May 06

Two Chinese protests, two different reactions

Written by Buxi on Tuesday, May 6th, 2008 at 7:31 am
Filed under:Analysis, News | Tags:, , , , ,
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Written by Tang Buxi – May 5th, 2008

There were (at least) two significant protests on Sunday. Both involved Chinese people, and both were significant and interesting in their own ways. That’s where the similarities end.

Chinese Supporter in Manhattan - \

If you get your news primarily from the New York Times and other Western media, here’s what you saw, and here’s what you missed.

In Chengdu, somewhere between 300-500 (according to organizer estimates) Chinese assembled for a “walk” (散步). The “walk” had a political purpose; it was intended to reflect growing public concern in China about environmental issues. In this case, a new ethylene plant planned for the area is arousing concern. The “walk” is in the same grassroots-driven tradition as previous NIMBY marches: Xiamen, and Shanghai are earlier examples.

NY Times coverage of protesters in Chengdu

The New York Times decided this event was worthy of a story. As did Reuters, and the Associated Press. (As did the Chinese state press.) Since Chengdu is slightly off the beaten path for Western journalists based in China, you have to applaud their dedication in getting the story.

On the same day, on the other side of the planet, anywhere from 4,000 – 15,000 Chinese protesters joined together in Foley Square, right in the heart of New York City. (The 15000 estimate is from Chinese organizers, and 4000 estimate is from exile Tibetan counter-protesters.) This particular protest had been planned since early April, and gave overseas Chinese in the New York/New Jersey area an opportunity to voice their support for the Beijing Olympics, and to express their dissatisfaction with media coverage of the events in Tibet. This protest is also in the same grassroots tradition (as in, no Chinese embassy involvement) as other protests that have sprung up in North America: Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, Seattle.

If you’ve been reading the New York Times or any other mainstream Western news source, you will certainly have heard of the protest in Chengdu. But you will absolutely not have heard of the protest in the middle of Manhattan itself, despite the fact its scale was anywhere from 10 to 40 times the scale of the protest in Chengdu.

The protest in New York City was heavily covered by the overseas Chinese press (US-based): World Journal, Singtao Daily, etc. But the only English-language, Western coverage has been a dismissive article from the New York Sun which gives us the Tibetan exile count, as well as the rather ridiculous suggestion that perhaps only 450 Chinese had attended. Perhaps Xinhua and the People’s Daily are propaganda devices, but at least they managed to cover both of the protests.

The Chinese protesters in New York report being interviewed by NY Times reporters as well; we can only speculate as to why the editors at the Times decided one story was more news-worthy than the other. For those who increasingly believe the Western media is fundamentally biased, this adds more fuel to the fire.

Below are images and more from the New York City protests. They deserve to be remembered as well:

Video of Chinese Rally, Downtown Manhattan

More available here, including more videos, images, and an opportunity to interact with the organizers and many participants.

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36 Responses to “Two Chinese protests, two different reactions”

  1. Peter Baldas Says:


    Some interesting points. I understand completely that many Chinese people have been deeply angered by Western criticism regarding Tibet etc., to Chinese people it is very much a matter of territorial integrity.

    My question is: Are those who demonstrated against the Tian’anmen incident 20 years ago and those who took part in ‘pro-China’ demonstrations equivalent? Things have changed in China, and in some ways, the Chinese government has tightened its control of dissent after 1989. And there is also the argument that nationalist sentiment is on the rise in China. Attitudes to the government and the West may have changed.

    Having said that however, you are right that Chinese people often criticise their own government, either in private or on internet blogs and forums. Even government-controlled newspapers and other media criticise the government on some issues. When a foreigner tries to make the same criticism, however, they are often met with an angry reaction. This is something I have personally experienced in China a number of times. I ask them why they get angry and this is often what they tell me ‘it is ok for a parent to scold their own child, but it isn’t acceptable for someone else to scold them’.

