conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
And how many Chinese are urging boycotts of Western companies because of the normal non-Chinese stance on Tibet.

It has a video.

They ask one Chinese woman why, exactly, people in the West are protesting the next Olympics, and do you know what she says? She says that we're just jealous. We wouldn't protest or boycott or anything if we weren't jealous of China's success.

Boy, does that sound familiar. Y'know, I didn't really think the "they're just being mean because they're jealous" argument was very compelling when my own country used it after 9/11 - why the fuck would it convince me on anything China says?

Chinese Urge Anti-West Boycott Over Tibet Stance

BEIJING — Armed with her laptop and her indignation, Zhu Xiaomeng sits in her dorm room here, stoking a popular backlash against Western support for Tibet that has unnerved foreign investors and Western diplomats and, increasingly, the ruling Communist Party.

Over the last week, Ms. Zhu and her classmates have been channeling anger over anti-China protests during the tumultuous Olympic torch relay into a boycott campaign against French companies, blamed for their country’s support of pro-Tibetan agitators. Some have also called for a boycott against American chains like McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

On Friday and Saturday, protesters gathered in front of a half-dozen outlets of the French retailer Carrefour, including a demonstration in the central city of Wuhan that reportedly drew several thousand people, according to Agence France-Presse. On Saturday, about 50 demonstrators carrying banners held a brief rally at the French Embassy here before the police shooed them away.

For the moment, however, most of the outrage is confined to the Internet. More than 20 million people have signed online petitions saying they plan to stop shopping at the Carrefour chain, Louis Vuitton and other stores linked to France because of what they see as the country’s failure to protect the torch during its visit to Paris two weeks ago. In a survey released on Friday, China’s state news agency, known as Xinhua, said 66 percent of those who responded said they would stay away from Carrefour during a monthlong boycott planned for May.

Public indignation has also been directed at Western news outlets, which are blamed for one-sided coverage of the torch relay and for anti-Chinese bias in their reporting on the disturbances in Tibet. In recent days, foreign news outlets here have been swamped by angry phone calls; two music videos circulating on the Internet blast CNN with expletives and lyrics like, “Don’t think that repeating something over and over again means that lies become truth.”

Like many young people, Ms. Zhu, a student at Beijing’s prestigious Foreign Studies University, said she had been infuriated by what she described as unfair attacks on the country’s image. “China used to be known as the sick man of Asia,” said Ms. Zhu, 19, who has been sending out tens of thousands of pro-boycott messages through QQ, a popular online chat service. “We were separated like sand. But this worldwide show of support by Chinese all over the globe illustrates we have solidarity on this issue. After 5,000 years, we’re not so soft anymore.”

The boycott call, spread through millions of text messages and postings on the country’s most heavily trafficked Web sites, provides a window into the technology’s growing power to mobilize a country whose political passions are usually kept in check by tight government control.

Although Communist Party officials have the ability to block text messages and Internet traffic they find objectionable, the censors have until now allowed more leeway for boycott organizers. In many ways, they have been feeding the outrage by publicizing the threat by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to skip the opening ceremonies and by repeatedly calling on CNN to apologize for remarks made by Jack Cafferty, a commentator who called the Chinese government “goons and thugs.” The network has expressed regret for offending the Chinese people, but officials here have dismissed the response as insincere.

But in a sign that the government may now be worried about the intensity of popular passion, the official news agency, Xinhua, said on Friday that it was time to curb nationalist zeal. While it lauded the boycott crusade, it advised people not to complicate the government’s aim of encouraging foreign investment in China.

“Patriotic fervor should be channeled into a rational track and must be transformed into real action toward doing our work well,” the agency said.

On Saturday, it issued a stronger warning, highlighting government concern that anti-Western sentiment could affect public attitudes during the Olympics, when 1.5 million people are expected to arrive. “Every son and daughter of China has the responsibility to show to the world in real action that China welcomes friends from all countries with open arms and will deliver an outstanding Olympics,” it said in an editorial.

