It’s been quite some time since Yahoo mercifully closed down its news discussion boards. Especially at times of crisis, whether real or perceived, they could make you lose almost all faith in humanity. Below is a translation of one Chinese person’s reaction, posted on Woeser’s blog, to the same phenomenon in China. Text in square brackets is mine, and does not appear in the original Chinese post.
By a lonely Han
For days on end, events in Tibet have been the hottest news in China and abroad. Today, the Chinese mainstream media news site Sina.com carried another Xinhua article with the headline “The Dalai clique destroys social stability in Tibet; it is doomed to fail.” It goes without saying that the article was full of vocabulary like “a small handful, an extremely small number, organized, premeditated, meticulously plotted and directed, there is sufficient evidence to prove, exercised enormous restraint.” Anyone who has lived in China for more than 20 years will probably know these words well enough to recite them. There is nothing new about them.
What did draw attention was the readers’ comments at the end of the article. Thanks to the Internet, we can now hear the voice of “the people” straight away. This time, “the people” and the “central government” maintained a high degree of unanimity, singing in unison “the Dalai clique” and “rioters” (this name is also very familiar, much like 19 years ago when every student and resident of Beijing at Tiananmen had this nickname). But these voices sound very shrill and brutal. Here are some representative quotes for the benefit of the reader:
– “To dare to split China this year, that’s really asking for trouble, like throwing an egg against a rock, courting destruction. I advise the central government to punish them without mercy. Those who deserve execution should be executed. Those who deserve life imprisonment should be sentenced to life in prison. (This netizen’s comment is reasonable, restrained, analytical and has a definite legal awareness. He doesn’t call for all of them to be executed - some can just be sentenced to life.)
– “Kill all the terrorists who attempt to separate Tibet!” (This netizen’s language is very frank. From his slogan, we can see he has the air of a bandit and he presumably drinks quite a lot. It’s a shame he was born in the modern age, otherwise there would have been 109 heroes on Mount Liang [a reference to the classic Outlaws of the Marsh])
– “The people of Guangdong resolutely support striking the Dalai clique!!!!!!!!” (A call from the south. Guangdong has responded quickly. Within such a short time it has formed a resolution and elected representatives. What I don’t know is by what procedure did this dear friend qualify to represent the people of Guangdong. Aren’t all the People’s Congress representatives meeting in Beijing?)
– “President Hu, do what ever you need to do!!! The common people all support you!!! Resolutely strike these bastards!!! (So genuine! So sincere! This sounds like a woman, sucking up just after Comrade Jintao was reelected president of the nation. With people like this behind him, is there anything the president will not dare to do?)
– “The state spends so much money supporting the monks and they turn round and do this!” (This friend certainly feels very aggrieved and distressed, but he or she does not have a very good understanding of state policy on religion. The government has never paid monks’ salaries. Any monks that do receive money from the government are almost all government informers. They can’t “turn round and do this.”)
– “I support the state striking hard against Tibetan separatists! I support the state striking hard against Tibetan separatists! I support the state striking hard against Tibetan separatists! I support the state striking hard against Tibetan separatists! I support the state striking hard against Tibetan separatists! I support the state striking hard against Tibetan separatists! ….” (This guy yelled his slogan 55 times. I counted each one. He really is very sincere, it’s a shame he has such a meager vocabulary.)
– “Kill them for me!” (Brief and to the point, imperious, like an officer commanding troops at the front line. But who is he commanding? People should be wary of following a person who has such simplistic methods for dealing with problems. It could put your life at risk.)
OK, enough of the quotes. That’s already too many. Sina.com posted this article at 2:21am on March 17, 2008. As I write this short piece at about 2pm, there are already 26,625 comments! At least 99% of them express similar passionate opinions.
This is a very interesting phenomenon.
Mainlanders have also had their fill of government bullying, scarcely less than the Tibetans (the number of abnormal deaths since 1949 is proof of that). Mainlanders also curse the government. But in the face of other ethnic groups, these Han seem to forget that they too have been bullied by the government, and become part of the government “family.” It seems the government is their guardian angel, and they consciously serve as defenders of the government.
This phenomenon continually troubled me. Then I gave this kind of relationship a specialist name: relationships by rape - “Family relations established through rape.” I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not and I haven’t consulted with relevant anthropologists. For the moment, it is the term I will use. To borrow the form of a sentence by Lu Xun: For actually the earth had no kinship to begin with, but when many people had been raped, kinship was made. [Lu Xun’s original words were: “For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made.” From My Old Home] Are we not trying to make our Tibetan compatriots the same as us, forming this kind of “kinship” with the government?
Finally, I would like to remind those friends who are filled with popular emotion to calm down and ask themselves:
How do we judge what is and what is not from a news source and the evidence it provides? Is this source and evidence reliable?
Why can we only see news from one side, and what exactly is the real truth？
What is the basis for equality and mutual respect among ethnic groups?
Should all ethnic groups have the right to self-determination?
Does each ethnic group, ensuring its own integrity, have the right to choose its own method of attaining happiness?
What is the difference between invasion and aid?
Doesn’t the phrase Chinese race* in itself imply “cultural imperialism”?
[*中华民族. I have never really been able to determine what this phrase really means. The overwhelming majority of Chinese nouns do not have a plural or singular form. So 中华民族 could mean one singular “Chinese race” - something that does not exist - or it could be plural, meaning “Chinese ethnic groups.”]
Danwei - Tîbet: Chinese sources and foreign correspondents on the ground
Rebecca MacKinnon - Tibet… is discussion possible?