Friday, March 14, 2008

Warning: Tread Carefully!

Since the dawn of modern diplomacy, domestic silence has surrounded contentious issues involving China. This trend wanders on after exiled Tibetans rallied and protested in the streets of Lhasa.
Their anger at China's staging of the Olympic Games this summer was apparently no match for local military forces, as two of the protesters lay dead in the parade streets surrounding Potala Palace and Jokhang Square. Predictably, organizations such as Radio Free Asia, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were all up in arms over the turbulent incident, seemingly throwing caution to the wind regarding their purportedly pacifistic rooting.
Still, several thousand miles to the East, it was work as usual in Beijing as preparations hit full throttle in the run-up to the Olympics. Not a word of the Tibetan unrest is spoken amongst the marching band practicing on Tiananmen Square. Whilst gales of unrest sweep Lhasa, barely a breeze of notice is detectable over Beijing. Such a paradox is only possible in China, a country where, bizarrely, rampant capitalism, Communist doctrine and censured media all go happily, hand in hand.
However, Beijing understands that negative press is only going to sour the Middle Kingdom's shiny status as international dish of the day. Whilst the West screams for deliverance of freedom of speech legislation, China cowers behind the world's largest media firewall. But just why does the world's most powerful nation feel so vulnerable? All thats for certain, is that its another unnerving paradox that China could do without.
Ironically, though, the PRC is home to many bloggers, webmasters, so long and so forth, but if the Politburo was to officially condone the practice of citizen media, then much material would be lost. So on some level, it is a lose-lose situation for China's bloggers.
So where does that leave Tibet? Well, in short, Xizang, as the region is known in Chinese will be still be bound by high unemployment and isolation from the main currency flows of the Eastern seaboard. In that respect, it is difficult to understand what exactly the protesters were protesting. True, China should not impose its will on Tibet, but independence will hardly help matters. Its not as though there is money or diplomatic support in place to facilitate a transformation (see Kosova), so essentially Tibet is acting like a whiney little brother, wanting what it can't have and shifting blame on what is its essentially its big brother. And, as my little bro can attest to, that's a move that can come back to bite you. Hard.

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