Category Archives: Tibet Issues

Photos of Carrefour after Boycott

After boycotting Carrefour, this is the scene I took in Carrefour on May 3, 2008.

There are Less People, but Much Lesser than I Expected

This is the main "street" in the shopping mall.  It is rarely like this! It is almost empty in Shanghai standard. It is daily scene in many shopping malls in US, but in Shanghai, it is called empty.

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This area is almost empty, with no customers. In the cooked food area, I counted, and found out the number of customers are less than the staff behind the food counter.

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This is the checkout area. No lines at all.

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Out of the 30 or so counters, almost half of them are closed with signs like this:

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For the open counters, there are no lines.

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This is the scene of the checkout counters – again, not many customers.

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Well. What do you think?

Facts about the Photos

  1. The photos are taken in the Xinlicheng Stone of Carrefour, at the corner of South Yanggao Road, and Gaoqing Road.
  2. It was around 1:00 PM today on Saturday – typically the time has fewer customers than peak hours. The third day of May holiday may also contribute to the lack of customers.
  3. As any photo with intention, I took the photo to show how few people I saw, so I may wait for 10 or 20 seconds to take a photo with fewer people than random shot. Hopefully this is not too misleading. The point is, in normal days, it is even hard to take a photo similar to this scene.

In short, I want my readers to know that there are some errors in what is reflected in these photos from the facts. It does not seem THAT bad, although everyone should be safe to conclude that the business of this store is seriously impacted.

Contrast with Another Series of Photos

I don’t have photos of the same Carrefour before the boycott, but I do have some photos of another Carrefour in Beijing (near the Worker’s Stadium). The following photos were taken on January 28, 2006. The same Shanghai store is very like this, if not busier in normal days.

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Death and Religion in Tibet

Today, I want to share about the topic of Death and Religion in Tibet.

Caution before Deciding to Go to Tibet

Many people encourage others to visit Tibet by themselves to draw a conclusion. I also believe so, but before you go, I do want to put a very bold statement here:

    1. Be Aware of Altitude Sickness.
    2. Prepare for the Worst.
    3. Never Catch Cold in Tibet

Why? Because Tibet is  not distinct from other regions on culture, religions, the natural environment in Tibet is very unique – maybe the highest places with less oxygen than any place else.  Let me share my own story.

Death in Common in that Natural Environment

In Oct 2002, Wendy and I was very excited to visit Daocheng – the Tibetan area for the first time. We joined a group of 18 people, and experienced the most beautiful but worst natural environment in my whole life (see reports and pictures here). However, one man passed away during the trip. Seriously, he died because of altitude sickness. I wrote about the story briefly in my blog after we are back:

His wife, wrote a memorial article here.

I don’t want to mention it because it was so terrible, and everyone was horrified. Only in Tibet, people may feel how weak a man’s life is. In my original imagination, death is still very far from us – people may be ill, lasting for a long time, and finally, cannot cure, and die…

In Tibetan Plateau, death is so close to everyone. Under the beautiful snow mountain, and in the highest town in the world, the purest soul and the most dangerous threat to people’s life exist in the same place. Death arrives just at night – any night for any one.

 

"The Judge" is not the only one we know dead during the visit. In the same month, 4 persons in the village (of 100 or something people) lost their lives. I heard (which means I cannot verify whether it is the truth or not) one drove a motorcar and directly run down on the mountain. The other three went to forest to crop trees, and a tree collapse, and killed three (one of them is the head of local Party branch). I hope that only happened for the month of bad luck.

Imagine what this reality may influence your point of view to this world. At least it changed mine. In that plateau that is not suitable for man kind to live, the only thing a mother can do to ensure safety of her children is to pray for them – at any time, their lives can be taken away by the nature. What else can she do? When people’s life is not in the control of human, religion is the very powerful to help people. I don’t think people have the right to easily say "your thoughts is stupid"… It is the person who say it reveals his own limited understanding to the world.

Tibet is a Unique Place

Since I have so limited experience with Tibet, and I almost know nothing about the mysterious land. I just want to share my very limited experience to remind people about the tough natural environment in that place. It is not just from social side, it is also from the natural side. Hope it helps.

In the last few weeks, in response to what is going on in Tibet, and in Paris Torch relay, and many related events, I initiated discussion around Tibet. The result is
 
Tibet Issues Related Entries:
Mixing, Muddling, and Confusing
Four Types of Consciousness
Grace Wang Called a Traitor
Brief Chat with Andrew
"Love China" Blooms on MSN Messenger
Not Just Identify Problems for China – Solve Them!
What the Term China, or France Means?
Friends Started to Boycott French Products
My Experience of Culture and Religion in Tibet
Disturbed Lunch
More Discussion on Tibet
Error in Western Media Report about Tibet
Why I Didn’t Cover About Tibet

Many of them generate more than 100 comments from thoughtful readers. Not only the quantity, the quality of the comments are among the best during the last few years of my blogging. No matter which perspective people see the matter (as I always believe there are thousands of different perspective to see the same thing), there is something I think people share in the discussion – seeking for understand, and ready to understand.  

This is not a news site. I don’t pray for some "breaking news" so people can come to visit the site everyday. I am happy that the conflict didn’t get larger. If we can improve understanding and communication from this event, that is the a positive change, although I do worry that the event made the gap in communication between western and Chinese world even bigger…

I hope I wrap up the recent meaningful Tibet discussion with this post. I hope more people start to share their first  hand experience instead of just quoting some thoughts from book, or even worse, from eye-ball driven media.

Mixing, Muddling, and Confusing

This post is related to the last post about Grace Wang’s experience. What I want to say in this blog article is, mixing and confusing issues is not a good strategy (George expressed the same thing in a comment)

Disagree with One Side in a Debate does not Mean Support the Other Side

It is quite common for people to make this mistake. I made this mistake all the time.

Just like the media war between CCTV and CNN. When I say CCTV is not reporting the truth, I can guarantee that I will receive one comment or two claiming that “don’t you think CNN won’t do this?” The problem is, I do think CNN will also do this, but by stating CCTV is doing something wrong does not imply that I support CNN. The same thing happens when I said CNN is reporting something wrong, I didn’t imply that CCTV is always right. It is “you” who think I am implying something, not me.

For a much bigger topic of China, it is even so. I often comment on news and issues in China. When I wrote about the negative side (for example, my blog started to get banned by GFW these days from time to time, due to the “sensitive” topic we have discussed), some people claimed that I am biased, and gave me evidence to show the economic development. Again, the point is, talking about the existence of the GFW does not imply that China don’t have a good economy. The other example is topics like Mega-Projects. Describing the exciting highways, and bridges didn’t imply I don’t know the cases of abusing tax payer’s money. I admit I don’t know everything (who does?) but not mentioning everything in every article does not mean I don’t know the existence of them.

It is the same for the recent hot discussion I saw in many threads. It is just like this: one guy says: “This apple is red”, and the other disagrees and says “Why do you think banana is not yellow? Here is the evidence to show how yellow a banana is” or “No. I don’t think so, didn’t you see the farmer who grow the apple is experiencing economical crisis”. Both arguments may be valid, but they make people confused, or in a frequently used term: “out of topic”. So, sticking to the discussion itself may be more helpful.

Mixing Concepts

Not many people are interested in debating with Einstein about his theory of relativity, anyone can comment on the shape of a building. This is the reason why the life of an architect is more tougher than a physician, and pop-star is easier to be the daily topic than both architect or physician…

Just like that, everyone can talk about current international affairs, and everyone has something to say. So the concepts are often mixed, muddled, and confused. If most people (including myself) did it without a strong intention, media, organization, and governments did it very well intentionally. My reader George W. Shen commented about it better than I can:

My biggest problem with the Western media is that many issues are conveniently muddled. It applies to both sides of the propaganda but more so to the Western media outlets than to the Chinese side given the latest Tibet and Olympics chaos. There are many different issues involved and they should be debated separately. To name a few here, not in any particularly order –

The issue of Tibet

The issue of Dalai Lama

The issue of Western Media

The issue of Chinese Government

The issue of Olympics

The issue of Freedom & Democracy

The issue of Human Rights

Just because one supports freedom & democracy in China it doesn’t mean he/she must support the independence of Tibet. Just because one supports the autonomy of Tibet it doesn’t mean he/she must support Dalai Lama. Just because one supports Olympics it doesn’t mean he/she must support the communist party. And just because one supports freedom & democracy it doesn’t mean he/she must support the Western media. Similarly, just because there is free speech in the US, it doesn’t mean media outlets here are fair, unbiased, or even truthful. Just because there is no free speech in China, it doesn’t mean the government has no right to enforce the rule of law to ensure the safety of majority people.

