Monday, June 9, 2008

What America Needs to Know ABout China - 2, Tibet and the Dalai Lama

When it comes to American perception of America's world standing, an attitude adjustment of major proportion is indicated. In general, Americans are among the most ignorant people of all nations when it comes to other countries. Yet, we insist on telling others about proper conduct of international relations.

Hollywood personalities by virtue of their high public profile have a real advantage whenever they step up to the bully pulpit to pointificate on an issue. Unfortunately, they do not always know what they are talking about. Tibet and the Dalai Lama is just one such case in point. How many in America know some of the statements below?

Dalai Lama is the leader of one of the Tibetan sects of Lamaism but not the leader of all the sects. He even outlawed one of the Tibetan sects as recently as 1996. Isn't it strange that a particular branch of Tibetan Buddhism should all of a sudden turn rancid after enjoying the worship of Tibetans, including earlier incarnations of Dalai Lama, for centuries?

The West positions the Dalai Lama as one peaceful guy. He doesn't want Tibet to separate from China. Oh no, he just wish to enjoy autonomy within China's political system wherever Tibetans can be found. Well, there are many Tibetans living outside of Tibet in such neighboring provinces as Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan. Granting autonomy is roughly equivalent to the American federal government granting autonomy to California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and a good slice of Texas.

Dalai Lama and his supporters accuse Beijing of conducting cultural genocide. What does he mean by that? Under his rule, over 90% of Tibetans lived the life of a serf in bondage. These Tibetans owned no property but were instead themselves property of the ruling class. They were lucky to live to a ripe old age of 40. Today, they can send their children to school, they control their own destiny and can look forward to living to 70 and beyond.

Beijing has allocated millions to preserve and protect the cultural icons and Lama temples. Beijing has also spent millions on infrastructure development such as schools, highways and the technological breakthrough known as the world's highest railroad. School children are not discouraged from learning their native Tibetan language but are encouraged to also learn Mandarin Chinese for the sake of their future.

So is modernization of Tibet a form of cultural genocide? Must cannibals in the rain forest continue to eat their neighbors in order to maintain their cultural purity?

Actually, there are plenty of pundits and commentators in the West with perfectly respectable credentials willing to point out that the holy Dalai Lama might not be so holy afterall. Brendan O'Neill and Michael Parenti are just two examples. These folks may not be as pretty as the Hollywood Geres and Stones but they certainly speak with more authentic depth and substance.

8 comments:

Edmond said...

What about all the temples that were destroyed, only for a few to be rebuilt for the sake of tourism? I'm pretty sure it's obvious what cultural genocide is, and it's obvious it has been happening. Many Tibetans have fled from Tibet, so it's no surprise that they're in the surrounding regions.

Autonomy is still an option though, and one that should be considered, no matter what selfish excuse lies in the way. The land of Tibet is delicate, as is the culture and religion, especially right now. I find it hard to believe that you'd write an entire article and leave out the fact that Tibetans are forced to publicly denounce the Dalai Lama, are being arrested for peaceful protests (and yes, I'm aware that not all of the protests from each side have been peaceful), and/or are severely beaten for reasons with no morale.

George said...

Edmund says many Tibetans have fled China. Actually only some minor fraction of the ruling class, which in itself is less than 10% of the total Tibetan population, have left China. However, they are vocal and active and their voices are the only ones that are heard in the West.

This Ridiculous World said...

I'd be interested to know why the Dalai lama outlawed that sect in 96.

Also, while I'd agree that many Americans are culturally ignorant, there are also many who utilize their freedom to explore foreign cultures and gain understandings not available to people from countries with stricter governments. For example, I am teaching English in China and all of the foreign news my high school students get is carefully processed and regurgitated in the form of an official announcement, the same from the mouth of every homeroom teacher. Over processed to a new level of cultural ignorance. My students don't understand how I can be American and not have blue eyes. They also think that there are no minorities in America. This school is the number one high school in a fairly large city.
I guess a measure of cultural ignorance is something that really depends on environment or perspective.

Cecilia Du said...

