Tag Archives: Radio Free Asia

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

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!”

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Life in flames: The story behind Tibetan self-immolation (Xinhua News)

(It’s worth noting that Gady Epstein of The Economist calls this video, “remarkable propaganda document.” If you think about it, that’s a wholesale rejection of the Chinese point of view. This is politics. But, then, don’t forget that The Economist and other Western media self-proclaim to be “free.” According to their definition, Western journalism is supposed to be about presenting differing perspectives. That’s rubbish. As regular readers of Hidden Harmonies know, Western media is every bit about propaganda as much as anything else.)