    (P.S. While you might remember the Tian’anmen incident well, many Chinese of 18,19,20 years old have a very limited knowledge of what happened. Many of my friends in China express near complete ignorance of the occurrences. They aren’t ‘brainwashed’, they are intelligent and educated, and in most respects well-informed. But when it comes to Tian’anmen there is a real dearth of information within China, and it is a most taboo topic of conversation. I think most people would prefer to forget about it.)


  2. Buxi Says:


    Appreciate your input.

    It seems to me you’re well informed when it comes to the Chinese perspective. I say this because you ask difficult questions that I don’t necessarily have easy answers for.

    I will take a shot at least on one issue. Are the Chinese more sensitive to foreign criticism? I assume we’re comparing the Chinese to average Westerner when faced with similar criticism. A Chinese visitor walking up to an average California and saying “Bush is a liar”, will have a better than 50% chance that he/she is greeted with a smile and thumbs up.

    So, why is this? The common implication is that this reflects a moral flaw amongst a people who’re too sensitive to issues of “face”, and unable to accept criticism.

    I have a different interpretation. I think the Chinese simply place too much weight on Western opinions, both positive and negative. You may have noticed this during your time in China; many of the Chinese people you interact with are probably very interested in getting your approval and opinion. They genuinely care tremendously whether you like certain food, buildings, museums, entertainment… anything and everything. They might ask your opinion on various decisions you really aren’t qualified to speak on (“should my kids study XXX/YYY?”, “am I dancing the right way?”).

    Contrast that to the hypothetical foreigner speaking to a Californian. Basic courtesy aside, do Americans genuinely care whether Chinese visitors like local cuisine, whether they are comfortable with their accommodations, and whether they have an opinion on how the local government is dealing with the homelessness issue? If a newly arrived Chinese student speaks, in poor English, about flawed urban planning in American cities, would he be heard?

    This in my mind is the real explanation for Chinese “sensitivity” to foreign input. We’ve been taught for 130 years that our country’s only hope lies on (selecting) learning from the West. The West is advanced and modernized, while we are backwards.

    So, this is the double-edged sword all foreigners carry. When you speak in China, your voice will carry a certain sense of authority beyond what you might have personally earned. You, quite simply, are sure to be heard. When a foreigner offers constructive comments, they will likely be given greater consideration than if I offered the same constructive comment. Similarly, if you offer ill-considered criticism, it will create greater offense than if they had come from my mouth.

    I know you didn’t ask for this particular “status”… but for those who use it wisely, they will find they can have a real impact on the continuing development and modernization of China.

  3. Post Says:

    I am a Chinese student in the US. Today I sent this webpage to an American professor. Here I am posting his comments:

    Thanks. All 100000 Chinese students in the US should send this to NY times and CNN today! Fill up their email servers!

    When the Iraq war started, there were several large scale protests in the US as well as in Europe that went unreported by the mainstream western media. This seems to be one more incident. I cannot fathom their reasons for not reporting the event, unless the US govt has told them not to report it!

    If such a complete distortion can occur in a supposedly free society like US, you can imagine the abuse that can occur where the media is openly controlled by the government. I was always a cynic when it came to the media. However, I will be even more cynical about the Chinese media, as compared to the US media.

  4. Buxi Says:


    I don’t think anything is to be gained from “filling up their email servers”. You can look at the CNN and Jack Cafferty incident to see what the Western media’s response will be: they’ll simply ignore it.

    It’s been said for years that the Internet would change China, and I think that’s proving true. The Internet is a mechanism with which we can discuss China and Chinese issues, even if Western (and Chinese) media try to ignore or modify our voices.

    There was also a protest by Chinese groups in downtown San Francisco several weeks back, attended by several thousand people. It too went completely, entirely unreported in the Western press.

    There’s a video here:

    Isn’t this remarkable? As far as I know, not the San Francisco Chronicle, not the San Jose Mercury News, not the Oakland Tribune… not even CNN itself (target of the protests) even mentioned the fact that literally thousands of people waving flags and chanting slogans were on the streets of San Francisco on April 26th.

    The protest in San Francisco is also unique in that it was primarily organized by overseas Chinese community groups, consisting mostly of older Chinese immigrants from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Overseas mainland students (留学生) who made up the bulk of the protests in New York, Seoul, Canberra, etc… were not directly involved in this.