To George:
I guess as a Chinese American, it must be very sad to hear all these comments about China based on such an ignorance.

To Edmond:
I think sometimes only by extricating oneself away from all the bias acquired from the former experience, and by digging into the history document, analyzing the culture and ideology that one can truly understand what the real fact is.

It is true that there is still a savagery and cruelty in nowadays' Chinese(including tibetans). But there is also a biased transferred information that lead to the ignorance of common people only making their judgement on the media like TV and news report which is efficient but inaccurate. I guess you may be very angry when you hear the CNN reported that it is said more than 100 tibetans were killed in the passed event on March. But I wonder if you have spent sometime to notice that it is just "said" by Mr Dalai. If it is just "said" so, how we can know if it is really such a case? If it is not the case, how can we make our judgement on who is right and who is evil? Please look back into all these things we heard, can we know how much "truth" have be verified by exact record? And, how much "truth" have been buried because the reporters have already preserved a judgement?

We are ignorant, not because we lack the access to truth, but lack the willingness to think from the two sides.

cardano said...

The CCP does not allow free speech, free press, free assembly, free organisation, free access to information, in fact this amounts to no Free Thought. And it shows, in the expression of 1.3b Chinese, within China and around the world, regardless of whether they’re just arrived in the west or had the benefit of free, rigorous, unfettered and stimulating debate for decades!
Once a meme has gotten hold of a feeble mind it is thus rendered completely incapable of coherent, lateral, independent thought.

These Chinese citizens, enjoying the benefits of all the freedoms their host country offers them, go out of their way to disseminate the CCP’s inane Propaganda Lies, and just as the CCP, display the same cowardice in disallowing dissent from the verbal diarrhoea they’re compelled to spread, curtsey of their meme from a lifetime of puerile indoctrination.


In Tibet, monks, pupils and civilian Tibetans are forced to denounce the Dalai Lama and to endure endless sessions of utterly inane indoctrination of the most unimaginable puerile kind.

Torture is an institutionalized system of the most depraved kind of abuse, and Tibetans are being subjected to the most horrendous degradation by the Han Chinese Occupiers.
This is not an Orwellian utopia, but 21st century reality in ‘China’ today! The year of the Olympics in this Proletariat Paradise.

Yes, top marks to the CCP, they’ve created a servile army of 1.3b soldiers, carrying out their every beck and command, without questions, thought or moral conscience. In fact they’ve sadly been rendered incapable of even recognizing any such human notions.

Wasn’t really expecting you had the nous to allow my post on your precious little ccp propaganda site.
Should have left it to its well deserved obscurity, for that’s where it belongs.

http://www.howardwfrench.com/archives/2007/04/11/have_china_scholars_all_been_bought/
http://www.asianresearch.org/articles/2599.html

George said...

Isn't it interesting that cardano assumes that anyone not an admirer of Dalai Lama must be a propagandist for CCP.

While readers of this blog can evaluate cardano's comments on its own merits, I would simply point out that he/she has not addressed any of the points in my original blog.

cardano said...

Well it looks like it’s all a big misunderstanding, I never seen any email from you, but seen a post on my blog just today. Don’t know exactly how google works, it seems to have played up of late, for me anyway.

Look, no hard feelings, I just like express in a more robust fashion than probably most do. (will try and moderate somewhat LOL)
So my apologies if there is any offence taken, was not intended.
And I do express my views on my own blog, which what it is all about, the diversity of views and the testing them in a free market, which the CCP will Never do, agree?

Failing to appreciate any other way to contact you I shall post here again in reply, if you don’t mind.
Regards
Cardano
And by the way there is very good reason why I use a pseudonym, but this I can’t discuss here unfortunately.

Daliang said...

to cardano,

You sir, is a very typical example of brain-washed victim by the media and government. As a college professor who has taught in both China and America, I have my reasons to dislike Chinese government, but Dalai is not much better himself. You cannot just “title” me with a big name if I do not Dalai. I suggest that you read and watch and experience by yourself. Then you will know a lot better than just watching movies. Take a class provided by research-based professors if possible.