These are totally different issues. It seems to me many people don’t get that. THE WORLD ISN’T JUST BLACK AND WHITE.

For the China side, it is the same. Among all the voices, the official way to call the whole group is Zangdu (or Tibet-Independence) since this is the most unacceptable thing people in China and can “unite” most of people to fight for the whole group. Just as I said, I disagree with this specific muddling strategy from both side, and I believe wise people should try to stand firmly at the side of truth, logic, rationale, instead of having to choose one from the existing two sides.

On Grace’s Case

So, based on the two stated reasons, I said “death threat” is not acceptable in any situation. Whether what Grace did was right or wrong is another issue, and please don’t mix it with the death threat or the illegal things happened in Grace’s home in Qingdao and please don’t draw a conclusion that Grace did everything right.

I also feel angry for the Chinese translation with analysis (thanks to lin posted the original Chinese here). The analysis is interpreting what Grace said to the worst extend,. Taking any article from my blog (or almost any article from any where), and adding sauces that way, you can demonize a person easily. Due to the ambiguity of language, there is no “right statement” under that kind of intentionally negative “analysis”, especially an article written by university student, not a seasoned politician. We did that for too many times during culture revolution, and anything can be interpreted to be evidence to show you are traitor of the country.

I agree that Grace is naive, or as in some comments, “politically naive“. Who aren’t? My question is, does someone have the right to be naive, or say something wrong? For sure, as adult, for anything we do, or we say, we need to be responsible for it, and accept all the consequences. Grace is of no exception. However, whether the consequence of “saying something incorrect”, or “standing on the wrong side of a perceived political movement” is criticize, or death thread is a question we need to discuss.

The reason I feel Grace was treated unfairly is because I clearly know that I will be treated the same way one day in my country, and so does many people who dare to show his/her opinions. The other reason is, although we have every reason to say Grace didn’t do everything right, she is doing great for her age. For the guess of her motivation of getting refugee status in US – a key reason many people don’t like her – this is not something worth debating. The chance to get famous by this way is lesser than winning a lottery. For the opinion that by publishing an article on newspaper, she did something that negatively impacted China’s image. I agree that it has negative impacts, but it is not all her fault. I would rather fight to make things right in the systems in China and remove mob mentality from people, instead of pretending those don’t exist. I hope my country can be better by solving all the problems we have, so we can be more confident to face the world, instead of complaining a girl who happened to be used as an ideal case to reveal the existence of these problems.

P.S. Before someone asks about my statement of whether I am at the side of Grace Wang (as I am often asked), I want to clarify – in case there are misunderstanding for this post – that I try to avoid simply saying: “I am on this side or the other side”. Just as I am not on the side who claim Grace is a traitor, I am not on the side of Grace either. What I can say is, I agree with Grace on this, or disagree with her on that, instead of simple statement like “with her or against her”. To be more exact, in this post and in the last post, I even didn’t specifically tough the topic of what Grace did, or write. I just stated the fact that I don’t agree with how she is treated.

I have past the age to claim whatever some person said (Grace or whoever) is what I believe in… In this sense, I am not on her side.

Four Types of Consciousness

As we have discussed the top for many times, the world is not black and white. There are so many gray areas (different degree of gray) in almost everything. In foreign media, and people’s mind, Chinese government is the extreme side of irrationality, and Chinese people are on the same side, while the media is in the middle. However, this is not always true. I tried to draw a GRAY level chart. The chart is according the the dimension of consciousness or rationality (unfortunately, the world has more than 1000 dimensions you can take). Please add if you saw more people that can be hardly put into any of the four buckets.

  1. Angry Youth. Simple minded, and ready to die or kill or do whatever asked to do, if someone tells them this is the right thing to do for their country. There are plenty of them. They are typically young (I was once one of them, which I don’t want to hide), and don’t understand how complicated the world yet. If not because of the policemen, they are the first to burn a Carrefour store, or rush into US embassy with sticks in hand. Even with policemen guarded, they successfully throw a stone into a French, or Japanese, or US store, depending what is "hot" in TV. <–> In US, they are the individuals who never been to any other country, and even cannot draw where Tibet or Darfur is, and just join whatever protest group the saw and shout for something, as long as the evidence people show to them seems reasonable.
  2. Conscious Patriot. They know how to love the country, and take actions they believe can do good for their country – only their country, not anyone else. Conscious patriots also argue with each other (because they started to think independently), and if you look close enough, there are many sub groups within this group of people. Some believe boycott is the most effective way to show feeling, while others think putting Love China is cooler, and can engage millions of people already. Some may love both action, while others don’t like either. They just forward patriotism articles tireless on all major BBS, and even buy millions of email addresses to spread the emails (they don’t think they are spammer, because they are in the name of Patriotism). Some people form hacker group to attack targeted web sites; other completely disagree with any hacking behavior (also for many different reasons. Some may think hacking is illegal in any country, while others think to quietly use his power to disconnect a foreign company web site which happens to be in his IDC is more practical. Let me stop here without digging further.). I just listed very limited number of types of the different behaviors in this group. You may get the idea. They are thoughtful, and they believe in whatever they believe to help the country. Most of all, they know what they are doing, which is the key to distinguish this group from the Angry Youth.
  3. God-like Analyst. With the whole country full of patriots, there are still some calm guys who tried to tell people to cool down, and do everything in the framework of the current law. They remind people of consequences, and they call for stopping boycotting, stopping burning French national flag (especially not to burn German flags by mistake in some occasions), and call for communication. They try to provide a solution that benefits not only China, both also the world (or in many countries, not only world, but also China). They didn’t take any action other than thinking and writing (and not many dare to talk face to face with Angry Youth yet, because of the risk of injury) behind Internet. They tried to pull down the flame while others try to raise it. These guys are often called traitors in any camp, and their voice is seldom heard. They are often accused as "pretending to be the God, who don’t have a motherland".
  4. Careful Balancer. People who make decisions in the Chinese, and other government may below to this group. On one hand, they try to show to the people that they are fight back on behalf of the people hard enough (otherwise, they have really internal problems. The Qing Dynasty was overthrow partly because of it) while don’t want to cross the line, and cause real trouble with International world. The US and French government is the same. It is a political crisis for both China and France, and both governments have to be very careful to handle this hot potato. On one hand, they have to react the way its own massive people want (for China, request apology from CNN, and for France, the president has to throw away his Olympic opening ceremony ticket), and other the other hand, they have to maintain a level of good relationship for the interest of both people (for China, keep the real diploma relationship going, and carry out the signed big contract with France, and for France, the same, plus a letter from the president to Jin Jing). For Angry Youth, it is so simple to say "I want to die for this country". For Conscious Patriot, it is easy to boycott anything, for as long as they want. For God-like Analyst, it is even simpler – just type a word or two. However, for the government, any action causing death is called a war, which surely cause humanity disaster; any boycott from government means millions of worker lose their jobs in their own country, as well as the opposite country, or any careless word can cause a consequence that no one can take. Not everyone can take the job, and very few can handle it well. We already saw some really bad examples.

Above are just some of the groups of people I saw. Where am I in the groups? I don’t know. I used to be the Angry Youth, and I sometimes act as "Conscious Patriot", and often, I am God-like Analyst (like in this post). Anyone can shift from one side to the other side a little bit depending on what they see, and what they think THAT day.

