Twofish's Blog

March 19, 2008

Shaky cell-phone videos from Tibet foretell doom for the Chinese empire… Not…

Filed under: china, tibet — twofish @ 12:43 am

Interesting article from Anne Applebaum

 http://www.slate.com/id/2186753/

But totally wrong.

What’s pretty obvious just talking to people is that the pictures from Tibet have actually ***strengthened*** support for the Chinese government among people from within China, and among at least some overseas Chinese.  Part of the reason is that different people are looking at different pictures and attaching different meanings to them, and people try to interpret what they see based on what they already think about the world.  So a Tibetan activist sees rightful self-defense, someone else sees angry mob.

After all, the history of the last two centuries is filled with tales of strong, stable empires brought down by their subjects, undermined by their client states, overwhelmed by the national aspirations of small, subordinate countries.

And it’s also the history of nations such as the United States successfully creating stable national identities from people who have nothing much in common other than the fact that the live on the same patch of dirt.

I do think that that the Tibetans have legitimate complaints against the government, and I empathize with some of the frustration, but most people in China view the events in Lhasa much as most people in the United States viewed the Watts riots or the aftermath of Rodney King, regrettable, but hardly something that would bring down the government.

There is a nice quote from the LA Times

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-chispin17mar17,0,3546222.story

 “The government is showing more confidence and learning more about spin,” said Michael Anti, a well-known Chinese blogger on a Nieman fellowship this year at Harvard. “They’ve learned more PR tactics from Western people. They see the way the White House and the Pentagon do it.”

Having Chinese believe that the Dalai Lama was responsible for the riots and that a crackdown is necessary is silly to a lot of non-Chinese.  However, it’s no more silly than having most Americans convinced that Sadaam Hussein was behind 9/11, was plotting to destroy the world through nuclear and chemical weapons and so Iraq must be invaded.

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