Agam's Gecko
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Protesters attack
A man carrying a Tibetan flag is attacked by pro-China supporters awaiting the start of the Olympic Torch relay on April 9 in San Francisco.
Photo: AFP / Robyn Beck

s China begins to seek out professional public relations help from Western PR firms, President Hu Jintao says that neither his crackdown in Tibet, nor the widespread disturbances which brought it on, have anything to do with human rights problems. He told Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that the Tibet crisis is none of anybody else's business. "The Tibet problem is entirely an internal issue of China."
China's communist rulers vehemently deny they are responsible for religious and cultural repression in Tibet, and insist their control of the region has benefited its devoutly Buddhist people...

Hu was Tibet's Communist Party chief from 1988 to 1992, a key step in his political rise. He said the door was open for talks with the Dalai Lama, the region's exiled spiritual leader.

"The barrier to contacts and talks does not lie on our side, but on the side of the Dalai Lama. If the Dalai Lama has the sincerity, he should put it into action," the president said.

"As long as the Dalai side stops activities splitting the motherland, stops activities scheming and instigating violence, and stops activities sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games, we are ready to continue contacts and talks with him at any time," Hu said.
The writer forgot to mention that Hu ordered the last major military crackdown on Tibet during his former tenure as Tibet's Party Secretary, and that was the key step in his political rise.

The communists actually seem to believe that everyone else rules their subjects just as they do. They believe Dalai Lama can just order every Tibetan to follow his command. If you haven't already, listen to him in the extended interview I posted yesterday.

There is someone who deeply believes in democratic principles. He can't, and won't, tell others to "shut up" from peaceful expression of their conscience. He has no problem telling Tibetans that he'll just quit if they don't adhere to non-violent principles (I don't know of any violent incident - violent on the Tibetan side, that is - since he made that statement on March 19). He's not ordering them what to do, he's telling them what he will do if the movement strays from Gandhian principles.

It's remarkable how well China continues to reinforce their critics' case. In their every response over the past month -- to Tibetan grievances, to foreign public diplomacy, to the growing voices of the world's public and civil society -- Chinese leaders seem to be intent on verifying every single stereotype of the communist one-party state.
CCP commissars and propaganda specialists have launched a national "people’s warfare crusade" to thwart the supposed threats posed by "Tibetan and Xinjiang splittists" who are said to be in cahoots with "hostile anti-China elements overseas."

Political and diplomatic sources in Beijing say cadres in charge of organization and propaganda over the past week have disseminated the leadership’s instructions about a "people’s warfare campaign against terrorism" during ideological indoctrination sessions in party and government departments as well as at factories, schools and other units.
I'd been wondering when I'd come across Willy Lam's well-informed perspective on this, and there he is in the Asia Sentinel. That guy has excellent mainland connections.

Today's must-read comes from Isabel Hilton, daughter of James Hilton (the author of Lost Horizon, from which came the legend of Shangri-La long before the CCP "discovered its location") and author in her own right. Isabel wrote In Search of the Panchen Lama a few years after his kidnapping by Chinese authorities. She remarked on the contradiction of the Chinese government's outreach for professional public relations help, while every statement or action by Chinese leadership has continued to reinforce its critics' case.
The foreign press is accused, in strident terms, of lying, while its capacity to report directly is cut off by Beijing. Behind a security cordon, overwhelming force has been brought to bear. Precisely how it is being used we do not know, but when an authority with a violent past reaches for a stick and slams the door shut, there is little reason to be sanguine.
The story of China in the past month is tragic on many levels. Prepared to fling open the doors to show off its best furniture and fashionable new clothes, official China is snarling in a corner instead, its confident image shredded by the real-time street theatre of London, Paris and San Francisco.
She offers, with respect, three suggestions for China's leaders. Each is elaborated on (so go and read it please), but in abbreviated point form: 1) Stop digging. 2) Get some honest advice and listen to it. 3) Take the initiative back. The third is the most important, but it can't happen without the first two. China's many laudable achievements "have been sidelined by a torch that cannot venture on to the streets without an armed escort."

That little flame, housed in a tiny lantern, is the Britney Spears of fire. Highly reclusive and avoiding the paparazzi on arrival at each international airport, she is immediately whisked off to an undisclosed hotel. It apparently must be at least a five-star, given the luxuriousness of her digs in London, Paris and San Francisco. She customarily shares the deluxe suite with 3 or 4 of China's "tall, handsome and mighty" (China News Service, reporting) men of the People's Liberation Army Sacred Flame Protection Unit (PLASFPU).

She has an unfortunate but self-inflicted, almost creepy reputation. Gordon Brown put on a happy face, but didn't want to touch it. No French political figure would be photographed with it. Diego Maradona pulled out at the last minute from carrying the torch in Buenos Aires; likewise Kenya's Nobel Peace laureate slated for Dar es Salaam. It's the proverbial hot potato, on a global scale.

