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China looks back

History Today has a retrospective on the official history of China: China’s Interesting Times.

…the series of anniversaries rolling out this year in China are a good example of how history is not merely a matter of the past. Some will not be recalled, at least officially, among them the Great Famine in which officials showed the hollowness of the concern for the people proclaimed by the regime. The Cultural Revolution is admitted to have been a mistake but Mao is still judged to have been 70 per cent good, 30 per cent bad. June 4th, 1989, is remembered in coded messages using the date or, officially, as a moment when the People’s Liberation Army saved China from the subversion of ‘black hand’ agents working for foreign interests. Tibet will remain sensitive for so long as its clergy and much of the native population refuse to accept Chinese rule. Taiwan will remain autonomous. The legacy of May 4th will remain with intellectuals and dissidents who dream of a democratic China in which the rule of law pertains and the Communist party no longer claims a monopoly of the Mandate of Heaven. On both sides of the debates about where China is heading, and where it should be heading, history has its part to play and anniversaries are part and parcel of that.

Last week The Sydney Morning Herald had a fascinating story about China and Tibet: Exposed: Beijing’s failure in Tibet.

A SCATHING new report, perhaps the first of its kind from inside China since Tibet was brutally locked down in March last year, describes how Beijing’s efforts to pour rivers of money into Tibet since 1989 to ensure "stability" have been spectacularly counter-productive.

The report, which is controversial for having been written by a group of Beijing scholars, says private-sector jobs went to ethnic Han Chinese from other provinces, and public money flowed into the pockets of a new elite which systematically portrayed community discontent as "separatism".

"They use every opportunity to play the separatism card," says Phun Tshogs Dbang Rjyal, a founder of the Communist Party in Tibet, who is quoted in the report.

"And they will try hard to apportion responsibility on ‘overseas hostile forces’ because this is the way to consolidate their interests and status and eventually bring them more power and resources."

The fieldwork was conducted by four Peking University journalism students who travelled to Lhasa and a Tibetan region of Gansu province in July.

It was written and recently published on the internet by the Open Constitution Initiative, a non-government organisation run by lawyers and intellectuals in Beijing….

Xu Zhiyong, a human rights lawyer who helped prepare the report, said he hoped it would be picked up by Chinese media, but he held little hope that it would influence government officials.

But ethnic Tibetans are nevertheless heartened that a balanced account of the causes of last year’s uprising can now exist in China.

"As a Tibetan I feel this report is very important," said Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan poet in Beijing. "This is a rare and treasured report under the current circumstances of one-sided official propaganda."…

Some rethinking in Beijing would certainly be good.

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Posted by on May 24, 2009 in Chinese and China, current affairs, History

 

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Channel 4 – News – Dispatches – Undercover in Tibet

This is the documentary shown last night on Four Corners on ABC: Undercover in Tibet.

As Tibetan protesters take to the streets in the biggest and most bloody challenge to Chinese rule in nearly 20 years, Dispatches reports on the hidden reality of life under Chinese occupation after spending three months undercover, deep inside the region. Dozens are feared dead after the recent clashes and crackdown by Chinese troops, but with reporting so rigidly controlled from the region little is known of living conditions inside Tibet.

To make this film, Tibetan exile Tash Despa returns to the homeland he risked his life to escape 11 years ago, to carry out secret filming with award-winning, Bafta-nominated director Jezza Neumann (Dispatches Special: China’s Stolen Children). Risking imprisonment and deportation, he uncovers evidence of the “cultural genocide” described by the Dalai Lama.

He finds the nomadic way of life being forcefully wiped out as native Tibetans are stripped of their land and livestock and are being resettled in concrete camps. Tibet reveals the regime of terror which dominates daily life and makes freedom of expression impossible. Tash meets victims of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and “disappearances” and uncovers evidence of enforced sterilisations on ethnic Tibetan women.

He sees for himself the impact of the enormous military and police presence in the region, and the hunger and hardship being endured by many Tibetans, and hears warnings of the uprising taking place across the provinces now.

There is no doubt about it. What the Chinese government is engaged in is colonisation, and a systematic and ruthless colonisation at that. What else in all honesty could it be called?

Watch this for yourself and make your own judgement.

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Posted by on July 15, 2008 in Chinese and China, current affairs, TV

 

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Some of life’s little ironies — well, not so little…

Most others will have forgotten, such is the short-term memory loss in our world of blogs and instant media and information overload, but less than a year ago we had a Prime Minister named John Howard, a Foreign Minister named Alexander Downer, a visit from George W Bush, an Immigration Minister named Kevin Andrews, and our very own international Islamist Terrorist investigation into one Doctor Haneef. My memory is online and uncensored of course: here.

Now we open up the Sydney Morning Herald to read:

LESS than a year after he was locked up in Brisbane as a suspected terrorist, Mohamed Haneef has shared a podium with the Dalai Lama at an anti-terrorism conference in India.

Which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.

The Indian doctor, who was arrested and then cleared of terrorism charges last July, told young Muslims across the world to beware, because they have been typecast as terrorists.

“I am a living example of how the menace of terrorism has affected innocent lives and the phenomenon of how Muslims are stereotyped as being terrorists or sympathisers of terrorists whether they are guilty or not,” he said.

Dr Haneef was a guest at a conference in New Delhi on Sunday organised by the Jama Masjid United Forum, an Islamic organisation in India that aims to “eradicate the root cause” of terrorism.

It was also addressed by Islamic leaders and Indian ministers and MPs.

