Anti-CNN Members Spam CNN Poll on Tibetan Independence

In the wake of President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and this CNN poll indicating most Americans think Tibet should be independent, the Dalai Lama went on Larry King Live. In keeping with that show’s tradition of internet straw polling, Larry asked viewers the same question CNN asked Americans last week: Should Tibet be an independent country?

The results of this poll were quite different as the graph to the left, a screen-capture from Larry King’s site, shows. The reason for the discrepancy is quite simple: Anti-CNN forum members found the poll and rallied, racking up a fairly impressive vote count for “No”. Apparently the post also found its way onto Tianya, another more massive Chinese BBS, which helped.

As the voting went on, the numbers for “No” continued to climb as forum members commented on their progress in threads like this one. And while there was little doubt about whether Tibet should be an independent country, there was some debate about the usefulness of this tactic. Several commenters called it “boring”, but others expressed enthusiasm for this kind of democracy. One commenter wrote:

Come on, everybody, let’s jiong [囧, shock] them to death. If they dare to change the numbers then we’ll “Anti” them again.

Although no one on Anti-CNN seems particularly serious about ruining CNN online polls, one wonders if whether, especially given the already-sensitive state of relations between the Chinese and American internets after the Google hacks (and the subsequent accusations leveled at two fairly unremarkable Chinese schools, which former NYT writer Michael Anti called “the biggest joke I’ve heard so far this year”), this sort of tactic might only serve as fuel for Western fear-mongers who claim that Chinese people are going to “destroy” the internet. Lest you think such people don’t exist, check this out. Crazies will find their ammunition somewhere, of course, but one has to wonder what the Anti-CNN folks felt they gained from this.

Elsewhere in Tibet-related news, the Dalai Lama has again shown that he can run laps around the CPC elite when it comes to PR stunts. Hu Jintao may have a People’s Daily microblog (that has been closed already), but the Dalai Lama? He’s on Twitter.

That’s a great example of how Chinese internet censorship hurts its own cause in unexpected ways. As Twitter is blocked in China, Hu Jintao can’t very much set up an account to spread the government’s side of the story. So everything stays the same: the West gets to keep hearing from the Dalai Lama, the Chinese get to keep hearing from the government, and never the two shall meet…?

0 thoughts on “Anti-CNN Members Spam CNN Poll on Tibetan Independence”

  1. If the Anti-CNN crowd really wanted to work itself up into an indignant lather, which is I believe said crowd’s favorite pastime, they should have just let the poll run without interference. Or even voted “yes” to push numbers up beyond that already ire-raising 75% in the telephone poll.

    What’s strange in that CNN story reporting the results of its poll is it neglects to mention the fact that the DL doesn’t even call for Tibetan independence, and hasn’t for quite some time now — only increased autonomy.

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  2. All these sorts of polls are horseshit. Before the Anti-CNN folks found them, it was pretty much all westerners who answered the polls, informed by …? Well I’m not sure. Gere? Seagal? The legions of misogynistic Tibetan monks who have found that stupas in Colorado bring in cash? It would be nice to someday have a real discussion on Tibet, but I’m afraid that will never happen. The best strategy is to educate Tibetan women, get a lot of the current monks off the dole and try to curb China’s desire to control the territory where their water originates and that also happens to be chock full of natural resources. The only one I see as a realistic goal is to educate the women. How about leaning on the international mining community? There’s a lot of gold in those hills, and Canada and Australia are in there digging it. And the Chinese are really digging it too! The poll question – Should Tibet be an independent country? – is about as substantive as “Do you think my hair looks okay?”

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  3. Maybe this will be a rallying call for cable news to stop running these absurd polls.

    Yeah, I don’t seriously think so either. Did the Dalai Lama comment on the poll at all during the interview?

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  4. All these sorts of polls are worthless. Before the Anti-CNN folks found them, it was pretty much all westerners who answered the polls, informed by …? Well I’m not sure. Gere? Seagal? The legions of misogynistic Tibetan monks who have found that stupas in Colorado bring in cash? It would be nice to someday have a real discussion on Tibet and substantive autonomy, but I’m afraid that will never happen. The best strategy is to educate Tibetan women, get a lot of the current monks off the dole and make them haul their own water, and try to curb China’s desire to control the territory where their water originates, and which also happens to be chock full of natural resources. The only one I see as a realistic goal is to educate the women. How about leaning on the international mining community? There’s a lot of gold in those hills, and Canada and Australia are in there digging it. And the Chinese are really digging it too! The poll question – Should Tibet be an independent country? – is about as substantive as “Do you think my hair looks okay?”