Interestingly enough, when Angry Youth types of people from two opposite camp met, who knows what may happen! Most of the times, Angry Youth just follow Conscious Patriots and do whatever they tell them to do. Let’s pray for the Conscious Patriots to make good decisions!

The real situation is far more complicated than this analysis. I just try to imagine some of the scenarios in this whole mess: the Conscious Patriot type of Pro-Tibet people may strongly disagree with Angry Youth type of pro-Tibet protester who were so wrong to try to get the torch from Jin Jing (a PR disaster for the camp), but they are also strongly against those God-like Analyst, who ask them not to leverage Olympics. God-like analysts in Pro-Tibet camp may claim that they don’t like what the Chinese government did in Tibet, but when they see how scary the behavior of the Angry Youth type of people in the Chinese camp, they may (my guess) think the government is more rational. It is the same for the Chinese camp. For God-like Analyst in China, they tried to ask Angry Youth to start to think before behave, but when they saw what the Angry Youth type of pro-Tibet guys did in Paris, they may be easily turned into Conscious Patriots, or Conscious Patriots may turn to Analyst, when they saw the consciousness of some people in the other camp. Wow. The combination is endless. Even people with the same type in the same camp may argue for a long time. That is the reason there are so many articles around this issue everywhere, including the one you are reading.

In both camp, there are some God-like analysts try to help the own camp to understand the other side, and find some way out for the both camp. Some God-Like Analysts even sit completely in the middle, like Grace Wang – the most dangerous position to take.

However, "history is made of People", and the history has repeatedly show us, the people is made of Angry Youth, and Conscious Patri

ots, but very rare is made of God-like Analyst, just because there are so few of them. The history in the combating world (like in the long history of China) is always written by the winner, and no matter which side win, God-like Analysts never get mentioned.

How sad it is.

Grace Wang Called a Traitor

GN posted an article on Washington Post about the recent indent of Grace Wang.

Caught in the Middle, Called a Traitor (I think it is important to readers on this site to read this.)

By Grace Wang
Sunday, April 20, 2008;

I study languages — Italian, French and German. And this summer — now that it looks as though I won’t be able to go home to China — I’ll take up Arabic. My goal is to master 10 languages, in addition to Chinese and English, by the time I’m 30.

I want to do this because I believe that language is the bridge to understanding. Take China and Tibet. If more Chinese learned the Tibetan language, and if Tibetans learned more about China, I’m convinced that our two peoples would understand one another better and we could overcome the current crisis between us peacefully. I feel that even more strongly after what happened here at Duke University a little more than a week ago.

Trying to mediate between Chinese and pro-Tibetan campus protesters, I was caught in the middle and vilified and threatened by the Chinese. After the protest, the intimidation continued online, and I began receiving threatening phone calls. Then it got worse — my parents in China were also threatened and forced to go into hiding. And I became persona non grata in my native country.

It has been a frightening and unsettling experience. But I’m determined to speak out, even in the face of threats and abuse. If I stay silent, then the same thing will happen to someone else someday.

So here’s my story.

When I first arrived at Duke last August, I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. It’s in the small town of Durham, N.C., and I’m from Qingdao, a city of 4.3 million. But I eventually adjusted, and now I really love it. It’s a diverse environment, with people from all over the world. Over Christmas break, all the American students went home, but that’s too expensive for students from China. Since the dorms and the dining halls were closed, I was housed off-campus with four Tibetan classmates for more than three weeks.

I had never really met or talked to a Tibetan before, even though we’re from the same country. Every day we cooked together, ate together, played chess and cards. And of course, we talked about our different experiences growing up on opposite sides of the People’s Republic of China. It was eye-opening for me.

I’d long been interested in Tibet and had a romantic vision of the Land of Snows, but I’d never been there. Now I learned that the Tibetans have a different way of seeing the world. My classmates were Buddhist and had a strong faith, which inspired me to reflect on my own views about the meaning of life. I had been a materialist, as all Chinese are taught to be, but now I could see that there’s something more, that there’s a spiritual side to life.

We talked a lot in those three weeks, and of course we spoke in Chinese. The Tibetan language isn’t the language of instruction in the better secondary schools there and is in danger of disappearing. Tibetans must be educated in Mandarin Chinese to succeed in our extremely capitalistic culture. This made me sad, and made me want to learn their language as they had learned mine.

I was reminded of all this on the evening of April 9. As I left the cafeteria planning to head to the library to study, I saw people holding Tibetan and Chinese flags facing each other in the middle of the quad. I hadn’t heard anything about a protest, so I was curious and went to have a look. I knew people in both groups, and I went back and forth between them, asking their views. It seemed silly to me that they were standing apart, not talking to each other. I know that this is often due to a language barrier, as many Chinese here are scientists and engineers and aren’t confident of their English.

I thought I’d try to get the two groups together and initiate some dialogue, try to get everybody thinking from a broader perspective. That’s what Lao Tzu, Sun Tzu and Confucius remind us to do. And I’d learned from my dad early on that disagreement is nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately, there’s a strong Chinese view nowadays that critical thinking and dissidence create problems, so everyone should just keep quiet and maintain harmony.

A lot has been made of the fact that I wrote the words "Free Tibet" on the back of the American organizer of the protest, who was someone I knew. But I did this at his request, and only after making him promise that he would talk to the Chinese group. I never dreamed how the Chinese would seize on this innocent action. The leaders of the two groups did at one point try to communicate, but the attempt wasn’t very successful.

The Chinese protesters thought that, being Chinese, I should be on their side. The participants on the Tibet side were mostly Americans, who really don’t have a good understanding of how complex the situation is. Truthfully, both sides were being quite closed-minded and refusing to consider the other’s perspective. I thought I could help try to turn a shouting match into an exchange of ideas. So I stood in the middle and urged both sides to come together in peace and mutual respect. I believe that they have a lot in common and many more similarities than differences.

But the Chinese protesters — who were much more numerous, maybe 100 or more — got increasingly emotional and vocal and wouldn’t let the other side speak. They pushed the small Tibetan group of just a dozen or so up against the Duke Chapel doors, yelling "Liars, liars, liars!" This upset me. It was so aggressive, and all Chinese know the moral injunction: Junzi dongkou, bu dongshou (The wise person uses his tongue, not his fists).

I was scared. But I believed that I had to try to promote mutual understanding. I went back and forth between the two groups, mostly talking to the Chinese in our language. I kept urging everyone to calm down, but it only seemed to make them angrier. Some young men in the Chinese group — those we call fen qing (angry youth) — started yelling and cursing at me.

What a lot of people don’t know is that there were many on the Chinese side who supported me and were saying, "Let her talk." But they were drowned out by the loud minority who had really lost their cool.

Some people on the Chinese side started to insult me for speaking English and told me to speak Chinese only. But the Americans didn’t understand Chinese. It’s strange to me that some Chinese seem to feel as though not speaking English is expressing a kind of national pride. But language is a tool, a way of thinking and communicating.

At the height of the protest, a group of Chinese men surrounded me, pointed at me and, referring to the young woman who led the 1989 student democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, said, "Remember Chai Ling? All Chinese want to burn her in oil, and you look like her." They said that I had mental problems and that I would go to hell. They asked me where I was from and what school I had attended. I told them. I had nothing to hide. But then it started to feel as though an angry mob was about to attack me. Finally, I left the protest with a police escort.

Back in my dorm room, I logged onto the Duke Chinese Students and Scholars Association (DCSSA) Web site and listserv to see what people were saying. Qian Fangzhou, an officer of DCSSA, was gloating, "We really showed them our colors!"

I posted a letter in response, explaining that I don’t support Tibetan independence, as some accused me of, but that I do support Tibetan freedom, as well as Chinese freedom. All people should be free and have their basic rights protected, just as the Chinese constitution says. I hoped that the letter would spark some substantive discussion. But people just criticized and ridiculed me more.

