An Exercise in Futility

This article is in response to the pro-Tibet banner hung near Olympic Park before the Olympics began.

Even before the Olympics began, the protests had begun. However, the perpetrators should be congratulated for defeating their own cause.

The merits of their Tibet argument aside, such tactics as shown the other day are highly ineffectual. China is currently at a high point for nationalism and patriotism. A high percentage of Chinese are reported to feel comfortable with their government, perhaps despite the low level of political freedom or perhaps because of their increasing prosperity. Since the Olympics is viewed by many as a way to show China’s development to an international player, events that would cause the Chinese to lose face will be magnified.

Stone Cold

I’m not in the habit of posting YouTube videos but this one warrants some discussion. Let me address potential criticisms first: I know celebrities are not reliable sources on politics. I know celebrities say stupid things—in fact, some even seem in the business of saying stupid things. And yes, if you’ll allow me an ad hominem attack, it is ridiculous for a woman whose initial claim to fame was flashing her vagina on film to pontificate on issues like Tibet.

The video has several parts. It begins with an introduction by an anchor then goes into Stone’s rambling, followed by reactions from carefully-selected bystanders. Only the first reaction is in Chinese; the rest are in English. Watch the video, then we’ll talk.

Free Radicals

Let’s see… right now we’ve got a global food crisis; two wars and a primary race that might never end, not to mention dropping home prices in the U.S.; a farcical election in Zimbabwe; continuing plight in the Congo; and, the media staple: drama surrounding the Beijing Olympics.

Let’s say, hypothetically, we run all these stories in a serious international magazine, what should our lead be? The editors at The Economist, faced with that question, chose a story about Chinese nationalism. But what to put on the cover? I know! What says “Chinese nationalism” better than an angry cartoon dragon? But don’t make him too angry, that would be demeaning.

For the People

During the April 9 broadcast of the CNN news program The Situation Room, commentator Jack Cafferty was asked about the relationship between the United States and China. He replied:
Well, I don’t know if China is any different, but—our relationship with China is certainly different. We’re in hock to the Chinese up to our eyeballs because of the war in Iraq, for one thing. They’re holding hundreds of billions of dollars worth of our paper. We also are running hundred of billions of dollars worth of trade deficits with them, as we continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we’re buying from Wal-Mart. So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they’re basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the last 50 years…

Hypocrisy and Face: An Open Letter

The China-Tibet Olympics commotion depresses.

We all knew CCTV was a joke. Now we are disappointed to learn that the BBC has a political agenda as well, joining what Mick Hume of The Times calls the newest Olympic sport—”China bashing.” No Pulitzers for this mess. CNN will win the gold medal in “China bashing” for mislabeling Nepalese crackdown pictures as Chinese (the single most effective Chinese propaganda tool in years—good job CNN!); the BBC will have to settle for the silver for their coverage of the London Olympic relay.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Too much blood—and ink—has been spilled since protests erupted in Lhasa less than a month ago. The Tibet issue has been used as a proxy by the Left and the Right in both China and the West to serve the aims of each disparate faction. Now it seems as though no group is willing to brook a narrative that deviates from its oft-repeated truisms.

Racism Where You Can’t See It

Ignorance and facile thinking lead many to believe that we live in a Manichean world. The Axis of Evil and declarations such as “you’re either with us or against us” are inextricably linked to President Bush. Academics, liberals, and the majority of conservatives have quarreled with this simplistic formulation of international affairs. Many of the people who attack the President for his rhetoric or rail against the “War on Terror” may repeat many of the President’s mistakes when talking about China if they are not careful.