  5. CLC Says:

    I participated the 1989 student movement and I might have gone to the NYC protest had I lived there. In 1989, I wanted radical political reforms and removing CCP from power. Today, however, I wanted more gradual changes inside CCP. I think both events, although 19 years apart, can both be characterized as nationalistic/patriotic movements. As Buxi just pointed out in the other post, the sprit of them can be traced back at least to 1919’s May 4th movement.

    As Tian’anmen a most taboo topic of conversation, you may be surprised by how little overseas Chinese are interested in this topic, although they are certainly free to talk about that. Not because they think the CCP was right to slaughter its own people, but because they are more or less convinced that CCP have steered China in the right direction since 1989 and time is not ripe yet to revisit this national wound.

  6. Mick Says:

    Journalism 101: Man bites dog vs Dog bites man news values.

    What are readers interested in?

    Demo in NYC against medias bias (Biased media? Shurely not!)

    Demo in China by environmentalists (Uh? Can they get away with that?)

  7. Buxi Says:


    That’s certainly a reasonable explanation from the US perspective, and I find it more believable than an anti-China bigot sitting in the editor’s chair at the New York Times.

    But the net implication remains the same. If a free press is supposed to be one of the keystones of a functioning democracy, then what’s happening here? When did the voice of the majority become irrelevant to the media? And if we are irrelevant, then what channel can we turn to make our voices heard? Are extremist steps, like attacking the London 2012 Olympic Torch, the only way to make our voice heard?

    What conclusions are we Chinese drawing about how “free” media functions, as we try to figure out how China should be reformed?

  8. SC Says:

    As a fellow Chinese, while I agree with you that it is a pity for Western media to ignore the protests in NYC, but it’s still reasonable to conclude those who are taking risks to “walk” in Chengdu is much “news-worthy.” Some of my friends who participated in the Xiamen PX protests could definitely testify what happened in the aftermath.

    Again, congrats on this blog.

  9. Mick Says:

    When did the voice of the majority become irrelevant to the media?

    It never was. I’ve been on much bigger marches (in 2003 to protest against the Iraq invasion) that never got a mention in the mainstream media. The media isn’t a democracy where the majority get the most say. News is a business that sells “newstainment” and tailors its product to its market. The NYT market (middle class New Yorkers) is not really interested in what a crowd of flag waving Chinese have to say about US media bias. Two reasons: first, the average NYer thinks “media bias – yeah, tell me what’s new? Chinese only just discovered that the media got an agenda?”

    Second: Chinese people demonstrating about our media? That would be a bit like a crowd of Saudis demonstrating in Manhattan about women’s rights in America.

    The Chengdu demo gets the NYT coverage because, as Samuel Johnson said about the talking dog: “It’s not what it says, it’s the fact it can do it at all that amazes me.”

  10. Buxi Says:


    I have a hard time understanding your claim that the 2003 protests against the Iraq war wasn’t covered. I remember extensive media coverage at the time:

    This CNN article is still available.

    I’m not debating whether the New York protest deserved front-page status, but the fact that there is *complete* silence on the issue is very disappointing. The fact that the free media is “biased” and can operate with an agenda is something that many Chinese are still coming to terms with; you’ll have to give us some time to digest this, and to become properly cynical.

    As far as the Chengdu protest, it was clearly a newsworthy story.

  11. Sam Says:

    The key point about a free media is not that any particular media outlet,or any collection of media outlets, is biased or not, most are in some way, but that the freedom exists to point out and debate and counteract bias in whatever form it may take. The protest in NYC, from a New York and American point of view, is hardly newsworthy. People in the US protest all the time for all sorts or reasons. What is important is that free media in the US allows me to read your blog post and think about it in relation to the Chengdu “sanbu”. I will note that pictures of the Chengdu protest that apparently had been available on bulldog.cn and stnn.com now appear to be blocked. Thus Chinese people cannot learn about the views of other Chinese people. That strikes me as a bigger problem than media bias in the US.