The next morning, a storm was raging online. Photographs of me had been posted on

the Internet with the words "Traitor to her country!" printed across my forehead. Then I saw something really alarming: Both my parents’ citizen ID numbers had been posted. I was shocked, because this information could only have come from the Chinese police.

I saw detailed directions to my parents’ home in China, accompanied by calls for people to go there and teach "this shameless dog" a lesson. It was then that I realized how serious this had become. My phone rang with callers making threats against my life. It was ironic: What I had tried so hard to prevent was precisely what had come to pass. And I was the target.

I talked to my mom the next morning, and she said that she and my dad were going into hiding because they were getting death threats, too. She told me that I shouldn’t call them. Since then, short e-mail messages have been our only communication. The other day, I saw photos of our apartment online; a bucket of feces had been emptied on the doorstep. More recently I’ve heard that the windows have been smashed and obscene posters have been hung on the door. Also, I’ve been told that after convening an assembly to condemn me, my high school revoked my diploma and has reinforced patriotic education.

I understand why people are so emotional and angry; the events in Tibet have been tragic. But this crucifying of me is unacceptable. I believe that individual Chinese know this. It’s when they fire each other up and act like a mob that things get so dangerous.

Now, Duke is providing me with police protection, and the attacks in Chinese cyberspace continue. But contrary to my detractors’ expectations, I haven’t shriveled up and slunk away. Instead, I’ve responded by publicizing this shameful incident, both to protect my parents and to get people to reflect on their behavior. I’m no longer afraid, and I’m determined to exercise my right to free speech.

Because language is the bridge to understanding.

Grace Wang is a freshman at Duke University. Scott Savitt, a visiting scholar in Duke’s Chinese media studies program, assisted in writing this article.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/18/AR2008041802635.html

GN thought it is important for readers on this site to read  this article. I also think so. So I copied the article in this entry to share Grace’s thoughts.

Called a Traitor? Don’t Worry

It is so common to be called a traitor in China. I, myself, was called a traitor many times in BBS or blogs. There are many versions of the story. No matter what you do, the easiest way to get everyone to get to the same side of the line is to tell people the guy betrayed  China. Just to list the logic of the criticizer who said I am a traitor.

  • Anyone who  writes in English forgot their motherland already. He is a traitor. Sometimes, people may call people who can read English as a traitor. I saw this situation, although not common.
  • Anyone who didn’t boycott Japanese goods is a traitor
  • Anyone who didn’t show strong emotional reaction to Torch Relay is called a traitor
  • Anyone who said there are true report in western media is a traitor.
  • Anyone who said Chinese government is good is a traitor, or in other cases, anyone who said Chinese government is bad is a traitor.
  • Anyone who think the Party has done something wrong is a traitor.
  • Anyone who tried to help foreigners is a traitor
  • Anyone who work in a foreign company is a traitor…

The list is endless. The point is, if you have anything to do with something "foreign", or you talk about politics, you are called a traitor by someone, publicly, with name and, in Grace’s case, private information. For many people, if they heard from any source that someone is a traitor, they will try everything to fight against this person, including personal attack, forward the mail/post to other places, add a comment to condemn the person, even threat to kill the person.

Grace?

I don’t know Grace, and I don’t know whether I agree with what Grace said or not – I agree for most part, but I worry that I only hear one-sided story. Grace is just 20 years in age, and she may also did something immature in the sensitive time, which is completely acceptable and understandable. But it may cause strong reaction from the Chinese student group and netizen in China, which is also pretty understandable. However, I feel so bad and ashamed that she got death threat, and rude personal attack (and physical attack in her home). How I wish I have a country that is more open  to different opinions, and tolerate diversity. To follow the law is the basic way to show one’s love to his country.

I know if I post the entry in Chinese, and if I am lucky, I will be called traitor again, just for this article. Even in English, I believe I will receive many critics for this entry, and the next entry I am planning to write. It is OK. I never expect everyone agree with me. Call me whatever people want to call. A blogger needs some courage, right.

PS. When you attack, please just attack the opinion, not the person hold the opinion. Even if you want to attack a person, attack myself (and I am pretty tolerate, and understand that is the cost of running a blog), however, I will take action if I saw personal attack to other readers (and they shouldn’t be insulted).

Brief Chat with Andrew

This afternoon, I talked with Andrew, correspondent for Wall Street Journal  about the misunderstanding between Chinese and foreigners in the last few weeks. I am pretty outspoken these days, and accepted more of interview request from US and France, because the recent events clearly show the importance of communication. I may be wrong, but I believe talk is better than fight, and protest is better than boycotting. I enjoyed the talk with Andrew, since he has wrote many articles on China for Wall Street Journal. He is also one of the very few journalist who insisted to do the interview in Chinese. I appreciate it. Here are some of the note I talked about.

I saw misunderstanding

In the last few weeks, I saw protests; I saw boycotts; I saw many news headlines in all major media; and I saw hundreds of BBS posts; but in short, I saw misunderstanding – that is the major thing I saw. Behind it, from some limited times, I saw conspiracy, but most of the time, it appears to be misunderstanding to me, more than anything else.

Mismatch

There are at least four levels of mismatches I saw between western world (France, British, and America) and Chinese world.

  • First Gap: Facts
  • Second Gap: Logic and Reasoning Process
  • Third Gap: Result

The first gap is about facts. People in France know different facts about China, than people in China. Interestingly enough, both pointing figure to the other camp claiming that they are brainwashed.

The second gap is reasoning process. With more and more comments on this blog, I saw people in France is protesting against Chinese government, and people in China perceive it as protesting against China – a ethic  entity. People in France value freedom and human rights more important than unity of a country or economic growth, while people in China thinks the other way.

So, the final result is completely different.

Western Standard?

I think media in US is using western standard to measure China. Freedom and human right are important. I do agree. China is still far from what everyone is expected, especially on the freedom of speech, and democracy (to enable people of the land to really make decisions for themselves). After several hundred years, we still didn’t find out a way to govern this land better. I am trying very hard to write blogs to help increase the awareness to people that they do have certain rights. Awareness is the first step. If the government see the human right record in China is 9 out of 10, US may give it 3 out of 10, I may say it is 5 out of 10. That is the reason in China,  I am trying to stand on the opposite side of the government to improve the political system, but when I talk with western media, I will try to stand on the same side of the government and want them to be aware that the human right record has already been improved.

As I talked in this post, entering a train via door instead of window is also human right, to be able to enter a restroom instead of piss in the public is also human right, and to have clean water to drink is also human right, just as freedom of speech or democracy. It is too easy to take it for granted that everyone in China already have the basic human rights. No, they didn’t yet.

I am in Nanyang, even in city, I saw poverty. Is there anyone in France want to protest for poverty in China? This is what I call the western standard.

China is the elephant in the story "Blind men and the Elephant". Western media saw only the tail and say "it is a rope". There is not doubt that it is the truth (although it sometimes makes mistake like recently pointed out by Chinese netizen, it generally is telling more truth than most media in China), but the problem is, to tell the truth does not guarantee completeness. For people in China see the bright side of the elephant, but often, it is not complete either. 

Willing Help vs Be Able to Help?

The last conversation with Peter on this blog was great. He, as a protester against Chinese government in San Francisco, asked sincerely: "What I can do to help create a better China?" I do appreciate the sincerity and the willingness to help, but the problem is, how to help, or whether people need the help or not. People think the democratic political system, and the market economy system, even the culture in American can help people in China, just as they believed in Iraq.

American tried very hard to help people in Iraq. Does it work?

Just as the central government is trying to help Tibet. From economic numbers (even from United Nation, not from Chinese official numbers), Tibet improved so much, but the problem is, whether it is what the Tibetan want? Do they value economic freedom as you do? Do they want to change the way you want them to change? This rule applies to China and to America.

Willing to help is good, but not everyone is able to help.

To help is good but to force others to accept the help is often written in the history book as invasion. That is the reason why people in China often use the term "Interfere Internal Affairs" to describe what American are doing.