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  5. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama received the ‘NED Democracy Service Medal’ and Uurges U.S. to Spread Democracy in NSU Speech Of course, he doesn’t believe in democracy.

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  6. About the Lanxiang thing. I believe the origin of this accusation is some China wonk (our anti-CNN of sort) mistranslated Lanxiang’s blog where graduates were praised for earning “technical sergeant” enlistment, not “technology officer” commission. Here’s an example from China Digital Times, where Xiao Qiang ignored the fact those Lanxiang grads enlisting were cooks and mechanics and called them “important technology backbone of the military”

    It’s very clear these people have nothing to do with technology. The more likely scenario is Lanxiang’s computers were hijacked

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  7. I like your final thought there: “the West gets to keep hearing from the Dalai Lama, the Chinese get to keep hearing from the government, and never the two shall meet…?”
    I thought about the same question when I first heard of DL in the States. p.s. I was pretty shocked to see him this popular here given my prior knowledge of his “bad” reputation in China.

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  8. ”one has to wonder what the Anti-CNN folks felt they gained from this.“

    One has to wonder what CNN folks felt they gained from such pool? If CNN is trully believes in hearing different opinions and viewpoints, why did CNN take down of the results? What was CNN afraid of? Just because the results were not what they like? To me, the whole poll sage tells several things below:

    1. Chinese people HAVE enough freedom to read and hear from mainstream media such as CNN, and they have sufficient language skill to be able to know what is happening in west media regarding any China-related issue (How many Americans have either the language skill or are ACTIVELY seeking different viewpoints from Chinese media or Chinese public? Who is more open-minded? Who possess better critical thinking skills?)

    2. When Chinese casted vote on this poll, Chinese are practing their god-given HUMAN RIGHTS to practice a form of democracy which the west media always self-claim that they cherish. Folks in CNN and other west media seem to forget that you can not cherry pick the “public opinions” that you like to be the expressions of democracy while at the same time ignoring, bashing and demonizing the “public opinions” that you don’t like or agree with! Such double standards does not represent true democracy and is one of the reasons why CNN and other major west media don’t have any cradibility in eyes of ordinary Chinese people, this has nothing to do with Chinese government, Chinese people have their eyes, eares, and brains!

    3. CNN and other major west media do not understand that Chinese public ARE USING those values that folks in west media always preach and lecture to Chinese to judge and measure their own behaviours! If you adopt a clear double-standard, if you ignore and deny Chinese people’s voice that have been the case for decades, if you deny many hard historical facts about Dalai Lama and his close relatios with those anti-China forces in the West, if you keep on such biased journalist practice, how can you have any professional and moral cradibility in China?

    4. CNN and other major west madia do not understand that Chinese public had much much positive opinions on CNN and major west media 30 years ago! Why has this positive attitude towards you almost completely changed now? CNN and many journalists certainly should do some self-reflection!

    5. CNN and many journalists love to label Chinese people to be “brainwashed”, and they completely underestimate Chinese people’s intelligence! Such tone, as if Chinese people can not think, compare and make wise judgement, is typical racial crimination! At least, Chinese can read in English, actively seek different viewpoints, study history, campare different opinions and try their best to make judgement!

    I’m very disappointed in CNN’s practice; it did not help American public understand a true Dalai Lama, China, Tibetan regional. CNN was purely playing the anti-China “political correctness” card which has been playing in a few West nations for decades! No wonder most Americans feel shocked and surprised when they visit China and talk to Tibetans and Chinese who live in China: “It’s just so different from what I know!” Who are brainwashed?

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  9. By the way, at the http://www.accn.com Chinese site, you can read most articles published in major U.S. media and other mainstream west media in English and Chinese translations everyday! Translations are all done by Chinese volunteers who know foreign languages! It is not a government site; it’s established by ordinary Chinese people who felt “enough is enough” regarding CNN and mainstream west media’s decades of telling lies about China and vicious China bashing propaganda! Who says that Chinese public can not get information and viewpoints from mainstream west media? At the anti-cnn site, there is a page titled “Faxing West Media” and you can find all major articles, reports, coverage as well comments in their original languages everyday!

