Wednesday, May 07, 2008
SOME GOOD READING ON TIBET AND CHINA
ere are some important articles I've found, or which have been sent to me by kind readers, over the past few days. Some current updates on the international situation follow. Think of this post as a somewhat enhanced "link dump" (I dislike that blogger expression, although I used to call these things "Gecko droppings"). I wanted to get them posted so I can get back to the "inside Tibet" situation.
With all the Olympic hullabaloo lately, there's a danger that people will start to think Tibetans have something against sport, or something. Not true. So I'm very glad that Tibeto-logic posted an excellent article on this very subject over the weekend, taking a look back at the Tibetan Olympics of 1695. No quotes here, you have to read it. And enjoy the wonderful photographs as well (some quite old). Traditional Tibet loved sport, and of course we know how they love their summer horse-racing festivals. Here is a fine, artistically produced film if you're not sure what I mean: Yak and Horse Racing in Tibet
Most of the accounts coming out of the country now, are from regular people making cellphone calls to friends outside who pass them on to the documenting organisations (and often by monks in touch with their monasteries in exile). The main identifiable voice of Tibetans from inside China is the author and poet Osser, who is able to maintain her network of contacts in many parts of her country. It's good to learn from this Washington Post article that her house arrest has now been lifted.
She continues to document history from her apartment in Beijing, now writing on Boxun.com after her own blog was hijacked by hackers. The article offers a very good look into what her life is like now.
A policeman had warned her to stop writing about Tibet.A passage of one of her only poems translated into English is also offered, from 'Secrets of Tibet'.
"I told him, 'Apart from Tibet, I have no interest in writing,' " said Woeser, the world's best-known contemporary Tibetan writer. "I want to record all of the history and be a witness to what is happening now."
Readers have probably heard all the conspiracy theories that hold out a vast secret global campaign to blacken China's good name (with the US behind most of it of course). I certainly know I get bombarded with them. Dalai Lama is proposed as a secret CIA operative; democracy-supporting foundations that offer financial aid to human rights groups are CIA front organisations; the list goes on and on. Tibet-in-exile groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress are accused of terrorism (even ties with al Qaeda!), and China is convinced the exiles micro-managed all the ongoing demonstrations across the plateau over the past two months. Some Western (and I'm ashamed to say, Canadian "alternative") media are even pushing this stuff.
The highly regarded Tibet historian Tsering Shakya blows this whole web of conspiracy theories apart with the true situation between the Tibetans "inside" and the Tibetans "outside," in an excellent essay, The Gulf Between Tibet and Its Exiles. Must read.
Also see Tim Johnson at McClatchy newspapers, who looked into where the Tibet movement gets funds. If that's the best "CIA front organisations" can manage, the Agency must be living hand to mouth. I know that right now, the documenting / advocacy groups working for Tibet could really use a bit of money to hire a few extra hands. If they were part of a global capitalist conspiracy, I doubt this would be the problem it now is.
The oldest and largest Tibetan exile social and political organisation is the Tibetan Youth Congress (more about them in Shakya's essay), which China has claimed is a terrorist orgnisation. Anyone who has seen the pictures of their Gandhian Satyagraha march and their passive resistance when Indian police arrested them, will understand how silly these Chinese accusations are. It's a shame they even have to answer them.
"It is absurd and a total lie," TYC president Tsewang Rigzin said. "China has a habit of levelling false allegations against us and other Tibetan outfits and individuals," Rigzin, who is heading TYC, a non-governmental organisation fighting for the Tibetan cause for the past [thirty-seven] years, told PTI.Xinhua had quoted an expert at the "China Tibetology Research Centre" describing TYC as an "armed spearhead of the 14th Dalai Lama group." The Xinhua article alleged that "they (TYC) also sought mutual support from East Turkistan and international terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda."
Yang Jianli is a Chinese citizen who was jailed for five years for trying to observe labour demonstrations in 2002. He was released just over a year ago. In a Washington Post op/ed, he addresses the sense that international pressure over the Olympics and Tibet may have played into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, and says the concerns are understandable. But Chinese nationalism is more complex than it appears.
It is critical, however, that people distinguish among the four types of nationalism in China today to determine how best to pressure the regime to make improvements.It's a very intriguing categorization he makes, very much worth reading.
The India-based longtime student of the history of Tibet, China and the subcontinent, Claude Arpi wonders why it's only Beijing which has the right to be upset (continually expecting, and receiving, rewards for its anger to boot).
India for one, has as much right to be upset, and apparently they are. Chinese hackers recently penetrated the web servers of India's Ministry of External Affairs. The Indian government is treating it as the cyber equivalent of terrorism against the security of their diplomatic and military communications. Chinese embassy officials in Delhi angrily described the accusation as "irresponsible fabrications," but they fit the pattern of penetration and denial.
In May 2007, for instance, it came to light that the Chinese had hacked into the computers of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and three of her ministries. In June came the announcement by US officials that they had hacked into Gates’ email system. In September the British government disclosed that a hacking unit traceable to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had hit the networks of the Foreign Office and other key departments in London.Where's the Revenge of the Flame now, I wonder?