Talk and Talk

There are many ways of communication. Wars can also be counted as one – to show the other country that a country is really angry, boycotting is another, protest is the even less destructive one (but still damage economic, political, and culture relationship).

"Talk" is the method I personally prefer, although it is perceived as the weakest way.

Update April 21, 2008

The outcome of the chat is published on Wall Street Journal today: Games Tensions on Slippery Track with the quote on my part:

"American people feel that freedom and self-expression are very important. Chinese people feel that national unity is very important," says Wang Jianshuo, 30 years old, who works for an Internet company in Shanghai and writes a blog in English and Chinese. "There is a big gap between the West and China on which values are more important. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just different."

The article appeared on Page A9 of today’s Wall Street Journal. The short quote reflected what I saw pretty well, and I think I am at least doing something to help this country (not necessarily helping the government) better than boycotting French products.

"Love China" Blooms on MSN Messenger

This morning, I opened my MSN Messenger, and saw a list like this:

image

image

Due to limitation of screen copy, this is not a complete list yet. The heart and China was inputted this way:

(L) China

I just want to share with my friends on this blog about the reality, or to be more exact, about the reaction/perception of what happened in London and Paris. People may evaluate about the result of the protest. It is the time to find a way to communicate a message that is acceptable by the Chinese people. I heard a lot of criticism about the perception, but I only see "different", not right or wrong.

We have had great discussions about this issue in the last few blog entries. I am going to provide more report on what is happening in China. Since this blog is in English, its propose is mainly to help people outside China understand the feeling of people in China, and understand China as a whole better. Although it also serves as an important window for people in China to understand what is in the mind of people outside.

P.S. The last time I saw this was during the flower bloom in 2004.

Not Just Identify Problems for China – Solve Them!

I wrote the following in response to a reader, mac, just now. I want to share it with everyone (with little bit editorial change). The original comment is here.

@mac, calm down. I like discussion, although I don’t expect myself to answer every single comment, and even if I try to join some discussion, I will try to carefully state what I believe, with no expectation that the other end may agree with me or even understand (understanding is the hardest part, although people often claim to be).

Back to your questions, I hope I am in the position to say I understand your feeling. The collapse of value system after knowing many truth will be the main theme for many people in the next decade in China. I experience that during my month long cross North American trip in the winter of 2004.

Turning from trust of what we are educated since we were born, to completely lose trust is a very hard time for everyone who ever experienced it. I was also turned very negative for some time. However, as Tommy described it very well, that is also not the whole story. After 4 years of seeking for the truth (via this blog, and many other ways), I feel pretty calm now, and I started to learn more about China. After that, I am even more confidence about the future of China. I started to understand the root of many imperfection of the country, then we can solve it one by one. The good thing is, when we try to discover, there are many promising solutions for many problem.

As you mentioned in your question 1, 2, 3, GFW is certainly a shame in our country. With the wisdom of the great nation, we are still not able to remove it. There are even more serious problems within this country, like people’s right to make decisions, pollutions, economic imbalance, unfair treatment to people in remote area like Tibet, and Xinjiang, morale standards… I can list many of them. However, that is not the whole story. There are so many bright side also – the economic improvement, the slow but gradual awareness of the political needs of more people, and the transform of the society, just to name a few. We are the people who need to contribute to a better China, instead of just complainer, like those outside the country.

Young Generations like myself tend to be able to identify a problem, but often fail to solve the problem. The feeling that they cannot change anything turns into desperations and anger. Many problems are easy to identify, just like the potential conflict between China and France (the criss around Torch relay). My belief is, I need to do something to HELP SOLVING the problem, instead of doing something just because everyone is doing, and don’t care about the consequences. My way of doing it is to start conversation between people in France, British, US, and all the other countries to talk with people in China. Although it is not as big as people may wish, I think at least it is a solution I can think of.

Again, I’d like to help if you think my experience is worth to listen. However, don’t expect me to help you understand how the world is working (I don’t know yet), and it took me four years to understand a little better than before. Sometimes, only time can help.

Besides that, I wrote another comment back to Confused regarding the three questions they don’t know about Chinese:

@Confused, good question. I guess that is the key questions many people may ask.

First question, why anger against France is stronger. For several reasons. Reports from blog and message from people in France described that it is not just the protesters, many people (bigger portion of common people) in Paris joined the violent protests (I saw many pictures with body attack). Besides that, three particular events gave people strong impressions about Paris: 1) Disabled girl Jin Jing was attacked on the wheelchair by Pro-Tibet protester. 2) The Paris Mayor hanged banners in the city hall, an action perceived as representing the city, instead of just protestres. 3) The headline about “the miserable defeat of China” in the major newspaper. This is my guess about why anger against Paris is stronger than UK, and US. For UK and US, based on what I learned, people still think it is the Pro-Tibet group who made the trouble. For Paris, it is clearly the government (and some extends it to the people there) who are anti-China. This perception may be far from the truth, just as China’s image in the international stage, but that is how the whole thing is “PERCEIVED”.

For the second question about there are Chinese product in Carrefour, as I said, boycotting is an immature way of handling problems. It is based on the simple judgment that the world is completely black and white, and boycotting French Products “ONLY impact those French”. However, the current world is a well connected world, and it is so hard to distinguish who owns which part. If you ask people who boycotting some product, they may also get very confused, and may ask back: “Well. It seems so. So, tell me what’s next I can do just to make them feel bad?” I want to make it very clear that I don’t like what is happening in Paris, especially those *violent* protesters, I don’t think boycott really do the work.

For the last question, about why Chinese tend to take criticism for government so personally, there are two reasons, I think. First, due to 50 years of education by the current government, people have formed the thinking logic that the Party = the Government = the whole country. To the extreme extend, people are educated that the Party is the mother, and Chairman is the Sun…. This believe may fade out a little bit in the last 20 years, but is still there. For this part, I think it is more of a problem in China, instead of the rest world.

The second reason: because it is Olympic. If it were not Olympic Games, people may not take it so personally. Olympic is a dream of Chinese people for 100 years (please note: this is long before the current Communist Party was formed). Being invaded by many countries in the 1800s, and being a backward country for even longer, people in China do want to find a change to get back to the center stage of the world. That is the dream of almost everyone. For people outside China, it may be hard to understand the importance of this Game to normal people in China. So, by definition, Olympic don’t have too much to do with the government, in some sense. Unlike people in many other country who just take it as a sport event, people in China don’t think it that way. So, because of this, any attack to the Olympic Game in Beijing is the attack to the people.

Just as I told delegation from the US Congress, it is like the big fat wedding ceremony of the PEOPLE, not the government. Ruin the opening ceremony of a company is not a big deal for its employees, but to ruin someone’s wedding is completely another story.

In conclusion, I won’t say who is right or wrong in these unpleasant days. However, I do hope people understand each other more. I hope people in China to understand not to take political protest too personal, and hope people in France and other country to understand, people will DEFINITELY take it personal if you attack Olympic Game.

What the Term China, or France Means?

I admit, during my last post on boycott, I made a mistake, just as many people in any country in this world may make: to be confused about the term of a country name, for example, China, France, US, or UK, to name a few.

It is important that we understand the different meanings in difference context about what the names mean.

Very often, it means the government. Many times, when people talk about China, it means the Chinese government – the rule maker. Protest for human rights are very likely to be against what the government is doing. Sometimes, it refer to the people. People in one country tend to stick a label of the country name on him/herself. Sometimes, it refer to the economic body, as in the exchange rate dispute. Sometimes, it simply refer to the media of the country, as seen in the recent Torch crisis. But in any case, people have the tendency to use a much bigger, generalized concept (China, or France) to refer to just a part of it.

It is so hard to distingurish the difference, and in many occasions, it is mixed together. Protest again Chinese government is well perceived by people in China as a protest again the whole country, and it can quickly turn into a protest again France (actually, it should be against either the violent protesters, or the media).

I was sometimes mistakenly mix all these concept together. We need to be very careful about it in the future.

