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Briefs on Tibet: Action and Reaction

Just as the earthquake shook China last month, the ground has also shifted under the Tibet issue. It seems the protests and counter-protests did not go into a black hole, but are having some effects on the media. But the exiles and their supporters aren’t ready to pass up on such a good chance in this Olympic year yet. They are elevating the profile of a different lama. Between now and the Olympics, we may also see more Tibetan disturbances should the talks not “work out”, as the Dalai Lama advised/threatened. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Inside are a few articles in the recent news on these two cross-currents, action and reaction:

Action
China commits 70 million dollars to preserve Tibet culture: Press reports on positive development in Tibet for a change. Of course, this kind of policy and financial support for preservation has been going on for a long time.

China has agreed to commit 70 million dollars to an international fund for the preservation of culture in Tibet.

The Louise Blouin Foundation, a global non-profit group which is part of the agreement says, the money will be used to refurbish and preserve cultural relics and monasteries in the Tibet autonomous region.

Beijing has also agreed to allow Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile to participate and “provide oversight” in the cultural preservation projects.

Selling Tibet to the world: The Dalai Lama continues his marathon world-hopping, but world leaders begin to step back. Some are beginning to rethink the Tibet issue and consider alternatives. Did they watch the “Tibet was is …” and other Youtube videos?

GUCCI, iPod, Facebook, Tibet – these are among the world’s hot brands, for which brand integrity is everything. … Creative director and brand chief executive, the Dalai Lama, will visit Australia again next week. He will preside over a five-day Tibetan prayer instruction course in Sydney. A company has been set up to handle the visit – Dalai Lama in Australia Limited.

… But dark clouds threaten the Tibet brand. The Dalai Lama has just been in Britain where an appearance at Royal Albert Hall was marred by more than a thousand protestors, most of whom were supporters of Dorje Shugden, a controversial deity in the complex pantheon of Tibetan Buddhist deities.

… Shugden supporters … have been tailing the Dalai Lama recently, popping up wherever he does with placards labelling him a liar and a persecutor. It’s embarrassing for the Dalai Lama because these are his people.

… Pushing the Dalai Lama’s wheelbarrow is Australia’s right as an independent country. But given that China is Australia’s most important trading partner, Australia owes it to itself to fully understand exactly what is in that wheelbarrow before it pushes so hard. After all, prudent shoppers are always careful to separate the actual product from the brand and the buzz that surrounds it.

Reaction
The World’s Next Top Lama: The Karmapa is obviously being groomed into the heir apparent role on his first visit to the US in May. It was timed to squeeze into the pre-Olympics schedule and was to be with great fanfare, only to have been overshadowed by the Sichuan earthquake news. Not to worry, David van Biema of Time spills ink to tell us what he thinks to be the most important thing about this lama: he loves America.

To the apparent astonishment and delight of his American retinue, the baby-faced 22-year-old who may one day replace the Dalai Lama as the world symbol of Tibetan Buddhism and icon of Tibetan aspirations said today, on his first trip here, that he hoped he might be able to spend two months a year in the United States, raising the possibility that in decades to come, America could become an important focus for that community.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje: the Next Dalai Lama?: Merely two weeks later, David van Biema writes again in Time on exactly the same thing (twice in a month… is he paid to do this?), this time letting us know that America has vetted this lama and approves.

The Lowdown on the new arrival had been that he was brilliant but austere. “He’s not jolly like the Dalai Lama,” warned an American devotee. “He’s a bit stiff.” But the baby-faced 22-year-old who may be Tibet’s next great hope seemed perfectly relaxed in his room at New York City’s Waldorf Towers hotel, none the worse for his first intercontinental flight. Encountering a laptop-bearing reporter, Ogyen Trinley Dorje inquired eagerly about the computer; like his mentor, he’s apparently a Mac fan. Asked if he’d managed to sleep on the plane, he replied, “Sleep, but not well. Lot of …” Then, his maroon robe dancing, the 17th reincarnated head of Tibetan Buddhism’s Kagyu sect offered an enthusiastic mime of a bumpy transoceanic flight.

  1. AC
    June 7th, 2008 at 13:58 | #1

    Louise Blouin MacBain of the Louise Blouin Foundation was the first Westerner allowed to vist Tibet after the 3/14 riot. This is what she wrote on Forbes:

    http://www.forbes.com/home/2008/05/23/lhasa-tibet-macbain-oped-cx_lbm_0523lhasa.html

  2. Buxi
    June 7th, 2008 at 17:57 | #2

    Wow, I had heard of the large donation to Louise Blouin’s foundation, but I hadn’t heard of explicitly allowing the exile government participate in the foundation + “give oversight”… we should dig around and see if the Chinese press is reporting this as well, or if this is just her own interpretation.

    If it’s true, I’m in favor of it. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, a healthy form of cooperation on issues that the Dalai Lama and Beijing can agree on.

    Did you guys hear the rumor that Jia Qinglin (#4 figure in government and head of the Consultative Conference) might be directly participating in these meetings? If that’s the case, that’s a sign of substantial progress as well… I assume if the Dalai Lama went back, he’d be appointed to a symbolic, senior position in the Consultative Conference.

    As far as the Karmapa Lama (大宝法王), his Chinese is very good! His accent is probably cleaner than half of the Communist Party’s political bureau. I was just watching some of his interviews/lectures on Youtube. So far, he has mostly stayed away from politics, and I hope he continues to do that.

  3. Nimrod
    June 7th, 2008 at 18:20 | #3

    Good point about the Karmapa. It seems he has visited Taiwan in the past to talk about Buddhism, and has even written a poem in Chinese called Alas The World (世界啊). Here is him reading it. (On a side note, the Panchen Lama also wrote some poetry in Chinese.) On the other hand, there are certainly those who are eager to prescribe a political role for him. I hope it all ends well.

    Among these younger personalities, we should also add Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo, the daughter of the 10th Panchen Lama and Li Jie. Regardless of their positions, it is a positive that these people have a much greater connection to China than most of the older exiles, and they have experience in the modern context of Tibet’s position in today’s China. Just maybe, that will lead to more relevant answers and solutions.

  4. Charles Liu
    June 7th, 2008 at 21:38 | #4

    Don’t count on the anti-China forces to let up. Their plan is to finish big in Beijing during Olympics:

    http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/56145

    “The plans were developed with the collaboration of the US State Department and the self-proclaimed Tibetan Government in Exile and call for high profile actions along the route of the Olympic Torch Relay and are supposed to reach a climax in August during the games in Beijing.”

    Those Canadians who hung protest flag on the Great Wall (endangering wold-class relic) continue to be a part of this anti-China action supported by US government.

    Check Wikipedia for the term “Blue Team”.

  5. chorasmian
    June 7th, 2008 at 23:57 | #5

    Mmm, the relationship between Dalai Lama and Karmapa Lama is interesting. Traditionally, Karmapa Lama, the leader of Kagyupa, acted as a counterbalance to Dalai lama, the leader of Gelukpa. Traditionally, Karmapa Lama is always stay away from politics.

    Strangely, 14th Dalai Lama chose to cooperate with CCP in recognizing 17th Karmapa Lama in 1990s which is out of his responsibility though, not the other boy in India.

    What’s going to happen in the future? Just wait and see.

  6. EugeneZ
    June 8th, 2008 at 02:02 | #6

    I think that internet activism on the Tibet issue by overseas Chinese has made an impact on some western readers. Not for the die-hard bigots, but for some more moderate and open-minded individuals who possess the ability of independant thinking.

    How do I know that? I have always followed the China-related blogs by NY Times writer Nicholas Kristof. I have noticed there are more and more people commenting that they have been educated on the compelx issue of Tibet by reading the readers’ comments. Overseas Chinese contribute significantly to the well articulated, fact and reason based comments on the Tibet isues following Kristof’s articles. As compared to 2 months ago, the most recent article by Kristof on China attracts a lot of high quality user comments that stand on their own. Collectively, the overseas Chinese have made a compelling case to the moderate subgroup of western readers that Dalai Lama and people like Kristof are not to be trusted blindly, and should be subjected to scrutinization and criticism – something I have always insisted on.

    Blog like this one is an excellent place to find people with similar background and shared views, but let us not forget that amongst many of the active viewers of this blog, it seems to me that the differences in opinions are as small as those between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. Let us not forget that there are many many John McKay’s out there, we need to still venture out and post out comments in the main stream western media, especially targeting those “opinion leaders” like Kristof.

    Together we can make it a little harder for those who harbor unkind intentions towards China in their excercise of “consent manufacturing” and help build the bridges between China and the west, something we all have a vested interest in.

  7. June 8th, 2008 at 10:34 | #7

    @EugeneZ – “Not for the die-hard bigots, but for some more moderate and open-minded individuals who possess the ability of independant thinking.”

    I guess by this standard I must be a die-hard bigot (bigotted against who?) for still thinking that Tibetans should be given a vote on independence. I’m sorry, but I didn’t find works of agit-prop like “Tibet is, was ….” very convincing. But I suppose this just means I harbour unkind feelings towards China, rather than just thinking it would be best for China in the long term.

