Today is the commemoration of the Lhasa Uprisings of 1959, 1987-89 and 2008 when Tibetans took to the streets to oppose Chinese rule, at a disturbing cost to lives and individual freedom. The response from China’s regime was brutal, mass arrests, torture, Tibetans gunned-down, the record of these protests is bloody indeed.
After the March 10 1959 uprising the Chinese regime was quick to forge the narrative of a failed rebellion, releasing staged footage of Tibetans surrendering and laying down rifles. It was a story taken up by global media and decades later remains a journalistic cliché when reporting on the event.
No doubt this brings a warm glow of satisfaction to China’s Ministry of Propaganda, yet in consistently framing events in Lhasa on that day as a failure journalists are offering a slanted and less than complete account. For example in focusing on the military supremacy of China’s troops the courage, determination of Tibetans is ignored.
Yet it was their resistance and heroism which organized and protected the Dalai Lama’s journey into exile. That action resulted in the establishment of the exiled Tibetan government, creation of Tibetan settlements in India and the preservation and promotion of Tibetan culture for the tens of thousands of Tibetans who followed their leader across the Himalaya.
Moreover armed resistance to Chinese rule had predated the Lhasa Uprising (Tibetans inflicting significant losses on China’s army), this guerilla movement continued until the 1970s, only to be betrayed by then President Nixon and his advisor Henry Kissinger.
In truth the Tibetan spirit of defiance for Tibet’s national freedom was not defeated in Lhasa on March 10 1959, as evidenced by the continuence of the struggle, and revealed in mass-demonstrations of the 1980s and during 2008. This is not a failure, but a response of determination, bravery and hope. Such commitment continues today as Tibetans and their supporters around the world come together to raise the national flag of Tibet.
Journalists who write on this matter need to be mindful of these factors and think carefully about uncritically repeating China’s official line on events in Lhasa at that time. Is it really about being ‘balanced’ when talking of a ‘failed uprising’, minus important factual context? We wonder if the same correspondents and news agencies consistently describe the United States involvements in Afghanistan or Vietnam as ‘failed military campaigns’?
In its reportage of Tibet related news we charge Associated Press as being a willing accomplice of China’s regime.
Its dispatches are saturated with China’s propaganda terminology and consistently describe, what in truth are Tibetan lands, as being ‘in China’ or Chinese-named provinces. This editorial policy is a political decision, not independent journalism, as Associated Press selects to report as fact the biased and bogus claims of the Chinese authorities concerning Tibet.
Such appeasement, for that is what it is, betrays the facts on Tibet, its people and struggle. Furthermore, in uncritically publishing China’s official disinformation it promotes falsehoods and deceptions which misleads global media and its audience.
Like the majority of western media agencies within China, such as Agence France Presse and Reuters, Associated Press is serving as a conduit for the propaganda which the Chinese regime uses to conceal the dark reality of its tyranny against the Tibetan people.
The nature of online and print journalism is such that Associated Press is held in the highest of esteem as a credible and objective sources of information. This ensures that their reportage on Tibet is republished internationally, usually without any critical assessment or major editing. A credulity much welcomed by China’s government! Reports on Tibet, which were originally drafted within China’s Ministry of Disinformation, are written up by AP correspondents in Beijing, published immediately with approval from their plush offices in New York. These tend to go viral across global media outlets and online newspapers and within minutes the lies constructed by the Chinese regime are accepted as reported fact due to the prominence and respect accorded to Associated Press.
With China’s regime 24/7 pumping out disinformation on Tibet a lot of folks across social-media are exposed. For those with little knowledge of the situation in occupied Tibet it’s easy to be convinced. Take the report from a couple days back (eargerly consumed and spread by a consistently servile and uncritical mainstream media) that Tibetans were braving blizzard conditions to perform a New Year unveiling of a giant Buddha. Anyone reading that story or viewing the video footage would be forgiven for having the impression that Buddhism is alive and well within Tibet, after all seeing is believing. Right? However if there’s one truth which defines China’s portrayal of its rule over the Tibetan people and their culture, is that nothing is ever as it seems! A sleight-of-hand which our team over on @tibettruth expose in the image above, when they rightly ask people to think on the reasons why the Chinese regime approved that event. What a pity that news agencies do not apply such critical examination to the torrent of lies which reach their desks from China’s Ministry Of Deception!
How much trust and credibility can we invest in reports arising from collaborations between western academic institutions and Chinese universities, especially if the subject under examination is an issue of immense political sensitivity to China’s regime?
Contemplating that question it’s important to remind yourself that under the totalitarian control of the Communist Party of China universities do not have the liberal freedoms or operational independence enjoyed by institutions in the USA, Canada, Europe, and countries in Asia such as India.
The presence of the state and its political interests imposes a suffocating pressure across China’s academic community, and this is felt most acutely within those areas deemed as critical to the national or party interest.