The International Olympic Committee has probably lost even more face than the PRC; it is both embarrassed and intimidated. The IOC won't even officially mention Tibet's name, removing any reference to the word from its Beijing communique on Friday. The IOC president will speak no word of caution to China, and no word to Tibet other than, "The torch will go right through you. We already approved the route." He gently wishes the Chinese would adhere to their "moral commitment" made 7 years ago; yet even this innocuous reminder draws a counter-punch from China. "Stay out of our business."

The PLASFPU squad may still be in business when Its Sacredness travels through Delhi next week, but many Indians are not happy about it. The squad is so far unwelcomed in Australia and Japan. Under pressure from Beijing to completely ban public demonstration of views, Delhi has properly informed them that such things are not done in a democracy. This is a learning experience for everybody, CCP not excluded.

Here's an interesting video report from one of the world's leading flag suppliers in France, now experiencing a strong run on Tibetan flags. And here are some wise words from Duke University's newspaper. The Tibetan people need to be recognised, as any other nation-group would be, in all its variations and diversity -- not pigeon-holed as all good or all bad.
The Tibetans are neither idyllic pacifists nor benighted savages; and we don't need to see them as such to acknowledge either their anger or their suffering. You don't have to be perfect in order to be respected, to have your voice heard. And it's up to us not to use the Tibetan issue as a platform from which to expound our own views, but to listen to what the Tibetan people themselves are trying to say. We all know that the Tibetans are rioting, but do we know why?
It's been a month since the riot but the question still stands, as protests do continue.

As I've written many times, this issue is one that knows no real ideological faultlines (apart from the ideologically blinkered Far Left, and Ron Paul - hmm). The US congressional resolution a few days ago was adopted by four hundred and however many votes, to Ron Paul. The resolution on awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Dalai Lama last October was unanimous. The strongest Tibetan rights supporters on Capitol Hill are of both parties. People who can't agree on anything, agree on this. Major newspaper editorial boards are nearly of one voice. Including the National Review, though I thought I would offer a small correction here:
What those rulers hadn’t counted on was that the Tibetans would be so very unpatriotic as to require a crackdown just now...
It would be much better, worded like this:
What those rulers hadn’t counted on was that the Tibetans would so love their own country as to require a crackdown just now...
To go or not to go (to the "party" part of the games, the celebration of China's "coming out" as "a world leader", the grand opening ceremony), is the question real world leaders are wrestling with now. There's no hurry. While some national leaders have already announced to stay away, President Bush is holding back his decision for now. This is just what Human Rights Watch is actually recommending to world leaders right now -- hold back revealing your decision until closer to August, while keeping up the pressure on China (publicly and privately) to agree to genuine dialogue with (as Condoleezza Rice referred to them on Friday) "responsible Tibetan cultural and religious authorities."

Here's a rough analogy. If you are invited to some neighbourhood bigwig's annual family yard fair, and those people just happen to be parents who regularly abuse their children (and yet, for whatever reason, all the neighbours are going to the party anyway) -- what about just skipping the opening ceremony? It's just Mr. Bigwig's own self-congratulations show. There's no need to announce your plan months in advance. Why not just turn up late, and still let the kids have a chance to play together and have some games? The Bigwigs' unfortunate kids will probably appreciate it the most.

Gandhi-Dalai Lama
Tibetan exiles carry portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Dalai Lama in New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 10, 2008.
Photo: AP / Gurinder Osan

an Hu Jintao be properly described as a world leader? Can the man Hu has seemingly defined as his enemy, be described as one?

When Dalai Lama comes to a city like Seattle (or NYC, London, Berlin, Sydney, etc.), there are so many who want to listen to him. It's normally a multi-day programme -- with at least one big football stadium event. So many people admire his philosophy that these appearances are packed to capacity. What about Hu?

M. K. Gandhi and M. L. King were prominent world figures, I would say world leaders. If you go nearly anywhere in this world, you will find people who know them at least by name and reputation, if not have some knowledge of their life stories. The very same is true of Dalai Lama. India's prime minister has referred to him as the greatest living exponent of Gandhi-ji's philosophy.

As far back as the early 1990's, in the remotest (at that time) part of southern Aceh (at the northern tip of Sumatra Island, Indonesia), some of my friends had already heard of Dalai Lama. I'm not saying everyone was aware, but it was there (and it kind of surprised me). Again, usually it was by name and reputation ("Ya, I know who that is...") and maybe someone would know a few other details (Tibet, exile, Buddhist monk, etc.) This was the most isolated from the outside-world place I'd ever reached at that time (which still had lots of people living in it). I could be introduced to shopkeepers doing business in towns right alongside the main coastal highway, who had never actually seen a foreigner except on TV. Yet here were others who already knew about Dalai Lama. That's a world figure. His people may be small in number, but that's a world leader.

China does not want the world to see him in that way, and the order has seemingly gone out to overseas Chinese communities to ensure that he isn't. When the University of Washington awards him an honourary degree on Monday, there will be a question and answer session. Some questions will be off limits.
A group of Chinese students met this week with the university’s president, Mark Emmert, seeking assurance that the Dalai Lama’s visit “has no political agenda, and that his speech will not arouse any anti-China sentiments on our beloved campus,” according to a letter the group posted online beforehand.