  12. Buxi Says:


    At heart, the biggest complaint with continued Western coverage of Chinese issues is that our narrative, our point of view is simply not being fully covered. The silent treatment given to this rally is only the most recent symbol of our inability to communicate in the Western world.

    The Washington Post, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor have, in recent weeks, opened up their editorial pages to Wang Qianyuan, Yang Jianli, and Rebiya Kadeer. This is in addition to the standard fare of features and editorials from Wester journalists that most Chinese feel present a one-sided view of the issues at hand.

    What about the opinion of the “silent majority” of Chinese? When will we see an editorial in the New York Times that presents our point of view? In this context, silence has been imposed on us. Part of is due to language issues, but part of it is apparently a willful dismissal of our existence.

    I don’t see a need to figure out which is the “bigger” problem. As the Chinese saying goes, 50 steps laughing at 100 steps. There’s a problem right now on both sides of the world, and all of us will be made to suffer.

    There’s certainly little doubt that the Chinese media is tightly regulated. This is indeed an issue that many Chinese are worried about (and an issue widely discussed in the West). But I see signs of great progress. The Southern Weekly has an article this week which discusses the Chengdu sanbu, as well as private lawsuits filed pressing for release of government information in the Anhui hand-foot-mouth outbreak.

    I might translate this later (unless someone else beats me to it..?).


  13. overseaschinese Says:

    It is a tragedy to see people of Chinese descent protesting CNN when our homeland imprisons more journalists than any other nation in the world. “We love peace”? Ask Shi Tao about that. Fuck! How dumb can you be? What Jack Cafferty said was directed at the Chinese government. What the Chinese government does every day is directed at the Chinese people. If these Gongfei can’t see the difference, they can go back to China and try to hold their protest. Have fun! I’ll stay here.

  14. overseaschinese Says:

    Also, Buxi, if you want to support the “silent majority,” support our brothers imprisoned in China. At least these protestors weren’t locked away in a jail. In that sense, they are not as silent as many others. Why not worry about them?
    Don’t criticize Yang Jianli and then claim to speak for a “silent majority.” Yang spent the past 5 years in prison and was tortured. He was silent for nearly half a decade for no reason. If you want to find a silent majority, we should look closer to home. Don’t criticize the West just to collect political capital for these corrupt gongfei.

  15. CLC Says:

    Don’t criticize Yang Jianli and then claim to speak for a “silent majority.”

    So Yang is a representative of the “silent majority”? I am not saying he should be sentenced for 5 years but let’s just put things into perspective. Yang was caught after he returned China illegally. Recently Chi Mak, a 67 year engineer, was sentenced by a US court to more than 24 years in prison for trying to send public domain information back to China.

    As for prison population, US holds the world record with 2.3million behind bars, China is far behind with 1.6 million. And by the way, Gitmo will probably put any GongFei’s prison to shame.

  16. overseaschinese Says:

    How does Gitmo put a Gongfei prison to shame? Any details? I’m not endorsing Gitmo in any sense, or trying to make excuses like you did for the arrest and detention of Yang Jianli. But I don’t see how it necessarily exceeds Gongfei prison.
    Most importantly, living in the US, I have no fear of going to gitmo. But say the wrong thing in China, and the corrupt bastards will lock you up in jail. And these dumbasses still wanna talk about “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people!” Fangpi! They’re out protesting, which we can’t even do in our homeland. “oh, US so bad!” These dumb gongfei can go fuck themselves for all I care.

  17. CLC Says:

    How does Gitmo put a Gongfei prison to shame? Any details?

    There is plenty of info on Gitmo if you care to search. Here are some pointers: 1. Most of the inmates are caught without credible evidence against them and probably innocent all along. 2. Torture has been condoned as a routine practice. As Al Jazeera cameraman al-Hajj, who had been held without charges for more than six years, said, “In Guantánamo, you have animals that are called iguanas … that are treated with more humanity.” And if you know a Gongfei prison is worse than Gitmo, please educate me.

    Most importantly, living in the US, I have no fear of going to gitmo

    So that’s your point. As long as it’s not you staying in jail, as long as it’s not Gongfei running Gitmo, other people’s suffering is a non-issue for you. And as I pointed in the earlier post, percentage wise, a person live in US is much more likely to land in prison.