In the past the government has encouraged nationalistic outbursts and then quashed them when passions grew too inflamed — or when the protests had achieved the political purpose officials envisioned. In 1999, the authorities gave free rein to a brief spasm of anti-American protest after the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, in what was then Yugoslavia; in 2005, they allowed even larger anti-Japanese demonstrations, which were fueled by anger over textbooks glossing over Japan’s wartime atrocities in China.

During marches in several Chinese cities that year, the police stood by as eggs and rocks were thrown at Japanese consulates. A few weeks later, officials pulled the plug by shutting down the organizers’ Web sites and filtering out anti-Japanese messages.

Mindful of how a public grief after the death of a party official morphed into the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government recognizes that vitriolic campaigns against outsiders could easily pivot toward the Communist Party.

Fang Xingdong, who runs, a hub for Chinese bloggers, said that he thought the government would not stand in the way of the boycott but that it would intervene if the anti-Western campaign became too disruptive. “If the irrational mood and behaviors among netizens are getting more and more intense, it will be very dangerous,” he said, using the term for the community of bloggers and message-board users. “But I think this will not be beyond government’s control.”

If the protests on Saturday are any indication, official tolerance for unsanctioned demonstrations is wearing thin. According to witnesses and news reports, most of the Carrefour protests were quickly dispersed by the police. In Beijing, a rally that drew about 50 people to the French Embassy and a nearby French school lasted an hour before riot police forced them to leave. By 3 p.m., dozens of uniformed officers had sealed off access to the streets surrounding the embassy.

In a country where the press is tightly controlled, the growing popularity of high-tech communication has made such protests possible. Some 229 million people have Internet access in the country, and usage in China is growing by 30 percent a year, according to BDA China, a research firm. Cellphone text messaging is ubiquitous here, with more than 98 percent of the country’s 400 million cellphone owners regularly using text messages. Another 300 million people are registered on instant messaging networks like MSN and QQ.

Ms. Zhu, for one, says that instant messaging is an effective way to reach thousands of people with a few keyboard strokes. “I don’t send e-mails to individuals,” she said. “It’s inefficient — you can reach a lot more people by e-mailing groups on QQ.”

In a demonstration of the Internet’s viral prowess, some 2.3 million MSN users have attached “I Love China” icons to their online profiles as an expression of solidarity against “Tibetan separatists.” A Google search for “Carrefour Boycott” in Chinese yielded over 2.4 million Web pages, most of them created in the last week.

Many of the messages accuse Carrefour executives of providing financial support to pro-Tibetan advocates, a charge the company denies. Others say American fast-food chains should be boycotted as a punishment for the recent meeting by the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, with the Dalai Lama.

In the past, boycott campaigns in China have largely come to naught.

On Wednesday afternoon, as she sat in a cafe sipping a can of Coca-Cola, Ms. Zhu said she thought the boycott would be a success. “Tibet is our country’s territory. You have no right to interfere in our interior affairs,” she said, adding, “A boycott may not be the right long-term solution, but we have to give the French people a lesson.”


There is a related article about "China's Loyal Youth" here.

China’s Loyal Youth


MANY sympathetic Westerners view Chinese society along the lines of what they saw in the waning days of the Soviet Union: a repressive government backed by old hard-liners losing its grip to a new generation of well-educated, liberal-leaning sophisticates. As pleasant as this outlook may be, it’s naïve. Educated young Chinese, far from being embarrassed or upset by their government’s human-rights record, rank among the most patriotic, establishment-supporting people you’ll meet.

As is clear to anyone who lives here, most young ethnic Chinese strongly support their government’s suppression of the recent Tibetan uprising. One Chinese friend who has a degree from a European university described the conflict to me as “a clash between the commercial world and an old aboriginal society.” She even praised her government for treating Tibetans better than New World settlers treated Native Americans.