Thanks for my Commentors

I always want to take time to thank my commentors who helped to shape and created this blog. I feel expecially so in this week, when my commentors sincerely share their thoughts, provide facts, and help others to understand each other, no matter how different they are. And people did it with dignity and pride.

Thank you!

As you may discovered, I have quietly added a small section at the end of this page, with links to past entries and categories. I also added a section called “Contributors to this Page”, where I list the names (along with their websites if they provide one). I want to make it clear that I am just a very small part of the page. The page is created by a great group of people – the commentors.

Hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I do.

Friends Started to Boycott French Products

After what happened to the Olympic Torch in Paris on April 7, 2008, the movement to boycott French products started to spread across China like wild fire on grassland.

Conversation with Wendy

Last morning, when Wendy and I were waiting in the long line at the SinoPec gas station to fill gas to our cars, Wendy said people in her company already started boycotting French products after what happened in Paris. She added: “I will not go to Carrefour any more, and I won’t consider French cars in the future.”

Besides Wendy, when I talked with my other friends, most of them (well, to be honest, 3 out of 3 persons) said they are going to boycott French goods.

No to mention tremendous posts in the BBS space to boycott French product. This is after the 10-20 year boycotting of Japanese goods in China. It seems to me (please note: only me) that everyone is urging boycott of French Products these days.

I don’t want to talk about others. Just share what is the Paris reaction impact on me.

Impact on Me

Thanks to this blog, which is a good source for me to understand the world better. There are point-of-views from every country, and many of them are conflicting dramatically. Guided with my approach to the world: “Seek first to understand, then to understood”, I really learned a lot. For many times, comments that does not make any sense to me turned out to make some sense after I read similar comments or read it after some time. I tried very hard to understand what is going on in Tibet, how Tibet people think, and why the Pro-Tibet people think it is reasonable for Tibet to go independent. I tried to understand first, or to listen first. Unfortunately, I was quite shock when I saw what happened in Paris.

I may rate myself as a Pro-French person before April 7. There are “France Year” in China and I participated in some program, and there is a following “China Year” in French. I have good friend Clarie in French, and I have workmate in France. The country has a very good imagine for me.

All of a sudden, Paris showed strong Anti-China tendency, and I saw it on YouTube, and on BBC, and CNN. I don’t know what others think but what Paris Mayor said and the newspaper headline in the following day seem outrageous for me. If you need an example, I am the person in China who were turned from Pro-France to Anti-France within few days. Well. I may not consider myself as ANTI-France, but at least, I don’t think France is a friendly country at all.

P.S. There is something very interesting about the different news I got. The anger in me was not triggered by what I saw in media in China, on the contrary, it is from western media. On CCTV, and local news papers, the theme was still “Relay in Paris went on smoothly. Although there are extremely small group Pro-Tibet guys trying to disturb the relay, the Paris policemen did wonderful job to make the relay a great success”. Or “The torch was never FORCED to be extinguished. It was just according to the plan…”. It is obvious that the government want to either save some “face”, or avoid trigger big reaction (like boycott) to the event. Although people may argue whether the government (or the Party) has the right to cover the truth (not just “extremely small group of people”, CNN told me that it is a very big portion of the people), they don’t want any instable factor inside the country. Is it the right thing to do for the China government is to soften the conflict? Personally, I think it is the right direction (although I agree covering and tweak the truth is the wrong method).

Boycotting?

I believe boycotting is an immature way to handle problems. It works only when you want to create more problems. Things will look like this:

  • French boycott Beijing Olympics in Paris, which leads to
  • Chinese boycotting French goods, which lead to
  • French or European country boycotting Chinese goods, which leads to
  • Even bigger boycotting in China….

The circle goes on and each round get bigger. If that happens, people in France and China are joining hands again. This time, they are working together to create a worst future for human being, or used their joined effort to break peace :-) So as always, I am a big believer of communication, or a “bridge”, instead of boycotting.

Although I don’t want to be to quick to judge whether it is right or wrong in this complicated world, I firmly believe, this time, that people in Paris did something wrong. Taking me as an example, they successfully turned a friend into an enemy (well, again, I am not an enemy yet. Just I feel we are not friend any longer). If this is what they want, good. Well done. I suspect I am not the single Chinese who feel this way.

Government or People?

In international affairs, it is really hard to distinguish government of a country or people of a country. Many protests are against what the Chinese government is doing. For many things, if I am allowed, I will join the protest also, for example, to remove the Great Firewall, or to fight against abuse of tax payer’s money… In many events, I can tell the protest is for the government, which I have no problem at all. “Count me too!” I would even say so for some particular protest.

This time, they really made a mistake. Although I understand some of them are still protest again government, but it is well received as a protest for the whole China, as a country, as its people… Olympic is very special to people in China, and choosing the wrong target caused big reaction.

The other day, when the US Congress US-China Relationship Working Group Delegation visited Shanghai, my friends in the team asked my opinion about whether it is right to boycotting Beijing Olympic. (Don’t be surprised that I am willing to be involved in this kind of discussion. Since I am trying to understand what’s in American’s minds, and what’s for the best interest of the peace between the two countries, both of us, me and my friends, are very open to communicate about sensitive issues concerning US China relationship), I said “No. Please don’t do it and it is very dangerous. Olympics is like the Wedding Ceremony of PEOPLE in China, not the government. Imagine your reaction if someone try to ruin YOUR wedding, instead of your governor’s wedding?”

Now the wedding of 13 billion people started to be ruined. Its not the government official who are not happy, it is everyone in the country who feel being hurt. Please understand the difference, and think about what is going to happen.

Again, Educate me and Others about What you Think

As always, I don’t want to pretend that I am always right. By sharing exactly how I feel in this event as a normal people in China, I can provide more valuable information than news report. This is just my perspective (everyone has an angle, right?)

If you think people in Paris are doing something right, tell me and my other readers why (I am curious, and I don’t have an answer). If there is someone who are French, and even participated in the relay, share what you think? No offense at all by this post, I just want to understand what do you think? Why it happened?

My Experience of Culture and Religion in Tibet

I believe many people who are discussing or even devote their life into pro-Tibet, or anti-Tibet course haven’t been to Tibet themselves. Me included.

Tibet is a mysterious place for many people in China. People are amazed by the beauty of the land, the mysterious religious there. Going to Tibet was a serious fashion that many people in Shanghai dream about. I am pretty confident that Tibet is one of the top travel destination for many young people in Shanghai.

Although I have not been to the Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region – the provincial unit, but more widely speaking, it is a much bigger area where Tibetan live, including west part of Sichuan, and some parts in Gansu Province and Yunan Province.

I was lucky enough to planned a visit the Tibetan area in Sichuan Province, at the border of Xizang. I have posted many articles about the trip in my Daocheng category:

Last time, I mainly focused on my trip (in the pure sense of travel) and the break-taking beauty of the land. Due to what is happening in Tibet these days, I am trying to search in my photo archive to find some photo related to the local culture and its people.

My Cultural Trip to Tibet Area

People in Tibet do believe in different thing than Han Chinese, and especially different from the modernized world. Look at the flag with religious articles on it (I don’t know the right word to describe it). Look at how small the characters are and how much time it take to create such a flag – it is everyone in the vast land where almost no people live there. They believe in spiritual things. They believe in something that we don’t believe at all.

daocheng.yading-jingfan-single

daocheng.yading-jingfan

My question is, from the spiritual signs everywhere, is it to early to conclude that they don’t want economic progress?  I don’t think people who are not Tibetan cannot answer it, and even in the Tibetan group, there should be different point of view, just like it is silly to ask what "Chinese is thinking". I don’t know about the answer either. It really depends on when, and where you ask the question to whom…

daocheng.yading-tibetan

This lady gave me deep impression during my visit to Riwa – a place on the way from Daocheng to Yading.  He did nothing, and he used the Buddhist Necklace (this is the closest word I can find to describe what’s on her hand) and recite Buddhist Bibles all the time. She is very nice and kind.

daocheng.riwa-age.of.81.woman

Something to note in the picture below: the Hat! It is the style of hat of the People’s Liberation Army. When I talked to many of the

m, their memories of the outside world still keep like 1940s, when the PLA troop past their village. It seems after that, their door to the outside world was closed, until recently.

daocheng.riwa-girls.and.mother

This is the whole group of people. When visitors and tourists busy taking pictures, and having dinners, they just gather there and chat.

daocheng.riwa-many.people

With the economic development with the tourist, they are very happen, and are very kind to tourists. They are all very nice people.

daocheng.riwa-villagers

I love to interact with people. In the last visit, I talked with a Monk (with respect) in the temple. Look at how splendid his chair is. He was very kind and gave me the permission to take a phone of him.

daocheng-chonggu.temple.baddish

daocheng.yading-road.connects.riwa.yading

The land is lack of people – in the scene, you can identify some residential places, but people are really so small compared to the big nature.