    Fangpi! They’re out protesting, which we can’t even do in our homeland. “oh, US so bad!” These dumb gongfei can go fuck themselves for all I care.

    Watch your mouth. Using foul language will not lend you more credibility or hurt a GongFei the least bit. Is this the best you can do?

  18. Buxi Says:


    Who or what exactly is it that you’re “complaining” about? The Chinese government, or the Chinese people?

    If you’re lynched tomorrow in Shanghai for having a pro-Tibet protest, is it the government that’s holding the rope, or is it the people? Who “attacked” Chang Ping, the government or the people? Are the “hyper-nationalists” not Chinese, with the same political rights that Wang Qianyuan possesses? Isn’t the debate and criticism surrounding Chang Ping exactly the kind of political reform that the world wants to see?

    I’m not interested in official discourse. I believe in just about any country, “official discourse” would imply agreeing with government policy. I don’t recall the White House press briefing being used to impeach President Bush’s actions in Iraq. This government, as far as I (and I believe most Chinese) are concerned, is a disposable tool. It has served our interests very well, but our world and thoughts are not defined by it.

    I don’t think the “silent majority” wants Yang Jianli imprisoned for 5 years, and I don’t think the “silent majority” wants Wang Qianyuan’s family asaulted. But on Tibet, I believe the vast majority of Chinese oppose independence with a passion; even Yang Jianli and Wang Qianyuan are unwilling to (publicly) support independence. On the Olympics, I think the images from Shenzhen, Guangzhou speak for themselves.

    There is active discussion in China about how to proceed with Tibet, and a constant debate about political reforms. Are you really familiar with the details of this discussion and debate? Are you really familiar with China? Are you sure you know what the silent majority in China wants?

    What is it that you want to see in China, exactly? Do you really legitimately care for the interests of the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, or are you merely embarrassed by your association to us?

    And as CLC said above, watch your mouth. We are not going to turn this platform into a venue for verbal assaults or crude antics. If you have a point to make, make it articulately and coherently.

  19. overseaschinese Says:

    “Do you really legitimately care for the interests of the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, or are you merely embarrassed by your association to us?”
    Thanks for attempting to label me like this, lol.
    If I was embarrassed to be Chinese, would I use this screenname? I think not. I’m just embarrassed to be associated with people like you.
    Enough of the selective outrage. CLC said that gitmo far exceeds any gongfei prison. Then I said, not necessarily, I think they’re similarly cruel. Then CLC wanted me to show how gongfei prisons are crueler than Gitmo, an assertion I never made.
    The difference between me and people like you guys is that I can say that both gitmo and the massive chinese prison system holding journalists and other innocent people are both disgraces to the world and both should be ended. You guys, instead, just use gitmo as a ploy to distract attention from the realities in China.
    The world will never respect us, and actually never should, if we only display selective outrage and refuse to be critical towards the situation in our own country.

  20. CLC Says:

    Talking about selective outrage and distortion of facts…

    Go ahead and read Yang Jianli’s own account on his life as a prisoner. He was not tortured, contrary to your assertion. Then read accounts from al-Hajj and other imamates from Gitmo, who were consistently tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment. Can you still honestly come away with the conclusion that that Yang and al-Hajj suffered equally? And don’t forget Gitmo is run by a country supposed to be the guardian of human rights.

    And please don’t put your words into my mouth. I never made excuses for Dr.Yang’s jailing. I never implied I approve China’s human rights record. What I see is that China has made tremendous progress over the years. Yes, there are still a lot of terrible things happening daily in China, but the overall change is positive. What China needs is constructive criticism. Your repeated incantation of Gongfei will not help China in any way, shape, or form. This outrage will not earn respect for Chinese people or yourself.

    I noticed your repeated use of the words “us” and “our own country.” I believe you want to see a better China, too. However, by labeling fellow Chinese who do not share your anger “race traitors” will not help China; by calling fellow Chinese who do not agree with you an “embarrassment” will not help China. So please, present your argument in a calm, rational way. You are an intelligent person and I believe you are above a mud fight. Thank you.

