Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Tibet


I've stayed well away from this subject apart from a nod to some of the themes that create this type of tension all round the world, including I might add the troubles in Ireland, which as it slowly heals itself, is surely a solid example of how only dialogue has a chance to ameliorate conflict. Anything else is a vacuum and/or the sort of binary polarisation that we are beginning to see played out in the theater of media. This morning however the front page of China Daily has a lead story headlined "Students rap media 'hegemony' " and I feel that it would be constructive to highlight the obvious, because pluarlism of opinion is not a default reporting in China.

I should point out that I'm not strictly speaking in favour of China's withdrawal from Tibet. It's way too far down the line for that to be a constructive move. Tibet was a piss poor theocracy before the Chinese Communist party annexed it over 1949-51 and it will be a dirt poor theocracy if the impossible happened and the Dalai Lama was invited in for a red-carpet-run to the throne in Lhasa.

We all now know very well that failed states are extremely hard to prop up. There's is possibly nothing more we would like to do in Afghanistan and Iraq than wrap up and call it a day if we weren't all so guilty of being compliant in the biggest media con job since say
Kristallnacht with it's skillfully orchestrated violence or the more contemporary Weapons for Mass Delusion hunt. No it's better to let people stand on their own two feet and that can only come about with the maturity that maybe a few hundred years of participatory democracy gives such as the recent devolution we have seen with the Scottish and Welsh parliaments in the United Kingdom. Even then the discourse can be heated and confrontational.

The point is that bias in the media is always going to be evident. The notion that news media don't have bias is just plain stupid. Guardian readers like their daily dose of Liberalism and Telegraph readers like their daily dose of Conservatism. CNN despite it's left leaning bias couldn't provide the perspective that the Arab States needed and thus Al Jazeera was born. If you're looking for objectivity in your news I suggest you read both sides of an opinion and form your own. That's as good as its going to get.


But here's the point for writing this post. China is already emerging as a world power, if not the psychological de facto world-power already. This requires from the peoples of the world a change in mindset as to how the old order is perceived. As the United States staggers under a mountain of debt built by rich folk selling bad loans to poor folk with the poor folk picking up the tab it's time to reassess the shape of the world. There's a new kid on the block and if you feel uncomfortable with that then I guess its worth reminding you that the obsession with wealth creation known as Neo Liberal Capitalism is the reason why China is on the rise. Didn't we teach them this way? Didn't we say it's all about who owns the dollars? About the money and the power?

That doesn't mean though that the obvious shouldn't be pointed out. For as those Chinese students abroad petition Gordon Brown with their "29 Pence Action" Campaign, (notably missing from the blogosphere), a mature civilization's response should welcome pluralism of opinion and that they are indeed highlighting a bias in the Western Media's reporting on Tibet, for the Western Media have mistakenly taken to reporting history for reporting news. What happened in 1949 is history what happened in Tibet this month is news.

Finally I should end on the most obvious point for those Chinese overseas who are blessed with the ability to take their grievances to the Western Media. Good luck to you, but surely the irony of being able to do this while here I am, several hundred yards from The National People's Congress, blogging away on yet another banned blogging platform by the net nanny, in the heart of Beijing with absolutely no chance of writing a letter to caution the leaders pictured below, and now on the internet, that an eye for an eye only leaves the world blind.


2 comments:

lauren said...

possibly thanks to the old web 2.0, plus your excellent blog posts, i'm developing a new view about the whole thing with tibet in a way that i never would have before. blind idealism has evolved into genuine interest and fascination with both sides of the story (with a healthy cynicism, still).

Gustavo Bechtold said...

Indeed there is an urgent need in changing the Western mindset, if what's going on in Tibet right now happened in the 70s or early 80s we all would see another Moscow 1980 Olympics episode, where politics implicated ideological issues... But Beijing 2008, where politics implicates Wal-Mart, we are as far from seeing an episode re-run as the Dalai Lama is from seeing his throne in Lhasa.