Twofish's Blog

April 11, 2008

In other news…. Hu and Siew at Boao

Filed under: china, taiwan — twofish @ 3:42 pm

In other news, Hu Jintao is probably going to meet the Taiwan vice-president elect Vincent Siew at the Boao Forum in Hainan. This is the highest level semi-public contact between the PRC and Taiwan ever, but of course, it’s much, much less important that the olympic torch.

I’m thinking about a magician’s wand. The thing about people is that you can only keep track of a limited amount of information that people can absorb at once and if you make people focused at issue X, issue Y disappears. One really interesting thing is that while everyone is talking about Tibet, people have stopped talking about Darfur or food safety. My guess is that in about a month, people will have lost interest in Tibet, and there will be some new “let’s bash China this month story.” China has so many problems that its easy to choose the latest problem of the month.

The trouble is that giving all these problems a month of fame sells newspapers but doesn’t really solve any of them. What’s happening in Darfur, now? Remember those Burmese monks from a few months ago? What about Chinese coal miners? Chen Guangcheng is still in jail. What about the North Koreans refugees? Or the people in house churches? China’s role in Africa?

The thing I find somewhat annoying about press coverage is that I think it raises expectations a bit too high. One thing that the Chinese government realizes is how short people’s memories are. Will most people care about Hu Jia six months from now? A year from now? Ten years from now? I don’t think so. And Tibet? China has 56 ethnic groups and within the Han there were probably hundreds of sub-ethnic groups. There’s enough groups so that you can have the “oppressed ethnicity of the month” show going on for years.

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