    How many Americans know the viewpoints and opinions of Chinese, Russians, Asians, people in Mid-East regions, and people in other nations? In the states, the only so-called “international news” channel is BBC, which has almost the same viewpoints regarding China and other non-west nations. It’s not good to American public. People can not compete with and win over others if you don’t know true others! Wake up!

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  10. How many Americans know that the 14th Dalai Lama was not even born in Tibet? He was born in Qing Hai Province with a mixed Han-Tibet ethnicity!! The then Chinese National government (headed by Chiang Kai-shi and later went to Taiwan) and the Master Ban-Chuan found him. His father was a Han Chinese with the Han last name Zhao! The historic record from the archives of the National Government cleary tells how he was decided to be the 14th Lama by the Kuomingtang central government and religeous leaders in Tibetan area:

    一、当1935年5月,西藏地方噶厦政府摄政王热振活佛决定派格桑佛与凯墨色等三人,向“东方汉人地方”的青海境内寻找十三世达赖喇嘛的转世灵童之时,蒋介石委员长立即派人至青海严密监视藏方寻访人员的活动,保证寻访灵童不受藏传佛教派别争斗的影响。当经过两年的寻访,有了初步线索之际,蒋介石委员长立即责令时任行政院长孔祥熙正式向蒙藏委员会主任吴忠信发出指令:

    “27年4月26日渝(藏)字第1379号呈,为达赖转世一案,请敕青海政府严密注意,并婉劝寻访人员,务将经过情形呈报政府,听候核办。

    “另件均悉。已据情转电青海省政府遵照矣。仰即知照。

    “此令。

    院长
    孔祥熙

    中华民国27年5月1日”

    二、在1937年冬天,当寻访转世灵童活动在青海塔尔寺附近发现小灵童时,时任国民党军事委员会西安行营主任蒋鼎文立即通过蒙藏委员会委员长吴忠信向蒋介石呈递报告:

    “西藏拉萨当局于上年派设僧喇嘛格桑、克迈赛(即 凯墨色)索安旺堆等来青寻访达赖喇嘛,历时半载,于塔尔寺附近汉族赵某家中找出。据拉萨占卜及去岁班禅大师之探访,确系再生之达赖喇嘛。……恐将来迎还时发生阻碍,故至今严守秘密,以便秘密迎请返藏。……我中央为巩固边陲计,对此次达赖返藏,宜作必要之处置,或遣使随同赴藏,俾诸权贵,以德意施政;或令青海当局留达赖暂住在塔尔寺驻锡,再作留送之计。”

    为此,蒋介石读过国民党西安行营主任蒋鼎文在核查小灵童的出身呈报,认定他是具有汉族血缘的人,其家庭全家姓赵的报告后,曾兴奋得搓着手连声自语:“天助我也,天助我也!西藏这下子到我手中了!”接着,蒋介石指示蒙藏委员会委员长吴忠信:要严密注意,防止西藏地方噶厦政府将小灵童拉木顿珠私密送进西藏拉萨,并对吴忠信说:“如果出了差错,我唯你是问!”。蒋介石还亲笔给蒙藏委员会委员长吴忠信拟定电报,作出指示:

    “蒙藏委员会吴委员长勋鉴:

    “……查达赖转世中土,关系中央与西藏前途至切,况掣签大典例须由中央驻藏大员监督主持,令藏方请中央护送返及藏边。……此事确系中央改善西藏关系之重要时机,不宜坐失。究应如何应付,适应机宜,即希核议办法具报为要。

    中正 . 庚
    . 侍秘
    . 谕
    . 印 ”

    三、因当时的青海省主席马步芳为经费问题,不愿意派兵护送刚寻访认定为达赖喇嘛转世小灵童去拉萨,中国国民党中央政府蒋介石委员长在几经磋商后,命令军需署垫发护送转世灵童由青海赴拉萨的10万元护送费。并亲自拟电文将此决定电告吴忠信:

    “蒙藏委员会吴委员长勋鉴:

