I was planning to write a big post about Tibet this week, but now that I'm sitting down and writing it, it just seems like such a lame thing to do. The whole situation is just so weird and bad. Early in March, some Tibetans were arrested for a peaceful protests around Lhasa. On March 14th, violent ethnic riots erupt. Ethnic Tibetans were the main instigators of the violence, smashing Han and Hui stores and killing a few people.
Pretty bad, right? The thing is, that's not even the beginning. A few western media outlets picked up the story; several quoted sources (free Tibet groups), falsely blaming ethnic Chinese people for the violence. CNN and several French and German sites stupidly used cropped images of police arrests (the Tibetan rioters in the back ground were cut out), and images of police brutality from India and Nepal, which were attributed in the stories to China. Many of the western media outlets focused on China's history of brutality in the region, glossed over the fact that Tibetans were the instigators in this most recent violent outburst, and generally stuck to their talking points about China, human rights, and Tibet.
Now the fun begins. Overseas Chinese students-- the only mainlanders with access to western media stories because China at that moment was in total media blackout--were outraged at the shoddy reporting in western media and began a wide internet protest campaign. This website was created, among others.
The free Tibet folks, seeing an opportunity to grab the media spotlight, staged protests during China's Olympic tour in Europe and USA. They were violent, and they seemed to go out of their way to alienate by attacking elderly and disabled torch bearers. Western media outlets dropped the ball again by highlighting the protesters and "ominous-looking" Chinese security, and by deciding not to interview Chinese relay participants.
This has only increased Chinese outrage against the media, and western media in general. There have been violent blockades of the French chain, Carrefour, in China. Videos like this are easy to find.
There's so much going on here: hack journalism, angry nationalism, politics (come on, backing out of the opening ceremony is such a lame pointless move), oh yeah, and there is also the issue of oppression, which, while being constantly shoved to the front, often falls back out of sight.
Where to begin?