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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 20th, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
(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.

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