[International Herald Tribune, France]
Po, Hong Kong
'Mental Complexes' Result in Western Sympathy for
Will it be possible to persuade
Western governments and public opinion that China is the victim of Tibetan
'running dogs'? In this op-ed from Hong Kong's Wen
Wei Po, published before the voyage of the
Olympic torch began, Hong Kong television commentator Dr. Qiu Zhenhai
explains how the Beijing government can turn the public relations battle in its
favor. The key, according to the author, is to understand the flaws and
contradictions in Western thinking and to mount a massive new public relations
By Dr. Qiu Zhenhai [邱震海], commentator for Hong Kong's Phoenix TV
Translated By Mark Klingman
March 22. 2008
China - Wen Wei Po - Original Article
Tibet's largest riot in 20
years has aroused international concern. Although over the past few days
Chinese officials have released some news, they have yet to allow foreign
reporters to interview the locals and the rumors are flying. Particularly
European countries are of the belief that information from the Chinese
government is wholly unreliable. This statement sounds harsh, but the Western
world's inherent thinking and feeling on the issue of Tibet is a reflection of this.
If we carefully study the mentality behind this thinking and improve China's
international public-relations skills, we can try to overcome the limitations
of the West's political culture.
The Olympic Games in Beijing
are still four and a half months away. Although this is a moment of crisis, the
crisis may also offer opportunities.
Tibet is a complicated issue.
There does need to be a deeper, more respectful, civilized dialogue and an
improvement in relations between Han Chinese and Tibetans. But long-term delays
and the way the Tibetan running-dogs have acted in their own political
interests have resulted in the growing complication of Tibetan affairs. But
looked at in isolation, it's clear that the disturbances, rioting, vandalism
and heinous disorder are being dealt with according to the law. If any incident
of this kind took place in a Western country, regardless of the
"complexity" of the surrounding issues, the local government would
carry out effective programs to clamp down and maintain peace. The 1992 riots
in Los Angeles as well as the 2005 riots in Paris are perfect examples.
Only on the Tibet issue do
Western media and intelligentsia diverge from their usual thinking. In the
past, Western intellectuals have almost unanimously condemned the Chinese
government over Tibet. In regard to the current turmoil, they have condemned
the use of force and demanded official Chinese restraint, regardless of the
facts surrounding the riots. But the West's criticism is in stark contrast to
its long history of intellectual and empirical rigor, because it is fully aware
that the question of Tibet is a deep and complex one. Therefore we must take
the first step: We must study the Western position on the question of Tibet,
along with the international public relations measures utilized by Western
TIBET: A WESTERN BLIND
SPOT AND MENTAL COMPLEX
On the question of Tibet,
Western intellectuals have multiple overlaid and intertwined complexes. So when
they speak with the appearance of "rationality" on the issue of
Tibet, they merely give vent to their own confusion and demonstrate the vicious
circle that they've gotten themselves into.
COMPLEX NUMBER ONE: The long-standing, traditional liberalism and
idealism of the West, which is concerned primarily with civil liberties, human
rights, self-determination, and confidence in basic government, arose out of
the Renaissance and the bourgeois [industrial] revolution. These ideas are the
precious spiritual wealth of the West. The trouble is that for a variety of
reasons, when this spiritual wealth encounters the Tibet issue, it gets twisted
COMPLEX NUMBER TWO: Over the past few centuries because of the success
of modernization, there has been a "tilting" process toward the West.
The West has become a model for the world in human rights, democracy, freedom,
civil law, and the self-determination of peoples. These have become so-called
natural, mainstream values, and therefore in the exchanges between the West and
China, the West has had a commanding position. China is not and should not
reject these ideals due to their Western origins. Rather, China should take
part in these universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights, and
should remain "inclined" toward dialogue with the West.
COMPLEX NUMBER THREE: Along with the rapid development of the West and
shift of the East-West balance toward the West (especially the major European
countries), there has also come an odd spread of primitive "hippie"
culture - those in search of novelty and interested in "finding
themselves" - as well as religious fanaticism, the leading representatives
of this being Africa and Tibet. In itself, this cultural phenomenon is beyond
reproach. The complication arises with the inevitable "non-cultural
factors." For example, in regard to Tibet, its "primitive"
culture elicits pious feelings of enthusiasm, "reverence" and other
heartwarming feelings from Western intellectuals. The inevitable result is that
it is impossible for them to hold an objective attitude on the Tibet issue.
COMPLEX NUMBER FOUR: There is still a huge difference between the
ideologies of the West and China. Especially after the Cold War, the Western
values have become mainstream for China and the majority of countries around
the world, more so since its position has become so commanding and apparently
"reasonable." So for example, police forces in the U.S. and France
are permitted to handle rioters according to the law (regardless of how
complicated the underlying issues may be), but for the same acts China is
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These four intertwined
complexes have led to confusion and internal divisions among Western
intellectuals, which can be summed up this way:
The West's critical, liberal,
empirical tradition and the simultaneous ignorance of facts and logic due to
simplistic thinking create a paradox. In Western Europe in particular,
intellectuals are confused about the issue of Tibet, and to a certain extent,
this affects Western public opinion and thinking. But on the whole, people
should not think that such thinking is antithetical to the Chinese people or
against China. On the contrary, within this staggering
confusion and misunderstanding, there a huge opportunity for China to launch its
own huge public relations campaign.
NEED TO GRASP SEVERAL KEYS
In terms of international
public relations, this author has recommended responding rapidly, frankly, and
following the principle of transparency. Because of its long-term nature and
complexity, China can't ignore the Tibet issue. If it isn't handled properly,
from now until the Olympics in August it could create even greater turbulence
in the international community.
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At the same time,
we must realize that China's sovereignty over Tibet has long been recognized by
the international community. This is one structural barrier between China and
the West that has been settled. We should also be aware that even after the
turmoil in Tibet, the vast majority of Western countries still hope that
Beijing will practice restraint and try to keep open official channels of
communication, especially in regard to the issue of boycotting the Beijing
Olympics. So far, no countries or international organizations have decided to
officially boycott. As long as the governments of most Western countries don't
intervene, an Olympic boycott won't gather steam. In regard to the Tibet issue,
if Beijing acts quickly to put down any disturbances and truthfully releases
the facts, it can reduce the impact of any incidents on the Games.
In this regard, there are
obvious short-term and long-term public relations considerations. In the long
term, this will effect China's relations with the West, and of course it will
affect Tibet as China gradually improves and adjusts its policies there. In the
short term when journalists are permitted into Tibet to conduct interviews, the
international community will gain a better understanding of the facts.
[Editor's Note: After this
article was published, Western reporters were indeed permitted to take a
supervised tour of Tibet. But things did not go well .]
Whether in the long term or
the short term, there are several keys issues involved with public relations:
First, a frank attitude
toward the international community, even in the face of misunderstanding;
Second, keeping in mind the
international community's blind spots due to their numerous complexes
(described above), we much begin to form a common language that could
eventually lead to constructive dialogue;
Third, we much open lines of
communication with prominent Western columnists and intellectuals and those
proficient in the West and persuade them write articles in the Western press.
[Editor's Note: The author is
a commentator for Phoenix Television, which is a Hong Kong-based Mandarin
Chinese television broadcaster. Being on good terms with the Beijing
government, it is one of the few non-government TV broadcasters permitted to
operate in mainland China .
Read 'Behind the Scenes of China's Official Media Machine' by Reporters Without
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The Global Geographic Times, People's Republic of China
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CLICK HERE FOR CHINESE
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