Daocheng is already a relatively developed Tibet area even back to 2002 due to the boom of tourism. I heard they are even planning to build an airport (the highest in the world).  I don’t know any news about the airport after my visit, but during my visit 6 years ago, I do see the electronic lines. They are equipped with electricity power – which is really a miracle when you see the vast majority of the land that barely have any people living there.

daocheng- 020

From the architecture point of view, Tibet is so unique that you don’t miss it. However, there is some sign of combined customs in this particular house – the Duilian, or couplet – the pink paper on the side of the door. This is, based on my knowledge, pretty new to the Tibetan culture. Unlike many places in China that culture mix is hard to find since the mix happens almost 1000 years ago (when different ethnics come to the same place due to war or conquer), Tibet still keeps its uniqueness, so fresh, and so solid.

daocheng.xinduqiao-2.tibetan.house

This is another scene of the mixture of architecture in Daocheng. Look at that building in the garden – it is a typical Han house.

daocheng.xinduqiao-house.trhough.door

daocheng- 071

This is a normal morning in the area. Local Tibetan wear its traditional cloths and walked on the street – should I call it traditional? It should be the current daily dress for them, just like suits and T-shirt to people in most cities in the world.

daocheng- 187

To me, I even don’t use the world different to describe my first impression of Tibet. It is not just different, it is unique! I cannot find the same feeling in any other places in the world yet – not in any city in China, nor countries in Southeast Asia, not to mention America, or Australia. I guess the comparable uniqueness feeling should exist in Middle East, or the Islamic area.

daocheng.riwa-river.town

daocheng-village.near.rewa

daocheng- 198

Tibetan are the miracle in this hash environment. Because the Tibetan Plateau is so high in altitude, most people coming from other part of the world may feel serious Altitude Sickness. We were seriously worried when our bus runs in the following condition for hours, with the risk of break down in the middle of the snow.

daocheng- 213

Religious signs are everywhere in the area. Look at the white stones found almost everywhere – not because of creation of nature, its because of tremendous effort by the Tibetan. They spent their whole lives to do religious things that I do not understand yet. 

daocheng-manidui-in.xinduqiao

yading- 012

In many places, almost everywhere someone has ever been to before, there are some signs that I cannot tell the meaning. I am not to surprised with the stone in the wooden frame – pay attending to the bigger stone, and the smaller round one at the corner – stones were laid everywhere, in a way that only human can do. What does it mean? I said, it is everywhere.

yading- 024

daocheng.yading-stone-with.jing

Along with the Tibet villages are some of the newly built buildings. It seems that the style is different, and similar to those found in other area of China. This Tibetan area is already the mixture of Han Chinese, and Tibetan. I have never been to the core Tibetan area, near Lhasa, or west of it. I GUESS, the mixture does not happen yet.

daocheng-xiaojin

Disturbed Lunch

I have wonderful lunch with my friend, I intentionally keep him/her anonymous about our conversation. There are something interesting during the chat.

There is Another Way of Media Control

During the conversation, he mentioned these days, some people (maybe from “Culture Auditing Organization”) arrived at his company. There are many of them. Since my friend is running website related with video, the guys asked him to put Tibet related news to the top position. It is for sure that the related news needs to be the same as the official news in China.

I heard of many times of people asking webmasters to take content down, and the occasion to put on something is rare. For portals and important websites, it happens all the time, and everyone act with the orchestration of the big boss, but for a relatively small website, this time is unusual.

Well. I love my country, and just because of it, I want a better future for the country, and this can be hardly archived with tightened freedom of information.

Disclaimer: as I always stated in many of my post, I can only guarantee the fact that I heard the message, but I never guarantee that what I heard (either from my friends, or from newspaper, TV) is true.

Disruption of the Lunch

A small incident happens during my lunch today. A big and old guy were having meal next to us with his family. For some reason, he started to argue with the waiter. From what I heard over the table, it seems he is using a coupon to pay the meal, while the waiter claimed it is fake.

Then the guy start to shout out loud to the whole audience in the restaurant, and finally stand up to shout to everyone to get some support from his “audience”. It seemed he was delivering a speech. He is very annoying to me that we cannot continue our conversation.

I was thinking about what is happening in London and Paris these days, and I suddenly found these scenes are pretty similar. I don’t know whether he is right or wrong. Maybe he is right, and he holds the true coupon, but if I don’t care, why he has to disturb the peace of the restaurant?

I don’t know why, but when he came to our table and started to talk to me something: “How can the restaurant treats me like this…”, I said, “calm down. Get back to your seat, and keep quiet. Don’t disturb the so many people”.

They guy was shocked, and he obviously didn’t expect I am on the side of the restaurant (I assume he must be thinking so, while I am on neither side yet). He started to argue with me about the fact he is holding a true coupon. I said: “I am not interested, but you have disturbed my lunch”. The guy was really angry this time.

I just ignore what happened next. In short, finally, I dialed 110 (Police Number) with my mobile phone, and policeman came in 3 minutes (pretty efficient, I would say. Thanks). This is the third time I called a police in Shanghai. The last time was when Goudaner Scratched by Drunk Driver (note: Goudaner is my car).

The policeman just patiently listened to that guy’s complain, and asked him to handle things peacefully, and everyone was dismissed. I am not satisfied with the final result, but I didn’t ask for more.

This is very true story of today. I don’t know the reason I reacted so aggressively this time – typically I just sit there and say nothing. It may be due to the recent thoughts about the violence in protests during the Torch Relay. I do worry that if either the Pro-Tibet protester or the pro-China side of the protester started violence first, that can be a huge disaster in the history of Olympic.

My point is, it is OK to insist on what you believe is true, but don’t ruin other people’s lunch.

More Discussion on Tibet

I wrote two articles on Tibet these days:

Just like any media can cut off some important background information, my last post on the screenshots didn’t mention the background that my laptop lost battery power, and I was not able to really be able to analyze the issue. The other background is, I only have few minutes today from the busy daily work. This is the performance review stage, and everyone is pending on me to finally sign off the final results. I do hope I have more time to talk about it.

The last two article received many comments, and I was overwhelmed by the quality of the post – although people have different point of views, I saw open and sincere discussion there. Keep the discussion coming!

Just claim several things:

Communication

I am a firm believer of communication. I always see myself and my little blog as a bridge between the two worlds (in fact, many worlds). I saw people in the west are frustrated about China, while people in China even have no idea about why they are frustrated at all. The same to the people in U.S., Europe or other western country. Although I don’t think we can change people’s mind, it is better to offer a place for people to talk.

Understand first, then talk

I would ask my reader to try to understand first. When I talk with my friends in Shanghai, they showed great anger against the pro-Tibet protester. In this case, I asked: Do you know why they are doing that? What they are going to say? and I often got some answer copied from local TV – far from the truth. It is the same for people in U.S – why people in China are so angry? Brain wash is a simple answer, which is also far from truth. People in China are shouting out loud that western people don’t understand China, and want to put whatever that works there to China, while we are doing the same thing to people in Tibet. US claim that China is forcing Tibet to do what China want to do, and US is doing the same thing to China.. I believe this is all about understanding. People who don’t want to understand others are often the people who think they are not understood.