  8. EugeneZ
    June 8th, 2008 at 18:49 | #8

    @FOARP,

    I do not know you enough to judge your motives, you are in the best position to reflect upon what is behind your political views.

    In general, again not directed towards you per se, bigotry is deeply rooted in fear, anger, and hate, they are in fact all interlinked. To quote the Jedi on Star Wars: “Fear is the pathway to the dark side”. “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering”.

    The medicine to fear is hope.

  9. June 8th, 2008 at 19:01 | #9

    @EugeneZ – I do not think that either I or the majority of people who support national self-determination for the Tibetan people do so out of ethnic hatred of Chinese people. I think before you simply accuse those you disagree with of being mindless racists you should consider their arguments and their motives. I support the principle of national self-determination for every nationality that occupies a geographically distinct homeland because it is the only way in which truly representative governments can be created.

    I see no hope in a continuation of the current situation.

  10. Nimrod
    June 8th, 2008 at 19:59 | #10

    FOARP,

    I’ll be the first to say that “Tibet was is …” is not History Channel material (did anybody think it was?) Agitprop sometimes works well, when it reinforces existing beliefs, otherwise the Free Tibet agitprop wouldn’t work so well on the Western mind.

    Regardless of whether the Youtube video was “agitprop”, it did achieve one thing, which was to jar the viewer. Maybe they’ll feel a bit uneasy afterwards. If it did that, it did its job. The real facts can be found elsewhere. You’ve just got to get people to notice something is amiss.

  11. Charles Liu
    June 8th, 2008 at 20:55 | #11

    FOARP, should we Americans set a good example by giving the Native Americans a vote on independence?

    Our Supreme Court has said “limited sovereignty”, US Code specifically forbids the Native Americans from arming themselves.

    How can we advocate something we don’t measure up ourselves?

  12. June 8th, 2008 at 22:45 | #12

    Quebec has had two votes on separation and I think the process, overall, has been good for Canada. Of course, Quebec separatism and even Western separatism moods seem to be almost a part of the Canadian identity.

    But when the FLQ kidnapped people, had plans to blow up stuff, tanks rolled in Ottawa. When asked how far he was willing to go, Trudeau said “Just watch me.”

    And when French politicians voiced support for the Quebec separatists, the rest of Canada was outraged.

    Sure, a referendum in the Tibet Autonomous Region would be the idealistic solution and best for China in the long term. However, any expectations of a referendum in the near future is naive.

    Put aside the issue of a referendum happening under the CCP, let’s pretend that it’s Canada. The waters are too murky for a fair referendum.

    Basic issues such as borders are complicated. The Tibetan separatists want much of the surrounding provinces. Certainly more than just the people in the TAR should vote in this hypothetical referendum? Or do the proponents suggest that the vote of a few million dictate what happens to 10’s of millions? Just looking at this factor, I can tell you that, if it were in Canada, the separatists wouldn’t touch a referendum with a 10 foot pole. They would lose.

    What is the voting formula? 50% plus 1 isn’t fair given the magnitude of the issue.

    Who can vote? This is a critical issue. The separatists will want to strive to exclude non-Tibetans. But shouldn’t a person who has been living in the region for one year have a say? two years? three years? born there? Any line drawn would be contentious.

    For a referendum to have any sort of legitimacy, both sides must be satisfied with its fairness. If the question is worded wrong, for example, could lead either side to reject the results.

    In Tibet’s case, much of the murky waters come from outside the region. If the French President Charles de Gaulle’s words of Vive le Québec libre! (Long live free Quebec!) could have the impact that it did in Canada, I understand why the Chinese are put off by the French giving the Dalai Lama Honorary citizenship of Paris. External interference would be a legitimate complaint by the Chinese government in any referendum about Tibet.

    But, seriously, this is China we’re talking about. And it is Tibet.

    Tibet wasn’t the Utopia envisioned by nuts like Richard Gere before 1950. Given the population size and geography, I fully expect that magically removing the Chinese would result in the same sort of oppressive theocracy of the past to reemerge. But at least they would suffer in sight of their Dalai Lama, eh.

    Why would it slip back into the same sort of model? Tibet is not agriculturally rich (hence the reason they want chunks of Sichuan). Making food takes a lot of human energy. So does building the monasteries and other service that the monks want. It’s just a energy balance. Remove energy from food production to give to monks means that people starve and are pressed into serfdom. Not that complicated really. Yet this is a result supported by the West?

    Unless I’m wrong, China doesn’t have a tradition of holding referendums, unlike Canada which is almost too eager to have a referendum – just ask Stockwell Day about “Doris”. Why would they start with Tibet of all places? Moreover, any Tibetan advocating a vote either hasn’t thought it out or is just doing it to taunt or gain external sympathies.

  13. S.K. Cheung
    June 9th, 2008 at 05:26 | #13

    It’s interesting that this thread has headed towards self-determination and talks of a referendum. Very similar to the self-determination thread from a few weeks back.
    The native American situation is not akin to Tibet, because there is not one “native American” region; however, I suppose each reserve could strive for independence, and that’d be fine with me, so long as they understood the costs and benefits, and the ramifications.
    The FLQ saga was over 30 years ago. Today, Harper says Quebec is a unique nation within Canada, and I for one couldn’t care less. As far as I’m concerned, if Quebecers wanted to be a unique nation outside of Canada, they should go their merry way.
    “a referendum in the Tibet Autonomous Region would be the idealistic solution and best for China in the long term. However, any expectations of a referendum in the near future is naive.” If one could stipulate to the first statement, then why couldn’t it be seen as a solution in the short term as well? I think the reason why a referendum requires naivete isn’t because the idea is necessarily without merit, but because the Chinese simply can’t even allow themselves to conceive of it.
    I agree that the issues of the territory involved, the people involved, and the question to be posed, are logistical barriers. However, IMO, these barriers are dwarfed by the philosophical barriers harboured by many Chinese to the concept of a referendum to begin with.
    As for tradition, well, all traditions have to start sometime.

  14. Nimrod
    June 9th, 2008 at 06:08 | #14

    S.K. Cheung, you make it sound like these “philosophical barriers” are unique to “many Chinese”. On the contrary, I think not. We live in a world founded on states as organizing units, just like we live in societies (still, for the most part) founded on families as organizing units. People gravitate to what they are familiar with, not because they can’t conceive of some other way as if they are intellectually or emotionally deficient, but because human nature is to be pragmatic. If you asked them to change, you had better provide a damned good reason. Just because you couldn’t care less doesn’t mean everybody couldn’t. To make a bad analogy, you could enjoy yourself as a philanderer but don’t ask people to stop getting married. Furthermore, territory, people, procedural legitimacy aren’t just incidental barriers “on the side”, they are fundamental to this scale of reorganization that you contenance.

  15. June 9th, 2008 at 06:33 | #15

    SKC, you are right. The #1 barrier is the whole idea of a referendum even taking place. Wasn’t the voting process one of the reasons speculated for the banning of the Super Girl contests? This barrier dwarfs everything else.

    But, even if we could remove that barrier from the issue, setting up a vote for Tibetan independence would be a logistical and political nightmare. It would be like PEI wanting to separate while claiming chunks of Nova Scotia and Quebec.

    I believe that some form of democratic process must evolve in Chinese politics if she is to fully realize her prosperity potential. A made in China model would be best.

    If one wants to champion the start of a voting tradition in China, Tibet is not the best cause.

  16. yo
    June 9th, 2008 at 07:58 | #16

    SKC,
    I’m not sure if it’s a “philosophical barrier” in which “Chinese simply can’t even allow themselves to conceive of [a referendum]”. My guess, if a person doesn’t want Tibet to secede, then why entertain the notion of a referendum, IMO, that’s realpolitik.

    It’s like the movie “recount”(about the 2000 U.S. presidential election). In the movie, someone asked Jim Baker to do a recount which he replied, “Hell no, we won, why should we do a recount?”. On the other hand, a democrat stated “recount theory 101, if you lost, you demand a recount”. One side had everything to lose, and the other everything to gain.

  17. cc
    June 9th, 2008 at 12:43 | #17

    EugeneZ,

    @FORAP,
    “I do not know you enough to judge your motives, you are in the best position to reflect upon what is behind your political views.”

    I know enough about his motive (singular). FORAP was today in London witnessing the torch protest and the next day in Paris doing the same job. He knows and tells everybody that the Chinese students in London were all organised by the Chinese embassy. (He doesn’t tell you about his pay rate however)

    He proclaims that he knows enough about the DL’s middle way to have an informed opinion on the T issue, while it turns out he knows nothing but his East European anti-communist ancestry.

  18. June 9th, 2008 at 13:01 | #18

    @CC – I was in Paris a few days later – I was there for a job interview. As for the London protest, yes I did take part in it, it went right outside where I live. As for the students being supported by the Chinese embassy, the ones I know denied it, but the main student group claimed to have the embassy’s support on their website – what am I supposed to think?

  19. June 9th, 2008 at 13:11 | #19

    As for the DL’s “Middle Way” – all I ever said is that I cannot see how HK-style autonomy is a ‘不可告人的目的’. I have never made any secret of my anti-communism.