    “据青海马主席步芳来电称:灵儿定农历五月中旬由青海动身,职府遴派师长马元海为护送专员,应需路费及到藏交际各费约洋十万元,恭请饬发……等语。除复电照准,并饬由军需署先行如数垫发,拨汇兰州朱主席转交外,特转此照。关于护送灵儿应行准备诸事,及中央如何派员同行照料,统希迅即妥筹办理具报为要。

    中正 . 皓 . 侍秘 . 谕 . 印 ”

    四、当转世小灵童拉木顿珠(即现在的十四世达赖喇嘛)终于在青海马步芳派遣的马元海师长率领一个营的兵力护送到拉萨之后,蒋介石又专门派遣蒙藏委员会委员长吴忠信于1939年12月进藏,主持转世达赖小灵童拉木顿珠的坐床仪式。吴忠信到拉萨后,排除西藏地方噶厦政府各种利益集团的种种阻碍,亲自到转世小灵童拉木顿珠的居室,查验了灵童真实身份。随后,吴忠信向蒋介石电告了相关情况。当时,蒋介石正兼任国民政府行政院长,他为了避免小灵童拉木顿珠在坐床前夕的僧俗集团争斗中夜长梦多,立即批准小灵童拉木顿珠免予金瓶掣签,并签批颁布了小灵童拉木顿珠继任第十四世达赖喇嘛的册封政令。全文如下:

    “行政院呈案:

    “据蒙藏委员会吴忠信拉萨电称:据西藏摄政热振呼图克图来函略称,第十三世达赖喇嘛转世一案,迭经观海降神,及僧俗官员公认,青海觅得之灵童拉木顿珠种种神异,实系第十三世达赖喇嘛化身,应请免予掣签,并照旧制剃发受戒。兹拟择期夏历正月14日(即国历2月21日)举行坐床典礼,请转呈中央核夺,等情。忠信复查所述灵异各节,均属确实,拟请转呈国民政府颁布明令,特准以该灵童拉木顿珠继任第十四辈达赖喇嘛。并发给坐床大典经费四十万元,以示优异。等情。

    “据此,当经提出本院第四五0次会议,决议:通过,转呈国民政府颁发明令。

    “理合,呈请签核施行。谨呈。

    “国民政府
    行政院院长
    蒋中正

    “中华民国29年(1940年1月31日)”

    有了国民政府行政院这份决议,并经蒋介石亲手签批颁布政令,拨发给第十四世达赖喇嘛坐床经费四十万银元,正在拉萨的中国国民政府蒙藏委员会委员长吴忠信于1940年2月22日,在布达拉宫为小灵童拉木顿珠举行了就任第十四世达赖喇嘛的隆重坐床典礼。

    第十四世达赖喇嘛坐床以后,吴忠信等一行于1940年4月间离开拉萨,经由印度返回当时国民政府的抗战陪都重庆。随后,西藏地方噶厦政府援行清代旧制,派了扎萨阿旺坚赞来到重庆晋见中央政府,向国民中央政府“谢恩”。

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  11. @ rain12: Overreact much?

    1. I can read Chinese, obviously, that’s how I translated this.

    2. Anti-CNN isn’t a news network. The West has plenty of websites that translate foreign news, just like Anti-CNN or Yiyan. This is one of them. But just as the US only has one “foreign” news channel on TV (BBC), how many foreign news stations do most people in China get?

    3. My guess is CNN took down the poll so they could put the next one up. Larry King Live is a show that’s on every night, and their website runs a new poll every day for each show, and takes down the old poll. It’s just something for people to vote on during the show, so they can make it seem more interactive, they take the polls down after the show is over in preparation for the next day’s show. (Notice that Larry’s guest tonight is a movie director, and the poll that corresponds with tonight’s show is already up: http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/larry.king.live/

    Clearly, they delete polls and put the new polls up after each show ends.

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  12. rain12 made one good point though, that is, the West know little about the East, while the East know little about the West as well. Just like American media make China look ‘bad’, Chinese media report/understand United States with stereotypes too.
    I don’t even remember how many times the TV dramas or news depicted the U.S. as the heaven on earth. If you know America is so not ‘the heaven’, then likewise, the U. S. news stories about China may not be 100% truth…

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  13. M. Custer:

    My point is: “How many Americans can read Chinese language or ACTIVELY seeking viewpoints from Chinese people?” and the fact that Chinese public DO have accesses to information appeared in all major West media! Yes, Anti-CNN is not a news media, but it’s extremely popular among young generation of Chinese and it’s a true non-government operation, not like a lot of so-called non-government organizations in the West who received funds from either governments or anti-China organizations with special political agenda! Please, we’re talking about CNN, not talking about Chinese government! Why some people always find execuses for their bias every time when they are questioned or criticized?