Instead of arresting the cyber criminals who are in contravention of the norms of international diplomacy, both Chinese society and state have hailed them as national heroes. Chinese Public Relations scholar Xu Wu has written that hacking for the sake of the motherland is a "natural extension from China’s century-long nationalist movement." State-run research institutes and media houses glorify them as implementers of the Maoist doctrine of "harming if you do harm to me." In such a permissive environment hacking has become a growth industry.The Times of India has a "Deep Focus" special on the Muslims of Tibet. Have you ever wondered about the condition of religious tolerance and diversity in Tibet before the Chinese occupation? What about 1000 years before it, when Kashmiri Muslims first came and settled? Most of their descendants decided to leave when the Chinese arrived, and returned to the land of their forefathers. They retain deep emotional ties with Tibet, and this is their story.
A deputy chief editor at the Chinese newsmagazine Southern Metropolis Weekly has been sacked because of his commentaries, according to Reporters Without Borders. Zhang Ping, who writes under the pen name Chang Ping, had written editorials about the Tibet crisis including one called "How to find the truth about Lhasa?"
Zhang's articles were published mainly in his magazine's sister newspaper, the Southern Metropolis Daily, and called on the government to allow more media freedom in covering the Tibet riots and to review its policy on Tibet.I think I've seen Reporters Without Borders branded by loonies as a CIA outfit too (in case you're interested).
The commentaries drew an angry backlash from a large number of Internet users, who accused Zhang of being a traitor and downplaying the violence by Tibetans as well as the perceived anti-China bias of Western media.
China's official news agency reported a "huge rally" in support of the CCP government in Manhattan on Sunday, claiming that "nearly 10,000 people" attended.
Members of the Tibetan Youth Congress of New York and New Jersey who watched the rally and are critical of the Chinese government said they counted at most a few thousand people on a traffic island in the center of Foley Square.It was an arousing affair, by the sounds of it.
Indifferent passersby put the number even lower.
"It was 250 — max," Gordon Waite, 47, said. He said he works in the area and watched the rally from start to finish...
Representatives for Xinhua and the Chinese consulate in New York could not be reached for comment.
Chinese anthems blasting out of loud speakers for several hours were nearly drowned out by the enthusiastic chanting of the red-clad protesters clustered on the traffic island.Probably hearing the international chatter on the early termination of the highly-touted meeting between envoys of Tibet-in-exile and the PRC on Sunday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sought to reassure the world that it was only the beginning (I wish I could put musical notes around that).
'I want to stress that the current contact is only a beginning,' foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said when asked about weekend talks between Chinese officials and two envoys of the Dalai Lama.But China's state-controlled media continued throwing insults and accusations against Dalai Lama even on the day of the meetings. The Tibetan government in exile replied on Monday.
'As long as the Dalai side shows sincerity, especially in its actions, then the contact will continue,' Qin told reporters.
Qin did not explain what China wanted the Dalai Lama to do to show sincerity.
On Monday, the government in exile rejected as 'baseless' the latest Chinese accusations that the Dalai Lama was behind the violence in Tibet.There is a Geshe in Rome who is pessimistic.
'We do not accept it. We ask them (China) to prove the allegations against the Dalai Lama to the world community,' Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the government in exile, told the PTI news agency.
The talks - Geshe Gedun Tharchin, a Tibetan lama living in Rome, tells AsiaNews - "have been used as communist propaganda to achieve two aims: to calm the international community, and to demonstrate to the Chinese population that the Buddhist leader is not maintaining his promise to calm the situation in Tibet".Perhaps this could be an optimistic sign? China trusts a few hand-picked Tibetans with the torch.
According to the religious (sic), "the talks are the results of international diplomatic work. In a particular way, French president Sarkozy has been very helpful, insisting on reopening the channel of dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama. The problem is that the talks in themselves have not done any good, just like the previous talks. Going back to 2002 - but as far back as Mao Zedong - encounters between the two parties have not produced any result".
Zhang Zhijian, spokesman of the group of Chinese climbers charged with taking the torch up the Himalayas, says: "we have adequate personnel for any eventuality, and among these there are Tibetans, Han [editor's note: the ethnicity to which the majority of the Chinese population belong] and members of other minorities".And yet, just today, more salvos are fired.
"Trying to internationalize the 'Tibet problem' is a separatist plot of the Dalai Lama's and a clumsy way of damaging China's international image," the official Tibet Daily said in an editorial.His Holiness always tells his international audiences that China's development and peaceful rise is a good thing, that China's culture is a great one, that they certainly deserve the Olympics, that he looks up to Chinese Buddhists as his "spiritual elders", that he doesn't wish to split Tibet away from the Republic, and so on. He's the best friend they could ever have on the world stage, yet they treat him like this.
"In international society, there are some people and forces which don't want to see China's development or for it to become powerful. They hope China falls apart, and that the country and people forever remain poor and weak."
The newspaper denounced calls for Tibetan independence as a "filthy plot" and said that it was "wishful thinking" if the Dalai Lama thought he could prevent China's rise.Lifting and carrying a heavy rock without dropping it on your feet is actually one of the Tibetan Olympic sports.
"China will naturally develop into a powerful country in the world. China is already standing like a giant with a peace-loving and responsible image," it said.
"Anyone who wants to achieve their sinister aims through vilifying China will find it is like lifting a rock only to drop it on their own feet," the editorial added.