Afterward, the students posted another letter saying Dr. Emmert had assured them that the university would nurture a "harmonious relationship" with China and "make sure that no sensitive and political questions would be raised" during the Dalai Lama’s speech.
The university said that it had "rejected attempts by the Chinese government to cancel the event altogether."

A student at Duke University decided he would make a solo public statement about the Tibet crisis. Word of his planned action reached foreign students from China, and an anti-Tibet caravan was launched.
Zeng was one of about 45 students who caravaned to Duke from NCSU on Wednesday. He was also one of a handful of NCSU students who recently compiled fliers and distributed 200 copies across NCSU's campus. The fliers include excerpts from "Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth," a piece written by Michael Parenti, an American political scientist, historian and media critic [and Marxist professor - ed.]. In coming days, Zeng hopes to distribute 500 more copies along with a CD he has created, called "Truth in Tibet."
Wai to Tibet Talk, where you can see a video of the Chinese counter-demo against vastly outnumbered Duke human rights supporters. I hope Michael Parenti is proud of his current notoriety and his usefulness to the PRC's worldwide propaganda campaign. I've never seen his "Tibet Myth" crap cited so often as I have in the last few weeks, by YouTube warrriors and the usual, "useful (for CCP) idiots" of the Far Left alike ("useful idiots" was actually Stalin's nomenclature for them, but it still fits).

We do know something of the government's use of "Tibetologists" in ideological work.
"Effective use of Tibetologists and specialists is the core of our external propaganda struggle for public opinion on Tibet... Tibetology research, in consideration of the needs of our external propaganda, must support our propaganda for public opinion. Tibetologists should produce effective articles, ideas and materials for external propaganda. The basic aims of our external propaganda are to counter the Dalai clique and anti-China western forces' rumours, criticism and smear campaigns against our policies in Tibet and to foil their subterfuge to split the motherland."

-from a leaked Chinese Government memo from the Chinese Communist Party's Ninth Meeting on Tibet-Related External Propaganda, April 9, 2001
Cyber-warfare is turning out to be a very important field for the PRC's patriots. Attacks against US government sites, including the Defense Dept., have been on the increase lately, and have been traced back to Chinese servers. Many of MicroSoft's recent security updates have been made necessary by the techniques employed by these attacks. Cyber-attacks on pro-Tibetan rights organisations are nothing new, and when the Tibetan government's information site disappeared on Friday, I felt pretty sure I knew why.
A spokesman for the Dalai Lama said he was aware of the hacking, which came a day after Indian newspapers reported an attack on computer servers of India's diplomatic mission in Beijing.

"We are not surprised as this had happened a couple of years ago," said Tenzin Takla, the Dalai Lama's spokesman by telephone from the northern Indian town of Dharamshala, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based.

"It is the intention of the hackers to ensure that our information do not get out," Takla said but declined to say whom he suspected.
Always so diplomatic, those responsible Tibetan authorities. But I'll say it: I suspect the Chinese government is behind the hacking attacks, the Trojan attacks, and the denial of service attacks which crippled some of these organisations' email systems recently. A little more on the hacking here.
AFP reported that the website carried 'a flurry of anti-Chinese statements since March 10, when Beijing ordered a crackdown on riots which erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.'

However, Kalsang Rinchen, a former editor of the website told phayul that he did not see any anti China statements on the website. "There were appeals to stop killings in Tibet and allow free access to media. Yes, there were reports of deaths and unrest also. The world's media was carrying reports of Tibet unrest but that does not make them anti-China."
Most normal countries are responsive to overwhelming world opinion. I cite Indonesia during the Timor crisis in 1999. A strong wave of world public opinion influenced many countries to bring strong pressure for an end to the shocking abuse of the East Timorese, following their referendum vote in favour of independence. The Indonesian government (just a year after the fall of Suharto) also responded to this world opinion, and gave the go-ahead for UN forces to land and protect those long-suffering people from renegade Indonesian military units as they withdrew from the territory.

But China is different. The farther they're pushed, the more that world opinion is clearly against them -- the more they feel ganged up on, and the deeper they dig in their heels. What better indicator of the weakness of their case, than Xinhua going full tilt boogie to report every little drop of support they can scrape up -- from Zimbabwe and a few other such leading nations. Most of the overseas Chinese do seem to be supporting the Chinese government, but world opinion is still strongly against them. Watch for motorcycle racers at the Chinese Grand Prix next month.
Former world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy said the riders would meet to decide if they should protest at the next Grand Prix in Shanghai on May 4.

"All the world is with Tibet," the Yamaha rider said.

"But we need to be careful, or else they will arrest all of us."


Suzuki's Loris Capirossi said the riders were considering some form of demonstration.

"I am 100 percent behind Tibet. We know that to demonstrate against the Chinese regime is dangerous but we will see if we can do something," Capirossi told reporters ahead of Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.

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