    The extremely biased, one-sided, institutionized China bashing and demonizition in CNN and mainstream media can not be denied.

    Chinese people have been so nice to Americans. They believe respect should be mutual and such mutual respect should be one important yard stick to judge basic human decency.

    By the way, almost all major Chinese media and TV channels gave the coverage of speeche made by almost every U.S. president who visited China in recent years, but I can hardly find any full coverage on mainstream U.S. media when a Chinese president visited the states and gave a speech! Maybe a photo, or a few seconds of coverage! What’s wrong to hear others’ viewpoints if we’re confident?

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  14. I’m completely agree with Jing! Anyone who truly knows China would know that while almost all China coverages appeared in U.S. media have been negative for decades, Chinese media’s coverages on U.S. have been basically very positive for decades, until the year of 2008! In fact, such change of the attitude towards U.S by Chinese state-run media were pushed and affected by a strong public opinions in China! China has changed and public opinions do matter now. I wonder why CNN and other west media don’t get this: for almost three decades (before 2008), Chinese government and Chinese public had been very pro-West! If CNN and other west media cannot accept such pro-West China and do not know to appreciate Chinese people’s goodwill, whatelse can they expect from Chinese public?

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  15. I think the irony here is, even when the “underdog” is being backed by the strongest military in the world and (at least back in the 50s, according to de-classified documents) funded by the world’s richest, most powerful government, people still treat him as an underdog.

    It’s also pretty hilarious how uncomfortable people in the West seem to be when they’re exposed to opinions different from their own. Just because they won’t let CNN “prove” that Tibet should be an independent country (through American public opinion, somehow) doesn’t invalidate their opinion, does it?

    Unless, of course, the poll was only meant for American citizens, i.e. those who hold the same opinion as those who set up the poll.

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  16. @ rain12: Of course the Western media is biased. You know nothing about this blog, but if you did, you would know that we criticize the US media all the time for being biased in its coverage of China. In fact, if you read this post carefully, you would notice that I criticized some Western media sources in this post and called some Western writers “crazies”. I never said the Western media wasn’t biased; what I said was Chinese people don’t get access to foreign news sources any more than US people get access to them on TV. Which is true.

    CCTV does cover the US president when he visits China; so what? Just because they broadcast his speech (except for the parts that get censored) that counts as enough foreign perspective? The US media covers Hu Jintao’s visits too, and if they don’t broadcast his speeches, they certainly quote them. Since Obama’s speeches are only broadcast censored in China, what’s the difference? Either way it’s not the whole speech, just what the local media wants you to hear.

    I agree the West needs to hear more Chinese views. That’s exactly what this blog is for, so it’s sort of ironic that you’re criticizing me. 75-80% of our posts are just translations of things from the Chinese internet, and we have attracted thousands of Western readers and allowed them to hear perspectives from China they otherwise couldn’t understand.

    Lots of people read Anti-CNN, sure, but I wouldn’t say it’s “extremely popular”. Most of my Chinese friends, when I tell them I’m translating an article from Anti-CNN, say they haven’t even heard of it. It is nowhere near as popular as many other forums such as Tianya or Mop, and anyway, what is your point? You have Anti-CNN covering the West as an “NGO”, we have sites like this one, Danwei, EastSouthWestNorth, etc. etc. etc. None of these sites have any connection to the government. What is the difference?

