I beg to differ…

A well organised march in support of the Chinese government’s position on Tibet. Most of the participants were university students – organised through the Chinese Student societies at various universities.

I beg to differ...

A few points…

* The banner makes a few fair points, but then says: ‘Stop Media Distortion’. Well, that would be nice, but it would immediately count out Xinhua – the official Chinese media organisation – who provide reports every bit as distorted as the most ‘western’ of press organisations.

* The protest went ahead peacefully and relatively unhindered. Do any of the participants imagine, for even a second, they could have done this at home with the same confidence? Let alone in Tibet!

* They wore t-shirts with a message along the lines of ‘China – Tibet, brother and sister’… these were really just way too glib and sinister. I have a similar t-shirt I picked up in Burma. Again, do the participants imagine, for a moment, that Burma is a happy place? A t-shirt means nothing. Oh, and I wonder what would have happened if one of their ‘brothers or sisters’ had turned up and unfurled a Tibetan flag? Tolerance and love no doubt.

* So, where do these people come from? Have they been living under some sort of soundproof rock? How could they not realise that there is more to this than the official government line? Well, as I said, they mostly seemed to be members of Chinese International university student organisations. The background of these people is relatively well to do. They are the middle and upwardly mobile China. You don’t see too many Uighurs at uni. No, the poor, the minorities, the dissidents are all safely tucked away out of view back home, where the Government can keep an eye on them.

It’s always a surprise to me that almost 50% of our population voted liberal, but that’s the way the world works. These are young Chinese people who come from backgrounds that seem to have affirmed their faith in their government. Whether it’s their parents, or their economic circumstances, they are justifiably proud of their great country and can’t or won’t see the other side of the story.

The fact that the Chinese government is so ruthless and efficient at maintaining the myth is a bit of a shock to us over here where opposition views get a fair run on a largely independent media. To see this group, however, well organised and chanting slogans we’ve seen the Chinese Government mouthing word for word over recent months, was very unsettling.