  20. Charles Liu
    June 9th, 2008 at 20:39 | #20

    Okay, FOARP, will the British government set a good example and allow the Irish folks in Northern Ireland a vote on independence?

  21. June 9th, 2008 at 21:47 | #21

    My problem with self-determination has always been where does it end? Since we can’t have self-determination on an individual basis, we must define an aribitrary group of “people” (which would otherwise be just a minority) to give a special voice to.

    But which group?

    Even if Tibet were given to the DD (assuming even a sizable number of Tibetans want him back as a political leader!), many factions will inevitably break out demanding self-determination for their factions/sects/interests/etc. too…

    We will head toward anarchy unless some lines have to be drawn where a minority stays a minority – and their right to self-determination lies with working with the majority.

    Since the idea of “ethnicity” is ever shifting, I personally prefer the multi-cultural root. But I guess reasonable differs on this.

    For now, I still see this process of self-determination as an exercise of political power rather than a suppossed “right” that will actually improve the welfare of actual people…

  22. cc
    June 9th, 2008 at 22:08 | #22

    Charles Liu,

    FOARP thinks he knows A Whole Lot about China because he tried to learn the language and has stayed in the country for a while. At the same time, he still belives that there are a whole lot of red guards of China in action, not only in China itself but also all over the world, who are, natually, absolutely brainwashed by the communists. This belief stems from his family experience in East Europe a couple of decades ago, which he still cherishes much as univeral guidance of life. He applies this guidance to whatever scenarios which he sees as another relection of his family experience of the past at the present (ask his view on the torch guards). This is the reason why anger was brewing in his mind when he saw Chinese students were (dare to support) supporting something that the “communist” Chinese government was/is also supporting. What was/is supported is actually irrelevant.

    On NI, the issue is not that simple as you might think. In fact, if there was ever a vote, the pro-crown side was likely to win given the demographic statistics.

  23. JXie
    June 9th, 2008 at 22:21 | #23

    Unless the world becomes a totally selfless world, I just don’t see why China should even entertain any forms of changes that may potentially down the road lead to Tibetan Independence. Most of the small Han/Hui merchants in Lhasa are peasants from other places, where in some places each’s farmland is no more than a few acres. They are seeking their happiness just like everybody else, bearing the day-to-day pain most of us have never experienced. It’s not like countries such as Canada, Australia, the US or even Brazil will open wide for them to move to, so who is to look after their interests? So what if Canada is somewhat willing to let Quebec go? Canada is a vast, and sparingly populated country. It’s nowhere near feeling the level of the pain China would feel if Tibet goes.

  24. JL
    June 9th, 2008 at 23:14 | #24

    It seems inevitable that discussion of Tibet will tend towards arguements regarding the rightness or wrongness of independence, but I think EugeneZ made an interesting comment worthy of some discussion:

    “I think that internet activism on the Tibet issue by overseas Chinese has made an impact on some western readers. Not for the die-hard bigots, but for some more moderate and open-minded individuals who possess the ability of independant thinking.”

    I’m not sure about this, but the consequences of Chinese activism are an extremely interesting thing to think about. Personally I don’t know anyone here (in NZ) who has really changed their mind about the Tibet issue as a result of seeing Chinese protesters on the streets, other than that they are more aware of a common Han Chinese position on the issue. I think the most significant consequence might be on the way that people view mainland students and Chinese more generally, but we’ll have to wait a bit to see what kind of changes occur in that respect.
    If journalists are more careful about checking facts and thinking through myths, that would be a positive result, but I’m not sure if that will happen or not.

  25. June 9th, 2008 at 23:49 | #25

    @CC – Okay, I think here is where I came in. No, I don’t believe I’m about to dragged out of my house and subjected to ‘self criticism’, I don’t believe the world is about to be taken over by Red Guards, I never said anything about the Chinese people all being brainwashed, no I don’t see something which happened to my grandfather’s family as a guiding light in my life – I have never said any such thing, and I am far from the only person to have been reminded of the cultural revolution by the tone of the recent protests.

    Get more sleep.

    @Charles Liu – Google ‘Northern Ireland assembly’ – Sinn Fein and the SDLP are still in a minority compared to the DUP and the UUP. Anyway, what Sinn Fein wants is to unite NI with the Irish Republic (nevermind that a majority of people in the Republic do not want this) – nobody in NI is seeking independence.

  26. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 00:49 | #26

    JL,

    I’m not sure about this, but the consequences of Chinese activism are an extremely interesting thing to think about. Personally I don’t know anyone here (in NZ) who has really changed their mind about the Tibet issue as a result of seeing Chinese protesters on the streets, other than that they are more aware of a common Han Chinese position on the issue. I think the most significant consequence might be on the way that people view mainland students and Chinese more generally, but we’ll have to wait a bit to see what kind of changes occur in that respect.

    I personally am satisfied with the second effect, believing that it’s at least a step towards achieving the first.

    I’ve talked about this before. I honestly believe that before the Chinese began showing up in force in support of the Olympic Torch relays + “One China” with respect to Tibet, the vast majority of people in the West (and I assume New Zealand) had no idea that’s how the Chinese community at large felt about the issue.

    The default position assumed by many in the West seemed to be: Tibet was an independent country invaded by a foreign government, and now ruled by a genocidal China… this is bad. Few knew an alternate interpretation of Tibet’s history existed, few knew exactly how the Chinese felt about Tibet and Tibetans in general.

    Even today, perhaps not many in the West share our feelings… but they’ve been forced to confront the reality that many Chinese (fully informed of all the facts) remain very, very opposed to Tibetan independence.

    This leaves them two choices: assume that the Chinese people they know (most of whom are tame, happy, well-adjusted people who love pets and small children) are actually brain-washed Communist sympathizers, or that there’s another convincing version of “the truth”. Instinctively they might adopt the first position, but eventually, I think they’ll come around and recognize the second.

  27. Anon
    June 10th, 2008 at 01:45 | #27

    @Buxi

    Interesting that you managed to talk at some length about the Tibet without even considering once what Tibetans might think. As if the Tibetan problem was a thing between China and the “West.”

  28. Wahaha
    June 10th, 2008 at 01:52 | #28

    It is even funnier when West talk about chinese government, they dont care what 1.3 billion people think of their government, like their view on the other side of earth is far more important than the view of 1.3 billion chinese.

  29. Karma
    June 10th, 2008 at 01:53 | #29

    @Anon

    Tibet for many is a geopolitical problem. Had the West and DD not “internalized” and sensationalized the Tibet issue, the DD would be in China, on the ground, helping to improve the lives of average Tibetans – rather than playing international politicking that even according to the DD has not achieved much for the average Tibetans.

    For some of the resources readily available on the web on these issues, please see KeepTibetFree links

  30. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 02:33 | #30

    @Anon,

    Interesting that you managed to talk at some length about the Tibet without even considering once what Tibetans might think. As if the Tibetan problem was a thing between China and the “West.”

    Tibetans are Chinese. Each individual’s opinion count as much as any other Chinese citizen’s opinion, including mine. There are some inevitable conflicts in building a multi-ethnic country, as anyone who happens to be citizen of a multi-ethnic country probably realizes… but I believe it’s a problem that can be resolved.

    The Free Tibet campaign is a problem between those who want to work outside of the Chinese system, and those of us who want to work within.

  31. June 10th, 2008 at 02:57 | #31

    JXie,

    I think you may have misunderstood my argument. I brought up Quebec as a contrast to Tibet with respect to referendums, to illustrate that the issue is a non-starter. The Tibet separatists would not want a vote that they could not win. Any pro-Tibetan independence people who advocate a vote are either naive or disingenuous.

    I’d caution you not to presume you know what Quebec means to Canada. 🙂 Comparing hypothetical pains is not productive.

  32. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 02:59 | #32

    I feel that we put too much emphasis on the “Tibetan issue” while at the same time, turn a blind eye on similar issues that also happen around China. Many issues in Tibet are not unique to Tibet, so why do some people treat it as such? Issues like eminent domain, religion, globalization, corruption happen all around China.

    IMO, it is extremely narrow minded to view such issues in only the context of Tibet and not realize(or dismiss) that it should be in the context of the entire mainland.
    IMO, that is what the scope of discussions and reforms should be and limiting it to the confines of the TAR is overly restrictive.

  33. EugeneZ
    June 10th, 2008 at 04:28 | #33

    @Buxi #26,

    Once again I would like to add a bit of my personal experience to your well articulated message about the importance and significance of making our voice heard in the west.

    On 4/10 when the olympics torch passed through San Francisco, I was at Herman Plaza. There were three groups of people there: “Free Tibet” crowds, bystanders, and the Chinese waving Olmpics and Chinese flags. The “Free Tibet” crowd was the best organized, (some said that a lot of them were on anti-China forces’ payroll), with neatly rehearsed slogans, equipped with loud speakers, drums and such. But the Chinese actually out-numbered them by at least 3:1, the bystanders of course had no idea that there would be so many people in the latter group, all speaking the “One China” slogan. I think the bystanders got quite some education on that day, for those who have intellectual curiosity, I would imagine that they would go back to their desk and read about the different points of views on Tibet now that they realized that the overseas Chinese people, in all sizes and shapes are united against Tibetan Independance.