    Chinese people have been so nice to Americans? Let’s be fair, the Chinese portrayal of the US has only been positive about some aspects of US culture (mainly the economy). Certainly, many stupid stereotypes about the US still exist in China, and the Chinese government and media have always been negative about other aspects of US culture (system of government, crime, prevalence of pornography, etc.). Plus, China has only been nice to the US since China started wanting to emulate the US economy in some ways. In the same way, the US media is actually mostly positive about the Chinese economy now, although it is very negative about many other things, because our economy is weak. Probably, the Western media has been more critical of China than Chinese media of the West, but that stems in part from different journalistic traditions. The Western media isn’t positive about anything. Just look at the top news on CNN right now: Obama was rude to McCain (bad thing), California family missing (bad thing), Plane crash (bad thing), teachers abuse students (bad thing), etc. etc. Good news isn’t news in the US. Accordingly, most stories about anything are bad. That said, of course there is bias against China, that is obvious from CNN’s coverage of many things, i.e. the 2008 riots in Tibet.

    Anyway, my point is just that both countries have a very limited understanding of one another. This blog exists to help try to fix that, to try to help Western people hear some Chinese viewpoints, and I work hours every day (using my free time, for no money) translating things from Chinese for Westerners to read, so forgive me for being annoyed that you’re criticizing me…

    And I think you and chaji may be confused about the poll. It wasn’t a “CNN poll”, it was an informal web poll that was just on Larry King’s website during the show. They have one every night. It means nothing, and wasn’t meant to represent anything except what Larry King’s viewers that night thought about Tibet. No respectable news agency would conduct a real poll online that allowed anonymous voting. To be honest, it’s insignificant enough that I wouldn’t have even bothered writing this post in the first place, but I couldn’t find anything else short to write about and I was tired.

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  17. One has to wonder what CNN folks felt they gained from such pool? If CNN is trully believes in hearing different opinions and viewpoints, why did CNN take down of the results?
    ——
    Probably because the point of a poll, even an unscientific one, is to get a sense of the opinion of a certain segment of people (in this case, the general readership of CNN.com- in other words, a relatively broad, non-specific group of people), not to find out if there’s a group of a people with a particular point of view who have been pointed to the poll to vote a particular way. A poll is not a vote, and “campaigning” for votes pretty much renders a poll meaningless. Do I really need to tell you this?

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  18. “I agree the West needs to hear more Chinese views.”

    And, if I may be so bold, the Chinese people could do with hearing a good deal less (proportionately, at least).

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  19. Blowing things out of proportion… most of these votes are just kids who think they have power on the internet, forum shopping around to attract people like them. Happened a few years ago with the “Should Japan become a part of the UN security council” poll. Even though there are probably some who actually believe people will look at the poll or take it seriously, I think most Chinese know internet polls are irrelevant and are just doing it for “patriotic” fun.

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  20. rain,

    I’d like to point out that actually not all of American presidential speeches are covered. Obama’s town hall in Shanghai was only broadcast over Shanghai TV stations. They didn’t even broadcast his inauguration speech over CCTV 9!

    Additionally, Custer makes a strong point about stereotypes as there are certainly a number of negative stereotypes of westerners in China just as there are negative stereotypes of Asians in the west. Examples include westerners being indifferent to children, totally absent of filial piety, and being sluts.

    Finally, I don’t really see how the Chinese are “thinking more critically and more understanding” simply because there are a larger proportion of Chinese who speak English than westerners who understand Chinese. Your point is further undermined by the fact that so many Chinese volunteers need to TRANSLATE those English media articles into Chinese.

    Chaji,

    “It’s also pretty hilarious how uncomfortable people in the West seem to be when they’re exposed to opinions different from their own. Just because they won’t let CNN “prove” that Tibet should be an independent country (through American public opinion, somehow) doesn’t invalidate their opinion, does it?”

    I don’t really see what’s surprising to you about this or “hilarious” in any way. Don’t you get slightly uncomfortable when someone tells you you’re wrong and provides evidence to show why the things you were taught for years is, in fact, incorrect?

    Let’s say I were to tell someone that China’s overpopulation problem, devastated and wastelandesque country side in north China, aging population, lack of cultural relics, and reticence with voicing negative opinions publicly were all the result of Mao and his “the more children you have, the more love you have,” cultural revolution, great leap, and 100 flowers. Don’t you think some people would be uncomfortable by me telling them that and then providing documented evidence of why those disasters were actually 100% his fault, and not 70%?

    I’ll agree that the Dalai Lama is not innocent. But let’s not pretend that Americans are the only ones to reject the idea that maybe a supposedly axiomatic principle may actually be flawed.

