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Posts Tagged ‘spielburg’

Bjork Backs Tibetan Independence

Sigh… well, here we go again. So Bjork, during a concert in Shanghai, shouts a few things about Tibetan Independence…

At first look, this seems very similar to the Spielberg withdrawal from the Olympics over Darfur. They’re both protesting China’s foreign/semi-autonomous region policy in public and received angry nationalistic response from the Chinese as a result. They both stir up very negative feelings in me, but in this case, I have to side almost completely with the Chinese nationalists (gag) against Bjork.

I mean shouting crap about Tibet in English during a concert in Shanghai? Now, if she had a concert in Tibet and she shouted ‘Free Tibet’ in Tibetan to a bunch of monks who were just released from prison, I would praise her actions, but to say a bunch of crap about Tibet to concert goers in freaking Shanghai? Oh for the love of… that’s just idiocy. While Spielberg’s actions might have had some positive responses by spurring the CCP to send that diplomat to Sudan, there was absolutely nothing to be gained from Bjork’s statements. Idiocy. Pure idiocy.

I guess I should have lower expectations for foreigners these days. I kind of feel sorry for all those Olympic volunteers and all the mindless political statements they’re going to get lambasted with…

…ok, maybe I don’t.

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Now I’m a big supporter of freedom of speech and expression, which is why I strongly dislike the CCP for moving so slow towards political reform. However, there is also this western “lecturing” style of criticism that doesn’t go over so well here in China.

Now, this is not necessarily a result of CCP brainwashing and societal controls over its people, though it does play a role. All those commercials with Liu Xiang and the Olympic mascots plastered around Beijing, on every TV station, and on every bus has to have some effect on the people’s views. However, even without it, the Olympics is a source of pride for the Chinese. It’s like “You damn foreign devils spat and looked down on us for a hundred years and then after that we were poor as hell because Chairman Mao never studied economics, but look at us now! We’re so modern and powerful!” The Olympics gives the Chinese people the chance to show the world that things have changed and to gain respect from the international community that they think is lacking.

Now, from what they see and hear, which is exaggerated towards the extreme positive or negative, it seems like the west is disrespecting China and making them lose face. You see, criticism is generally not taken very well here, even if it is constructive and tactful. For example, when I was in Guangdong, there was another foreign teacher who helped a Chinese man correct this English story he wrote.

Now this foreigner decided he would try his best to help him and spent a lot of time correcting everything and giving him many suggestions on how to improve it. Afterwards, the Chinese man, whenever he would see this foreign teacher, would look away, ignore him, and do whatever he can to avoid the fellow. This was heartbreaking towards this foreign teacher who felt he tried to sincerely help his friend but ended up losing one.

Now here are some comments on the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7245325.stm

Now, when I first read this, I felt really annoyed. Chinese people blaming westerners for knowing nothing but propaganda? Hurting your bloody feelings while mass graves are being dug for the Sudanese? Spielburg being ‘mean’? Oh god damn, I just wanted to smack these people. Then I realized that if I had to smack every person that said something like this, I would have to smack everyone in China. My hand just can’t take that kind of punishment.

So despite my gut feeling of contempt for these people and their comments, I have to say that I understand where they’re coming from. This is an example of culture clash. In the west, to get things done, you would go out into the streets and protest in mass numbers. In China, this kind of act is basically open rebellion. Only in the most extreme scenarios, such as the beginning of opening and reform in the late 70’s and the Tiananmen protests in 89, would people do this. Oh, and if it’s against foreigners, especially the Japanese, then it is OK as well.

So for Spielburg to abandon the Olympics only strengthens China’s resolve to not change their policies towards Sudan because if they do change, it would seem like they are bending to the wills of the west. I can see it now, all these Free Tibet protesters, Falun Gong practitioners, and democracy advocates staging protests in Beijing. It won’t be the police who’ll beat them down, it’ll be the Chinese people. All these protests will just make it worse for the oppressed in China as they’ll be seen as more dangerous with international support.

Sigh, it’s very annoying for me to go against my gut feeling on this, but Mr. John Prescott is right. This kind of Cold War rhetoric will do nothing to make China more involved in international affairs nor will it better the lives of the common people anywhere in the world. All it will do is strengthen the East-West wall and once again create two worlds with the third up for grabs.

Give China face. Praise first, followed by suggestions for improvement. Only when all else fails, speak out and protest. Sorry Mr. Spielburg, I like your movies (some of them) and I agree with your beliefs on Sudan, but your actions did nothing to help change China for the better.

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