    When the “Free Tibet” crowds passed through where I was standing, everytime they yelled “Free Tibet”, I would wave my Olympics and Chinese flags and yelled back “Free Tibet from Slavery”. It got their attention everytime, because half of them did not know what I meant. The bystanders, on the other hand, engaged me in meaningful discussions about the history of Tibet, what really happened in Tibet on 3/19, and western media bias, etc.

    It was a heck of fun day.

  34. EugeneZ
    June 10th, 2008 at 04:36 | #34

    @yo #32,

    While I agree with that there are many many issues we could discuss about China, some are common in TAR and other parts of China. But I think that for overseas Chinese, we do need to keep a laser sharp focus on the Tibetan issue. It is THE hottest China-related issue in the west, the most complex, the most misunderstood, and the most damaging issue to the reputation of China.

    By staying on Tibetan issue, now and in the future when new news breaks out, we can argue effectively and provide a powerful alternative view point to the open-mineded readers in the west as long as we stay the course of reason, logic, and facts.

    Buxi and those who started this blog are doing a great service by starting this blog because of the Tibetan issue and continue to stay focused on this issue whenever necessary.

  35. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 04:46 | #35

    To Nimrod #14:
    my point wasn’t that the logistical barriers were incidental; just that they are dwarfed by the philosophical barriers you seem to share, so thanks for making my point for me.
    “If you asked them to change, you had better provide a damned good reason.” – from a Chinese perspective, probably true; from a Tibetan perspective, probably less so (ie they may already think they have pretty good reasons).
    “we live in societies (still, for the most part) founded on families as organizing units” – and what if one such unit wanted to go its own way? Does that cripple the family and ruin the society?

    To Yo #16:
    “It’s like the movie “recount”” – actually, it’s not, because to have a REcount, you need to have a count first, and that hasn’t happened yet.
    “if a person doesn’t want Tibet to secede, then why entertain the notion of a referendum?” – if you were Tibetan, you’d probably phrase that question in the negative.

    To MJ #15:
    “I believe that some form of democratic process must evolve in Chinese politics if she is to fully realize her prosperity potential. A made in China model would be best.” – works for me.

  36. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 05:03 | #36

    RE: Buxi #30:
    “Tibetans are Chinese”- if that were a universally accepted truth on the ground in Tibet and in China, then this is a non-issue. THe question is: are they? And do they actually feel that way?

  37. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 05:06 | #37

    To Wahaha #28:
    “their view on the other side of earth is far more important than the view of 1.3 billion chinese.” – not sure who you’re referring to. Not sure anyone is claiming their opinion to be more important; but hopefully you’ll grant people the right to an opinion, even if it conflicts with your own.

  38. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 05:20 | #38

    SKC,
    “actually, it’s not, because to have a REcount, you need to have a count first, and that hasn’t happened yet.”

    That’s a glib interpretation. But anyways, I was trying to illustrate the strategy involved. You read way too much into my example. btw, great movie if you haven’t seen it yet.

    “if you were Tibetan, you’d probably phrase that question in the negative.”

    And you speak for all Tibetans 🙂 Be careful in your assumptions. But that wasn’t the issue, the issue was why people who are against the idea of secession don’t want to entertaining referendums and my hypothesis is strategic as opposed to philosophical, your thoughts?

  39. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 05:45 | #39

    To Yo:
    I like Kevin Spacey. But that’s probably going to be a rental for me.
    You’re right, I absolutely speak for no one but myself. SHould have said “might” instead of “would”. My bad.
    Interesting question. I think if the Chinese thought the outcome was uncertain, or potentially could be unfavourable, then it is more likely strategic. They wouldn’t want a referendum that gave them an answer they didn’t want. So if you don’t want to know the answer, the best way is to not ask the question.
    However, if the Chinese felt they know and would approve of the answer, and still opposed asking the question, then it would seem more a philosophical issue, since, if anything, getting that answer might be strategically useful.
    Which brings me to a point I’ve made to Buxi and Allen Yu previously. Many in these blogs feel that Tibet has had much to gain within China, and has much more to potentially benefit from in the future. This mutual benefit (although mostly skewed to Tibet’s favour) seems to justify in part the reason for keeping Tibet’s status quo. Why not put this sentiment to the test? There would be strategic risk, of course, but a “favourable” answer to such a question would remove this issue from the world stage. And China would be lauded for allowing the question to be asked in the first place.

  40. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 05:54 | #40

    S.K. Cheung Says:

    RE: Buxi #30:
    “Tibetans are Chinese”- if that were a universally accepted truth on the ground in Tibet and in China, then this is a non-issue. THe question is: are they? And do they actually feel that way?

    +++++
    We’re talking about citizenship. I don’t know what you’re talking about. What are they? Do they feel what they are? Lol… does all this depend on what “is” is?

  41. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 05:55 | #41

    EugeneZ,
    Fair enough. I understand that this issue is very misunderstood in the “west”. However, to elaborate my point, let’s take for instance MLK. He didn’t just fight for civil rights for blacks but for all races. People like the Richard Gere’s of the world seem to miss that point, and forget/dismiss/(whatever) that problems in Tibet also exist in the rest of the country, and a more general scope might be better.

  42. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:22 | #42

    S.K. Cheung,

    Why not put this sentiment to the test?

    Because even if Tibetans are in favor of being part of China today, I don’t know whether the people of Shanghai will want to be part of China tomorrow. China’s national integrity is something all Chinese have to agree on. It’s not something that should be unilaterally decided.

  43. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:23 | #43

    S.K. Cheung wrote:

    Why not put this sentiment to the test? There would be strategic risk, of course, but a “favourable” answer to such a question would remove this issue from the world stage. And China would be lauded for allowing the question to be asked in the first place.

    +++++
    That’s an extremely retarded idea, I’m sorry to say. First, a referendum would never be final. You could always have more if you’ve had one. A referendum not only would not remove the question from the world stage, regardless of outcome, but would add an additional procedural channel and incentive to have this question raised over and over.

    Second, what is being lauded for allowing the question to be asked good for? Lauded by whom? The ones who don’t matter, that’s who. This issue being on the world stage has never been an issue of people in Tibet. Nobody ever asked them anything. It has always been trumpeted by anti-China countries first and the exiles second. So long as they don’t want to give it up, they could always reject any referendum as being illegitimate. It’s not like it’s hard to pick bones with anything China does.

  44. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:28 | #44

    SKC,
    Katheryn Harris is HILARIOUS in the movie. But back to the issues.

    “So if you don’t want to know the answer, the best way is to not ask the question.”

    I agree somewhat, but here’s a football analogy 🙂 Your team scores a touchdown but the other team is thinking about challenging it. It doesn’t matter what you think, you throw your kicking team on the field ASAP to kick the field goal so you don’t give the other team a chance to challenge the touchdown. Even if you are confident your touchdown was good, you would still do the same thing, that way it’s a guaranteed 7.

    And this alludes to another point you made. I still see that as a strategic decision and not philosophical. I guess we have to agree to disagree.

    “Why not put this sentiment to the test? There would be strategic risk, of course, but a “favourable” answer to such a question would remove this issue from the world stage.”

    Actually, I feel this is exactly the strategy that people who advocate secession employ to bait the PRC to do a referendum. I’m not saying that’s your personal intentions(I want to make that clear, I’m not trying to throw around accusations of ulterior motives) but from a strategic pov, that’s what I would do.

  45. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:33 | #45

    TO Nimrod:
    “We’re talking about citizenship”: you might be, I’m not. I’m guessing that most who don’t share the Chinese perspective aren’t either. I’m also guessing that some Tibetan-Chinese might simply characterize themselves as Tibetans. So no, little blue dress has nothing to do with it.

  46. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:36 | #46

    To Buxi:
    “It’s not something that should be unilaterally decided.” – as you know, we obviously disagree on this point, and suspect always will.

  47. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:40 | #47

    I’m going to refer to a comment in a different post, but more relevant here.

    S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Tibetans under CCP, under KMT or under Qing dynasty, cuz they are part of our big family.” – my point all along, is that it might serve to ask Tibetans if they share that sentiment.

    +++++
    Whether they are asked in some way that satisfies you isn’t important. It’s obvious to me now that it’s what should be done once the answer is known that divides you and me. If Tibetans do not share that sentiment, I’d be asking the same questions that some Americans were asking after blacks complained the country didn’t care about them during Katrina. Notice it didn’t even cross their minds that therefore blacks should have a black reservation with a high degree of autonomy.

  48. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:41 | #48

    To Nimrod:
    “You could always have more if you’ve had one.” -true, as it should be. Kinda like elections. You probably find elections retarded as well. If that’s your position, then I’ll be glad to be stupid.
    “Nobody ever asked them anything.” – which is one of the reasons why I fail to see the logic of not starting now. How could you, me, or anybody pretend to know what Tibetans want without asking them. And who knows, they might even agree with you.

