Thursday, April 10, 2008

Western media got it all wrong

By China Watcher

In the aftermath of the Tibetan violence, I observed on the many forums and blogs, there were broad Chinese supports – both in China and overseas – of the Chinese government firm position to tackle the situation in Tibet. Even at the Olympics torch relay held in London, a friend of mine told me that there was a massive counter-rally by people of Chinese origin to support the Chinese government but as usual it went unreported by the Western media.


Western media mentioned that the broad national backing of the Chinese government was a result of years of “brainwashing” of the people through the love of the motherland via an education high on nationalism. If it happened in the 1960 through to 1970 at the peak of the Cultural Revolution, there will be a certain element of truth in it. But we are in the 21st Century and, for almost 30 years after Deng Xiaoping launched economic reforms and opening up of China to the outside world, we still get Western media holding on to this long held philosophy that there is no change to the Chinese people mentality of being fiercely nationalistic. This is clearly an insult to the intelligence of the Chinese people not only in China but applied to all Chinese throughout the world.

Even during the political spat between China and Japan in 2004 and 2005, the Western and Japanese press tried to use similar reasoning to explain why there were huge turnouts at protest against Japanese politicians visiting the a political sensitive shrine. It was only after the Chinese government stand to put past historical issues aside and to develop good Sino-Japan relations for the future that the criticisms and protests retreated. It is without doubt a strong sign of Chinese patriotism but the government did not need to “crack the whip” to start it.

No comprehensive blockage

Westerners claimed that the Chinese nationals may not get to see the true picture of the so-called “brutal” crackdown of the Tibetans due to the strict censorship and the control of the press by the State. This is not true and on China’s CCTV last week, we get to watch segments of the Tibetan riots and they were comments made by ordinary Chinese citizens. The West obviously had portrayed this selective (one-sided) news broadcast as state propaganda. What I watched from CNN and BBC news channels over the past one month is also one sided? Isn’t this Western propaganda as well?

China has about 300 millions netizens who are smart enough to by-pass any censoring mechanism like the famous “Great Firewall” of China. I always believe that there is no such thing as a foolproof firewall and there are many ways to get around it. I do agree that there are Internet policing conducted by the Chinese authorities and they do delete certain critical comments but not in a comprehensive way as the Western media asserted. I have seen constructive criticisms of the Chinese government on certain Chinese forums which remain undeleted till today. I would not be at all surprise that a large portion of the Chinese are quite knowledgeable of what is happening to the world at large. Other than the BBC website, which was unblocked recently, there are many foreign news sites which the Chinese can access. Even on BBC sites “Have your say”, there are quite a lot of Chinese participants from China who have submitted their comments.

Sweeping Judgment

Western journalists tend to make sweeping judgment by saying that monitoring Internet public opinion over in China on sensitive issues like Tibet and human rights is nearly impossible, which I find it difficult to accept because I was able to locate web sites and forums where there are many Chinese nationals who were actively engaged in discussions on topics concerning China. In fact, it is from these so-called discussion forums where I could draw a general consensus surrounding the many Chinese issues. After the CNN cover-up on the events leading to the Iraq invasion, I do not trust Western sources anymore as much as I would rely solely on Chinese state news. Holding on to a balanced news reading is important to formulate my own opinion.

Ever since China has become more connected globally, there are now more Chinese tourists traveling to other parts of the world. The increased contacts between Chinese nationals and the outside world have helped to shape Chinese attitudes and opinions on matters relating to individual freedom and religions. There are also batches of Chinese students who have studied overseas and had returned to China. The opinions of students from abroad also do play a part in influencing the political stand of the family, which is an important integral part of the Chinese society. What about the interactions of the many Chinese workers, the businessmen, investors, professionals and sportsmen with people from the West? Are they also being “brainwashed”? Try to tell this to Yao Ming and Jet Li.

Chinese viewpoint

Because of the various stages of development in China, the viewpoints of the Chinese in Shanghai and another Chinese in Yunnan or Sichuan may differ. But the Chinese are united in their opinion that Tibet is forever a part of China. Most Chinese felt that the Tibetans are ungrateful to the Chinese government sponsorship and the allocation of development funds which was much higher than in certain poorer provinces. The main aim of the Beijing government is to raise the standard of living of an average Tibetan (including the migrant Han Chinese). The actual reason why the Tibetans are economically still backward compared to the Han Chinese or Hui Muslims was that they are quite resistance to change. Contrary to the many Western reports, if the Chinese government were to practice the suppression of the Buddhist faith, the influence of the monks would have died a long time ago. But the Tibetan monks today still have a stranglehold on the daily lives of its own people as demonstrated by the violent protests last month.

Western fixed prejudicial mentality

Many of the protesters at the Torch run in London and Paris are Westerners or Tibetan sympathizers who may have their own interests to do so. As I have said before, the unrelenting anti-China and bashing news on China for the past decade have reduced the credibility of China in the eyes of the Westerners and as such, it is easy to garner support on anything that is centered on China ranging from unsafe products to the Tibetan issue. If you surf on the Net on a daily basis, you will not miss finding an article on China and, 8 out of the 10 news content are really not China’s friendly. How many westerners on the street in Paris or San Francisco truly understand the historical aspect of Tibet? And how many really wanted the province to be ruled by Tibetan monks? When did the monks adopt human rights as it fighting cause? Do they believe in absolute or manage freedom? Chinese unsafe products constitute less than 1% of the total value of goods exported and why did the West want to make a big commotion out of it. There are other developing countries who have also exported shoddily goods to the developed world but why focus on China alone? I will not dwell on it anymore.

Chinese system

I know that the Chinese do not elect their leaders and I am also aware that it is a one party government. It is just another political system. Why is the West so strongly against it? Communist ideology is not openly preached in China these days and I believe China has adopted a socialist form of administration which has accommodated an economic policy which is no different from what is being practiced in a managed modern capitalist society. Democratic political system also has its fair share of corruption and that it has its inherent weaknesses.

China has never asked to be a first class nation. They are not even being invited as a member of the G-8 although its economic size and sheer influence have put some existing members to shame. It has accepted its role as a Third World country so why does some writer want to make an issue out of it.

I do agree that the public relations attributes of the Chinese officials and the Foreign Ministry do require some form of re-invention to fit into the present scenario particularly the aspect concerning the reduction of the stiffness (robot-like) of its spokesperson and the harsh rhetoric in its press statement. This is just a constructive comment on my part to ensure that the Western journalists and sympathetic writers do not use this limitation to hit back at China, not forgetting even the blue uniform guards of the torch bearers are condemned unfairly.

A genuine electorate with democratic institutions will only happen in China when the society has reached a particular level of political maturity and the economic development has attained a comfortable per capita income level for its 56 ethnic communities. China is a huge developing country and there is still a wide disparity in the economic development between the Western and Eastern part of China. The Chinese people are more than pleased if the government can resolve current issues for the benefit of the people like reducing corruption, managing the chaotic pollution in big cities and rivers, containing rising inflation, implementation of a fair judicial system, reducing ethnic inequality, lowering crimes rates and enhancement of public safety.

I am confident China will change to a political system in due course which will fit its people needs and certainly not from pressure by external parties particularly the activists and the Western media.

Chinese support

In San Francisco, the Chinese community has come out in full support of the Torch relay and the majority has spoke out to ask for calm and support of the Beijing Olympic Games. They were also very prideful of China’s ability to host the Summer Games.

So why not listen to them, for once.

1 comment:

xiao said...

What you said is so true and we support your great work.