It’s a rare person in China who considers the desires of the Tibetans themselves. “Young Chinese have no sympathy for Tibet,” a Beijing human-rights lawyer named Teng Biao told me. Mr. Teng — a Han Chinese who has offered to defend Tibetan monks caught up in police dragnets — feels very alone these days. Most people in their 20s, he says, “believe the Dalai Lama is trying to split China.”

Educated young people are usually the best positioned in society to bridge cultures, so it’s important to examine the thinking of those in China. The most striking thing is that, almost without exception, they feel rightfully proud of their country’s accomplishments in the three decades since economic reforms began. And their pride and patriotism often find expression in an unquestioning support of their government, especially regarding Tibet.

The most obvious explanation for this is the education system, which can accurately be described as indoctrination. Textbooks dwell on China’s humiliations at the hands of foreign powers in the 19th century as if they took place yesterday, yet skim over the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s as if it were ancient history. Students learn the neat calculation that Chairman Mao’s tyranny was “30 percent wrong,” then the subject is declared closed. The uprising in Tibet in the late 1950s, and the invasion that quashed it, are discussed just long enough to lay blame on the “Dalai clique,” a pejorative reference to the circle of advisers around Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Then there’s life experience — or the lack of it — that might otherwise help young Chinese to gain a perspective outside the government’s viewpoint. Young urban Chinese study hard and that’s pretty much it. Volunteer work, sports, church groups, debate teams, musical skills and other extracurricular activities don’t factor into college admission, so few participate. And the government’s control of society means there aren’t many non-state-run groups to join anyway. Even the most basic American introduction to real life — the summer job — rarely exists for urban students in China.

Recent Chinese college graduates are an optimistic group. And why not? The economy has grown at a double-digit rate for as long as they can remember. Those who speak English are guaranteed good jobs. Their families own homes. They’ll soon own one themselves, and probably a car too. A cellphone, an iPod, holidays — no problem. Small wonder the Pew Research Center in Washington described the Chinese in 2005 as “world leaders in optimism.”

As for political repression, few young Chinese experience it. Most are too young to remember the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 and probably nobody has told them stories. China doesn’t feel like a police state, and the people young Chinese read about who do suffer injustices tend to be poor — those who lost homes to government-linked property developers without fair compensation or whose crops failed when state-supported factories polluted their fields.

Educated young Chinese are therefore the biggest beneficiaries of policies that have brought China more peace and prosperity than at any time in the past thousand years. They can’t imagine why Tibetans would turn up their noses at rising incomes and the promise of a more prosperous future. The loss of a homeland just doesn’t compute as a valid concern.

Of course, the nationalism of young Chinese may soften over time. As college graduates enter the work force and experience their country’s corruption and inefficiency, they often grow more critical. It is received wisdom in China that people in their 40s are the most willing to challenge their government, and the Tibet crisis bears out that observation. Of the 29 ethnic-Chinese intellectuals who last month signed a widely publicized petition urging the government to show restraint in the crackdown, not one was under 30.

Barring major changes in China’s education system or economy, Westerners are not going to find allies among the vast majority of Chinese on key issues like Tibet, Darfur and the environment for some time. If the debate over Tibet turns this summer’s contests in Beijing into the Human Rights Games, as seems inevitable, Western ticket-holders expecting to find Chinese angry at their government will instead find Chinese angry at them.


Actually, if you want to read something truly interesting, go read the comments to this NYTimes blog. The entry itself is so-so, but the comments are fascinating.

Date: 2008-04-20 07:01 pm (UTC)
hopefulnebula: Mandelbrot Set with text "You can change the world in a tiny way" (Default)
From: [personal profile] hopefulnebula
The "they're just mean because they're jealous" thing didn't make sense when I was being bullied, and it doesn't make sense now.

Date: 2008-04-20 07:01 pm (UTC)
hopefulnebula: Mandelbrot Set with text "You can change the world in a tiny way" (Default)
From: [personal profile] hopefulnebula
The "they're just mean because they're jealous" thing didn't make sense when I was being bullied, and it doesn't make sense now.


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