China Annoyed with C’ville Over Tibetan Support

China is angry with Charlottesville for our support of Tibet, Henry Graff reports for NBC 29. Council will fly the Tibetan flag next week in a show of solidarity with supporters of Tibetan independence, and that’s not sitting very well with China. The tiny mountain nation was invaded by China in 1950, killing millions of Tibetans and prohibiting the practice of religion, sending the Dali Lama into exile.

If the Chinese government is angry with something you’re doing, then you’re doing something right.

34 thoughts on “China Annoyed with C’ville Over Tibetan Support”

  1. I’ll go put a “Free Tibet” bumper sticker on my car right now. It’ll show the Chinese that we mean business and for sure, they’ll move out of Tibet.

    Yeah, just another meaningless gesture. If they want to do something for real, let’s see the “Free Tibet” crowd not buy anything from China.

    I agree with their sentiment, but the folks who think bumper stickers and petitions will do any good need wake up to the real world.

  2. I’d have thought it was a meaningless gesture, too, but the fact that an entire nation’s government is angry at us tells me that it’s probably not.

  3. No, it just means that our “lead painted toy overlords” are overly sensitive.

    It makes for a nice news story, I wonder if 29 will mention how effective “Free Tibet” has been so far.

    I wonder if “Free Poland” bumper stickers would have worked in 1940 instead of that messy war thing.

  4. RE: “If the Chinese government is angry with something you’re doing, then you’re doing something right.”

    Replace ‘Chinese’ with ‘American’ and you’d probably be closer to world sentiment right now. Um, hello, invading and occupying a country? Where have I heard that one before?

    One in five Iraqis have been displaced.
    http://www.refugeesinternational.org/content/article/detail/9679

    Listen, I’m all for Tibetan independence, I have great Tibetan friends and have seen the Dalai Lama speak, and am glad Charlottesville’s flying the flag. That’s just a pretty ridiculous statement.

    By the way, for a more complex view of Tibet than is often offered, see:
    http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html

  5. Thanks for that Parenti article. When I first heard some of the accusations of brutal punishment (maiming, etc.) in old feudal Tibet, up to 1959, I wondered if it was communist propaganda. The article is much longer and balanced than what I first heard. Lots of footnotes. But a few points seem quite weak.

    Parenti claims “By 1961, Chinese occupation authorities expropriated the landed estates owned by lords and lamas… [re-distributed land] into hundreds of communes… Improvements were made in [agriculture]… all of which reportedly led to an increase in agrarian production.”

    But 1961 the last year of the Great Famine in China, caused by collectivization. Was Tibet different? He cites a book by Pradyumna P. Karan, “sympathetic to the old [pre-communist] regime; and a 1966 article in the London Times. I could imagine propaganda getting into the Times in 1960’s (Maoism had a following in the West), but I don’t know about Karan and what part of the paragraph he is being cited for.

    Another weak point is his citing a British author in 1904 on feudal oppression in Tibet. The Brits invaded Tibet in 1904! When the British public found out, after the fact, it was a cause celebre. Public opinion favored the outmatched, romantic Tibetans over their own imperial army. And sure enough the author who is cited, Perceval Landon, was with the British invasion force. The other author cited, L.A. Waddell (not “A.L.”) was the cultural consultant! Besides Wikipedia, see the PDF http://www.thdl.org/texts/reprints/bot/bot_1978_01_reviews.pdf and the book “Bayonets to Lhasa”.

    Finally, the 1959 exhibition of torture devices was obviously put on as propaganda by the communist government, which that year took over Tibet by force. The exhibited items may have been genuine, but Parenti should at least mention who put on the show.

    Overall though, a much more considered piece that what I had heard before. You can search Google on “Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Ghandi” and find all three debunked in broad strokes, by adding the names “Christopher Hitchens” or “Penn and Teller”.

  6. Spelled “Gandhi” wrong. Sorry, big guy.

    The most dangerous regional opposition in China seems to be Muslim, the Uighurs in Xinjiang. As for Tibet, they will never let it go because that is where so many of the natural resources are, and test sites, etc.

  7. Adam is right on the nose. It would be wonderful if our Council would spend their time doing the job they were elected to do and not spend their time trying to conduct foreign policy. They seem to be incapable of doing either well. I have no problem with Tibetans protesting. I do have a big problem with locally elected offficials endeavoring to speak internationally on issues that do not come under their purview.

  8. I wonder if “Free Poland” bumper stickers would have worked in 1940 instead of that messy war thing.

    Actually, the stickers and graffiti of the Polish resistance movement read “Polska Walczaca” (“Poland is still fighting”). It was really quite effective. You can read a bit about it in Ren Weschler’s Winter 2006 VQR article, “The Graphics of Solidarity.”

    But to get to your implication — are you suggesting that Charlottesville should declare war on China?

    Replace ‘Chinese’ with ‘American’ and you’d probably be closer to world sentiment right now. Um, hello, invading and occupying a country? Where have I heard that one before?

    I’m confused. Are you suggesting that it’s illogical to criticize one country when another has also done bad things?

    That’s just a pretty ridiculous statement.

    Then you and I probably have different perspectives on free speech. I think it’s a pretty good idea, whereas China does not. China’s citizens are jailed for flying a Tibetan flag (or engaging in any other act of free expression that paints the country in a negative light), and so they’re legitimately shocked when a small city on the other side of the world flies Tibet’s flag. Because they’re not accustomed to any sort of dissent, they’re willing to both notice and waste their time on us. So my view is that if you’re saying something that has China pissed off, you should probably keep saying it.