    Like

  21. @ Josh,

    I have to say, your comment was quite fair in its treatment of the uncomfortable feeling we feel around new ideas that contradict our old ones. What I’m trying to get at, though, is the fact that China has never really labeled itself as “universal” in any manner (with the sole exception of Communism) – not even Confucianism, except within China itself. Thus, it’s commonly understood that China had been historically relatively single-minded since the Han dynasty.

    But Western culture, not just the Americans, have grown up in an atmosphere of not just moral absolutism, but moral supremacy, due to the Abrahamic religious background that had dominated the political landscape of Europe for over a thousand years. Thus, understandably, it would be rather esay for the West (once the “Christendom”) to internalize a set of axioms.

    Yet today, when the rights the middle class had fought for for centuries gradually filtered out to everyone else under them, the West (mostly the Americans, but Europe to a degree) thought it well-justified to declare themselves as a multicultural existence, and “tolerance” became the new buzzword.

    True to their Abrahamic religious origins (disregarding pre-Christian paganism) the West took up an increasingly absolutist approach to their value system – individualism, personal freedom, and Western democracy – and have seemingly accepted that to enforce them through military intervention is not only acceptable, but actually desirable. It’s practically a throwback to the days of the Middle Ages – except where there was religion, there is now a set of philosophies internalized by the population at large.

    I wouldn’t call this hypocrisy – many no doubt believes firmly in this – but it’s certainly a theoretical contradiction when their attitudes at the personal level and at the national / organization level are compared. And while Chinese people, being relatively “single-minded” historically, can justify their attitude toward conflicting ideas on a cultural basis, the Americans, who declare “tolerance” and “understanding” for all, have no excuse.

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  22. @ chaji: please, Chinese civilization grew up with the same sense of moral supremacy as any successful culture, it just wasn’t based on any religious tradition, more on the fact that Chinese society was noticeably more well developed than its neighbors to the north, west, and south. But moral supremacy it was. Outsiders were “barbarians”, and the one civilized asian society that, on occasion, rivaled China’s (Japan) was rationalized away as having originally been a Chinese colony (which it may well have been, to be fair — perhaps that is where the first emperor’s envoys searching for the Daoist island of immortality ended up). In terms of its attitudes toward outsiders, there may not be another country in history as sure of its own superiority as imperial China was (save the times when outsiders invaded, of course).

    The idea that China was, quite literally, the center of the world pervades even the language 天下,中国, these names are not coincidences.

    I’m sure you know all this, but my point is, these attitudes are moral supremacy, it’s just that Chinese civilization defined moral as being Chinese, so to speak. Because the mandate of heaven ensured unjust Chinese rulers would be overthrown, China was by definition moral at all times, and as the superior nation it was only right that all other countries pay tribute to it. Certainly, they didn’t use that term (“moral”), but what difference is there really? In the West, countries invaded each other based on claims of superiority granted by “God”. In China, there was no need to invade, superiority was granted by heaven and the emperor could sit back and let the tribute come piling in from all the neighboring kingdoms.

    The difference is that China learned the hard way about the reality of its “superiority” when the white guys showed up with gunboats and opium. The west, in contrast, is only just now starting to learn its moral superiority isn’t real.

    As for the “historically single-minded” thing giving Chinese people more of an excuse to be bigots than Westerners, please. It’s OK to be bigoted so long as you admit that you’re part of a long and storied history of bigotry? I agree there’s no excuse for Westerners who preach “tolerance” with one hand and invade foreign countries with the other, but there’s no excuse for bigotry, period.

    Does saying that make me a hypocrite? YES. But as it turns out, humans are all hypocrites — you too! Just because I’ve done bigoted things doesn’t mean I can’t try not to be, and can’t encourage others to try not to be.

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  23. The problem I see with that argument is that in Chinese culture, morality is essentially defined on the grounds of pragmatism, rooted in practical cause-and-effect relationships. The Chinese philosophers of old summarized the best behaviors, and explained why they should be obeyed, and the consequences of not obeying them. The West, however, seems to have a set of lofty concepts independent of any groundings in reality. In actuality, these concepts developed through a slow and painful process of social readjustments and redistributions of wealth and power between different classes, but that’s mostly (intentionally) forgotten today. Why is why, I think, human rights are treated as “God-given” and taken as axiomatic in most of the Western world. This is a problem because when such ideals are internalized to such a degree as seen in the West, its followers become blind to the reality around them, and insist on the execution of these ideals in an idealistic manner. In contrast, the Chinese approach to what’s right and wrong is far more flexible, and the concept of forcing anyone else except in the cases of conflicts of interest simply doesn’t occur to Chinese people in general.