One such topic, that attracts international concern is China’s notorious coercive birth control policies, its associated human rights atrocities and demographic and social impacts. Western media is awash with reports on China’s gender imbalance, or claims from the Chinese regime that the ‘one-child’ policy has been ended. Sadly less attention is given by the same champions of free speech to the harrowing range of violations suffered by women across China who face forced sterilizations, forced abortions, arbitrary arrests, loss of employment and denial of housing. The coercion has not gone away, although you may be forgiven for thinking so when viewing the reportage from mainstream media.
But then we have to remind ourselves that such articles are being composed from within China, derived in the most part from official Chinese ministries, who exert a tight control over foreign correspondents. In addition over recent years at a senior executive level media agencies such as Associated Press, Reuters, the BBC have developed a close association with China’s authorities. We must consider also the political influences which operate within such agencies, no doubt they conform to the policy of their respective governments towards China.
An accommodation would seem to have been reached, at the center of which is an active willingness to comply with Chinese demands on reporting of issues seen as sensitive. These include Tibet of course, but also the whole subject of population control policies and their consequences, is it any wonder then that journalists based in China, sourcing their reports from Chinese officials, aware that any violation of their contract with the Ministry Of Information or Foreign Affairs could result in their visa being withdrawn produce articles that echo the official line?
This appeasement, for that is what it is, is illustrated most tellingly in the manner in which China’s population issues are reported, indeed so slanted is such coverage that it’s authorship may as well be credited to National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China!
Take for example a report today which is across the media ‘China’s Missing Girls Actually Exist’ a claim deriving from recent statistical analysis by a collaboration between University of Kansas and Shangxi Normal University that Chinese women; thought once to have not existed due to the demands of the population control program and cultural preference for having male birth, now apparently exist.
The tone and content of this report characterizes the issues mentioned above, diluted and compliant journalism, combined with a source that relies upon Chinese statistics, which are often used for political and propaganda purposes. One also evaluated by a Chinese University controlled, monitored and authorized by China’s regime, in partnership with a foreign academic institution; that in order to operate within China most probably has to comply with and be sensitive towards the China’s authorities.
These important considerations of course have been ignored by mainstream media who are channeling the report with a credulity that must be bringing a warm glow of satisfaction to China’s regime. The story which is being ignored is that a docile media is at best being manipulated to promote China’s politically engineered propaganda, at worst it is a willing partner in spreading disinformation. What would be the object of such a deception and as Sherlock Holmes may inquire, who would most benefit?
Well we already have some indication provided by the political realities that apply to the issue itself within China, that the findings are drawn from China’s census, which as already mentioned is politicized data. Further explanations can be extracted from comments offered by a joint-author of the report:
“People think 30 million girls are missing from the population. That’s the population of California, and they think they’re just gone…..Most people are using a demographic explanation to say that abortion or infanticide are the reasons they don’t show up in the census and that they don’t exist. But we find there is a political explanation.”Source John Kennedy, Associate Professor of Political Science. University of Kansas (emphasis added)
Now it might be, although don’t hold your breath, that deep inside the report Professor Kennedy and his co-author Shi Yaojiang, of Shaanxi Normal University have included a disclaimer to the effect that their ‘findings’ are not stating that countless numbers of female fetuses weren’t forcibly aborted, or female babies abandoned as a result of the brutalizing pressures of China’s coercive population control policies and/or the influence of cultural preferences for a male child.
So far we have not noticed such an assertion, and shall happily welcome such an inclusion, meantime what we are left with is an impression that looks to be trying to exonerate China’s regime by deflecting criticism and attention away from its vicious population control policies (as a determining factor of the gender-imbalance) to some administrative oversight or expediency at we are invited to believe, local level.
Unlike mainstream media we exercise a critical eye of any information associated with the Chinese authorities and so evaluate this report with particular scrutiny. China has a long record of using academics to peddle its propaganda, it concludes that in doing so its purposes are concealed and given a more credible and authoritative gravitas. This latest effort while consumed and reported as fact by CNN, AP, Reuters, BBC et al when examined carefully raises serious questions, not least of all its accuracy, motivation and purpose.
As newspapers go the New York Times (NYT) is right up there. A major media voice, respected across the industry and a trusted news source. Unless that is its reportage concerns Tibet, for then its strident and independent journalism gives way to an uneasy accommodation. Critical and objective reporting is replaced by credulity. Readers are exposed to an editorial take on Tibet that has a worrying similarity to the official propaganda generated by the Chinese regime. Headlines and article content are saturated with terminology that may as well have been crafted by China’s ministry of disinformation. The purpose of which is to promote the deception that Tibet is an inalienable part of China or that Tibetans and their culture are thriving under the tender mercies of the Chinese authorities.
