It’s impossible now to sort out truth from lies from spin from judicious editing in Tibet. Depending on who’s talking, huge numbers of innocent Tibetans were killed by over-zealous Han police… or innocent Han bystanders were killed by a violent Tibetan mob… or the death toll is much lower than believed, those names never existed at all. Depending on who you read, either the Chinese media is covering up something to make China look good or the Western media is making up something to make China look bad.

China calls whatever happened in Tibet last month an attempt by splittist groups to separate Tibet from Chinese control.

And everyone’s buying it. Even Westerners who scoff at Chinese media, who laugh at phrases like the “Dalai clique”, who can’t believe those gullible Chinese just naively accept whatever they’re told, are suddenly focused on Tibet and Tibetan independence.

A few weeks ago, there were many issues with China’s choices, but now, it’s all about Tibet.

Why is it? Is it just that “Free Tibet!” looks better on a poster than “Use your soft power to lean on the Sudan” or “Make good on environmental reforms”? Is it just that Tibet is a more romantic cause than quality control on exports? It can’t be personal relevance, most of us have never been to Tibet, but there’s something in your arm’s reach right now that was made in China. Is it the Dalai Lama’s charisma that gets protesters for Tibet… or is it because Richard Gere’s doing it?

Tough, complicated issues seem to be forgotten in favor of a cursory understanding and a Free Tibet shirt.

And that might be the greatest spin of all.

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0 Responses to Spin

  1. chamberoftenthousandflowers says:

    “Free Tibet” – spot on!! Only three syllables to digest. No need to think deeply about the issue, all that has already been done for you by other people. Just get on with the fun and China-baiting. It’s probably also another way of misbehaving while hiding behind the mask of a political cause.

    I suspect that Tibet has become for the world what Ireland & Northern Ireland is/was for the American Irish. An idyllic and romantic fairytale country where everything was perfect and everyone was happy [i.e something that never existed] and is now occupied and brutally oppressed.

  2. Bill says:

    With Sudan, we would be asking for Chinese intervention in a foreign country, an indirect effort to help the victims. The situation is dire, but even with China’s full cooperation, it won’t be solved quickly.

    With the environmental issue, it is more dangerous to the Chinese than the rest of the world, and it is a slow – decades, centuries – effort. No immediate effect can be achieved. And there are plenty of other opportunities in the future to call China on the spot.

    Tibet issue can be solved directly by Chinese government, immediately. And the Olympic Games in 4 months is more than enough time for China to fix the problem.

    See the difference now ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Did you just say that more complicated issues are getting forgotten in favor of Tibet and then get a comment saying why we should ignore complicated issues in favor of Tibet?

  4. Anonymous says:

    @ Chamber “Free Tibet” isn’t China-baiting as much as an oversimplification. Darfur will take time, but releasing romantic Tibet is instant!

  5. Andrea says:

    Of course everyone’s buying it, *especially* those westerners who fell for it when Bush said that Iraq was involved in 9/11, and that we had to go to Iraq to get Al Queda & they’re the same westerners buying the bunk that now the enemy is Iran. Westerners like it black & white, and they like the *librul media* to spoon-feed it to them. A sad but true tale.

  6. Elliott Ng says:

    Agree with this post. It is too easy to condemn and to join an easily understandable cause than to think about complex issues and consider why people might have different points of view. Westerners (like myself) love to see things in black and white…unfortunately, everything related to China (and this multilateral world) is no longer like a Hollywood movie…

    @bill I’m not really sure I undersatnd what the easy solution is for China. Just give Tibet its independence? Or what are you suggesting? Greater degree of self-governance and/or religious freedom?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wish people would stop comparing the situation in Northern Ireland to that of Tibet. They’re totally different.

    So long as the majority of Northern Irish people want to remain as part of the United Kingdom, then that’s how things should/will stay. The British government has no interest in the area other than maintaining it responsibility to its Irish citizens.

    Tibet is different because as far as most people can tell, the vast majority of Tibetans want freedom from the Han Chinese – whether it be through independence or autonomy. From this perspective, the Han Chinese have no business in occupying a territory whose inhabitants never wanted them there in the first place.

  8. b. cheng says:

    one of the best posts on the whole Tibet thing and its aftermath I’ve seen so far, when I finally stop being lazy, I plan on linking to this…

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