  9. This seems like a pretty hollow gesture at best. Will a new flag be flying every couple of days representing other marginalized people? Maybe the council members think that they are so important that their actions will really resonate around the world… but I don’t think that is in their job description. Maybe in one of their next votes they will issue a decree condemning Chavez for his saber rattling!

  10. Here’s a choice quote from USA Today on lefties & Hugo Chavez:

    “Bush received some surprise support today from two liberal House Democrats who are among his biggest critics. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, came to his defense after Chavez’s Bush bashing during a speech Wednesday at the United Nations.”
    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2006/09/chavez_insults_.html

    Also, Wikipedia has an article just on “Criticism of Hugo Chávez” with 157 footnotes, everything from the Economist and the Telegraph to the NYRB and the New Yorker, as well as the non-partisan human rights orgs. Also, seems the traditional Marxist left down there does not know what to make of him.

  11. RE: “I’m confused. Are you suggesting that it’s illogical to criticize one country when another has also done bad things?”

    No, sorry, if I’m being confusing, I’m afraid I’m being misinterpreted. I support free speech, flying the flag, solidarity with Chinese dissenters, and Tibetan independence.

    I guess what I was trying to say was that we should base whether we are “doing something right” not on who opposes us, but on morality and human rights. And that a neutral observer might see a little moral relativism in the act–after all, it’s not just another country, it’s *our* country. I do still think we should do it, though.

    I think it’s a little presumptuous to think we’ve got the attention of “an entire nation’s goverment.” This probably doesn’t go past that ambassador. Certainly the Tibetan Freedom movement itself does, though.

    Cville Eye: I wasn’t saying they shouldn’t do it, and do support local officials speaking on international issues. I think the fact that Chinese products are bought and sold here makes it an issue that involves us, which is where jmcnamera’s statement rings true.

    And colfer: I agree with the weaknesses you point out in Parenti’s article. I like how you point out that imperialism, whether British or Chinese, can’t be trusted for facts–I very much agree. That was the first thing I read which contradicted the newage/liberal impression I had of Tibet, and though I admire Tibetans and Buddhism, I agree with Parenti on one thing at least, that to idealize them is to deny them their humanity.

    Maybe the converse of that is what i was trying to say earlier…?

    (Sorry for the novel.)

  12. I’m sure a minority would appreciate that… but frankly, I don’t give a

    Thanks for posting that article, Waldo- very sobering reading.

  13. I was saying that China would not be angry with Charlottesville officials if our officials were spendning their time doing the job they were elected to do, which it obviously hasn’t.

  14. Cville Eye,

    What’s the relationship between the 2 things? How many days of effort do you really think are going into this flag thing that it would be preventing Council from doing the things that you wish they would do? I mean, they discuss it for a few minutes, everyone is on board, they vote to do it and then somebody spends 5 minutes running a flag up a pole. It’s not like this is some vastly wasteful government program that is preventing anything else from happening.

    To hell with the Communist, totalitarian government of China.

  15. I would have thought our responsible governing body would have put in as much time in deliberation as our state department. I would hope their decision was not made frivolously during a five-minute chat on where to have lunch..

  16. But they make such nice shoes and boxer shorts over there. And where else can you buy knock-offs of everything from the latest movies to counterfit “Big Berthas”?

  17. Well, perhaps we could think of it as a “big government” issue. When the Federal government has messed up our foreign policy as badly as it has, then maybe it is time that local governments speak out on global issues? (Frankly I’m more bothered by the number of commendations by the Virginia State Senate.)

    That said, my perspective on Tibet is somewhat mixed. I believe in the self-autonomy of any people; therefore I find China’s actions worthy of condemnation. I belive that the Dalai Lama is not inherently an incredible person, but rather a person that when faced with ecceptional challenges has risen to the occasion in extraodinary ways. I also am for seperation of Church and State, and I feel reinstituting a theocracy isn’t necessarily an ideal solution either. I’m absolutely sure that Tibet was never this enlightened paradise that it was made out to be. I am sure though that it had a very distinctive and important culture that deserves the right of self-determination, and that China is doing its best to destroy it.

    Of course, I’m reminded of Frank Herbert’s Dune series set so far in the future that Earth is forgotten, and the only surviving religion is Judaism. If you really want to spread a religion and make sure that it thrives, then persecute its followers. China would be far more effective if it merely ignored religions that it found offensive. Or, it could take the very successful Roman method of simply assimilating them.

  18. Didn’t realize you were being sarcastic, Lonnie. This will stick with me for a long time:”If you really want to spread a religion and make sure that it thrives, then persecute its followers.”

  19. “When the Federal government has messed up our foreign policy as badly as it has, then maybe it is time that local governments speak out on global issues?” Only if it’s fair when local governments mess up, the feds can step in.

  20. Today, the First Secretary of The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Xin Shen, joined the Schilling Show to discuss the Tibetan Flag flying over Charlottesville City Hall.

    There’s audio at wina.com

  21. You really think China cares about what flag the People’s Republic of Charlottesville is flying over it’s city hall. I am laughing my arse off watching the news, with the knowledge that the majority of the consumer products those protesters have in their homes and on their backs were made in China. Want to stick it to China? quit buying their crap!! I can’t think of anything they make I can’t buy made here or in Europe, or just do without.

  22. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law; justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:23-24).

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