  49. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:50 | #49

    S.K. Cheung,

    “You could always have more if you’ve had one.” -true, as it should be. Kinda like elections. You probably find elections retarded as well. If that’s your position, then I’ll be glad to be stupid.

    +++++
    Well there goes your theory about taking the issue off the world stage with a referendum. Non-sequitur in the second part so I won’t bother answering.

  50. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:50 | #50

    To Nimrod:
    “I’d be asking the same questions that some Americans were asking after blacks complained the country didn’t care about them during Katrina.” – and you should be free to do so. Do you think black people would want to live in an independent “B.A.R”, in the way that Tibetans MIGHT want to live in an independent TAR? My point is that the question should be asked. The answer will be what it will be, and should be respected, no matter which way it goes.

  51. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 06:56 | #51

    To Nimrod:
    it takes the TIBET issue off the world stage because Tibetans are no longer oppressed if their voices have been heard. They could have more in the future…doesn’t mean they will.

  52. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:02 | #52

    To Nimrod:
    I’ll rephrase. You shouldn’t believe the West or the exiles…if you want to know how Tibetans feel, probably best to go ask them directly. As it stands now, quoting you, “Nobody ever asked them anything.” That’s why I see it as a problem.

  53. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:04 | #53

    S.K. Cheung,

    Your literalism pains me. Some blacks did want their own country. Some even got shipped back to Africa to re-colonize Liberia. Too bad they were counted as 3/5 human at the time and if the Nation of Islam dared say anything about it they were labeled terrorists and promptly got lynched.

    If it’s just a snapshot referendum on Tibet that you want, I’m sure you’ll be satisfied eventually… when nobody cares for one any more.

  54. EugeneZ
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:06 | #54

    @ S.K. Cheung #46
    You comment- “It’s not something that should be unilaterally decided.” – as you know, we obviously disagree on this point, and suspect always will.

    Why is that? Your position to allow unilateral determination of territory secession is very difficult to defend based on accepted international laws and norms. Can you elaborate why you have hardened your indefensible position into a rigid ideology? Of course, it would be more productive if you can first reflect upon what is behind your ideology, are you also pro-Taiwan independance? If so, what is the fundamental reason for such a postion? Is it fear, anger, or hate, or something else?

    The most value-added comments on this blog are those who are based on reason, logic, and facts, not those with rigid ideologies.

  55. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:13 | #55

    S.K. Cheung Says:

    I’ll rephrase. You shouldn’t believe the West or the exiles…if you want to know how Tibetans feel, probably best to go ask them directly. As it stands now, quoting you, “Nobody ever asked them anything.” That’s why I see it as a problem.

    +++++
    Nobody (on the international stage — context S.K., context) ever asked them means nobody knows? I’m saying the Tibet issue on the international stage has nothing to do with them, so you’re barking up the wrong tree if you go about asking how they feel. They are only props. If you want to get rid of that issue, you’d best take a referendum in the US asking how it feel about China, or one in Dharamsala on how it feels about China.

  56. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:14 | #56

    TO Yo:
    I read that the real K. Harris was not happy with her depiction…probably because she comes across as being hilarious.
    And if I’m on somebody’s payroll, then clearly I’m the last one to know about it 🙂
    You know what, i suspect that PRC doesn’t want to ask the question, because in reality, it couldn’t give a flying fig what Tibetans want. Tibet’s in China now, and that’s how it’s going to be, unless somebody’s gonna do something about it. And let’s face it, no one’s going to war or anything remotely resembling that over Tibet. At least I’d respect the PRC for speaking its mind. The whole “we have Tibet’s best interests at heart” is just the warm and fuzzies.

  57. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:22 | #57

    I’m glad you stopped probing at the margins and just spoke your mind.

    The PRC doesn’t ask the question because the answer may be nice to know but it doesn’t change that a country’s sovereignty is not up for negotiation. How that is equivalent to not caring about Tibetans period, only your wild imagination can answer. I don’t consider maximalist self-determination a right, much less a fundamental right.

    By the way, this is and has always been the PRC’s public position, which is always based on existing sovereignty first, treaties second (17 Point Agreement), and history as background. It’s not some “hidden” agenda. Helping Tibetans is a fact that just provides some moral justification because Chinese leaders tend to be a bit Confucian. But that’s totally unnecessary in discussions with you.

  58. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:23 | #58

    To Nimrod:
    “when nobody cares for one any more.” – nice way to deal with an issue…ignore it until it goes away. Is that literal enough for you?
    “Some blacks did want their own country.” – and look how hard they’ve pushed to establish one within the US since. But they still could, and if such a sentiment existed, I’d certainly agree with their right to pose the question.
    “I’m saying the Tibet issue on the international stage has nothing to do with them” – that’s funny, because if Tibet ever became independent, they’d be the ones living in it, so i’d imagine it does concern them. I think you’re a little caught up in your international anti-China conspiracy theories.

  59. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:28 | #59

    To Nimrod:
    “How that is equivalent to not caring about Tibetans” – you can’t claim to care about somebody without acknowledging and respecting their wishes, wants, desires. So if that is China’s “caring”, then it’s got a lot of limitations and caveats.

  60. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:31 | #60

    S.K. Cheung,

    Ever heard of tough love?

  61. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:32 | #61

    TO Eugene Z:
    I don’t have an ideology. The principle I go by is self-determination. I’ve already beaten it to death in the earlier thread on self-determination with Buxi and Allen Yu, so if you really want to know what I think, it’s all there.
    I was full-on pro Kosovo independence, but also feel that Northern Kosovo should be able to go its own way.
    Back in 1995, I’d have been fine if Quebec left Canada, but turns out they didn’t want to.
    As for Taiwan, never really considered it, cuz unlike Tibet, they’ve got it pretty good, and lack “independence” mostly in name only.

  62. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:35 | #62

    To Nimrod:
    thanks, “DAD”

  63. S.K. Cheung
    June 10th, 2008 at 07:39 | #63

    To EugeneZ:
    reasoning and logic, I’m all for. “facts”, on the other hand, are a pretty nebulous entity wrt Tibet, wouldn’t you say? I don’t see self-determination as an unreasonable or illogical concept.

  64. June 10th, 2008 at 10:53 | #64

    @Nimrod, EugeneZ – Like it or loath it, Tibetan independence would at least bring an end to the weeping sore that Tibet has become for China. It would also allow return of the roughly 100,000 Tibetan exiles (this is according to UNHCR figures), and prevent the incredibly divisive occurance of the Tibetans choosing their Dalai Lama whilst Beijing chooses a different one. However, it is within Beijing’s power to grant all these things in a package granting autonomy – but I see no solution to the current problem in a continuation of current policies.

    @S.K. Cheung – Agreed, and anyway, if self-determination is unreasonable or illogical then on what basis does any government govern anyone?

  65. June 10th, 2008 at 13:36 | #65

    I think it is a pretty safe bet that Tibetan Independence is not something that’s going to happen anytime soon.

    By referendum? As the CCP, I wouldn’t dignify the process with a vote even though I know I would win. As the separatists, I wouldn’t risk eroding Western support on a vote I couldn’t be sure I’d win. (But I might have a chance of winning if reduce my claimed territory to… Lhasa.)

    Militarily? Their options are even thinner. Nobody (except for the extreme anti-China/CCP factions) is going to support a Tibetan revolution.

    So what is this “Free Tibet” about then?

    A big part of it is just fashion. “Save the Whales” “Global Warming” “Free Tibet”. These are the same sort of people that would sign a petition to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide. You’ve got to admit that the Dalai Lama is as cute as a Harp Seal pup but, just as with the seal hunt, this group tends not to dig too deep into the issue.

    Of course the separatists have their agenda. It’s not like they are running a business and they need to justify to their shareholders that their enterprise is profitable, let alone viable.

    And then there are the anti-CCP or anti-China factions. Their only interest is to antagonize or, at the minimum, use the issue for their own agendas.

    Since the goal of a “Free Tibet” isn’t viable, I have a hard time accepting that the three groups listed above are seriously interested in welfare of Tibetans within China. Even FOARP says that he sees “no solution to the current problem in a continuation of current policies [i.e. no Tibetan independence].” How productive is it to link solutions to an unlikely pre-condition?

    So, what is the condition in Tibet for Tibetans? Certainly we can’t ask the separatists as they can not frame a response outside of their own self serving agenda. Can we ask the Chinese government? Not really.

    SKC is right but with the wrong question.

    What are the school programs like? How is Tibetan language, religion, and culture presented in the classroom? What are the feelings of Tibetans towards non-Tibetan migration? Given that the migration brings enhanced employment opportunities through trade and tourism, how can the government help the Tibetans fully participate in the region’s growth?

    But these and questions like these can not, will not, be asked by those who chant “Free Tibet”.

    btw, yo in #32 makes an excellent point. And so does EugeneZ in #34. I expect that there will be more in the news regarding the “Tibetan issue” as the games draw near.

