Sunday, April 13, 2008

Olympics, Tibet, and China

The latest uproar about Olympics and Tibet are getting quite ridiculous. Let's look at a number of issues at play:

Tibet Independence

People who want to express an opinion should first learn a little bit of history about Tibet and China going back thousands of years. Tibet was a subdomain of China in Yuan and Qing dynasties and its ruler subjugated to the rule of the emperor in Beijing. It is not a historic fact that Tibet has always been an independent country.

The West objected to Mao's conquest of Tibet in the 1950s, and believed that sending the Chinese army into the region somehow violated laws. By this standard, the U.S. government really has no legal claim to large areas of North America, which were inhabited by native Indians long before the white man arrived. Federal troops slaughtered many Indian tribes as the country pushed westwards to the shores of the Pacific. To further this logic, I'd like to see people examine anew the legality of our rights in Hawaii, Guam, and elsewhere.

Not a single government in the world today recognizes the Tibet government-in-exile as the legal government of Tibet, and no state disputes the Chinese sovereignty in Tibet. Even Dalai Lama has said that he is not seeking separation but autonomy. However, he has been disingenuous: to him, true autonomy means having the rights of defense and diplomacy -- two main components of sovereignty. He wants to appear reasonable while demanding the unachievable.

Recent Event in Tibet

The facts of the recent event in Tibet are not completely clear. It is known that there were protests, deaths, looting, destruction of properties, etc. But it is not known that this is a suppression of peaceful demonstrations, pure and simple. West media jumped to conclusions right away and started reporting what they have always believed to be true rather than approaching this in an impartial manner.

Now the Chinese government has the right to enforce the law. The looting and arsons may not be the whole story, but they needed to be stopped. A similar situation occurred in this country when the Rodney King beating triggered the LA riot. That was a complicated event -- there were racial tension that was unleashed and begged the attention of the entire society. But blacks who looted stores and carried TVs and stereos home in broad daylight were not heroes of civil right movement. In fact, nobody can equate LA riot to a civil right movement.

On the other hand, by keeping out foreign journalists, China did make it hard to dispel the possibility of a crackdown. If nothing bad had happened, why the secrecy? I think China has a lot to learn from the transparency afforded by American democracy. Look at more than 7 years of the Bush Administration: you have large scale protests against the Iraq war, horrific abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, infinite detention at Gritmo, unauthorized domestic wiretapping, and so on and so forth, yet no gag order was placed on their coverage. In fact, Bush welcomed dissent: such things are a blessing in a democratic society. People can freely express their views.

So open up the media, China! Just as U.S. gets to continue our occupation of Iraq into the foreseeable future despite the protests, opinion polls, and a change of majority in Congress, you really need not worry about negative media reporting! Just follow the footsteps of America, which is exemplary in human rights, freedom, high moral standards, and everything else you are accused of lacking.

Olympics in Beijing

I was quite lukewarm regarding the event this summer, and thought China has put too much significance to it besides sports. But other anti-China groups actually think in the same way. They feel they can have their grievances heard by embarrassing China and disrupting the Beijing Olympics.

Boy, do they get this wrong! The violence in London and Paris did not make the Tibetan protesters look like the victim that they would like to have me believe. They didn't seem to be the nonviolent practitioners who follow the teachings of Dalai Lama. They did not appear to understand the democratic principles of respecting people who disagree with them and want to enjoy the Olympic moment. Thanks to their actions, I'm getting more and more excited about this each day, and found myself typing away at this post!

To his credit, Dalai Lama has repeatedly said that he supported Olympics, that it is really deserving that the Chinese people get to host the Olympics. He understands the two issues are unrelated. People should listen to him. There are larger forces at work in China's rise to a prominent role on the world stage, and tying the frictions generated in this process to the Olympics will not resolve anything.

China

Let's face it: China is stepping up to the world stage, which has been occupied by others -- U.S., E.U. countries, Japan, etc. It is not a very big stage unfortunately. As China has grown in bulk, others are getting pushed aside. Some are in danger of losing their footings on the stage all together. Here are some comments made by the CNN host Jack Cafferty on April 9 Situation Room with Wolfe Blitzer:

"Well, I don't know if China is any different, but our relationship with China is certainly different. We're in hawk to the Chinese up to our eyeballs because of the war in Iraq, for one thing. They're holding hundreds of billions of dollars worth of our paper. We also are running hundred of billions of dollars worth of trade deficits with them, as we continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart. So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."
You see, we are deep in debt with the goons and thugs, we can't live without the products made by these goons and thugs, and the goons and thugs leave our people jobless -- and they expect to have a run-of-the-mill Olympics without hearing from us? Nobody has highlighted the real reason behind the upheavals surrounding the Olympics better than Mr. Cafferty. More than anything, it's economics.

Rather than focusing on retraining our people, promoting savings and education, investing in science and technology, stopping imperialist foreign policies, and making America competitive again, we hit China where it hurts most -- letting them lose face by boycotting the freaking Olympics! This is just brilliant.

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