    As for tolerance, it mostly developed due to the multicultural environment the once ethnically homogeneous Europeans found themselves in following the colonization of North America and Australia. Especially in the US, where the once-oppressed blacks made up a significant portion of the population, “tolerance” was key to maintaining social harmony and avoid divisions of the society along racial lines. And unlike the aforementioned philosophical principles, the pragmatic nature of this philosophy is largely unforgotten – in that tolerance isn’t bad simply because “it is”, but is necessary to avoid “offending others”.

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  24. Can someone please reproduce what middle school students all over China learn about Tibet from their textbooks. I think it will help clarify why so many Chinese commenting here are lagging behind their international counterparts on the Tibet issue.

    Like

  25. @ ganni,

    Let me give you what I’ve learned from Chinese sources:

    – Tibet used to be home to the Tufan people, which, throughout the Tang and Song dynasties, interacted with the central dynasty through either warfare or trading.
    – By the time the Mongols had destroyed the Song dynasty, the Yuan dynasty, as the Mongols called themselves, had begun to think of themselves as the legitimate rulers of China – just like the Han emperors before them. The Yuan dynasty, as part of the vast Mongol Empire, controlled Tibet as the legitimate successor state of the Song dynasty.
    – When the Han resistance overthrew the Mongols and established the Ming dynasty, just like the rest of China, Tibet was considered a part of the Mongol’s legacy, and was legitimately inherited from the Yuan dynasty that preceded them.
    – The manchurian Qing dynasty, which succeeded the Ming dynasty, brought with it even more land, which was added to the land inherited from the Han Ming dynasty. China was far, far bigger than it is today. The Tibetan theocracy, though internally governed by the Buddhist theocracy, officially and practically submitted to the Qing dynasty.
    – The concept of “independence” originated during the chaos following the fall of the Qing dynasty, when rampand warlordism divided China, including Tibet. Furthermore, the British, as the colonial masters of India, decided to add parts of it to India.
    – But when the ROC was established, Tibet was still in Chinese hands. ROC never declared its exclusion from China.
    – When the CCP and the PRC succeeded the KMT and the ROC, which was also when the “invasion” of Tibet occurred, it was nothing more than the PRC inheriting the properties of the ROC as its legitimate successor state. Many of the Tibetan theocratic leaders recognized the fact that their system of theocratic slavery would no longer be tolerated by the new central government, and agreed to reform it alongside the CCP officials.
    – The 1959 rebellion, which was sponsored by the CIA (yes, you can look it up), was a horrible failure not only because it was horribly planned, but also because, as even the CIA freely admits, there simply wasn’t any grassroots support for the rebellion. All who were involved were of the ruling class of the past, and the rest of Tibet, memories of slavery still fresh in their minds, actively resisted their attempt at subversion.
    – The Cultural Revolution, while devastating for everyone alive at the time, was not aimed at the Tibetans. The Tibetans may have seen vast amounts of their culture destroyed before their eyes, but the Han culture of central China saw even more destruction and even more violence, making this a moot point. Would you say that Beijing does not belong to China, simply because many of its citizens were wrongly persecuted, and much of the cultural relics in the Forbidden Palace were destroyed?
    – The current Dalai Lama, while nobody knows what he’s a proponent for (his expressed opinions match mainstream Western values almost perfectly, like a liberal wet dream), is actively being used by Western governments and interest groups (AFL-CIO, for example, which partially funds the NED) as a tool to hurt China’s core interests and to undermine its sovereignty over its own territory. Whatever the motivation of such an act, you cannot deny that this is true.

    Now that you heard what a Chinese has to say, why don’t you tell us what your media’s been pumping into your heads for the past n+1 years, to help clarify why so many “international”s (white middle-class liberals without borders? lol) are lagging behind their Chinese counterparts on the Tibet issue?

    Like

  26. The article is bullshit. I am in Aus and believe that Tibet is not independent country.

    Dalailam is totally idiot and his supporters are the same.

    Like

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