Dr Haneef told the conference that the “entire world” was watching Muslim youths. “I am here not as an individual but as a representative of innocents who are victims of terrorism,” he said…

The Dalai Lama used his speech to strongly condemn terrorism, but called for “unbiased initiatives” to combat it. He said it was wrong to malign any one religion because of terrorist acts. The Tibetan spiritual leader also said India’s tradition of religious tolerance was a role model for the world.

However, that tolerance has been tested by a devastating terrorist bomb attack in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state, three weeks ago. The series of blasts, which killed 60 people and injured about 200, have been blamed on Muslim extremists.

After the attack an influential conservative Muslim seminary in India, the Darool Uloom Deoband and its political arm, Jamiat-i-Hind, issued a “fatwa” against terrorism. The 150-year-old institution, which influences thousands of smaller Islamic schools across the subcontinent, issued the fatwa at a meeting attended by thousands of clerics and students in Delhi.

Moving on to China, we may reflect that this being June it is nineteen years since the events of Tiananmen Square. Much has changed in China since then, but much hasn’t. As I have mentioned before, I have met quite a few people who were in China at that time, including eye witnesses of Tiananmen, and of related events: M was such an eye witness in Shanghai where he saw the once almost equally famous events that occurred at Shanghai railway station. I have met one of the leaders of the Tiananmen protests. So I think I know about it, and I know the Chinese government continues to lie about it, and continues to have a bad record in many areas. On the other hand, I know also that the actions of the Chinese government (and people) in relation to the recent and ongoing earthquake tragedy in Sichuan have been utterly commendable, especially in contrast to the uniformed dickheads who run Burma — though we must question whether the system, or corruption, subverted building codes to make the Sichuan tragedy worse in the first place. (By the way, I still say “Burma” because the name “Myanmar” is the brainchild of those uniformed “leaders” and excludes parts of the Burmese population.)

The Sydney Morning Herald remembered today:

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Posted by on June 4, 2008 in Asian, Australia, Chinese and China, current affairs, events, human rights, Islam, John Howard, M, memory, peace, South Asian, terrorism

 

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Last night on ABC1 — Wild China: Tibet

I found this wonderful and fascinating. Here is a taste.

Here is the BBC site.

The Tibetan plateau covers a quarter of China – an area the size of Western Europe. This vast, windswept wilderness is one of the world’s most remote places, defined by the glacier-strewn Himalayas. It’s also home to some incredible wildlife such as the rare chiru, brown bears, wild yaks and the highest-living predators on Earth. There are more large creatures here than anywhere else in China.

Defined by over a thousand years of Buddhism, Tibet has a unique culture that has nurtured remarkable beliefs. The programme discovers why this landscape and ancient culture is the life support system for much of the planet.

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On dividing the rainbow

RainbowOverPotala

That beautiful if rather obvious propaganda image comes from the International Campaign for Tibet and is linked to a story about the photograph, but that is not my main concern today. Instead I want to draw your attention to the rainbow itself. There is of course a significance tied to the Abrahamic tradition’s flood stories, but that is not so much my concern either. Look at the rainbow. Do you see continuum or division? In point of fact there is only continuum; the colours we separate and name are arbitrarily separated by language itself; anyone with even a little knowledge of a number of languages knows this is so. Mandarin, for example, renders the blue-green part of the spectrum quite differently from English.

Now of course some kind of classification/division is inevitable as we could not practise science or indeed engage in everyday life and thought without it. It could be said that without schemata of various kinds we would go quite mad. But our schemata also have the power to drive us mad, or at least to separate us from the way things really are; the more wedded we are to them the crazier, and the more dangerous, we are liable to become.

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Beijing agrees to Tibet talks

I found Rowan Callick’s report in today’s Australian very interesting.


CHINA last night moved to reopen talks with the Dalai Lama in an effort to prevent the Olympic Games from being engulfed in controversy over its stance on Tibet.

The official Xinhua news agency said Beijing would start negotiations with a personal representative of the exiled Tibetan leader “in the coming days”.

It said the first talks in almost a year followed repeated requests “made by the Dalai side for resuming talks”.

But the approach also follows the transformation of the “journey of harmony” – as the international Olympic torch relay is known – into a war of words and frequent violence between Chinese nationalists and supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The Australian leg of the torch relay in Canberra on Thursday was marred by scuffles between Chinese and Tibetan supporters, leading to seven arrests.

Tenzin Takla, a spokesman for the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, last night welcomed the offer as “a step in the right direction”. He said the issue could only be resolved by face-to-face meetings.

Within China, the reaction to international criticism over Tibet has sparked a nationalist surge, heightening anxiety over the impact on the Olympics, which start in Beijing in just 15 weeks.

International leaders, including Kevin Rudd during his trip to China this month, have urged Beijing to return to the negotiating table with the Dalai Lama, who has said that he seeks only autonomy, not independence, for Tibet, and that he does not want to disrupt the Olympics…

Callick goes on to quote Liu Xiaobo:

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News comment spot — non-ranting…

Well, perhaps…

The great debate on Islam and democracy took place in Sydney last night. Ancient Greece aside –and there the idea was limited to a short time in only a few city states and excluded slaves and women — the idea of democracy, we would do well to remember, is of recent origin, and economic democracy is to this day practically unknown. The boss is still the boss. Nor should Christians congratulate themselves on the democratic tone of their religion; just look at the histories of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, for a start, and even Anglicanism was hardly a great banner-waver on behalf of the Chartists in the 19th century. All that said, the debate would have been an entertaining if frustrating experience.
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Posted by on April 16, 2008 in Australia and Australian, Christianity, current affairs, faith and philosophy, Jim Belshaw

 

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