Wednesday, April 9, 2008


As I'll be joining the ranks of the unemployed in June, I've completely checked out of work. Instead, my days are filled with surfing of weird and interesting stories on the web. Sadly, the ones that have captured my attention are the whole Mormon splinter group cult thing, the related issue of forced marriage, the pro-Tibet/pro-China protests, and (on a lighter note) trying to figure out if it's a good idea to build a Tivo (doesn't look like it. Hey, NYC people - what are the cable providers up there?).

Being the political junkie that I am, I'm going to discuss the pro-Tibet/pro-China issue. I've already talked about the limitations on having a rational discussion about the situation in Tibet: no reliable information. But what's really surprised me are the pro-China protesters in the U.S. Granted, it seems like many of them are from China (the interviews have lots of foreign students, but I think that's just of function of it being San Fran). However, I can't help feeling a touch of sadness over the fact that they still believe the PRC line, despite massive evidence to the contrary. For example:

The Olympics shouldn't be political. Please - they've always been political. If they weren't political, then China shouldn't be using it to showcase its global emergence. The entire route was specifically designed TO BE political, like stamping PRC sovereignty over Tibet and Xinjiang.

Support for the PRC. I can certainly understand that people want to support their culture, etc. But, the pro-Chinese demonstrators go further. They support the PRC government. At least with many of the Arabs I know, they are proud of coming from a long culture, but recognize and denounce the human rights abuses, corruption, and general venality of political leaders in the Middle East. The pro-Chinese protestors don't display any of this self-reflection. Granted, some of this is probably just reaction to a perceived outsider critique of China. But honestly, this quote from a student? "The Chinese people are very peaceful. They wouldn’t do what they are accused of.” Come on, man. The Chinese have been doing that to others and to each other for thousands of years. Where's the rational perspective?

China has been helping Tibet. Similar to the last point. Fine, China invests a lot in Tibet. But looking at this purely from an economic perspective is idiotic. It's about politics and power: who gets the money, can Tibetans practice their religious beliefs, what about the side effects of a depressed economy for a certain group of people and second class status in their own territory (like drug use)? I understand that people in China don't get the information to acknowledge these issues. But pro-Chinese in the U.S.? In the wake of the riots, it's impossible to believe that they were carried out by a small "clique" of individuals. Those were massive, widespread, and expressed great frustration with the economic and especially cultural degradation by the PRC. At the least, there needs to be some sense of humility about this, that economic investment hasn't been particularly successful, and that Beijing has given something of a raw deal to minorities.

Ah, that was cathartic. Now, if only the pro-China protestors would read this.


hcduvall said...

If I may have moment to borrow other people's responses to what's going on.

Maybe I will watch this year. The Olympics are going to be awesome.

Jonny America said...

I have a post on China, Tibet and the dualing medias in the works, but it may have to wait for this weekend. Some of the Chinese stuff I'm seeing and hearing is really scary--violent ultranationalist fantasies. Somewhat expected from the Chinese internet community, but still...

HoBs said...

i'm bummed. i had planned 8 years ago to attend the olympics. but timing didn't work out this year

hey, chengora, so where to next?

Chengora said...

Hey Hobs, good to hear from you. I'm sorry you won't be able to make it to the Olympics. We have an office in Beijing, and a number of staff have been bidding for floor space to get a free place to stay and watch the games. :-)

As for travel, actually not much. GF is heading back to the mother country for two months, and then is off to Bhutan and China. I'd join her, but tickets are ridiculously expensive right now.

That said, she's adamant that we go somewhere shortly after we find a place in NYC and before she starts her job in July. I'm thinking somewhere in the Caribbean, although again, price might be an issue. I did throw up the idea of a BBQ tour - driving through the South sampling different types of BBQ (got the idea from Slate). Or we might do a California wine country trip again. I'll let you all know when I finally figure that out.

Also, just to turn back to Tibet for a second, I think I posted a link about how democratic nations should engage China on this issue. But, after trolling around on sites like China Daily's forum (which may not be representative), I've noticed that it literally is impossible to have a discussion because the moderators delete the posts of pro-Tibetan groups. They'll leave up for just long enough the poster to get flamed by everyone else, then take it down. Scary.