I often see and hear critics of China say “we are only opposed to the Chinese government, not the Chinese people, and not the country of China.” First of all, that’s probably not true. Those people are probably racists who throw around the word “chink” left and right.
Of course, that’s just my assumption, and no I don’t have anything to back it up (not more than just a hunch anyway). What I do know is that those people have NO idea what’s going on. In fact, they probably don’t even have eyes. If indeed critics of China want the so-called “best” for China, then why aren’t the Chinese people welcoming them with open arms? Why are there throngs of Chinese Americans pouring onto the streets of San Francisco waving the five-star red banner of the People’s Republic of China? Surely, they could claim that Chinese in China are brainwashed by the “communists,” but what about all those pro-PRC Chinese Americans? They all live in America, some of them were even born in America. So why are they so strong in their support for their supposedly oppressive Motherland?
The answer is simply one of identity. This would obviously explain why Chinese in China are so vocal in their support for the government in recent days. This answer also explains why so many overseas Chinese have supported the Chinese government since the outbreak of Tibetan protests. As long as a Chinese person identifies with China, he/she will identify more with the Chinese government than they will with the government under which they live overseas. This, of course, is true not just of Chinese, but of all peoples. Americans, whether or not they live in the US or abroad, will identify with their home country. Americans might complain about President Bush at home, but they would seldom welcome the same criticism from a French or Russian citizen.
So what is it exactly that these protesters want? Do they want freedom for Tibet? Do they want democracy in China? Or do they simply want to piss off the Chinese government and the Chinese people? If it’s the first two, they are woefully failing. If it’s the last one, then they are enjoying tremendous success.
Instead of co-opting the people of China, these rude and often violent protesters have rallied the Chinese people behind the Communist Party in a surge of nationalist sentiment. Nothing would better reach that end than to physically attack a torch-bearing Chinese Paralympian.
Personally, I believe the Dalai Lama is a good man. I think Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are also noble organizations. That is precisely why they are trying to work behind the scenes with the Chinese government to improve human rights in China. Attacking the Olympic Torch and calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics will not only offend the Chinese government, but will also be considered a slap on the face to China and the Chinese people. In the end, violent protests will be overwhelmingly counterproductive.
And what about the Chinese people? Are we to assume that they don’t know what’s best for themselves? Are we to assume that Western protesters and Western politicians better know what is best for the Chinese people than the Chinese people themselves? How pretentious of the West to even entertain such thoughts.
Of course Chinese people want better human rights and more democratic governance in China. They also know how best to achieve these results. Infiltration and co-option of the Communist Party will prove to be far more effective than violent protests. In other words, the Chinese people know what works and what doesn’t, and violent protests most definitely do not work.
China has had 2 revolutions in the 20th century, coupled with several disastrous Maoist campaigns. In the end, however, China in the 21st century has survived and prospered. While the Chinese people want better governance, they don’t want it at the expense of territorial integrity or economic stability. The collapse of the Soviet Union doesn’t just haunt the Chinese government, it also haunts the Chinese populace. Russia went from superpower to Third World country almost overnight and only now is it starting to recover (at the expense of democracy, ironically). I am CERTAIN the Chinese people don’t want that to happen to China. Of course, what the Western protesters want these days is precisely the dismemberment of China.
So in the end, if you think advocating for Tibetan independence is simply anti-CCP and not anti-China, then you’re just deluding yourself. Almost no Chinese person, not even those vehemently opposed to communist rule in China, would support independence for Tibet or Xinjiang or Taiwan for that matter. Protesters, if you really want to help the Chinese people, STOP politicizing the Olympics and offer your hand in friendship to the Chinese people. Pissing off the very people you are supposedly trying to help is NOT going to change anything.
And here’s some food for thought for everyone who wants to “help” the Chinese people. Say you succeed in transforming China to a liberal democracy. Do you think an elected Chinese government would allow Tibet to become independent? I don’t think so. After all, wasn’t it an elected American government that wiped out all the native inhabitants of this country?