This could be a lengthy entry (It turned out to be one. Man, I’ve been working on it for hours, but I feel good afterwards, because I feel compelled to write about it and let it out of my chest.) In fact, I thought about writing this in both English and Chinese, but I don’t have the time and energy, so you will have to put up with it, dear reader.
I don’t know much about the Tibet region, so I don’t have much fact on it. Here are just some thoughts that have been going on in my mind. If I come across as being preachy, I apologize. In addition, I understand that the term of Western media is very general, but when it comes to the event in Tibet, it does look they use one voice.
For people in the west
1. In a democratic society, which China clearly is not but I think it is on that path, one certainly has every right to express his/her opinions and should be encouraged to do so;
2. When one tries to express his/her strong feelings and convictions, it needs to be done in a respectable manner. One also needs to have the humility to realize that his/her conclusions could be wrong, one-sided, and/or incomplete, which could be a result of drinking too much of one’s own kool-aid. But by all means, call it when you see bull, whether it is happening in China, US, or whatever country, with the right attitude, so serious engagement can ensue, which in turn brings positive changes.
3. The world is not just black and white. There is a lot of gray in between. The “you are either with us or against us” thinking does not fly in majority of cases. It’s best to put the high-minded, holier-than-thou, and condescending attitude on vacation. Mia Farrow, PETA, Gay pride parade people, you are giving good causes a bad name with your antics;
4. Political grandstanding and cheap shouting match in our media has seriously hurt the US, and drove the American people apart. See Jon Stewart’s excellent point in Cross Fire here (I am sorry, the bow tie guy Tucker Carlson in that show looks like a total arse). Although that show is close to 4 years old, it is still very much relevant. I am impressed with how much Obama was able to have some impact on the tone of deliberation in this primary campaign, though.
One interesting side effect of the whole Tibet business is that Western media companies have lost a lot of credibility in Chinese readers. Believe it or not, many Chinese people who can read English, especially younger generations, actually did think Western media is a model of objectivity. It certainly is way more diverse and better than Chinese government’s official mouthpiece, Xinhua. However, seeing many who cropped, edited, manipulated, PhotoShopped Tibetan riot images and videos to make the stories go certain directions, which is pretty well documented here, I am sorry to report that that illusion is gone for a lot of people. I was one of them a few years ago, but the post-911, Iraq war, and many other incidents changed my mind;
I believe it is fair to say that mainstream news report on China, Tibet, the Olympics, is disproportionately negative, consciously or subconsciously on the verge of fear-mongering. There are great blogs to follow. Here is one I liked, the comments there are good too;
5. It is wrong to think the Chinese government as a communist, totalitarian regime, but that seem to be a lot of people’s impressions, especially in the US. Prior to Deng Xiaoping, yes. Since the early 80s, no. And I do give the regime credit for lifting millions and millions of people out of poverty. Certainly there are human rights violations and heavy-handed government measures, but the majority of people have the individual freedom that’s not possible 10 or 20 years ago. There are still enormous challenges facing China. And yes, stability is the key, because the country has a long way to go to play catchup;
6. Diplomacy conducted behind doors such as frank, private conversation always beats publicity stunt. Heck, I would use the Olympics as leverage, but I wouldn’t use it publicly to humiliate people and a government;
1. Don’t have the knee-jerk reaction of rejecting any negative comments and/or constructive criticism out of hand. Some are very valid. Listen, draw the lesson, and move on;
2. Olympics is a great way for people to get together. Welcome everybody with open arms and treat everybody with respect, be they from America or Zambia. That does not mean that you should bend backwards to accommodate foreigners, but neglect your own fellow countryman, which I have seen happening;
3. Get rid of the internet Great Firewall once and for all. That does not mean one would not regulate the Internet, but it is time for GFW to go. Imagine the goodwill and positive publicity that will generate, both inside and outside China;
4. Tone down the rhetoric. Talk to Dalai Lama, publicly or in private. I don’t know much about him and his proposals, but he has a great deal of popularity and credibility in the West;
5. Engage in meaningful dialogue. You can certainly brush aside the usual political hackery from smartass journalists. Stop employing the usual rhetoric such as “一小撮别有用心的人的阴谋是不能得逞的”
6. Have a realistic expectation. Be prepared for more freak circus shows prior and during the event, but do your best;
7. China, don’t you ever turn back to be the inward-looking country that we once were for so long. Keep opening up, embracing challenges, and moving forward. Learn from others. Learn good things from others. At the same time, it is equally, if not more, important to learn from other’s mistakes, so it will not be repeated or the damage minimized. Maybe I am not qualified to make recommendations, but since I’ve been preaching throughout this post, I thought investigating, investing in hybrid technology and put out policy guidelines for the nascent auto industry is money well spent;
8. Both the United States and China are great countries. By working together, the benefits to people in both countries and around the world can be enormous. That should be the only way to go, because confrontations can possibly lead to the end of the human race;
9. And to Liu Xiang and all other athletes, do your best. I am with you and will cheer you on whatever the results 🙂