  66. June 10th, 2008 at 14:04 | #66

    @Mutantjedi – I would say that the flow of refugees across the Himalayas into India and Nepal averaging more than a thousand a year despite the risk of being shot by border guards and freezing to death in high mountain passes shows something of the true conditions in Tibet.

  67. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 14:50 | #67

    reasoning and logic, I’m all for. “facts”, on the other hand, are a pretty nebulous entity wrt Tibet, wouldn’t you say? I don’t see self-determination as an unreasonable or illogical concept.

    Self-determination is a perfectly reasonable and logical concept. Recognizing that the country as a whole has a moral and legal right in approving attempts at secession is also a perfectly reasonable and logical concept.

    As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a single logical answer here. There’s just a difference of perspective, a difference in our fundamental view of the world. S.K. Cheung and Nimrod both have the right to their opinion. Both sides will take whatever measures are available to make their opinion reality. This is how the world has always been, and it’s how it will always be.

    Fortunately (from my point of view), Nimrod’s opinion happens to be shared by the vast majority of Chinese.

    @FOARP,

    I don’t think the thousands that cross reflect anything of the “true conditions” in Tibet, but rather the religious fanaticism of some of those who worship the Dalai Lama. If you’ve read the refugee reports, many cross the border for the sole purpose of receiving the Dalai Lama’s blessing, and then immediately return to China.

  68. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 14:52 | #68

    @MutantJedi,

    What are the school programs like? How is Tibetan language, religion, and culture presented in the classroom? What are the feelings of Tibetans towards non-Tibetan migration? Given that the migration brings enhanced employment opportunities through trade and tourism, how can the government help the Tibetans fully participate in the region’s growth?

    These are all important questions, thanks for reminding those of us who care about Tibetans as Chinese citizens where our concerns should be.

  69. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 15:08 | #69

    @Eugene,

    I was in San Francisco too, near the starting point at AT&T Park. We out-numbered the protesters even more down there, probably 5:1, maybe even more. I was shocked when I first got to the starting point and saw the size of the pro-China crowd… there’s no precedent for this, I had no idea what to expect.

    I don’t know about you, but I was inspired to come out partly because of the pictures I had seen of crowds in Toronto, Berlin, and during the Olympic Torch relay in Paris and London. And I think we also inspired other people in subsequent cities to come out and do the same. Great, great, great grassroots effort that made clear *our* opinion on that issue.

    But as you said, what’s important is to continue with our effort now through other channels. We got the world’s attention, they can’t easily ignore us any longer. Now is the time to say what we want to say. I have no expectations that we’ll change the minds of people who strongly disagree with us, but as you said, there are many open-minded moderates who will come to respect our opinion.

  70. Wahaha
    June 10th, 2008 at 15:32 | #70

    Buxi,

    Your comment ” We got the world’s attention, they can’t easily ignore us any longer. ”

    I am sorry to say that we didnt get enough attention. I joined in the protest in New York. 5000 people were there from beginning to end, totaly about 15,000 people counting those came later or left earlier.

    There was NO report about the protest on TV, absolutely none. what is funny is that New York TV did report a protest of about 20 grocery owners that night

    That is so called free media, what a joke !!!

  71. Wahaha
    June 10th, 2008 at 15:49 | #71

    @MutantJedi,

    What are the school programs like? How is Tibetan language, religion, and culture presented in the classroom? What are the feelings of Tibetans towards non-Tibetan migration? Given that the migration brings enhanced employment opportunities through trade and tourism, how can the government help the Tibetans fully participate in the region’s growth?

    ____________________________

    I went to Tibet in 1986, by myself. There was only one college in Tibet, Lhasa university, which is smaller than a high school in New York. Most tibetan kids at that time had nearly zero education.

    I am happy to see those picture of schools in Tibet. From my friends who went to Tibet recently (after 2000), Tibetan language is taught in school, but chinese is also taught. A lot of classes are taught in Chinese, not tibetan language, cuz there are no mathematic books or physics books in tibet language, also some teachers are han chinese, they cant speak tibetans.

    Like we studied English, Tibetans have to study chinese if they want to live better as they have to do business with Han chinese. Neither chinese government nor han chinese mind their celebration or the way they dress.

    Religion, monks regularly gather together for religion reason, I believe they are closely watched in case those monks turn religion activities into anti-China. As religion, they can debate or worship (maybe not DL) freely.

  72. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 16:52 | #72

    Buxi wrote:

    As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a single logical answer here. There’s just a difference of perspective, a difference in our fundamental view of the world. S.K. Cheung and Nimrod both have the right to their opinion. Both sides will take whatever measures are available to make their opinion reality. This is how the world has always been, and it’s how it will always be.

    +++++
    This is a good point. Let’s not pretend there is some kind of moral high ground to be had. People can view the world differently, that’s fine, which is why I don’t go around telling Bloc Quebecois to shut up and defend Canadian sovereignty, or reject Kosovo independence “full on” (to use somebody’s phrase), like I’m the final authority on world affairs. They have their reasons and it’s none of my business. Tibet, however, is my business, and is the business of every fellow countryman. I just do my part and the exiles can do theirs.

    As for which of these two worldviews are actually being practiced, that’s a different matter all together. If S.K. believes his “couldn’t care less” is the prevailing one, I suggest he run for office explicitly on that platform in any of the countries he mentioned and see how it goes — includng his own, Canada. Always good to test your idea where it is your business first. I can’t speak for Canada but you’d never make it even hinting black separatism is okay with you in the US, no ifs or buts about it.

  73. June 10th, 2008 at 16:56 | #73

    @Wahaha – So let me get this straight – a free media is one which contains exactly the content which you want it to? New York was not on the torch route – this is why your protest had no coverage.

    @Buxi – And what about the 90,000-odd Tibetan refugees who numbers are swell every year? What about the shootings on the border?

    As for having the world’s attention, you should be aware that the response to the pro-China rallies was far from positive, even by those who might have sympathised with a pro-Olympics message. Few people are likely to be convinced by the sight of thousands of red-banner waving folk singing the Chinese national anthem.

  74. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 17:06 | #74

    I am sorry to say that we didnt get enough attention. I joined in the protest in New York. 5000 people were there from beginning to end, totaly about 15,000 people counting those came later or left earlier.

    @Wahaha,

    We talked about that here, too.
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/?p=28

    I think it’s disappointing… but one step at a time. We can’t force the NY Times to pay attention to us every time, but we’re making progress.

  75. Buxi
    June 10th, 2008 at 17:10 | #75

    @FOARP,

    As for having the world’s attention, you should be aware that the response to the pro-China rallies was far from positive, even by those who might have sympathised with a pro-Olympics message. Few people are likely to be convinced by the sight of thousands of red-banner waving folk singing the Chinese national anthem.

    I already talked about this above, comment #26. I didn’t expect to convince anyone by being on the streets, just as Free Tibet protesters weren’t trying to convince anyone by waving the Snow Lion independence flag and throwing themselves at the torch.

    My goal was to make our voice heard. Like Nimrod and I talked about above, the point isn’t necessarily whether we can talk you into believing our point of view. Instead, I want the world to know that we, the Chinese people, have principles, and we’re strong enough to stand up and defend our principles.

    I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that’s exactly what the Free Tibet protesters wanted to achieve. They weren’t there to make a logical argument. They wanted to intimidate and draw attention through a show of “force”, through numbers, through conviction. That’s a game that we are strong enough to play, too.

  76. Nimrod
    June 10th, 2008 at 17:15 | #76

    FOARP, I severely doubt anybody knows what is the Chinese national anthem. People tune out demonstrations that they don’t understand and that have nothing to do with them, which is probably why there was coverage of a handful of shopowners but not thousands of Chinese. Some probably thought it was FLG, lol… As for unease at seeing the rallies, man up. That bit of intellectual dissonance is good for anyone, just like it’s good for Chinese to realize the West’s position on Tibet.

    I’m certainly not going to be forced into accepting somebody else’s convictions and I am not afraid to defend mine openly. There is absolutely no shame. Even more, I hope all Chinese people realize this.

  77. Wahaha
    June 10th, 2008 at 17:20 | #77

    To FOARP,

    From March to April, you could see all the news on TV about those monks’ protesting on street.

    After our protest, I watched local TV station (and ABC, NBC), not a national TV station. a protest by over 5000 people should be reported, at least should be mentioned. I dont think I asked too much.

  78. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 18:10 | #78

    FOARP, Buxi,
    Buxi is right about the “refuges”. Evidence shows that the vast majority shouldn’t be classified as such because they:

    1. Want an education in Dharmsala with the master of the yellow hats, HH OR
    2. Want to get a blessing from HH.

    Either case, they will return to the TAR after they are done.

    Buxi, I wouldn’t call them fanatics for that.

    Of course, there are probably some who are leaving for political/human rights/whatever reasons but evidence shows that the vast majority are not and have every intention to return to the TAR.

    In addition, even if there are people who are leaving because of “abuses”, which I have already said a vast majority don’t, that by no means constitutes any sort widespread extent or display the “true picture” of the conditions in the TAR.

