Archive

Author Archive

“China’s Tibet”: A Perfectly Normal Turn of Phrase

July 16th, 2013 4 comments

china's tibetIn the field of media criticism, it pays to be picky about language. Around touchy issues of sovereignty and legitimacy, journalists frequently navigate intractable disputes where no term is truly “objective”. A wise man once said, if you want to create social change, then it is of paramount importance to identify “who are [your] enemies [and] who are [your] friends?” But there’s the risk of being so hypercritical and without humility as to impart devious significance to routine, apolitical phrases. In the English-language Tibetan studies circuit, which leans almost entirely pro-separatist, one phrase regularly trotted out for criticism is “China’s Tibet”. This blogpost at High Peaks Pure Earth is representative in its mocking tone, if not for the most academic exposition of the idea. “There must be a psychological condition that describes an anxiety so acute that there is an overwhelming need to constantly state and re-state that something belongs to you… China’s rather childish and possessive nature!”

Read more…

Film Review: “Free China: The Courage to Believe”

June 12th, 2013 9 comments

Free China: the Courage to BelieveThis weekend, I went to see “Free China: The Courage to Believe“. This hourlong movie by Michael Perlman, who previously directed “Tibet: Beyond Fear”, boasts a few awards from some small indie, human rights, and “awareness” festivals. Like the similarly propagandistic but much less affordable Shen Yun dance performance, Falun Gong foot soldiers had plastered posters and postcards for the film in Chinese restaurants, on storefront windows, and on public information boards. Yet despite the heavy-handed advertising, it’s not often that a movie covering the broad subject of China comes to English-speaking audiences. Could this film be something other than a rehashed collection of dehumanizing stereotypes about the Chinese government? I set out to find out. Read more…

Opinion: Free the Lewchew Islands from Japan

May 22nd, 2013 15 comments

On May 8, Japan’s government lodged a “strong protest” with the Chinese government over an article that had run in the People’s Daily in which two academics questioned the basis of Japan’s sovereignty over the Lewchew 琉球 (in Japanese, Ryukyu) islands. The Chinese side of course rejected the protest, and opinion columnists the world over have been weighing in. The current press furor has produced exciting developments in Lewchew’s main island of Okinawa, where in May 15 two professors have founded the “Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of Lew Chewans”. Already, there exists in Lewchew rising tensions between natives and nationalist Japanese, a latent history of cultural and linguistic abuse of Lewchewans, and a culture of protest upon which independence campaigners can piggyback. The only missing ingredient in this karmic tinderbox of anti-Japanese sentiment is  international diplomatic support for Lewchewan separatists, which does not seem to be forthcoming from China. The Wall Street Journal soberly notes that “individual commentaries”, such as those in the People’s Daily, “don’t necessarily reflect the views of top political leaders, and Beijing officials on Wednesday gave little indication that the commentary represents a potential shift in policy.”

Read more…