Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Propaganda, Deception, and the 'Riots' in Lhasa

Why the Chinese regime has incited violence in Tibet
By Stephen Gregory
Mar 25, 2008

Before the violent unrest that occurred in Lhasa in March 2008 there was the violent unrest in Lhasa in 1989.

"On the dawn of March 5, the Armed Police in Tibet received the action order from the Chief Commander of Armed Police headquarter, Mr. Li Lianxiu.…The Special Squad should immediately assign 300 members to be disguised as ordinary citizens and Tibetan monks, entering the Eight-Corner Street and other riot spots in Lhasa, to support plain-clothes police to complete the task. Burn the Scripture Pagoda at the northeast of Dazhao Temple. Smash the rice store in the business district, incite citizens to rob rice and food, attack the Tibet-Gansu Trading Company. Encourage people to rob store products, but, only at the permitted locations."

The words are those of the journalist Mr. Tang Daxian in his long article ""Events in Lhasa March 2-10, 1989"," which tells the story of how the CCP orchestrated riots in Lhasa in order to violently suppress the Tibetans.

According to Mr. Chen Pokong, a Han Chinese who was a member of the student democracy movement, then a political prisoner in China, and now a respected economist and commentator living in the U.S., the riot scene this March "was quite similar to that of March, 1989. A group of young men in their twenties acted in a well organized way. They first shouted slogans, then burnt some vehicles near the Ramoche Monastery, and then broke into nearby stores and robbed them, and finally burnt many of the stores."

Seasoned observers of the Chinese regime should not be surprised by this.

After the People's Liberation Army murdered thousands of unarmed students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, dead students' bodies were dressed in soldier's uniforms and photographed, in order to "prove" that the students had been violent.

The "evidence" helped set the stage for a propaganda campaign that has still convinced masses of mainland Chinese that the regime acted responsibly in suppressing the students.

In January, 2001 it was reported that 5 Falun Gong practitioners had set themselves ablaze on Tiananmen Square. A careful examination of the propaganda video of the immolations that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) broadcast ceaselessly on mainland TV revealed that the immolations had been staged.

But the immolations were nonetheless a propaganda triumph for the CCP. The attitudes of ordinary Chinese, who had not been sympathetic to the regime's persecution of Falun Gong, hardened, and the death rate of Falun Gong practitioners killed by torture began shooting up as the regime intensified its campaign to "eradicate" the practice.

Mr. Ruan Ming knows something of the ways of the CCP—he was the main speechwriter for Hu Yaobang, who served as General Secretary of the CCP from 1981-1987.

In an interview recently with Sound of Hope radio, Ruan warned international society that they need to keep their eyes wide open and understand the violent and deceptive nature of the CCP.

Ruan believes the violent unrest in Lhasa the week before last was carefully planned in order to discredit the Dalai Lama and to justify further suppression.

Why should the CCP need to suppress even further the Tibetans? The Tibetans have been conquered and colonized, have had their culture relentlessly attacked, their language suppressed, and their bodies tortured, while having suffered an estimated 10 million dead under a brutal five-decade-long occupation by the CCP.

The existence of minorities like the Tibetans and Uigher Muslims pose difficulties for the majority Han CCP's rule of China, and the regime has a plan for "solving" this problem.

According to an article in the Times Online, Li Dezhu is one of three party functionaries who have laid the plans for dissolving the Tibetans distinctive culture, thus eliminating the "problem" of a separate Tibetan ethnic group.

The Times says that Li's contribution has been to write "the textbook on destroying independent cultures and disintegrating religious minorities by promoting materialism."

"Promoting materialism" involves, among other things, forcing Tibet's monks not to acknowledge the Dalai Lama and to require them to make solemn vows of patriotism, while Tibetan monasteries are closed or turned into tourist attractions—in other words, seeking to uproot Tibetan religion completely.

This strategy is supplemented by flooding the Tibetan region with Han Chinese, so that the Tibetans are becoming a minority in their own country.

The obvious obstacle to this plan is the central role that Tibetan Buddhism has played in the lives of Tibetans, embodied by Tibetan monks and especially by the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama has, in the run-up to the Olympics, been gaining traction in a campaign to call for negotiations with the Chinese regime for Tibetan cultural autonomy. In September, he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and in October with President Bush.

According to Ruan, the "riots" in Lhasa allow the regime to label the Tibetans as terrorists, and so to take away the Dalai Lama's moral authority.

At the same time, the "riots" provide a pretext for any dirty work the regime may wish to do in the shadows to intimidate the Tibetan population so completely that it will eventually give up its stubborn attachment to Tibetan Buddhism, rather than "materialism."

Thus, it is not surprising that, after all Western media were kicked out of Tibet and the region was flooded with Chinese troops, the Dalai Lama was quoted by the Guardian as saying that "a lot of casualties may happen" without outside observers present. In other words, the Dalai Lama fears the Chinese regime may take the opportunity created for them by the need to put down "riots" in Lhasa to engage in a really bloody crackdown.

The message that Chinese propaganda has been pounding home to a populace that has little independent access to information is that the Tibetans, and Dalai Lama in particular, are "splittists"—separatists who wish to threaten China itself by breaking away from it.

The head of the CCP in Tibet, Zhang Qingli, made Westerners laugh out loud when he was quoted as saying, "The Dalai is a wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast.

"We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy."

But inside China, Zhang's words do not seem so ridiculous. Chinese-language chat rooms are said to be full of abuse of the Tibetans and Dalai Lama, in some cases urging murder for the "separatists."

This cry for blood recalls how the Chinese regime successfully turned the Chinese people against their own students, who in 1989 had simply stood up and asked for democracy.

And it recalls how the Chinese regime for a time succeeded in gaining many Chinese people's support for its indefensible persecution of Falun Gong.

Western observers have assumed the CCP would never jeopardize good public relations months before the Olympics by cracking down on the Tibetans. The leaders of the CCP see things differently. They see the Dalai Lama's escalating campaign for autonomy as a not to be endured provocation and an opportunity to settle the Tibetan question. Decent people have never understood the mentality of gangsters.

With reporting by Shawn Lin and Hao Feng.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008


Kristin said...

My biggest problem with China is the fact that they do not allow full freedom of belief. Whether or not I agree with Buddhism or the Dalai Lama or the methods used to protest, I believe noone should be forced to renounce their beliefs and forced to swear allegiance to someone else. Freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom to choose, these are the basic rights of humanity's free will.


MaKina said...

Good point. In China, if you don't renounce your faith, they do terrible things to you - like take out your organs while still breathing and burn the bodies after - Falun Gong has been hit the hardest with that demonic tactic. What a tragedy. Underground church leaders don't have it easy either -- they use over 100 Stalinist torture methods on those they don't like.