  21. overseaschinese Says:

    CLC, Yang Jianli was in fact tortured. I believe it is you who has not read his account. I can imagine that you keep careful track of Gitmo torture, yet allow Chinese torture to fly under your radar. This is precisely what I am criticizing. So please, amidst your concern for Gitmo prisoners, also show some concern for your fellow Chinese, manipulated and abused by the Party. Thank you.

  22. Buxi Says:


    The imprisonment of Hu Jia and Yang Jianli are indeed part of the “reality” of China. But they represent only *part* of the reality of China. The United States is more than Gitmo, and China is more than Hu Jia and Yang Jianli.

    Americans… even those who are “outraged” by the abuses at Gitmo… still sing the national anthem before baseball games, and fly their national flag on the Fourth of July.

    And I, even if I do not agree with all aspects of government policy, I will still celebrate the aspects of modern China that I am proud of. The two are not contradictory.

    I understand what it is about modern China that you’re “outraged” about. Do you really understand what in modern China we’re so proud of?

    I’ll end this by repeating a reworded version of the question I asked above. Do you really legitimately care for the interests of the Chinese nation and the Chinese people as a whole? And what do you believe will best forward the interests of the Chinese nation?

  23. CLC Says:

    Ok, here is a link to Yang Jianli’s own account. He did not mention any systemic torture and actually he said his condition improved greatly during the final years of his prison term.

    No, I don’t have to carefully track Gitmo, there is a flood of eye witness accounts for anyone who care. It amazes me how the US government keeps Gitmo open with total disregard to world opinions.

    And please don’t over use your imagination, how on earth do you know I don’t have concern for my Chinese citizens? I was actively involved in 1989 student movement, both before and after 6/4. I started my first personal blog to support “Free Wuhao” campaign (Wuhao is a freelance film producer who was detained without charge for several months). One of the first few blogs I linked to was Zengjinyan’s. As you must know, she is Hujia ‘s wife. I am not saying these to boast or anything, but simplely to point out that your wild accusation that anyone who does not share your hatred, anyone who wants to put things into perspective, anyone who criticizes Gitmo, condons China’s human rights abuse, is far from truth.

  24. overseaschinese Says:

    He did not mention any torture? Did you read past the first line?

    But even prayer was outlawed in QinCheng. When Yang refused to stop praying during his first day, he was dragged to another room and beaten for and hour and a half.
    “First they pushed me to the ground, then set their foot on my body and used a club to beat me.”

    Don’t just take away what you want to take away (i.e. “his condition improved greatly during the final years of his prison term.”)
    But thanks for the link. It’s a different rendition of the account than the one I previously read.

    Just as I am amazed by Gitmo, as well as the Chinese political prison system, it also amazes me how you linked to this with total disregard for the content, proving me correct.

    Finally, I did not understand your last sentence. Wanna try that again?

  25. CLC Says:

    Yes, you are right. I missed the beating part. Thanks for pointing that out.

    As for last sentence, it was badly written. I should have just said “there are people who care about China’s human rights but don’t agree with your approach.”

  26. umeboshi Says:

    CLC, you ” missed the beating part”? How about:
    After months of isolation, interrogation and torture, Yang was brought before a judge and read the charges against him.

    Overseas, I love your passion!

  27. CLC Says:

    If you read the whole piece, there is nothing constituting torture by the US justice department memo and nothing worse than acts prompted in the popular TV series “24.”. However, I personally would regard that beating incident as torture. Furthermore, when Yang “tired of sitting up straight on a bench for hours each day, he went to the prison director to complain.” His request was granted and he was not punished. There is no evidence of systemic torture as a policy but just rogue guards acting on their own.

  28. Buxi Says:

    I don’t think there’s any point in discussing Yang Jianli’s individual treatment. If the American government hasn’t formed a real consensus on whether waterboarding is torture, I don’t think we can possibly decide whether forcing someone to sit in the same position for hours is torture.