    I point anyone who is interested to this discussion about Tibet. This debate was very insight.
    http://discussions.pbs.org/viewtopic.pbs?t=68073&postdays=0&postorder=asc&topic_view=&start=0

  79. EugeneZ
    June 10th, 2008 at 18:18 | #79

    Noam Chomsky explained the “five filters” in western media that determines what to report, what not to report. The Chinese protest in NY, Atlanta, LA, SF over CNN and Cafferty did not fit the western narrative and was filtered out. But we still have a few channels – youtube, blogs, readers’ comments to some articles, etc. Instead of worrying about what we can not help with, we can focus on what we can do.

    It is time for Chinese to take a stand, and speak out with conviction. We win respect this way.

  80. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 18:22 | #80

    SKC,
    Actually, a consultant for the movie would contend that her depiction wasn’t dishonest at all. It’s hard to dramatize a person when she is already dramatizing herself in real life. Lol

    As for the rest of your comments, fair enough, we just don’t see eye to eye.

  81. yo
    June 10th, 2008 at 18:38 | #81

    MutantJedi,
    Thanks for the shout out 🙂 And let me say, I definitely appreciate your views as well. It’s a very pragmatic way of thinking.

    IMO, to solve the biggest issues in China, we need to be more realistic and pragmatic. We need to be less idealogical, stay away from the 30-sec sound bits, catch-phrases, buzz words, and endless endless rounds of rhetoric. The CCP is not evil and Whitey ain’t trying to keep us down.

  82. S.K. Cheung
    June 11th, 2008 at 00:33 | #82

    To MJ:
    “The CCP is not evil and Whitey ain’t trying to keep us down.” -that about sums it up. I think, as with all things, the reality rests not at the extremes, but somewhere in between.
    BTW, I would never sign onto a ban of dihydrogen monoxide, since consuming barley and hops without it would be far less pleasant than the current form 🙂 Now, if they find a new way to make Guinness…but I digress.
    As for Free Tibet, I’ve never been a banner waver. But to me, the “freedom” comes from having a voice and being able to express it. As far as I’m concerned, a vote for the status quo makes Tibet as free as any alternate result.
    A content (dress, eat, live, transport, among other things) populace poses the least threat to the government, so hopefully the answers to your questions will improve the overall contentment of Tibetans.

  83. S.K. Cheung
    June 11th, 2008 at 00:37 | #83

    To Yo:
    We can certainly agree to disagree about some things. Nice that we can do so without you finding me retarded simply for not sharing your POV.

  84. S.K. Cheung
    June 11th, 2008 at 00:46 | #84

    To Nimrod:
    “you’d never make it even hinting black separatism is okay with you in the US, no ifs or buts about it.” – which is correct, because today, there’s no move afoot for black Americans to seek such a thing. Perhaps we should ask them.
    One could certainly ask Quebecers, but currently, the BLoc polls in the high 30’s, and a federalist is premier (equivalent to your governor), so there seems to be no great desire there either. Tough to be a politician championing things that few want.
    But there MIGHT be such a desire among Tibetans, though neither of us know cuz they’ve yet to be asked.

  85. JL
    June 11th, 2008 at 02:04 | #85

    Well, a few comments have gone by in the meantime, but in response to your response, Buxi:

    “This leaves them two choices: assume that the Chinese people they know (most of whom are tame, happy, well-adjusted people who love pets and small children) are actually brain-washed Communist sympathizers, or that there’s another convincing version of “the truth”. Instinctively they might adopt the first position, but eventually, I think they’ll come around and recognize the second.”

    I wonder if that’s not a little simplistic? I mean, I disagree with the political views of a lot of people on this website, and also those of other New Zealanders, but I still recognize that those people are “normal” people who like pets and have families etc. But recognizing that doesn’t bring me any closer to thinking that their political views are all completely sound and reasonable. (And to be fair, they would probably say the same about me. At least I hope they would- i.e. I hope they wouldn’t think that I’m some-kind of brainwashed fool who doesn’t like pets just because they disagree with me.)

  86. Nimrod
    June 11th, 2008 at 03:28 | #86

    S.K. Cheung,

    Let’s clear up something, I did label one particular idea of yours “retarded”, it was: “calling a referendum would remove the Tibet issue from the world stage”, and I explained why. I didn’t say all your ideas were retarded, and certainly said nothing about your person. You can go back and check.

    Let’s be even more clear so there is no misunderstanding. A referendum may even have a host of advantages for China, but not for the reason you gave and I called “retarded”.

    Other than that, you are welcome to your rigid views on self-determination. I understand it as a fundamentally different value prioritization which I can disagree with. That part is fine. I hope you can realize the same about other people here. We don’t have some kind of “mental block” about referendums or finding out how Tibetans feel. That’s not even the crux of the difference, which I already said was how to treat the result of some hypothetical probing of sentiment whether by referendum or otherwise. I believe a pessimistic answer means working extra hard to make a better China for them. That’s how I would show concern and respect for my countrymen. You believe a pessimistic answer means Tibet becomes independent and left to its own devices, and anything else is sin. Whatever… so long as you don’t delude yourself into thinking you stand on higher moral ground.

    To wrap this up, I’ll touch on the black separatism and Quebec tangent. I didn’t ask you to run on a pro-separatism platform. I asked you to run on a “could not care less about sovereignty” or “self-determination trumps everything” platform, which is your position in this thread. It wouldn’t require you to advance a separatist position, but merely to be okay with its realization (if that’s what “they” want). You think you’ll win in any national election with this, in any country? Canada? lol… Here’s a hint, Canadians keep electing prime ministers (even ones from Quebec) of a certain type. That tells me enough.

  87. S.K. Cheung
    June 11th, 2008 at 03:45 | #87

    To Nimrod:
    “how to treat the result of some hypothetical probing of sentiment whether by referendum or otherwise.” – respect the result.
    “You believe a pessimistic answer means Tibet becomes independent and left to its own devices, and anything else is sin” – again, just respect the result. Like I said, I feel you can “free” Tibet just by giving it a voice, and that voice may not want independence.
    ““could not care less about sovereignty”” – actually, that’s not my position. I do care about sovereignty, but if a group of people want to leave it and go out on their own, then I couldn’t care less.
    ““self-determination trumps everything” platform, which is your position in this thread” – it’s not just in this thread. Now, hopefully, in this theoretical election, I’d be allowed to have a position on health care, the economy, etc too, or is that too much to ask of you? But yeah, where it’s relevant, that’d be my position. I’ll let you know how it goes…you can start holding your breath now.

  88. S.K. Cheung
    June 11th, 2008 at 04:01 | #88

    To JL:
    couldn’t agree more…and I even have pets…and a family!

  89. EugeneZ
    June 11th, 2008 at 04:48 | #89

    Why is “self-determination” such an important principle to some? I still want to question the motive. If one does not have a skin in the game, why would he or she advocate Tibetan Independance even knowing that it is first of all not pragmatic, second of all, it goes against the fundamental national interest of China, etc. For me, I want to see a unified, confident, strong, and just Chinese nation on the world stage. I am clearly taking a stand on this, and as a Chinese whose children are also Chinese, I have a huge stake in this objective.

    I have been trying hard to understand the anti-China sentiment in the west that seems to have got much worse in recent years, and my conclusion is that it is related to a whole spectrum of emotions ranging from the uyly (racism, bigotry) to the relatively benign (lack of knowledge, influence by the biased media, and intellectual laziness), to somewhere in between (fear – fear of Chinese taking over their job, fear of losing sense of superioracy, etc.).

    I am always curious about and highly suspicous of people of Chinese enthinicity who adovocates movements that clearly try to undermine China’s fundamental national interests. There is something cynical and unauthentic about this group of people, unless you are Yang Jianli or Harry Wu, who obviously are anti-China because they have chosen it as a career, something they do to provide bread on the table.

  90. Nimrod
    June 11th, 2008 at 05:46 | #90

    EugeneZ,

    You may want to read the attached document in this post:
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/?p=125#comment-1910

    It explains the view on secession of various political theories and why some in the West have this view. Basically it’s a small group of extreme libertarians who hold this view in its absolute form. A libertarianism streak underlies much of modern Western culture, but as a political force libertarians certainly aren’t mainstream. (A rich joke I’ve heard once was the first reaction of people to libertarians is to shoot them with a gun.)

    Therefore it’s not a surpirsing to me that staunch anti-communists would turn to the other extreme. For ethnic Chinese people brought up in anti-communist families, there is a double rebellion against familial authoritarianism and Confucian mores. Present company excepted of course, hehe…

  91. Buxi
    June 11th, 2008 at 05:50 | #91

    EugeneZ,

    I really don’t think the anti-China sentiment in the West has gotten much worse in recent years. I think it was always bad, with a brief honeymoon from 1975-1989… but this was ended by Tiananmen. Ever since 1989, anti-China sentiment in the West has been very fierce.