So, I believe the first thing everyone can do his/herself a favor is to understand what the other side is talking about first – which is pretty easy on this forum. Just spend time to really READ carefully. Although you might not agree, do spend time to understand their logic.

This is not a Two-Sided World

This is multi-sided world. By saying BBC didn’t report the truth does not mean I agree CCTV is doing the right thing. By stating local media complete used propaganda does not mean I agree with western media. By saying American or European is doing something wrong, does not entitle China government to do the same thing, or by pointing out what’s wrong in China, does not mean what is going on in other part of the world is reasonable. It is ironic that on one hand, I am claiming that BBC misused my sentence in my blog and on the other hand, the article itself is banned by the Great Firewall, and we cannot access it. On one hand, I am criticizing people who intentionally attack China – not just the government which does not bother me too much, but the country and people as a whole, but on the other hand, I am risking my blog by mentioning the “sensitive” topic, so that this blog can be easy shutdown or banned because of this.

So never assume I am on one side or the other. Don’t ask me which side I am on – I am trying to be on the side of wisdom, truth, and rational, which is may be the hardest thing to do in this world. Please keep the discussion in the topic we are discussing. Objection and agree on one topic does not imply point of view of another topic at all.

I am still in the listen mood, and want to be a bridge.

P.S. As a final note, I am very upset about the violence I saw on YouTube or CNN during the Torch’s relay in Paris. I have no problem to see protest from pro-Tibet groups at all – they have their rights to do that. But I am very upset about the violence. I hope during the Torch Relay in San Francisco, we don’t see as much violence as in Paris. (BTW, I don’t trust what CCTV shows me at all. I am using YouTube. It is a miracle these days that YouTube can be accessed in China). The best way to destroy something is to argue it in a wrong way.

Error in Western Media Report about Tibet

During the SARS period in 2003, I wrote an article Protect China – Not Only From SARS. Just as I am not a big fan of CCTV, I am not a fan of the CNN or BBC. I am not new to incorrect media report from western media, especially BBC (I was quoted by them many times, and the last time was like this).

As far as I remember, the last time BBC quote what I said was on its Chinese homepage: "Chinese Netizen: We can Say Whatever We Want to Say", and in the article, they said:

Chinese famous blogger Wang Jian Shuo accepted BBC’s English interview after the Chinese Blogger Conference. He believe the journalist misunderstood his meaning.
He criticized BBC for getting words out of contexts, use the edited sentence to get a misleading conclusion.
He pointed out, that even though you said "no comment", BBC will say "You are under political pressure (and don’t want to comment)".
Wang Jian Shuo also wrote on his blog: "Obviously, this is no censorship on this blog, and I can say whatever I want"

The original blog is there untouched since published, and find out the whole picture. I quitted the discussion with BBC, since one is using the power of a strong media, and I am fighting with my small blog. I am sure my name is in their database, and I am often called to ask for live radio broadcast of BBC, which I all rejected.

More Errors

Not only BBC. Many media love to cut things out of context – pretty understandable in news report due to limitation of page, but if you use the cut version to tell a different story, that is another thing.

I am sharing some screen shot created by netizens in China, and I quoted from anti-cnn.com. I am not sure why but everyone seems like Nepal police more and all use their photos to report what is happening in Tibet.

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Why I Didn’t Cover About Tibet

Three weeks from what happened in Lhasa, Tibet. I didn’t post anything about it. Why?

As one rule I setup from the day one of this blog five years ago, I only want to post something I personal experience and I never post something that I know it is not true. For what happened in Lhasa, it does not match either of the criteria.

Personal Experience Matters

I am often criticized for not mentioning something that all media is talking about, but this blog is not a media. I want to add value by telling people what I, this person, see, and experience, instead of repeating what I read. I want to give facts, instead of opinions – especially opinions based on no-so-solid facts.

I Don’t Post Something I Know is Not Truth

What is going on in Lhasa, to be honest with you, I really don’t know. I watch TV everyday, and read news on Internet everyday, but I am still not sure what is happening there.

The last thing I believe is official news for situation like this. I believed in exactly 19 years ago, when I was just 12, but it turned out that it was not truth at all. The terms, and the way the official media broadcast it is very familiar to me – if I replace the city name with Beijing, it should be almost the same news many, many years ago.

I don’t believe in CNN and other media. I believed 19 years ago – at that time, we only have Voice of America. But it turned out that many of the news are biased, and very far from the truth. If the official media in China is intentionally “creating” an imagine, western media sometimes use the western angle to see something much more complicated than their knowledge can cover, like this one.

What I Need

What I need is just time. I want some time to understand the issue better, including a planned trip to Lhasa myself (I haven’t done it yet, although I have been to some Tibetan area). I want to be humble to learn first before I talk with big mouth, pretending I know something. I will definitely talk about it, when I get more information.

My Question on US Constitution

I am not a big fan of the government, but I am not as extreme as many “angry youth”. What I need is just a balanced view. Before I do my homework to research, I think I can add a little bit value by offering some insights about how people in China think about a “united country”.

Last Saturday, in the lobby of a hotel on Hengshan Road, I chatted with the delegation of the U.S.-China Relationship Working Group of the United States Congress. I asked one question that I always wanted to ask:

If one day, for whatever reason, the dominating majority of people in a U.S. State, say, California, or Texas, decide that they would rather be an independent country, can they do that? If they can, what is the process? If they don’t have the right, why?

The reason I asked this question is, after hours of study of the U.S. Consitutation, I had the impression that it is allowed, since the Constitution seemed to specify how a State can join the Union, and how to depart from it. Correct me if I am wrong, since to pretend I know U.S. Constitution, or I am a researcher in this field is deadly wrong.

My question behind it is, in a country like U.S. who claim to respect everyone’s freedom, and their choice, shall the “country” honor the request for being independent? If the answer is no, my third question is, who grant the right to the “country”, to reject the will of the people of the land? I think no one in the country can answer my question better than people from the Congress.

The Price of being United in US – a War

Well. It seemed to be a tough question. Someone (respectfully removed his name) told me:

This is the question presented to the Federal during the civil war, and the question was solved using a war.

I assume it means “Before that war, the answer is Yes, and after that, the answer for my question is No.

We continued to discuss about the impact of the War to the States. This echoes to a piece I happen to watch in recent movie: National Treasure: Book of Secrets. In the film, there is a saying:

Before Lincoln, we use the sentence “United States are ….”, and after the war, we start to use “United States is

I was pretty impressed by the feeling of being a “united” country by Americans, and I respect it lot. As the gentleman said, American paid the price of a war to keep united in 1860s. That price is the lives of 600,000 people.

The Price of being United in China – Thousands Wars?

Regarding to Chinese history, what is the price of being a united country? A war? Hundreds of Wars? Even Thousands of Wars is a understatement. I can easily list 20 wars (I really did) that cost more people’s lives than US civil war, just to keep the country united.

China was a united country since the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, and in the next 2000 years, imagine how many attempts by different part of the country, or from outside the country, to try to seperate the country. Although there is no solid proove that a united country is more meaningful than thousands of millions of people’s life, the tradition of being united has been firmly ironed into the mind of every Chinese – we never thought of a country that is not united. The very unique history of China created a group of very unique people, and they think, from the western’s point of view, “differently” than many of them.

I didn’t expect people in U.S. also treasure united so much before I heard the “war as the price of being united” statement, then I suddenly understand why people in China want united so badly – it is because of history, including wars.

Again, don’t be hurry to give me evidence about Tibet, or even Taiwan – I read a lot about it, although may not as knowledgeable as my readers, my point is, it is important to take it as an important background knowledge that vast majority of people on this land believe China should be a united country.

So Tell Me about What You Know

If you have solid experience (please, not something you read, or hear), please feel free to share. I am humble and opened my ears. I want to learn more about it. I always take reading comments as an educational experience for me, so I see many perspectives, and start to form mine.