    Rogue guards, rough treatment, whatever it was, it was unfortunate and I’m sure CLC and I do not support it as a matter of course. Gitmo is also “unfortunate” aspect of American policy that overseaschinese says he’s “outraged” about.

    And so, where do we go from that point? I’ll repeat what I said above. The United States is more than Gitmo, and China is more than Hu Jia and Yang Jianli. Americans… even those who are “outraged” by the abuses at Gitmo… still sing the national anthem before baseball games, and fly their national flag on the Fourth of July.

  29. umeboshi Says:

    Well, you were discussing bias in the media, and I was wondering how unbiased any one of us are. For example, no one here has commented on the reason Speilberg quit as artistic director for the China Olympics : Darfur.

  30. Buxi Says:


    I have an earlier blog entry about Darfur.

    Frankly, the question of whether China should “intervene” in Darfur is a difficult one. There are Chinese voices who have argued China should use its influence in a more aggressive way.

    However, I will reiterate that using the Olympics as a mechanism for achieving *any* political goal is very distasteful to me. I talked about some of the reasons earlier as well.


  31. umeboshi Says:

    Sorry, Buxi, your blogsite is new to me, and I hadn’t read your thoughts on Darfur, which I’ve condensed to:

    Since everybody has his own best interests at heart –America just as much as China, for example –the victims of ongoing Sudanian brutality are (shrug) just plain out of luck.

    This has been an interesting exchange.
    I realize I am just as biased in my views as anyone else, and I appreciate the chance to offer them.

  32. Buxi Says:


    I’m not sure that’s a completely fair condensation, but it does get to one of my central points.

    I don’t know how closely you follow international affairs, or whether you’ve lived or worked in the third world… but my belief is that this world remains a very dark place, where humanity continues to struggle. Billions (and I stress billions), a majority of human beings, still live in impoverished developing nations where their lives are cut short by disease and poverty unheard of in the West. The suffering in Darfur is only one symptom of this greater sickness of poverty and ignorance; look at the break-down and attacks on peacekeeping forces by rebel forces… there’s no “good” or “evil” in the Darfur conflict, only the heart of darkness.

    The idea that Beijing, still struggling to lift 1.3 billion people out of poverty and into a brighter life, should be the target for the Darfur campaign makes zero sense to me. The Western nations are far better suited for tackling this sort of humanitarian disaster at a fundamental level. If there was a commitment to truly redistribute wealth, to truly reconstruct the develop nations on this planet… in another 50-100 years, we will see real results.

    Alternatively, the Western world can continue to shout “let them eat cake” every time famine erupts, as generation after generation of people in developing nations struggle to get by, their best hope of actual self-improvement being smuggling themselves into Europe or North America.

  33. umeboshi Says:

    I have no experience in third world countries, and am an ignoramus on international affairs so I rely on the media, which as you know, is biased in many ways, on many topics. In Canada –my country– most newspapers and especially the tax-funded CBC TV news have a definite left bias on Canadian politics. In fact, just 5 days ago, I attended a lecture by the former Liberal Justice Minister who spoke on “Human Rights”, and during the course of the lecture harshly criticized China for enabling Sudan to commit atrocities, and quite frankly, I’m sorry to admit, I bought it. Reading a blog like yours certainly gives one a much more balanced understanding.

  34. Buxi Says:


    I really appreciate your comment… it’s exactly what we’d like to achieve with this blog, and exactly why so many Chinese took time off to “protect” the torch, or participate in other protests over the past month. We wanted there to be some balance, some understanding in the world.

    Anyone promising you an “easy” answer to the problems of the world are lying to you. Around the world, we’ve been told for centuries that we are one war, one protest, one political movement, one invasion away from achieving world utopia.

    We aren’t. Many of us are repeating exactly the same patterns that have brought us never-ending conflict for centuries, and there are no obvious solutions for ending this cycle.

  35. umeboshi Says:

    And having considered both points of view, I ‘ve come to the conclusion that since Sudan wants China’s money just as much as China needs Sudan’s oil, China is in a good position to exert pressure on Sudan to
    stop cease its atrocities. 🙂

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