    I’ve been reading Western editorials for years, and (from a Chinese perspective) they’ve consistently taken a biased view that discounted Chinese interests. I’m talking about the embassy bombing in 1999, PNTR (permanent normal trade relations) in 1999, the Hainan plane incident in 2001…

    Well, maybe you’re right about it getting worse recently; I just realized that China has been very, very lucky from 2001-2008, only because 9/11 distracted the West from Chinese issues. And even right now, attention in the US is squarely focused on the presidential elections. But wait until the Iraq war ends, and wait until presidential elections are over, and wait until the next controversy involving China… it can and will get ugly.

  92. Buxi
    June 11th, 2008 at 06:00 | #92

    JL,

    I wonder if that’s not a little simplistic? I mean, I disagree with the political views of a lot of people on this website, and also those of other New Zealanders, but I still recognize that those people are “normal” people who like pets and have families etc. But recognizing that doesn’t bring me any closer to thinking that their political views are all completely sound and reasonable.

    I’m not expecting to change the minds of people who are informed, rational but still *disagree*… if we disagree because we differ in whatever root assumptions or values are behind our sound and reasonable political views, then that’s it, that’s the bottom line.

    Even if that’s the case, even if I were to discard my belief that many pro-Tibetan independence supporters in the West aren’t well informed about the facts on the ground…

    I believe that if enough people in the West understands that the Chinese people feel principled enough on this issue, then it will affect the steps they choose to pursue. If they understand our position, then they will understand that boycotting Chinese products or the Beijing Olympics to “pressure the Chinese government” will fail; we’re with the government on this issue, and this pressure will only strengthen the government’s hand.

    If, for example, you thought that your opponents in New Zealand are a fringe minority… you might believe you can drown out their voice, and simply force across policies that you favor. If, on the other hand, you realized that your opponents are actually a large majority in New Zealand… it’ll probably change the way you approach the problem.

  93. EugeneZ
    June 11th, 2008 at 20:04 | #93

    Buxi,

    I agree with your assessment that anti-China rethoric and sentiment can and will get worse once America can get their attention less focused on Iraq war and muslim extremism in general.

    We have work cut out for us …

    Like what we do in the business world, it is worthwhile to analyse the anti-China landscape, to segment it, and characterize each segment. If we think of oursleves being in a kind of bridge-building compaign, we need to sharpen our message and strategy, and position it properly relative to the segmentation excercise.

  94. June 11th, 2008 at 22:41 | #94

    Guys, you’re going to have your work cut out for you trying to defend the Chinese government because much of what it does is indefensible. There’s no great mystery to this.

    Why don’t you do the same thing that a lot of Americans have done during the last few years, which is to simply admit that much of what your government does is impossible to excuse and that foreign critics are at least partially right. This would be much better than simply imagining that people criticise the Chinese government out of straight-forward hatred, racism, or ignorance. This November Americans are almost certainly going to choose a man they think will set right much of what has gone wrong over the last eight years, in 2009/10 the UK public are likely to do the same. What is the Chinese equivalent of this? I suppose the ‘countdown to reunification’ has now been abandoned – but it was always a bluff in the first place, otherwise the story has pretty much been the same since 1991.

    All the same, China has to take its own path, I guess a lot of foreigners imagine that China would be better if thing were done ‘our way’ – but no country in the world would accept this. 95% of the time people are correct in insisting on going their own way, the other 5% of the time the result is something like North Korea.

  95. Wahaha
    June 11th, 2008 at 23:06 | #95

    FORAP,

    You must realize that there are very very few dissidents in China.

    Suppose your government had done a great job that made most people happy, do you think American people would be critical of their government if Westboro followers were beaten and mistreated ?

  96. Buxi
    June 11th, 2008 at 23:13 | #96

    FOARP,

    Why don’t you do the same thing that a lot of Americans have done during the last few years, which is to simply admit that much of what your government does is impossible to excuse and that foreign critics are at least partially right.

    I think there are numerous times when we’re willing to criticize our own government’s role. This is pretty much a common refrain when discussion turns to the Cultural Revolution, for example. I don’t see anyone in China trying to “excuse” the intentional destruction of Tibetan culture and religion during the Cultural Revolution…

    At best, we’ll put it in context:
    – Red Guards in Tibet were 99% Tibetan,
    – All traditional culture was under assault.

    But I think most Chinese agree that we have a moral responsibility to set things right, and *try* to restore the things that we lost during 1967-1976.

    What else are we defending that’s so unreasonable? Resisting separatism? No, sorry, refuse to apologize for that. Use of excessive force (including the infamous border shooting)? I think any such events are a shame and I personally condemn them, but I don’t think it’s intentional government policy.

    All the same, China has to take its own path, I guess a lot of foreigners imagine that China would be better if thing were done ‘our way’ – but no country in the world would accept this.

    I appreciate that. I think that’s exactly the point we’d like to get across.

    Frankly, I think if there’s one GREAT failing in the “Free Tibet” campaign, is that it’s drawn the battle lines in such a way that the Chinese *people* are enemies. I don’t know how to say it more clearly, but the Chinese are not going to accept a unilateral independence movement, period.

    Any foreign-driven campaign that pushes in a political direction only means we stop paying attention to what we can do better in Tibet, and instead start paying attention to a foreign attempt to split our country.

    On the other hand, a foreign-driven campaign to improve governance in Tibet…? To make Tibet a *better* part of China? To better preserve culture and language and religion? Many of us would support that.

    For example, if the Free Tibet campaign instead supported “economic freedom” for Tibetans, by calling on all international tourists to only stay at Tibetan-speaking, Tibetan-owned establishments in Lhasa… I personally would have absolutely no problems with that. You’d find many Chinese tourists willing to sign on to the same campaign.

  97. Nimrod
    June 12th, 2008 at 00:35 | #97

    FOARP, don’t be so sure Americans will set anything right this fall. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I’d say Tibet is the least of their worries.

  98. S.K. Cheung
    June 12th, 2008 at 04:54 | #98

    To EugeneZ:
    “Why is “self-determination” such an important principle to some? I still want to question the motive” – do all your principles arise from some ulterior motive? Don’t you have principles based solely on what you think is the right thing to do? Many of you have such an exaggerated response to the concept that it makes me wonder whether it’s just to compensate for the fact that conceding such a concept would put your Tibetan views into turmoil.
    “advocate Tibetan Independance even knowing that … it goes against the fundamental national interest of China” – can’t speak for others, but I don’t advocate independence, just a voice. Must all principles fall in line with CHinese national interest for them to be right, or even valid? That’s a premise that doesn’t work for me at all. Heaven forbid that some CHinese principles are wrong. It’s like parents who dote over their kids and excuse all their faults at all costs; for me, if my kids screw up, they hear about it.
    I don’t think Chinese ethnicity commits me to support China’s government of the day unconditionally, or at all. In fact, if all that motivates you is ethnicity, that to me would represent a sorry state of affairs. That would be the ethnic version of religious fanaticism.

  99. S.K. Cheung
    June 12th, 2008 at 05:04 | #99

    To Nimrod:
    “first reaction of people to libertarians is to shoot them with a gun” – libertarians love guns (so do most Americans, i gather), so I’d think twice first.
    Don’t know about you, but most western adults do what seems right, and not what their “daddy” says.

  100. S.K. Cheung
    June 12th, 2008 at 05:08 | #100

    To Buxi:
    “I believe that if enough people in the West understands that the Chinese people feel principled enough on this issue, then it will affect the steps they choose to pursue” – agreed, insofar as the expression of the views they hold. I highly doubt it would materially change the content of those views, however. But perhaps such alternate expression and sensitivities to all this “face” business will inch things along on our decades-long timeline. In this quest, I guess the money’s on the turtle.

  101. S.K. Cheung
    June 12th, 2008 at 05:27 | #101

    To Buxi:
    “when discussion turns to the Cultural Revolution…”- this seems to be a common example of yours. Economy and technology aside, how far have things come for the “average” PRC citizen in the last 30 years? It seems that everyone on this blog who is still a PRC citizen would hardly represent the “average”; more like 3-4 standard deviations above the mean in terms of education, international exposure, and most certainly income.
    Which leads me to another question. It’s a long wind-up so humour me. FOr the foreseeable future, China’s objective, as you said elsewhere, is to get wealthier and wealthier…You feel that the current form of governance is the best means to that end. It seems to me that the class disparity might already rival any western society, in terms of differences between rich and poor. But this distribution is most certainly pyramid shaped, and very pointy and steep-sloped at the top, such that “average” wealth is still very low. In time, you see your government improving that. When that happens, people may have an appetite for other pursuits, like perhaps other freedoms etc in a form that befits China’s unique society. But why would a government (in a single party rule no less) actively, intentionally, purposely, and knowingly promote an environment that could potentially result in its own demise? To me, that is the exact opposite of the CCP’s mentality, which is to suppress anything that even remotely has the slightest chance of threatening its position.

  102. Smith
    June 20th, 2008 at 13:32 | #102

    real propaganda article from Louise Blouin MacBai.
    Impressif !!!
    I am not surprise she has been allowed to go there. >_<
    The most funny part is comparing the people connected to internet in 1950 and now…. hahaha! there was not internet at this time, and not even personal computer.
    If everything is so bright…. why people revolt there? and why other foreigners can not go check by themself?

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