At the close of the Second World War, borders essentially became consolidated. Along the lines of sovereignty and non-interference, the borders that existed as of then were respected. From then on, new states were created within existing borders- look at Yugoslavia, the pattern of the breakup of the USSR (especially that no new states were created within the Federation of Russia), etc etc.
Legitimacy became defined along the borders that were set at that moment in time. that China violated a border that was considered to be inviolable is the reason why it is always an issue and a problem. While it may be Euro-centric (I will never deny it), it is the reason why Tibet is considered to be separate.
The video mentions other states' actions, including Australia. In fact, the Australian government, to my frustration, tacitly supports China and doesn't call for independence. I do, and I agree with the video that Aboriginies need to have a better go- something which has been attempted properly since the Rudd government's election. I also agree with the North Ireland/Scotland calls because they want it to happen. I don't know enough about the Japanese cases to comment and the texas thing- well, there are no calls for independence and this harks back to the whole 'expansion of the international system' thing- that's how the world works.
Umm...but Tibet isn't considered to be separate. Any map of China that you find today still has Tibet as part of China, Tibet does not have a seat in the United Nations General Assembly, it is not recognized internationally as a state as of yet. I think there has to be a limit on how far you can take the independence argument, otherwise any little group can just up and decide one day it doesn't like the country it's been assigned to and referendum to separate. That would be mass chaos.
The video mentions that China has 56 ethnicities simply because most foreigners have this impression that Chinese are all the same, black hair, brown eyes, medium-light peach-coloured skin, and Tibet is the only ethnic minority, hence giving them more to back up their argument for Tibet to gain independence. If that were the case, there's an argument that the ethnic majority (aka the rest of China) is more likely to oppress the opinions of this one ethnic minority, whereas once you realize they're not the only ethnic minority the wheels should start turning as to why all these other minorities haven't revolted and just this one.
The legitimacy argument this video brings up is simply to point out that the "legitimacy" used by the West has been defined by the West, what is considered legitimate and acceptable has been dictated by the West ever since their domination from the colonization period. At that time is was Europe, now what is legitimate is defined by the USA, but to the Chinese to be honest there's little difference between the two, it's all lumped under the label of "The West".
At the end of WWII the victors dictated where borders would lie and stay, China having taken a beating at the hands of the Japanese and immediately before that the invasion by the West had little say. Heck the United Nations didn't even acknowledge the Central Communist government in Beijing as the "official" government of China until much later when China started rising in power. All throughout that time period of chaos the seat in the UN's General Assembly was given to Taiwan as the "official" government of China. Apparently 1.3 billion people didn't exist nor did their opinions matter in the eyes of the grand United Nations.
(Cont.'d, comment was too long, couldn't fit into one.)
My point is, there's a side of this debate that's missing, sorely missing. Western media's done an amazing job of censoring it out "legitimately" by labeling any mention for the other side as propaganda, and by labeling those that attempt to bring to light the other side as brainwashed. Heck why listen to a brainwashed person's spewing Communist propaganda right? Therefore, it is legitimate and acceptable to censor it out apparently.
The point of the video itself is that for the Chinese, coming from a Chinese perspective, that is OUR country, we've seen the west attempt to split it up before following the Opium War, China's map at that time looked much like Africa's with one chunk belonging to Britain, another belonging to France, Portugal and all in total 8 Western countries vying for territory on Chinese soil. We've watched the west split Africa up in the Scramble for Africa, we've watched them split the former USSR up, and all that's created in many of these places are mass chaos and conflict, suffering and pain for the people living there as the West watched in the sidelines, coming in under the guise of saviors and heroes. Actions speak louder than words, evidence from history is right in the history textbooks if one reads between the lines. If Tibet's own people truly wanted to separate that's one thing, and apparently that's not even what the Dalai Lama really wants, he still wants to be under China's Central government just as an autonomous region, but China won't bow down when the West is the one pushing for it.
(Cont.'t again, I write too much.)
For the west you can view it as human rights and all that, for China, for the Chinese, it's about the country's sovereignty. If the west breaks through China's sovereignty, how can it protect its people from now on from the west who has time and again proven that they would more than gladly stomp on others for their own gain? Like I said, the vast majority of the Chinese would prefer a Chinese authoritarian regime over a Western-placed democracy due to the very fact that over the 20th century the CCP, despite all of its mistakes, has through its actions proven to the Chinese people that it takes actions and makes policies aimed at helping the Chinese people, its citizens. You can easily argue the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, sure, those were awful mistakes made by the CCP, but no government is perfect, any other government has done just as badly when starting out, it happens, but compared with any of the other options, they've quite frankly failed. The Nationalist Party failed in bringing prosperity to the Chinese people, the west with its democracy invaded China and stuck up signs in shops that said "Chinese and dogs not allowed to enter" following the Opium War, not exactly a great way to convince the people democracy's a great way to go eh? You can give all the reasons and they can make perfect sense, but the bottom line is that for the Chinese, state sovereignty is first on the agenda, with state sovereignty secured and therefore no need to worry about outside interference then we work on food for the people, clothing for their bodies, healthcare, education, human rights, media, and whatever else the people are looking for. Without that sovereignty, one day this country wants you to make this policy, the next day that organization demands you implement that regulation, it's mass chaos, like with those Structural Adjustment Programs implemented on developing countries by the IMF. You can say that's a stupid way to go about it, you can say the Chinese are dumb, you can say that's dangerous and gives the government too much power, you can say that's far too risky, that's the way it is, that's what most Chinese feel is most important, and hey, isn't democracy about following majority will in the first place? The Chinese government doesn't answer and doesn't need to answer to the will of the west, it only has the responsibility to answer to its citizens (ironically precisely because it has sovereignty), Tibet aside, there're still about 1 billion people in that country that supports the CCP's sovereignty to keep Tibet as part of China, so hey, majority rule right? That's democracy, it's a 2-way street. Sometimes the majority of a particular country's population want something different than what the governments and people in the west wants, it's a double-edged sword.