March 21, 2008

The Ogre

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 2:11 pm

Back last October when the Dalai Lama was awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal, I remember reading a particularly cretinous comment by Tibet’s hardline Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli.

“We are furious,” Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, told reporters in China. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”

Hmmm…sometimes a bit of hyperbole can add spice and I guess sometimes overblown rhetoric is what your audience wants, and politicians know it of course. But the comment above just seemed to me almost unbelievably stupid on several levels.

Surely he doesn’t need to whip up his Chinese audience into a frenzy about the Dalai? He could dismiss him much more calmly and that would do the job for his “constituency”. Because news about Tibet and about the Dalai is of course of great international interest, and so doesn’t Mr Zhang know that his remarks will be translated and whisked around the world? Didn’t he realize that the foreign audience reading that quote would think he’s a total muppet?

Further, despite what Mr Zhang may wish, the Dalai Lama is still very much revered by the majority of Tibetans and so you can add them to the list of those offended or baffled by his boorish posturing.

Tibet is a very sensitive topic and the CCP does itself no favours if one of its main spokesmen makes ignorant insensitive comments. My guess is that almost any non-Chinese who read the above remark would think that Zhongnanhai has sent their most annoying moron to the top of a mountain to get him out of their hair. But of course Mr Zhang is still supposed to be representing the CCP and so you’d think that some of the party elders would have had a quiet word in his ear and told him to wise up and tone it down a bit, lest he tarnish the image of the party with his embarrassing crassness.

Well, apparently not. The big oaf is back at it again and this is the latest drivel to gush from his ignorant gob:

“The Dalai is a wolf in monk’s robes, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast,” said Zhang Qingli

Did this guy ever get an education I wonder? How on earth did he get his position…who’s his Dad? Someone really needs to tell him it’s like so not cool anymore to sound like you just stepped out of a pamphlet from the Cultural Revolution.

Why “Ogre” though? Well, because Mr Zhang’s rhetoric reminds me of the ogre in WH Auden’s poem, August 1968. This was written soon after the Soviet Union sent tanks into Prague to ruin their “Spring”. Some of the USSR’s attempts to justify their actions prompted Auden to pen the following:

August 1968
W. H. Auden

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master Speech:
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

That said…I do not think independence for Tibet is feasible and I think that Western demands for a “Free Tibet” are misguided and usually counterproductive. Also, I am not Buddhist and I do not think the sun shines out of the Dalai’s behind…but he does seem to me to be civilised, rational, peace-loving, and worthy of respect. He has unambiguously and repeatedly opposed violence and he has made it very clear that he does not seek or expect Tibetan independence. He says that he wants “meaningful autonomy”, and what he means by this I am not sure, but I bet he’d be up for a reasonable compromise.

So maybe the CCP should sack the unpolished and absurd Zhang and start talking to the Dalai Lama. That would be much more valuable and impressive than another few thousand spiffy new skyscrapers or miles of railway.

March 20, 2008

Who Guards Against The Guardian?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 12:55 pm

My favourite online read had been blocked for the last few days, ever since it started covering the troubles in Tibet in fact. I groaned at this and went through good old Tor, and so could still get my daily dose of filthy western propaganda.

But – and I am wondering if this is more than a coincidence – the block just got lifted… shortly after the publication of this article, which began:

We face at least three difficulties in reacting to the unfolding tragedy of the Tibetans. We don’t know enough about what’s really going on, because the Chinese authorities are determined to prevent us finding out by expelling journalists, ratcheting up their customary censorship of the internet (including, and telling lies.

What I am wondering is whether this would be a coincidence or whether someone is employed to seek out potential PRC PR gaffes and rectify them? If the readers of The Guardian get wind of the fact that their favourite rag is being blocked in China they might think (even) less of the CCP, might they not?

Maybe. Seems a bit far fetched, and would Beijing really give a duck about what Guardian readers think? Even in the runup to the Olympics?

Well, anyways, it was a nice coincidence. And to end with, here’s a wittily snidey point that Timothy Garton Ash makes in the same article as above

It may be worth calling for United Nations observers to be sent in to Tibet, though China will doubtless veto that. As important is to insist that the Chinese authorities keep the promise they have made – and are now breaking – to allow foreign journalists free movement around the whole of China in the runup to the Olympics. (If they don’t let reporters go to Tibet, this can only mean that Tibet is not part of China.)

March 13, 2008

Holiday Over

Filed under: baby,blogs — Kim @ 2:59 pm

Yikes! More than a month since I posted.

I must say I am slightly in awe of such regular and righteous bloggers as Humanaught, Granite Studio, Panda Passport etc etc. Quite a feat to keep up such a steady stream of posts without the incentive of a steady cash flow back. And I must also say that I wonder to myself how really regular bloggers manage to keep it up, so to speak. I mean, they surely must want the week off from time to time? And once you’ve had a week off, why not take two? And a really truly proper holiday should surely be at least a month, right?

My last month off was a very welcome slobbishness. Catching up with family and friends back in England for a couple of weeks, reading lots of books (small paper things with no links to click on, remember?) and playing with my 11 month old baby. Actually, maybe baby is the main reason I’ve not been blogging or doing anything else much. Bringing up a baby eats up almost all your time – or should do if you’re doing it right. Or, more precisely, if you’re doing it all yourself…about 6 weeks ago we let go of our live-in maid (an unimaginable luxury in England!) because we were due to be moving house to live with my Chinese parents. The move hasn’t happened yet, due to absurd circumstances involving a botched balcony door and lack of guanxi, but it will in a couple of weeks and I will have more time to myself in the evenings again. (While on the topic I notice that Josh and and Emily’s post count over at peer-see has slowed down a fair bit since baby came on the scene. You understand, dont’cha?)

And one day I will have to write a post called “Maid in China” (geddit?) as a thank you note to our wonderful ex-maid…but not till I’ve moved house.

So anyways, for me, blogging is an enjoyable new hobby and a chance to think aloud about this that and the other, and especially life in Asia. It’s been almost a year now since I started, and I’m guessing it’s going to be a lifelong habit. Hobby + Habit = Hobbit, I would posit, so blogging is my new Hobbit.

And I’ll try to look after my hobbit as well as my baby this coming year.

Goodnight, and good luck.

Me and Celia