Image:print-screen from NYT online article 11/8/16
Take the November 8 2016 NYT piece from Mr Edward Wong, its bold headline; that element of a newspaper story most often consumed and remembered, suggesting that Tibetan Buddhism is flourishing. The article features a number of glossy images showing seemingly contented Tibetan monks and nuns, a gleaming Buddhist monastery and views of an expansive community. What more proof is needed that Tibetans are enjoying their Buddhist traditions, after all seeing-is-believing, right? Well so the propagandists of China’s regime would insist, and after all they have a long record of peddling such imagery. Smiling and prosperous Tibetans may be found all over Chinese websites and news agencies such as the regime’s official mouthpiece, Xinhua.
The reality of course, as well documented and reported by less gullible media agencies is that Tibetan Buddhism is being virtually exterminated, its monasteries placed under paramilitary control, regular indoctrination programs, charmingly concealed as ‘Patriotic Education’ are forced upon Buddhist Tibetans. Even the ancient tradition of reincarnate Buddhist teachers has been placed under the control and approval of the Chinese State! Meanwhile across Tibet as this post is being written Tibetan monks and nuns are suffering unimaginable misery in forced labor camps, or tortured in one of the innumerable prisons and torture centers. Such vicious oppression and the assault upon the Buddhist culture of Tibet is a matter of record and has attracted the concern of leading human rights organizations, the United Nations and governments.
Now Edward Wong (who presumably ironically, describes himself on Twitter as ‘comrade’) and the New York Times will be very aware of this harrowing truth, yet have chosen to promote a distortion that no doubt meets the approval of the Chinese regime. Taking a closer look at the wording used we can see the fingerprints of China’s propagandists all over this piece. See for example how Comrade Wong references the recent widely reported destruction of Larung Gar. Another Buddhist center, that was recently bulldozed into oblivion with monks and nuns forced weeping onto convoys of coaches, under the merciless eyes of machine-gun carrying paramilitary:
“The largest, Larung Gar, in a valley to the northeast, has more monks than nuns. Workers there are now demolishing individual homes, on the orders of Chinese officials. Some clergy members are being forced to leave.” (Emphasis Added)
What a masterclass in dilution that comment is, the grim reality of what actually happened and the extent of oppression and destruction diminished under the cover of supposedly neutral reportage. Indeed, anyone reading those words could be forgiven for concluding that regular demolition workers are pulling down a few houses and that a handful of Tibetans have been forced to relocate.The facts though are very different, in magnitude, suffering and oppression, as hinted at in the image below.
Further indications of just how slanted this article is appears in its headline, the deliberate and carefully applied use of the term ‘Tibetan Plateau’. A geographic, nonaligned description greatly favored by the Chinese authorities, as it avoids entirely any political association regarding Tibet, or the implied questions of its actual status.
What may we justly question is the objective of this particular NYT article? Whose interests are being most served? Is it a fair and balanced appraisal of the condition of Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese rule? Or are we witnessing a leading media publisher serving as a conduit for China’s propaganda distortions on the subject of Tibet?
For too long has Agence France Presse, in its coverage of Tibet, been a willing accomplice to the distortions and propaganda vomited by China’s regime.
It’s report of a Tibetan horse festival (August 1st, 2016) a staged and tightly controlled propaganda event to promote the lie that Tibetan culture is thriving and respected under China’s control is a nauseating assemblage of falsehoods and deception. Engineered by China’s Ministry Of Disinformation to mislead an international audience the article, which clearly is a barely re-written statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, is loaded with officially sanctioned terminology.
It states the event took place in so-called “Yushu (China) in the northwestern (sic) Chinese province of Qinghai” this is incorrect, the actual location was near Jyekundo in Kham region of Eastern Tibet!
AFP go on to state that the area is home to many of “China’s eight million strong Tibetan minority, some of whom chafe against Chinese rule“. This sly misrepresentation of the facts chooses to ignore entirely that Tibetans are a distinct people, who under international law have the right to self-determination, and are not a ‘minority’ group within China, but an oppressed people whose land was invaded, occupied and colonized. Notice too how the journalist makes fact free assertion which implies that the majority of Tibetans are content and supportive of Chinese rule?!
While the reporter, Nicolas Asfouri, ends with a superficial mention of Tibetan concerns that their culture is being oppressed and eroded and Tibet’s natural resources exploited to benefit China the dominant impression conveyed by this article is misleading and biased towards the claims of the Chinese regime.
Like the majority of western media agencies within China such as Reuters and Associated Press, Agence France Presse is serving as a conduit for the lies and propaganda that China uses to conceal the dark reality of its tyranny against the Tibetan people and the illegal and violent occupation of Tibet. The nature of online and print journalism is such that these agencies are held by global newspapers in the highest of esteem as credible and objective sources of information. This ensures that their reportage on Tibet is republished internationally, usually without any critical assessment or major editing, a credulity much welcomed by China’s government!